Overview

Bohuslav Martinů

(1890—1959)


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(b Polička, 1890; d Liestal, Switz., 1959).

Cz. composer and violinist. Vn. lessons at 6; began composing at 10. Violinist, Czech PO 1918–23, whose cond. Talich performed Martinů work in Prague 1923. Went to Paris 1923 to study with Roussel. Stayed until 1940, when he escaped to Portugal and in 1941 settled in USA where he composed 5 syms. Returned to Europe 1953, living in Fr. and Switz. Prolific composer in all mus. forms. Remained essentially Cz. despite long exile. His works are uneven and flawed, but the best, such as the opera Julietta and the syms., are progressive and full of rhythmical energy and imagination. Basically diatonic, but with wide, sometimes dissonant, harmonic range. Prin. works:

operas:

The Soldier and the Dancer

(1926–7);

The Knife's Tears

(1928); The Three Wishes (opera‐film, 1929);

The Miracles of Mary

(1933–4);

The Voice of the Forest

(1935);

Comedy on the Bridge

(comp. 1935, radio 1937, rev. 1950, stage 1965); Theatre Behind the Gate (1935–6);

Julietta

(1936–7);

Alexandre Bis

(1937);

What Men Live By

(1951–2);

The Marriage

(tv, 1952);

Mirandolina

(1953–4);

The Greek Passion

(1956–9);

Ariadne

(1958).

ballets:

Ištar

(1918–22);

Who is the Most Powerful in the World?

(1922);

Revolt

(1925);

The Butterfly that Stamped

(1926);

Kitchen Revue

(1927);

Špalìček

(The Chap Book, singing ballet) (1931–2);

The Strangler

(1948).

orch.:

syms.: No.1 (1942), No.2 (1943), No.3 (1944), No.4 (1945), No.5 (1946), No.6 (Fantaisies symphoniques) (1951–3);

The Angel of Death

, sym.‐poem (1910);

Half‐Time

(1924);

Le Bagarre

(Tumult) (1926);

Le jazz

(1928);

Serenade

(1930); Sinfonia Concertante, 2 orch. (1932);

Inventions

(1934);

Concerto Grosso

(1937);

Double Concerto

, 2 str. orch., pf., timp. (1938);

Memorial to Lidiče

(1943);

Intermezzo

(1950);

The Rock

(1957);

3 Estampes

(1958).

concertos:

pf., No.1 (1925), No.2 (1934), No.3 (1947–8), No.4 (Incantations) (1955–6), No.5 (Fantasia Concertante) (1957), Concertino (Divertimento), left hand (1926), Concertino (1938), 2 pfs. (1943); vn., No.1 (1932–3), No.2 (1943), 2 vns. (1950); vc., No.1 (1930, rev. 1955), No.2 (1944–5), Concertino (1924); Misc., str. qt. and orch. (1931), 2 concertinos, pf. trio, str. (1933), hpd. (1935), fl., vn. (1936), Concerto da camera, vn., pf., perc., str. (1941), Sinfonia Concertante, ob., bn., vn., vc. (1949), Rhapsody‐Concerto, va. (1952), vn., pf. (1953), ob. (1955).

choral:

Czech Rhapsody

, bar., ch., org., orch. (1918);

Hymn to St James

, sop., alt., bass, narr., ch., ens. (1954);

The Mount of Three Lights

, ten., bar., male ch., orch. (1954);

The Epic of Gilgamesh

, sop., ten., bar., bass, ch., orch. (1954–5);

The Opening of the Wells

, sop., cont., bar., women's ch., ens. (1955);

Mikeš of the Mountains

, sop., ten., ch., ens. (1959);

The Prophecy of Isaiah

, sop., cont., bar., male vv., va., tpt., pf., timp. (1959).

chamber music:

str. qts., No.1 (1918), No.2 (1925), No.3 (1929), No.4 (1937), No.5 (1938), No.6 (1946), No.7 (Conc. da camera) (1947); nonet, wind quintet, pf. qt. (1924–5), nonet, wind quintet, str. trio, db. (1959); pf. quintet (1911); str. quintet (1927); wind quintet (1930); pf. quintet No.1 (1933), No.2 (1944); pf. qt. (1942); ob. qt. (1947); str. trios, No.1 (1923), No.2 (1934); pf. trios, No.1 (1930), No.2 (1950), No.3 (1951); vn. sonatas, No.1 (1927), No.2 (1931), No.3 (1944); vc. sonatas, No.1 (1939), No.2 (1941), No.3 (1952); va. sonata (1955); fl. sonata (1945); cl. sonatina (1956); tpt. sonatina (1956).

[...]

Subjects: Music.


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