Category: 2/2022

THE LEITMOTIF OF LAUGHTER IN SERGEI PROKOFIEV’S THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES

Abstract: Along with the musical leitmotifs, Sergei Prokofiev’s opera The Love for Three Oranges has important literary leitmotifs. This can be explained by the following. Prokofiev was working on music and libretto practically simultaneously (as he himself put it, “you write a phrase, and there comes a musical idea”). Musical and literary leitmotifs have a very sophisticated interaction and an equal contribution to the dramaturgy. The main literary leitmotif is laughter in all possible forms: the word “laughter”, its derivatives and synonyms in different parts of speech along with the sounds of laughter (“ha-ha”, etc.). The laughter in Prokofiev’s opera has a sacramental meaning. Soviet folklorist V. Propp wrote a study called On the Comic and Laughter, where he points out that laughter in folklore means an entry into life, whereas its absence or taboo represents death. From this point of view, the Prince in The Love for Three Oranges is not only sick—he is actually dead, so the only cure to bring him back to life is laughter. In the second half of the opera the leitmotif of laughter is replaced with the leitmotif of three oranges. That is because the fairytale consists of two independent pieces, and the Prince’s laughter serves as an impetus to launch the main plot of looking for the oranges. Two pieces of the opera form a whole by its key intrigue: a constant confrontation of “the helpers” and “the villains” who, according to their functions (specified by Propp), interfere with the Prince’s fate. Скачать статью

POLITICAL INTRIGUES OF THE COURT OF FLORENCE AS A PREREQUISITE FOR GIULIO CACCINI’S OPERA IL RAPIMENTO DI CEFALO

Abstract: The beginnings of opera history are usually associated with Euridice by Ottavio Rinuccini and Jacopo Peri as the first staged and preserved example of the genre. Not many people know that Euridice was by no means the main event during the wedding celebrations in honour of Maria de’ Medici and King Henry IV of France in 1600, to which the opera was timed. The audience was much more drawn to the opera Il rapimento di Cefalo (The Abduction of Cephalus) by Giulio Caccini, a direct rival of Peri. As the music has not completely survived, we know about Il rapimento di Cefalo mainly from the reviews of contemporaries. Historical materials allow us to recreate the genesis of the opera, which is inseparable from the history of opera as a genre. The reported study focuses on personal ambitions, court intrigues, and the rivalry between the Florentines and Emilio de Cavalieri. It also explores similar other factors without which the genre of opera would have taken a different historical path. Besides, the article describes the political and cultural landscape at the court of Ferdinando de’ Medici. The history of Caccini’s opera is analyzed against the general backdrop of Florentine musical art of the last quarter of the 16th century. Download the article

THE ART OF COMPOSING A FUGUE FOR A MELODIC INSTRUMENT

Abstract: The article explores the structure of polyphonic compositions for melodic instruments. The study found that the use of bowed string and wind instruments impacts a composer’s polyphonic technique. Fugues for melodic instruments employ either of the two options: the use of wind instruments, which, as is the case with the human voice, produce only one sound, or the use of bowed string instruments with incomparably greater possibilities. Therefore, polyphonic “kunstücks” for strings are much more common, since the possibility of performing two or more sounds gives way for polyphonic texture. Composing a fugue for a melodic instrument, composers sometimes resort to a special technique that creates the illusion of full-fledged polyphony—the so-called branching of the voice. Branching means that themes and counterpoint are written for different registers rather than for different voices (basically impossible for winds). This leads to the appearance of independent lines within the branched voice. Composing a fugue in such a rigid framework requires compliance with a number of requirements in relation to each of its components: from the theme and counter-theme to interludes and stretches. The analytical part of the report shows typical modifications of the established form and provides examples of the combination of polyphonic and instrumental performing techniques. Download the article

A FUGUE AS ART: BETWEEN FORM AND METAMORPHOSES

Abstract: The article explores the informative value of the most common oppositions “typical vs. individual”, “traditional vs. unique”, “stable vs. dynamic” for the study of evolutionary processes in music. The dichotomous method helps to reveal the dialectic of the general and the individual. On top of that, it is instrumental in discovering new approaches and meanings behind them. At the same time, the concepts of “typical”, “traditional”, and “stable” are understood as a generally accepted, recognizable (at the level of a compositional solution), essential and basic property of the form, while the concept of “metamorphosis” is understood as something special, changeable and non-conventional. The study focuses on the fugue as the key polyphonic form commonly perceived as the embodiment of strict traditions of academicism and, to a certain degree, of conservatism. At the same time, the fugue effectively demonstrates the interaction of technical and aesthetic aspects of the archetype and its numerous stylistic modifications. This is extremely important as regards studies into the evolution of the fugue and the discovery of its internally open and creative nature. Examples of fugues in various composing practices—from the heyday of the Baroque to the present day—show metamorphoses as an organic process that naturally permeates the entire history of the form. Diverse and sometimes paradoxical compositional solutions of the fugue provide a ground to supplement the above list of antonymic pairs with one more opposition: “morph vs. metamorphosis” (“morph” is a Greek word for “form”). This opposition makes it possible to identify the relations between different compositional and structural units of the invariant form and their variants in a modified form. Download the article

