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Frank Martin (September 15, 1890November 21, 1974) was a Swissmarker composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlandsmarker.

Life

He was born in Genevamarker, the tenth and last child of Charles Martin, a Calvinist pastor. Before he started school, he was already playing the piano and improvising. By the age of nine he composed charming children's songs that were perfectly balanced without ever having been taught musical forms or harmony. A performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, heard at the age of twelve, left a lasting impression on the composer, for whom J.S. Bach remained the true master.

Martin studied mathematics and physics at the University of Genevamarker for two years, working on composition and studying piano with Joseph Lauber on the side. From 1918 to 1926, he lived in Zürichmarker, Romemarker, and Parismarker. The compositions of this period show him searching for his own musical language.

In 1926, he founded the Société de Musique de Chambre de Genève, which he directed as pianist and harpsichordist for ten years. During this time, he also taught theory and improvisation at the Jaques-Dalcroze Institute and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique de Genèvemarker.

He was director of the Technicum Moderne de Musique from 1933 to 1940 and president of the Association of Swiss Musicians from 1942 to 1946.

He moved to the Netherlands in 1946 to find more time for his composing than he could obtain while in Switzerland, where he was involved in too many other activities. For ten years he lived in Amsterdammarker, and finally settled in Naardenmarker.

From 1950 to 1957, he taught composition at the Hochschule für Musik Köln, in Cologne. After 1957, he gave up teaching and concentrated on his composition; for the rest of his life he confined his public performing appearances to occasional chamber music tours and conducting his own works. Having kept up his high pianistic standards, he made a few studio recordings in his old age.

Works

The Petite Symphonie Concertante (which made Martin's international reputation) is the best known of his orchestral works, as the early Mass is of his choral compositions and the Jedermann monologues (for baritone and piano or orchestra) of his works for solo voice. Other Martin pieces include a full-scale symphony (1936 - 1937), two piano concertos, a harpsichord concerto, a violin concerto, a cello concerto, a concerto for seven wind instruments, and a series of six one-movement works he called "ballades" for various solo instruments with piano or orchestra. Among a dozen major scores for the theater are operatic settings of Shakespeare (The Tempest, in August Wilhelm Schlegel's German version [1952 - 1955]) and Molière (Monsieur de Pourceaugnac [1960 - 1962]), and the satirical fairy tale La Nique à Satan (Thumbing Your Nose at Satan [1928 - 1931]). His works on sacred texts and subjects, which include another large-scale theater piece, Le Mystère de la Nativité (The Mystery of the Nativity [1957 / 1959]) are widely considered to rank among the finest religious compositions of the 20th century. Fellow Swiss musician Ernest Ansermet, a champion of his music from 1918 on, conducted recordings of many of Martin's works, as did the composer himself.

Martin developed his mature style based on a very personal use of Arnold Schoenberg's twelve tone technique, having become interested in this around 1932, but did not abandon tonality. In fact his preference for lean textures and his habitual rhythmic vehemence are at the furthest possible remove from Schoenberg's hyperromanticism. Some of Martin's most inspired music comes from his eighties; he worked on his last cantata, Et la vie l'emporta, until ten days before his death. He died in Naardenmarker, The Netherlands.

Principal Works

Orchestral



Concertante

  • Concerto for seven wind instruments, timpani, percussion, and string orchestra (1949)
  • Violin Concerto (1950)
  • Cello Concerto (1965)
  • Polyptyque, for violin and two small string orchestras (1973)


Chamber

  • Pavane couleur du temps (Colour of weather Pavane) (1920) for string quintet ( 2 violins, viola, 2 cellos)
  • Trio sur des mélodies populaires irlandaises (1925)
  • Quatre pièces brèves for guitar (1933)


Piano

  • Eight Preludes for Piano (1947 - 1948)


Choral

  • Les Dithyrambes for soli, chorus and orchestra (1918; text by Pierre Martin)
  • Mass for unaccompanied double choir (1922 - 1924 / 1926)
  • In terra pax (1944)
  • Golgotha (1945 - 1948)
  • Requiem (1971 - 1972)


Vocal

  • Le vin herbé (1938 / 1940 - 1941)
  • Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke (Der Cornet) (1942 - 1943)
  • Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann (1943 - 1944)
  • Songs of Ariel (1950)


External links




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