Ferruccio Busoni and His Legacy

Ferruccio Busoni and His Legacy

Ferruccio Busoni and His Legacy

Ferruccio Busoni and His Legacy

Synopsis

Many students of renowned composer, conductor, and teacher Ferruccio Busoni had illustrious careers of their own, yet the extent to which their mentor's influence helped shape their success was largely unexplored until now. Through rich archival research including correspondence, essays, and scores, Erinn E. Knyt presents an evocative account of Busoni's idiosyncratic pedagogy--focused on aesthetic ideals rather than methodologies or techniques--and how this teaching style and philosophy can be seen and heard in the Nordic-inspired musical works of Sibelius, the unusual soundscapes of Varese, the polystylistic meldings of music and technology in Louis Gruenberg's radio operas and film scores, the electronic music of Otto Luening, and the experimentalism of Philip Jarnach. Equal parts critical biography and interpretive analysis, Knyt's work compels a reconsideration of Busoni's legacy and puts forth the notion of a "Busoni School" as one that shaped the trajectory of twentieth-century music.

Excerpt

Ultimately it is always in a man’s impact and not in his successes
that his value is determined. and the influence that Busoni has had
on our generation, not just as a pianist as most people take him to be,
but as theoretician, teacher, innovator, creator—in short as a master
in the old sense of the word which made the man and his work one—
will perhaps be fully appreciated only by the next.

Stefan Zweig, Neue Freie Presse

At the time of his death, Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924) was widely remembered as a pianist with legendary technique, but his activities as composer and author usually received only passing mention, while his role as a teacher was largely forgotten, except by his pupils.1 He was widely praised for performances of his own J. S. Bach transcriptions, the late Beethoven sonatas, and complete cycles of works by Franz Liszt. By contrast, his compositions were little understood even by some of his students. Teeming with allusions to the past that were audibly juxtaposed to passages displaying new timbres, textures, harmonies, and scales, they seemed to stand outside main musical trends of his era. His aphoristic, mystical, and suggestive writings were inspirational but difficult to understand, and could be interpreted in any number of ways.2 At the same time, his work as a composition teacher in the first decades of the twentieth century was overshadowed by the activities of other contemporaneous or near contemporaneous teachers, such as Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951), who succeeded him in the Berlin master classes at the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.