Frank Martin, classical music composer
(15 September 1890 in Eaux-Vives – 21 November 1974 in Naarden) was a Swiss composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlands.
The Petite Symphonie Concertante (which made Martin's international reputation) is the best known of his orchestral works, as the early Mass is of his choral compositions and the Jedermann monologues (for baritone and piano or orchestra) of his works for solo voice. Other Martin pieces include a full-scale symphony (1936–1937), two piano concertos, a harpsichord concerto, a violin concerto, a cello concerto, a concerto for seven wind instruments, and a series of six one-movement works he called "ballades" for various solo instruments with piano or orchestra. Among a dozen major scores for the theater are operatic settings of Shakespeare (The Tempest, in August Wilhelm Schlegel's German version [1952 - 1955]) and Molière (Monsieur de Pourceaugnac [1960 - 1962]), and the satirical fairy tale La Nique à Satan (Thumbing Your Nose at Satan [1928 - 1931]). His works on sacred texts and subjects, which include another large-scale theater piece, Le Mystère de la Nativité (The Mystery of the Nativity [1957 / 1959]) are widely considered to rank among the finest religious compositions of the 20th century. Fellow Swiss musician Ernest Ansermet, a champion of his music from 1918 on, conducted recordings of many of Martin's works, such as the oratorio for soloists, double chorus & orchestra In Terra Pax, written in 1944, with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
Martin developed his mature style based on a very personal use of Arnold Schoenberg's twelve tone technique, having become interested in this around 1932, but did not abandon tonality. In fact his preference for lean textures and his habitual rhythmic vehemence are at the furthest possible remove from Schoenberg's hyperromanticism. Some of Martin's most inspired music comes from his eighties; he worked on his last cantata, Et la vie l'emporta, until ten days before his death. He died in Naarden, The Netherlands.
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