Martinu's Subliminal States

October 2018
20 black and white, 26 line illustrations
294 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580465571
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS050000, HIS037070

Martinu's Subliminal States

A Study of the Composer's Writings and Reception, with a Translation of His "American Diaries"

Thomas D. Svatos

The composer's diaries, translated for the first time, with commentary on his distinctive musical aesthetics and his relationship to artistic cross-currents in Czechoslovakia, France, and America.
Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was one of the most productive and frequently performed composers of the mid-twentieth century, renowned for such works as his opera Julietta; the Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani; and Symphony no. 6 ("Fantaisies symphoniques"). History books, however, rarely give a sense of what he stood for as a musician.

Martinu's Subliminal States fills this gap by discussing the political, cultural, and musical challenges that he faced. The book also offers, for the first time, a translation of the composer's American Diaries, in which he set down his musical philosophy in direct and convincing terms.

Martinu's diaries are, in large measure, a quest to establish a new kind of discourse on music. In place of the Romantic sentiment that he found others invoking to explain musical inspiration, Martinu suggested looking for "emotion" elsewhere, such as in the technical decisions a composer makes while producing the score, or even in the composer's ability to work "without conscious involvement." And in place of the schematic formal analyses that he felt were misleading listeners about a work's "musical structure," he urged that we treat the work as a Gestalt, or as a synergy of functional relations. Martinu's diaries provide a unique contribution to the history of musical aesthetics and shed light on a composer who loomed large in the musical worlds of Europe and America.

THOMAS D. SVATOS is Assistant Professor at Zayed University.

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Table of Contents

Notes to the Reader
Introduction: Why Martinu the Thinker?
Martinu's Parisian Criticism
General Polemics
Until 1943
His Creative Process
On the Ridgefield Diary
A Return to Prague?
Banished and Revived
Final Years
1941 Autobiography (Spring 1941)
"On the Creative Process" (Summer 1943)
The Ridgefield Diary (Summer 1944)
Essays from Fall 1945
Notebook from New York (December 1945)
Notes from 1947, Excerpts
Editorial Remarks
Appendix 1: Martinu's Source Reading
Appendix 2: Miroslav Barvík's Report on Martinu from May 1955
Appendix 3: On the Literary Reception of Kaprálová and Martinu: Jirí Mucha's Peculiar Loves and Miroslav Barvík's "At Tri Studne"
Works Cited

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