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Kontinuität des Wandels- Continuity of Change

Bohuslav Martinů in der Musikgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts- Bohuslav Martinů in Twentieth-Century Music History


Edited By Ales Brozina and Ivana Rentsch

Die bemerkenswerte Zahl von Bohuslav Martinůs Werken, aber auch ihre Gattungsbreite und stilistische Vielfalt lassen eine einfache Einordnung des Œuvres auf den ersten Blick unmöglich erscheinen. Bei genauerer Betrachtung kristallisieren sich jedoch ästhetische Konstanten heraus, die zwar nicht auf einen einheitlichen Stil, jedoch auf eine während Jahrzehnten nahezu unveränderte Musikauffassung verweisen. Auf der Grundlage seines Ideals erprobte Martinů zeitlebens unterschiedlichste Formen, Gattungen und Stile.
Das Ziel dieses Bandes ist es, diese kompositionstechnische Flexibilität auf der Basis eines verbindlichen ästhetischen Standpunktes in unterschiedlichen Perspektiven zur Diskussion zu stellen. Die Autoren beleuchten Martinůs sämtliche Schaffensperioden: die Jahre im Prag der 1910er, im Paris der 1920er und 30er, im New York der 1940er sowie im Westeuropa der 1950er-Jahre. Den thematischen Rahmen der Publikation bildet die Tatsache, dass das verbindende Charakteristikum des in einem Zeitraum von über einem halben Jahrhundert entstandenen Œuvres paradoxerweise ein immer wieder vollzogener Stilwandel in der Tonsprache – gleichsam eine Kontinuität des Wandels – ist.
The remarkable quantity of works composed by Bohuslav Martinů, as well as their breadth in genre and diversity in style, make a simple ordering of his œuvre seem impossible at first glance. Upon closer observation, however, aesthetic constants crystalize that, while not indicating a unified style, do show a conception of music that remained almost unchanged over the course of the decades. During his lifetime Martinů explored the most diverse forms, genres, and styles on the basis of his ideal.
The objective of this volume is to open a discussion, from various perspectives, of this flexibility in compositional technique based on a unifying aesthetic standpoint. The authors illuminate all of Martinů’s compositional periods: the years in Prague from 1906 to 1923, in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, in New York during the 1940s, and in Western Europe during the 1950s. The topical framework of the publication is determined by the fact that the unifying characteristic of this œuvre, composed over the span of more than half a century, is paradoxically an ever-more complete stylistic transformation of musical speech – continuity of change, as it were.


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MICHAEL CRUMP The Martinu Symphonies: Conjuring Complexity from Simplicity 281


The Martinuo Symphonies Conjuring Complexity from Simplicity MICHAEL CRUMP (Ebbw Vale/Great Britain) Shortly after his arrival in the United States in 1941, Bohuslav Martinuo received a request from the Russian conductor Serge Koussevitzky for a work for large orchestra, to be dedicated to the memory of his wife Natalie. Martinuo fulfilled the commission with his Symphony No. 1 H. 289 (1942) then wrote four more symphonies at annual intervals and Fantaisies Symphoniques (Symphony No. 6) H. 343 in 1953. This com- pressed time-frame sets his symphonic cycle apart from most others of the twentieth century – the symphonies of Jean Sibelius, for instance, though recognisably the work of the same composer, chart the profound changes which thirty years of artistic and personal evolution had wrought on his style and on his conception of the genre. The Martinuo sympho- nies have no hope of displaying a similar trajectory: rather they offer the opportunity to study how the innate flexibility of a deeply personal musical language can engender works observably similar in style and technique, yet poles apart in their expressive and emotional characters. In this paper, I would like to examine how Martinuo , at a relatively late stage in his career, turned to some well-established but disarmingly simple traits of his existing melodic and harmonic style to produce six complex, well-integrated and thoroughly distinctive masterpieces. Most listeners to the Martinuo symphonies quickly become aware of a number of melodic ideas which occur frequently in a variety of dif- ferent combinations and phrasings,...

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