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MARTINU Bohuslav

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MARTINU Bohuslav
Bohuslav Martinu

Born in a church tower in the Bohemian village of Policka, Bohuslav Martinu was a prolific enough composer as a child, before he entered Prague Conservatory as a violin student in 1906. His interest, however, lay in composition. Failing to complete his course at the Conservatory or at the Prague Organ School, to which he had been transferred, he worked as an orchestral player before moving, in 1923, to Paris. The approach of the German armies in 1940 forced him to make his way, as best he could, to the United States, where he was encouraged by commissions from Koussevitzky. Political events in Czechoslovakia prevented his intended return after the war, and he spent his final years abroad, dying in Switzerland in 1959. Martinu was an immensely prolific and varied composer. His sixteen operas include The Greek Passion, after Kazantzakis, Ariadne, after Neveu, and the radio opera Comedy on the Bridge. Ballet scores include Spalicek, based on fairy-tales and nursery rhymes. An impressive list of orchestral compositions includes six symphonies, the first of them written for Koussevitzky, who commissioned one a year. There are concertos for a variety of instruments, including five for piano and a useful Rhapsody-Concerto for viola and orchestra. The variety of his terms of reference may be seen in his Frescos of Piero della Francesca, The Parables and his earlier Villa by the Sea, based on the evocative painting of Böcklin. His Czech origins are generally identifiable in his music, which nevertheless reflects the influence also of France, while returning at times to earlier musical traditions. Notable choral works by Martinu must include his oratorio on the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh and the Biblical The Prophecy of Isaiah.

There is a bewilderingly large amount of chamber music by Martinu, duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, septets, octets and nonets. Among these the seven string quartets deserve particular mention, in addition to the works for violin and piano and three cello sonatas. The operas of Martinu include works expressly designed for broadcasting, television or the cinema. His last opera, staged after his death, was The Greek Passion, based on Kazantzakis. Various ballet scores, many unperformed, form part of an interesting if neglected repertoire.

Martinu left six symphonies, the last with the title Fantaisies symphoniques. There are symphonic poems and descriptive pieces and a number of concertos. These last include five piano concertos, the last, written in 1957, with the title Fantasia concertante, a Violin Concerto, a Double Violin Concerto and two Cello Concertos.

In addition to a large number of shorter piano pieces of all kinds, Martinu wrote a Fantaisie and other pieces for two pianos, as well as music for harpsichord, leaving his organ Vigilia unfinished at the time of his death in 1959.

Choral works by Martinu include the remarkable oratorio Gilgamesh, based on the ancient Babylonian epic of that name. There are choral works of biblical derivation and a number of choral arrangements of traditional Czech, Slovak and Moravian material. His songs include Magic Nights, settings of poems translated from the Chinese.


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B. Martin

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Barbara Ann Martin made her New York Philharmonic debut with Zubin Mehta in performances of George Crumbs Ancient Voices of Children. She was invited by Mehta to repeat this work in Europe with the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics, the Maggio Musicale (Florence), and with the Montreal Symphony, receiving unanimous and enthusiastic reviews. She has performed and recorded works by Argento, Babbitt, Consoli, Hovhaness, Husa, Sarmanto, Thomson, Talma, and Ung. She has sung with orchestras and ensembles such as Speculum Musicae, New York Woodwind Quintet, Orchestra of St. Lukes, Aeolian Chamber Players, American Composers Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, American Brass Quintet, New Music Consort, Merlin, Cube, New Art Ensemble, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, among others. During the 1992 and 1993 summer seasons, she performed at the Salzburg Festival as principal soloist in works by George Crumb, Sofia Gubaidulina and György Kurtag. For the past five years, she also has been giving courses al the International Summer Academy Mozarteum in vocal technique, standard repertoire, and twentieth-century American vocal music. Ms. Martin has served on the faculties of Bennington College and the City University of New York. She is presently on the faculty of the Music Center of the North Shore, in Chicago. Barbara Ann Martin has made herself a champion of the contemporary, performing grueling works by Shostakovich, Gubaidulina, Kurtag, Argento, Babbitt, and Hovhaness, to name a few. The Chicago-based singer's commitment to modern music can be traced back to 1973, when she first heard George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children (1970). Martin fell in love with the piece, mastered it, and has since made her reputation by performing it almost 70 times, including at its Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiere and on a CD for the CRI imprint.


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B.Martin

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Barbara Ann Martin made her New York Philharmonic debut with Zubin Mehta in performances of George Crumbs Ancient Voices of Children. She was invited by Mehta to repeat this work in Europe with the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics, the Maggio Musicale (Florence), and with the Montreal Symphony, receiving unanimous and enthusiastic reviews. She has performed and recorded works by Argento, Babbitt, Consoli, Hovhaness, Husa, Sarmanto, Thomson, Talma, and Ung. She has sung with orchestras and ensembles such as Speculum Musicae, New York Woodwind Quintet, Orchestra of St. Lukes, Aeolian Chamber Players, American Composers Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, American Brass Quintet, New Music Consort, Merlin, Cube, New Art Ensemble, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, among others. During the 1992 and 1993 summer seasons, she performed at the Salzburg Festival as principal soloist in works by George Crumb, Sofia Gubaidulina and György Kurtag. For the past five years, she also has been giving courses al the International Summer Academy Mozarteum in vocal technique, standard repertoire, and twentieth-century American vocal music. Ms. Martin has served on the faculties of Bennington College and the City University of New York. She is presently on the faculty of the Music Center of the North Shore, in Chicago. Barbara Ann Martin has made herself a champion of the contemporary, performing grueling works by Shostakovich, Gubaidulina, Kurtag, Argento, Babbitt, and Hovhaness, to name a few. The Chicago-based singer's commitment to modern music can be traced back to 1973, when she first heard George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children (1970). Martin fell in love with the piece, mastered it, and has since made her reputation by performing it almost 70 times, including at its Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiere and on a CD for the CRI imprint.


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PHCD104 Britten/Martinu WORKS FOR TWO PIANOS AND ORCHESTRA


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