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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Martinů in Paris: A Synthesis of Musical Styles and Symbols

By

Erik Anthony Entwistle

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Caution: If you wish to print this article it is nearly 200 pages

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ABSTRACT

Introduction

I. A New Beginning: Life In Paris

II. How Martinů "Got Rhythm"

III. Of Folk Tunes, Pastorals, and the Masses

IV. Dvakrát Svatý Václave (St. Wenceslas, Twice)

V. An Aspect of Minor/Major Significance.

VI. Fin de séjour: Julietta and Musical Symbolism.

VII.Conclusion: Martinůís Parisian Legacy.

MUSICAL WORKS CITED

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ABSTRACT

 

Martinů in Paris: A Synthesis of Musical Styles and Symbols

By

Erik Anthony Entwistle

The Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) left Prague for Paris in 1923, a decision that profoundly influenced his developing musical style. Though he intended to stay for only three months, Martinů became a permanent resident of the French capital, fleeing only days before the Nazi occupation in June 1940. During this seventeen-year period the composer cultivated a highly personal style marked by the use of national, "Czech" elements (polka rhythms, the Svatý Václave chorales, and stylized folk tunes, for example) along with the more modern musical trends prevalent in Paris. Of primary consideration in this study is Martinůís syncretic approach to these elements. This has been touched upon in the existing Martinů literature but up until now has not been examined in detail.

Immediately striking in the Paris oeuvre is Martinůís new approach to rhythm, with the composer creating an individual, syncopated rhythmic language blending stylistic elements of jazz, Stravinskian primitivism and Czech folk dance. Also apparent is Martinůís frequent use of humor and parody, which is balanced, however, by a more sober musical language in which conservative elements act as a foil to more dissonant, distinctly "modern" ones. This is one important impetus behind the composerís use of folk tunes and passages in pastoral style. Such deceptively simple music often functions as a refuge from the musical harshness that surrounds it, an apparent metaphor for manís longing for solace amidst the relentless bustle of modern life. This folk-inspired melodic style also comes to represent the struggle of the masses in several works with distinct socialistic overtones.

The approach of war at the end of the thirties coincided with the composerís intense affair with his pupil Vítĕzslava Kaprálová, and his symbolic use of national elements gained new potency (and, given Kaprálováís premature death at age 25 and Martinůís future destiny as an exile, poignancy as well). The works from this period mark the end of this most significant chapter in Martinůís life, one that yielded a fascinating and rich musical legacy.

Introduction
I. A New Beginning: Life In Paris
II. How Martinů "Got Rhythm"
III. Of Folk Tunes, Pastorals, and the Masses
IV. Dvakrát Svatý Václave (St. Wenceslas, Twice)
V. An Aspect of Minor/Major Significance
VI. Fin de séjour: Julietta and Musical Symbolism
VII.Conclusion: Martinůís Parisian Legacy

 

 



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