Adventures of the Dominant Seventh Chord

for violin or viola solo  

The violin solo commissioned by Sarah van der Kemp for the Junge Kammerphilharmonie Berlin
for Nurit Stark


First violin performance: 9 October, 2019 – Berlin
Nurit Stark, violin


In the classical music of the western world, there is none as typical as the dominant seventh chord. It is typical because it comes up frequently. The reason for this is its special role: it prepares a closure. As soon as you hear this chord, you can be sure that the musical phrase is coming to an end. Or on the contrary, it isn’t. Perhaps, it is followed by a deceptive cadence, which misleads the listener with a naughty smile.

In Adventures of the Dominant Seventh Chord, I certainly didn’t mean to mislead anyone, I perhaps only wanted to surprise the good old dominant seventh by making a big leap every time we leave the Western-European culture for the Eastern-European one. Although the dominant seventh chord does prepare a placid closure, something completely different will follow: dance music in the style similar to traditional folk musicians playing it.

In my composition, two musical cultures are contrasted, but I don’t think that there is a conflict between them – only a virtual but clearly audible boundary. Of course, they are different. Western music is composed and notated, while Eastern European folk musicians tend not even to be able to read music, they learn by ear, and soon afterwards, they call it “their own music”.  In traditional Transylvanian dance music, the fiddle is the lead. It plays the melody, while the other instruments add the rhythmic and harmonic elements. In ›Adventures of the seventh chord‹, quick and slow dances alternate. The dominant seventh chord occurs quite often –  every time in a new form.  If it had a look in the mirror, it would hardly recognise itself, as its intervals have become larger or smaller: constant surprises, a real adventure.

/Peter Eötvös – 2019/


10 Jan, 2024
Paris, France

Eötvös: Fermata, Chinese opera, Joyce for solo clarinet, Adventures for viola

Ensemble Intercontemporain



28 Aug, 2022
Budapest, Hungary

Eötvös: Adventures of the Dominant Seventh Chord, a Call, para Paloma, Cadenza, Derwishtanz, Joyce, Psy for flute, viola, harp

New Millenium International Chamber Music Festival
Orsolya Korcsolán, violin
Haruka Nagao, viola
Noémi Győri, flute
Csaba Pálfi, clarinet
Klára Bábel, harp

More info >

6 Aug, 2022
Hitzacker, Germany

Eötvös: Adventures of the Dominant Seventh Chord, a Call

Adventures of the Dominant Seventh Chord: first performance of viola version
Elisabeth Kufferath, viola
Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker

2 Nov, 2021
Vienna, Austria

Eötvös: Adventures of the dominant Seventh chord

Nurit Stark, violin
more info >

12 Oct, 2019
Berlin, Germany

Eötvös: Adventures of the dominant Seventh chord

Venue: Kurhaus Wiesbaden
Violin: Nurit Stark

9 Oct, 2019
Berlin, Germany

Eötvös: Adventures of the dominant Seventh chord

Venue: Philharmonie Berlin
Violin: Nurit Stark


13 minutes

Publisher information


TITLE Dur. Soloists & choir fl ob cl bcl bn   hn tpt tbn tba   perc pf hp   vn1 vn2 va vc db Other Tech
Adventures of the Dominant Seventh Chord
Chamber Music - Solo instrument
13'vn or vla00000 0000 000 00000

Further information

In der abendländischen klassischen Musik gibt es kaum einen typischeren Akkord als den Dominantseptakkord. Typisch ist er, weil er häufig vorkommt. Und das liegt daran, dass er eine besondere Funktion besitzt: nämlich die, einen Abschluss vorzubereiten. Wenn man diesen Akkord hört, kann man sicher sein, dass die Phrase abgeschlossen wird. Oder eben noch nicht! Vielleicht folgt ein sogenannter Trugschluss, der den Zuhörer schmunzelnd irreführt?

In ›Adventures of the Dominant Seventh Chord‹ wollte ich niemanden in die Irre führen, vielleicht nur die gute alte Dominantseptime dadurch überraschen, dass wir jedes Mal einen großen Sprung machen, wenn wir von der westeuropäischen Kultur zur osteuropäischen übergehen. Der Dominantseptakkord bereitet einen ruhigen Abschluss vor, aber es folgt etwas ganz anderes: eine Tanzmusik in dem Stil, wie ihn die Volksmusiker in Transsylvanien zu pflegen zu spielen.


Eötvös: Adventures – Nurit Stark, vl solo – 2019

Image gallery

Nurit Stark, WP Berlin, Oct 9, 2019