Martinů and the Symphony
Extent: 550 pages
Composition: Royal octavo
Illustrations: 9 half-tones; 199 music exx.
Over the past few decades the music of the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) has enjoyed a slow but steady rise in popularity, and his six symphonies, written between 1942 and 1953, have now been recorded many times; concert performances are on the increase, too. But Martinů and the Symphony is not only the first book in English intended to help the music-lover to a deeper understanding of these glorious works – it is by far the most comprehensive work on the subject in any language. Each Symphony is examined in turn, the analyses revealing what makes each creation so individual yet also so clearly part of a close-knit family of works and identifying the elements of his melodic, harmonic and instrumental style which produce Martinů’s very personal vibrant and organic symphonic manner. Martinů and the Symphony is illustrated with almost 200 musical examples, taken not only from the Symphonies but also from Martinů’s other works for large orchestra. His path to symphonic mastery is examined in unprecedented detail: attention is at last paid to the early orchestral works which, although largely unperformed and unpublished even now, afford fascinating glimpses of the composer to come. A study of the late triptychs The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca and The Parables rounds out this appraisal of Martinů’s enthralling symphonic and orchestral legacy.