Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
musical world until 1928 when he plunged out of comparative obscurity by winning the world-wide $10,000 contest, sponsored by the Columbia Phonograph Company, for a musical composition which would do honor to Franz Schubert on the occasion of the centennial of the great composer's death. Atterberg's symphony won the award because --as the spokesman of the jury, Max von Schillings, explained-- "of the quality of its melodic line, healthy themes and good construction." However, when the symphony was given performance thruout the world, it was received harshly by leading critics everywhere--denounced because of its almost schoolboyish over-romanticism, its stiltedness and its complete lack of any originality or personality. The criticisms became more and more devastating until, finally--with very questionable taste and discretion--Atterberg published an article entitled "How I Fooled the Music World," in which he maintained that his symphony was nothing but a hoax, that he had never seriously considered it good music, that he had composed it merely to fool the entire music world. This explanation, far from relieving his position, merely put him into further disrepute in the eyes of the music-world who not only doubted the truth of Atterberg's explanation but who viciously denounced the composer for his lack of artistic integrity.This incident has done much to discredit Atterberg as a composer of importance. However, Atterberg's music--especially in his first four symphonies--contains a remarkable power and vitality and, when the smoke of suspicion and anger finally clears, he should once again be deservedly acclaimed as Sweden's outstanding composer.Principal works by Kurt Atterberg:
ORCHESTRA : Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra; Concert Overture; Symphony No. 1 and 2; Ocean Symphony; Symphony No. 4; Funèbre Symphony; Symphony No. 6 (Columbia Phonograph Award); Concerto for Violin and Orchestra; Concerto for 'Cello and Orchestra.
CHAMBER MUSIC : Two string quartets.
OPERA : Harvard Harpolekare; The Foolish Virgins (ballet); Fanal.
CHORAL : It is Sabbath in the Country; Cantata.

About Kurt Atterberg:

Allgemeine Musikzeitung 55:1146October 26, 1928; Phonograph Monthly Review 2:441 September 1928.

Important recordings of music by Kurt Atterberg:

COLUMBIA : Symphony No. 6 in C-Major (Sir Thomas Beecham).


Louis Aubert 1877-

LOUIS FRANÇOIS MARIE AUBERT was born at Paramé, Ille-et- Vilaine, on February 19, 1877. His father, a musician of refinement and scholarship, was his first teacher, and under this sympathetic tutelage, the boy made amazing progress. By his tenth year, he was prepared to enter the Paris Conservatory, and his early training under his father served him in good stead, for it was not long before young Louis distinguished himself by winning leading prizes in elementary theory, piano, harmony, sight-reading and transposition. As a boy, he possessed a voice of striking beauty and purity, singing at the services of the Madeleine and Trinité; and so it was first thought that he would carve a name for himself as a singer. With maturity, however, the voice cracked, and young Louis turned to musical composition as his leading medium of musical expression.

His earliest works--a few songs and smaller piano pieces, composed when he was in his seventeenth year--revealed the unmistakable influence of composers whom he worshipped at the time: Fauré, Franck, Chausson and Schumann. These early works were so stilted and derivative that his teachers strenuously advised him to adopt the playing of the piano as his life-work in lieu of composition. For several years, Aubert concertized with reassuring success. The lure of composition, however, soon proved too great--and so, at the turn of the Twentieth Century, he forsook every musical activity except that of artistic creation.

Aubert: ô-běr′

-7-

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