Academic journal article Notes

The First Volumes in the Complete Martinu Edition

Academic journal article Notes

The First Volumes in the Complete Martinu Edition

Article excerpt

Bohuslav Martinu. Symfonie c. 4, H 305 = Symphony No. 4, H 305. Editorka = Edited by Sharon Andrea Choa. (Souborne vydani dila Bohuslava Martinu = The Bohuslav Martinu Complete Edition, Serie II/1/4 Symfonie = Series II/1/4 Symphonies.) Kassel: Barenreiter, 2014. [About the Edition, in Eng., Czech, p. ix-x; foreword in Eng., Czech, p. xi-xxvi; facsims., p. xxvii-xlvii; score, p. 1-224; crit. report in Eng., Czech, p. 225-46; list of alternative readings, p. 247-49. ISMN 979-0-2601-0764-9, pub. no. BA 10572. 335 [euro] (price reduction available for subscribers).]

Bohuslav Martinu. Epos o Gilgamesovi, H 351 = The Epic of Gilgamesh, H 351. Editor [sic] = Edited by Ales Brezina. (Souborne vydani dila Bohuslava Martinu = The Bohuslav Martinu Complete Edition, Serie VI/2/1 Oratorium = Series VI/2/1 Oratorio.) Kassel: Barenreiter, 2014. [About the Edition, in Eng., Czech, p. ix-x; foreword in Eng., Czech, p. xi-xxxvii; facsims., p. xxxviii-lvii; Martinus Suggestions for a Semi-Theatrical Production, in Eng., Czech, p. lviii; score, p. 1-248; crit. report in Eng., Czech, p. 249-75; list of alternative readings, p. 276-78; libretto in Eng., Ger., p. 279-83; documents in Fre., Eng., Czech, p. 284-87. ISMN 979-0-2601-0763-2, pub. no. BA 10571. 390 [euro] (price reduction available for subscribers).]

Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) led a nomadic existence. After studying composition with Josef Suk in Prague (and playing as a violinist in the Czech Philharmonic), he moved to Paris in 1923 where he studied informally with Albert Roussel and came under the influence of jazz, surrealism, and neoclassicism. It was also in Paris that he met his French wife, Charlotte (they married in 1931), and, later, the young composer Viezslava Kapralova, with whom he had a passionate affair in the late 1930s. Martinu fled to Aix-en-Provence in 1940--Nazi-occupied Paris was a dangerous place for a liberal-minded Czech--before sailing to the United States in 1941. He worked there for the next twelve years (producing all six of his symphonies during this period), before returning to Europe in 1953, first to Nice in the south of France, and finally to Switzerland as the guest of Paul Sacher, who was one of Martinu's most important European patrons. A glance at the publishing history of Martinu's large output (around 400 works) reveals a catalog spread across a startling array of publishers, including several each in Prague and Paris, and others in London, New York, Vienna, Mainz, Kassel, and elsewhere. Martinu's inability to sustain a long-term relationship with a particular publisher wasn't only the result of his peripatetic existence, but also owed something to his sometimes awkward personality. He could appear distant and difficult; in Bohuslav Martinu: The Compulsion to Compose ([Lanharn, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011], especially pp. 287-314), F. James Rybka makes a convincing case for these traits being attributable to Asperger's syndrome. The consequence of this unusually diffuse publishing history means that some of Martinu's music has been (and remains) very hard to find. To give just one example from his large-scale works; the piano-vocal scores of several operas have never been put on sale. Other pieces are more readily available, including the six symphonies, all of them published by Boosey & Hawkes.

There are significant editorial problems, however, even with Martinu's most famous works. Listening to different versions of his best-known piece, the much-recorded Double Concerto for two string orchestras, piano, and timpani (hereinafter, Double Concerto), reveals an intriguing anomaly with the final chord of the first movement. Among Czech music specialists, Jiri Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic (Chandos CHAN 8950 [CD], recorded in 1990) play a long D-major chord in the penultimate measure, followed by a D-minor chord to end the movement. Karel Sejna with the same orchestra more than thirty years earlier plays two D-major chords (Supraphon SU 1924-2 [CD], recorded in 1958). …

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