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

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
Fragments Psychologiques the amazingly vivid intensity of which, to my mind, is unsurpassed by any contemporary piano music. . . . The work, ultramodern tho it be, surely expresses the elemental forces of our nature with more real truth than many of the milk and water abstractions of the old-time classic writers."What is the nature of Berners' unique and unorthodox style? A. Eaglefield Hull writes: "His style is sometimes subtly complex, at others, daringly outspoken. He has chosen unusual paths in music. He ranges from caustic cynicism to witty musical parody, from mocking lyricism to amazing caricature, from pleasant fooling to biting sarcasm." Berners' best works include his Valses Bourgeoises for piano, performed at the Salzburg Festival of 1923; his Fantaisie Espagnol for orchestra; and his one-act opera, Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement, on the comedy by Prosper Mérimée."The whole work," was the criticism of G. Jean-Aubry concerning Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement upon its first performance in Paris in 1924, "is included between the rise and fall of the curtain, and it is carefully carried on without any emphasis or any unnecessary complaisance towards the audience. The musical style of the work adapts with true harmony and perfect ease to each of the characters who are all so different to their nature spirits. . . . It partakes in turn of vivacity, cunning, compunction and nobility, but these moods are arranged in such manner as to suggest congruous feelings, and the composer very cleverly avoided producing a work consisting of an assemblage of tiny twinkling bits."In 1918, the composer succeeded to the barony of Berners, which dates from 1455.Principal works by Lord Berners:
STAGE Music: Le Carrosse du Saint- Sacrement.
ORCHESTRA:Three Pieces; Fantaisie Espagnol; Fugue.
PIANO: Three Funeral Marches; Fragments Psychologiques; Valses Bourgeoises.
SONGS: Trois Chansons; Three Chanties; Lieder Album.

About Lord Berners:

Berners G. H.T-W. Since Childhood; Holbrooke Josef C. Contemporary British Composers.

Chesterian n.s. 3:65December 1919; Chesterian n.s. 32:244January 1923; Musical Times 69:9January 1, 1920.

Important recordings of music by Lord Berners:

DECCA: Orchestral Fugue.


Julius Bittner 1874-

JULIUS BITTNER was born in Vienna on April 9, 1874. His early education consisted of law, which he pursued with such zeal and talent that he soon became an eminently successful lawyer. Law, however, soon yielded its place to music in Bittner's interest. Always sensitive to the beautiful in music, Bittner discovered as he grew older that the need to express himself thru tones became more and more pressing. What he did, he always did conscientiously, and--far from feeling burdened by his success as a lawyer-- he began to pursue the study of music with great earnestness under Josef Labor and Bruno Walter. His talent became manifest from the very first. Such early works as Tänze aus Österreich, for piano, revealed a fine imagination and a deep musical instinct. With the première of his first opera at Frankfurt, in 1907 --Die Rote Gret--there could no longer be a doubt as to his ability as a composer. This opera was marked, as H. C. Colles informs us, by "qualities of accomplished musicianship and a strong dramatic sense, relieved by a sense of humor." Its success was sufficiently encouraging to convince Bittner that he must sacrifice his successful practise for music.

He has since proved the wisdom of his decision by becoming an equally successful composer. With a series of operas--including Der Bergsee and Das Rosengärtlein--he proved that his was one of the most tasteful musical pens of Vienna. "He has an excellent, witty and enthusiastic pen," is the opinion of Paul Stefan. "His music is both popular and original in the best sense. He is the greatest hope for the German popular opera of our time."

____________________
Bittner: Bĭtt′něr

-23-

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