Unsung Concertos
Bohuslav Martinů: Oboe Concerto H.353

matinu oboe concerto imageBohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) always paid close attention to avant-garde cosmopolitan musical developments. Yet simultaneously he was acutely aware of his position as a composer of Czech national music. Ceaselessly working to “express the never-ending search for truth and the meaning of life,” Martinů composed in a variety of colorful styles and fluid forms. His characteristic musical language gradually builds small musical cells over insistent rhythms that ignore regular bar lines. Jazz harmonies happily mingle within an intricate network of counterpoint and one sculptor described his compositions as “carved out of marble.” In all, Martinů’s musical legacy consists of almost 400 compositions, ranging from choral works and operas to symphonies and a great deal of chamber music.

“The artist is always searching for the meaning of life, his own and that of mankind, searching for the truth,” he once wrote. “A system of uncertainty has entered our daily life. The pressures of mechanization and uniformity to which it is subject calls for protest and the artist has only one means of expressing this, by music.” Written during the last years of his life, the oboe concerto emerged in 1955 as a request from Jiří Tancibudek, an eminent Czech player who had settled in Australia. The project was financially underwritten by the Sydney Daily Telegraph in celebration of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. As such the first performance took place in August 1956 in Sydney, and the first recording was issued in 1962. With it’s characteristic harmonic progressions and syncopated rhythms, the three movements present sharply contrasted materials. A bright and jovial opening movement eventually established a mood of expressive lyricism that also informs the slow movement. The piano, which plays in important part in many of Martinů’s orchestral works, initiates the final movement. Lyricism alternates with jollier episodes and carries the work to a happy and virtuoso conclusion.

Bohuslav Martinů: Oboe Concerto H.353

You May Also Like

More Anecdotes

Leave a Comment

All fields are required. Your email address will not be published.