Martinu's Subliminal States : A Study of the Composer's Writings and Reception, with a Translation of His "American Diaries", Hardback Book

Martinu's Subliminal States : A Study of the Composer's Writings and Reception, with a Translation of His "American Diaries" Hardback

Part of the Eastman Studies in Music series

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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 musical 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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