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE “TO SKIP” A STUBBORN “MEASURE”. ON SOME ASPECTS OF SHOSTAKOVICH’S CREATIVE PROCESS

Abstract: At times Shostakovich composed his pieces so fast that one would feel something Mozartian in the lightness of his writing technique. However, there were times when things went the other way round. We find what Shostakovich himself says about his writing patterns, “I am trying hard to compose something new. I get down to writing and then change my mind. The symphony does no pan out.” These are just a few of a dozen of other similar statements. One of them makes the title of our paper. It is written as an understatement—a stylistic device so much favored by Shostakovich (O.G. Digonskaya). The words in quotes should not be taken literally. “To skip” does not mean omitting a measure—the measure may contain music subject to later review. The word “measure” does not always imply one measure. It may be one measure in short pieces like Prelude No. 14, Opus 34, or, in extensive scores, the number may reach a few dozens of measures (Symphony No. 4, Part 1). Sometimes “skipping” is nothing but a summary notation—when drafting music, the composer may omit certain details for the simple reason that he remembers them all. This approach is common for that phase of composing when music material is mostly ready but needs emphasis (Symphony No. 10, Part 2). To conclude, Shostakovich deals with music rather freely because of the underlying principle he follows in his composing manner, i.e., a comprehensive vision of what his future music piece will look like. Download the article

GREGORIAN CHANT IN ORGAN SONATAS BY J.-N. LEMMENS

Abstract: The 1860s played a special role in the history of organ music in Belgium and France. This period was marked by the active development of substantive repertory and the establishment of the Franco-Belgian organ school. All the advances of this period could not be possible without the contribution of the Belgian composer, organist and teacher Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens. Brought up on the traditional for Catholic Belgium Gregorian chants and the organ works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Lemmens managed to organically transfer Bach’s principles of working with Lutheran chant to completely different material of Gregorian hymns. Lemmens is also credited for the foundation of the first educational institution that trained church musicians. The three organ sonatas became the pinnacle of his work and the first examples of the synthesis of liturgical content and a secular form. The article reveals general patterns in the choice of themes from the large-scale corpus of Gregorian chants. The melody of the chorale can also be traced in parts in which no chorale is indicated. It shows a deep connection between Lemmens’s heritage and a thousand-year-old church musical tradition. Download the article

Trio texture in choral arrangements and polyclavier organ of Southern Germany in the first third of the 16th century

Abstract: The article is an attempt to establish a relationship between the structure of large South German church organs of the first third of the 16th century and the compositional features of the then-contemporary organ works. The historical boundaries of the Renaissance in German architecture and music do not coincide, while an organ may be viewed as an architectural element. This contradiction presents a certain difficulty. In the indicated period, the late Gothic architectural style, which preceded the Renaissance, played a leading role. As we see it, the organ music of this time, usually attributed to the Renaissance, reflected the transition from the late Gothic to the Renaissance. This complex repertoire is marked by the coexistence and interaction of three general trends. Among them are archaic polymelodic polyphony as well as new techniques: the method of coloring that spread in Southern Germany and imitation borrowed from the European North. A polyclavier organ, which we take as the standard of the South German instrument, is called a late Gothic spaltsatz organ (spätgotische Spaltsatz-Orgel) in German musicology. The trio texture found in choral arrangements, in our opinion, most fully and accurately reflects the polyclavier structure and timbre richness of the large church organs of South Germany. Download the article

C. LE JEUNE’S DODECAHORDE: THE COMPOSER’S APPROACH TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE

Abstract: A 16th century composer would typically borrow a monophonic melody as cantus firmus for their new composition. As a rule, no notable changes were made and the borrowed material would remain, at least within the work itself, a “solid melody”. For his polyphonic psalm collection Dodecachorde, Claude Le Jeune chose cantus firmus from the melodies of the Genevan Psalter. They are not always quoted literally. At times, they take a different mode of the polyphonic setting they are founded on or undergo melodic deformations. The choice of the original source and its modal “retouching” are guided by one and the same reason: Dodecachorde is the artistic manifesto of religious tolerance made by a Huguenot composer. Le Jeune tries to combine the declaration of the Protestant melos as an intonational basis of a polyphonic metric psalter and an attempt to fit it in the traditional all-mode cycle on a new 12-mode basis. Download the article