Jos Kunst – Insecten (1966)

Joseph Petrus Johannes Maria (Jos) Kunst (Roermond, 3 January 1936 – Utrecht, 18 January 1996) was a Dutch composer and musicologist. Art grew up in Maastricht and studied French literature at the University of Groningen. On his 27th birthday he began studying music at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, successively by Joep Straesser and Ton de Leeuw. Besides his activities as a composer and as a French teacher, he was working as a lecturer in contemporary music and composition at the conservatories of Zwolle and Amsterdam. At the International Gaudeamus Competition in 1967 he received the AVRO-incentive for the piece Insects for 13 strings. Two years later, at the Gaudeamus Competition for 1969, he won the first prize with the orchestral work Arboreal. His main musical inspiration in the period up to 1975 were Anton Webern, Edgar Varèse and Iannis Xenakis. In 1975 he decided to stop composing. In 1976 he succeeded Rudolf Escher as teacher for the music of the twentieth century at the Department of Musicology of the University of Utrecht. As a musicologist he kept mainly concerned with what is called ‘cognitive musicology’: music science that seeks to describe what music does to the listener. Main musicological publications: Making sense in music: an Enquiry into the formal pragmatics of art (Dissertation, 1978), Philosophy of musicology (Martinus Nijhoff, 1988). In addition to his scientific work, he was active as a poet: he published poems in a Dutch monthly magazine in the years 1979-1988 and in 1982 appeared in the Meulenhoff compilation Nobody Will Ever Own. In 1988, he made ​​use of the possibility to retire early. From that time he wrote again, but kept to himself, unlike in the past, and as much as possible outside the organized musical life. In this period, Claude Debussy was an important source of inspiration. Jos Kunst died at age 60.

Jos_Kunst

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Carl Nielsen – Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7 (1892)

Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7, FS 16 is the first symphony of Danish composer Carl Nielsen. Written between 1891 and 1892, it was dedicated to his wife, Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen. The work’s première, on 14 March 1894 was performed by Johan Svendsen conducting the Chapel Royal Orchestra (Royal Danish Orchestra), with Nielsen himself among the second violins. It is one of two symphonies by Nielsen without a subtitle (the other being his Symphony No. 5).

The symphony is in the standard four movements, with the following tempo markings:

  • Allegro orgoglioso
  • Andante
  • Allegro comodo — Andante sostenuto — Tempo I
  • Finale. Allegro con fuoco

A typical performance takes approximately 35 minutes.

The symphony’s melodies have a distinctive Danish flavour and are imbued with Nielsen’s personal style. Nielsen scholar Robert Simpson describes the composer’s symphonic debut as “probably the most highly organized first symphony ever written by a young man of twenty-seven.”

The work opens in G minor, and closes with a rousing peroration in C major. This tendency to move away from the original key to C major is the basis of the whole symphony’s tonal structure, and displays for the first time Nielsen’s hallmark compositional device, “progressive tonality.” (Nielsen at one stage even thought of calling the work “Symphony in C”.)  Robert Simpson states in his book Carl Nielsen, Symphonist, 1865–1931: “it is possibly the first symphony to end in a key other than that in which it started”.




[Inspired by Per Wium]

Grazyna Bacewicz – Concerto for Strings (1948)

Grażyna Bacewicz (February 5, 1909 in Łódź – January 17, 1969 in Warsaw, Poland) was a Polish composer and violinist. She is only the second Polish female composer to have achieved national and international recognition, the first being Maria Szymanowska in the early 19th century.

Concerto for String Orchestra (1948)
Amadeus Chamber Orchestra conducted by Agnieska Duczmal

Her father and brother Vytautas identified as Lithuanian and used the last name Bacevičius, the other brother Kiejstut identified as Polish. Her father, Wincenty Bacewicz (lith. Vincas Bacevičius), gave Grażyna her first piano and violin lessons. In 1928 she began studying at the Warsaw Conservatory, where she initially took violin and piano classes, and graduated in 1932 as a violinist and composer. She continued her education in Paris, having been granted a stipend by Ignacy Jan Paderewski to attend the École Normale de Musique, and studied there in 1932-33 under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger. At the same time she took private violin lessons with Henri Touret. Later she also left France in order to learn from the Hungarian violinist Carl Flesch.

After completing her studies, Bacewicz took part in numerous events as a soloist, composer, and jury member. During the 1930s, she was the principal violinist of the Polish Radio orchestra, which was directed then by Grzegorz Fitelberg. This position gave her the chance of hearing a lot of her own music. During World War II, Grażyna Bacewicz lived in Warsaw, continued to compose, and gave underground secret concerts (premiering her Suite for Two Violins).

Bacewicz also dedicated time to family life. She was married in 1936, and gave birth to a daughter, Alina Biernacka, a recognized painter. After the war, she took up the position of professor at the State Conservatory of Music in Łódź. At this time she was shifting her musical activity towards composition, tempted by her many awards and commissions, and it finally became her only occupation in 1954 after serious injuries in a car accident.

Most of her compositions are for the violin. Among them are seven violin concertos, five sonatas for violin with piano including two for violin solo, seven string quartets, two piano quintets and four symphonies.

Iannis Xenakis: Complete Works for Cello

Iannis Xenakis composed just two pieces for solo cello, both fiercely remarkable in their own right. Nomos Alpha, from 1966, is an example of what he called symbolic music, in which the order of musical events is determined according to mathematical rules, while Kottos, composed 11 years later, is a portrait of one of the giants from Greek mythology who fought with Zeus against the Titans. The most substantial of the other pieces here is Epicycles for cello and 12 instruments, an example of later Xenakis, which is far less visceral in its impact and almost archaic in its chant-like melodic writing. The remainder are smaller-scale and pair Arne Deforce’s cello with single instruments – violin, clarinet, double bass, piano. Perhaps the most interesting is Dhipli Zyia, for violin and cello; written in 1951, it’s a rare example of early Xenakis – Bartókian in style and using Greek folk tunes as its source material. [Source]