« All nearby programs

The People United Will Never Be Defeated


Zach Weiner full profile / Piano solo / 1 musician

Full program notes

Frederic Rzewski - Variations on The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (selections)

There's no mistaking that Rzewski's variations on a Chilean protest song are "modern", and yet they seem to possess an immediacy that audiences resonate with without too much explanation.

There are 36 variations, and in their complete form last over an hour. They are divided into 6 sections of 6 variations each. Each section is in a different musical style, ranging from blues to Beethoven to the avant-garde. In this program, I perform selections which sample each section, covering the range of expression.

There is no specific "story" for the individual variations per se, but in my mind it quite clearly tells the story of a revolution. Which revolution, where, and when, could be different for every listener.

Below are the lyrics to the original protest song in Spanish and English:

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
el pueblo unido jamás será vencido...

De pie, cantar que vamos a triunfar.
Avanzan ya
banderas de unidad.
Y tú vendrás
marchando junto a mí
y así verás
tu canto y tu bandera florecer,
la luz
de un rojo amanecer
anuncia ya
la vida que vendrá.

De pie, luchar
el pueblo va a triunfar.
Será mejor
la vida que vendrá
a conquistar
nuestra felicidad
y en un clamor
mil voces de combate se alzarán
canción de libertad
con decisión
la patria vencerá.

Y ahora el pueblo
que se alza en la lucha
con voz de gigante
gritando: ¡adelante!

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
el pueblo unido jamás será vencido...

La patria está
forjando la unidad
de norte a sur
se movilizará
desde el salar
ardiente y mineral
al bosque austral
unidos en la lucha y el trabajo
la patria cubrirán,
su paso ya
anuncia el porvenir.

De pie, cantar
el pueblo va a triunfar
millones ya,
imponen la verdad,
de acero son
ardiente batallón
sus manos van
llevando la justicia y la razón
con fuego y con valor
ya estás aquí
junto al trabajador.

The people united will never be defeated,
The people united will never be defeated...

Arise, sing we are going to win.
Flags of unity
are now advancing.
And you will come
marching together with me,
and so you'll see
your song and your flag blossom.
The light
of a red dawn
already announces
the life to come.

Arise, fight
the people are going to win.
The life to come
will be better.
To conquer
our happiness.
and a clamor
of a thousand fighting voices will rise,
a song of freedom.
With determination
the fatherland will win.

And now the people,
who are rising in struggle
with a giant voice
crying out: Forward!

The people united will never be defeated,
The people united will never be defeated...

The fatherland is
forging unity,
from north to south
they're mobilizing.
From the salt mines
burning and mineral
to the southern forests.
united in struggle and labor
they go
covering the fatherland.
Their steps already
Announce the future.

Arise, sing
the people are going to win
millions now
are imposing the truth
Their steel battalions
are on fire,
taking in their hands
justice and reason.
with fire and courage
is already here
Along side the worker.

Historical context

El Pueblo Unido Jamas Será Vencido is a Chilean protest song written by Sergio Ortega written during the socialist government of Salvador Allende. Since then, it has been chanted in stadiums and sung at protests the world over.

Frederic Rzewski, an American composer and activist, wrote his 36 variations on this theme in 1975.

When I first chose to learn this piece a few years ago, there wasn't a specific current event that I wanted to protest - I just liked the music. But since then, there has been so much conflict in our world and in our minds, and depending on when I play it, it resonates with different audiences who think of different conflicts. To me, there's a tremendous power to this type of music, written by a Chilean folk group, adapted by an Avant-Garde American classical composer, now played by a Filipino-Jewish pianist many decades later.

Videos from this player

Other programs from this ensemble