Frank Martin

Classical composer. Born 15 September 1890. Died 21 November 1974
Frank Martin
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1890-09-15
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Frank Martin

Frank Martin Biography (BBC)

The tenth and last child of a Calvinist pastor, Frank Martin was born in Geneva on 15 September 1890, and studied there under Josef Rheinberger and Joseph Lauber, a pupil of Massenet. Thus a mixture of French and Germanic influences shaped his early development; but his friendship with Ernest Ansermet stimulated his interest in more advanced styles, such as those of Ravel and Stravinsky. Nevertheless he cited a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion which he heard at the age of 12 as the crucial event which determined him to become a composer, and Bach remained his ultimate model.

After World War One Martin travelled widely, continuing his studies in Zurich, Rome and Paris and pursuing parallel interests in physics and mathematics. He returned to Geneva in 1926 and worked as a pianist and harpsichordist; he also joined the staff of the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, an experience which confirmed his interest in dance and eurhythmics.

After the Second World War he settled in Holland, and also taught for a time at the Cologne Hochschule fur Musik. (His pupils included Karlheinz Stockhausen.) He retired from teaching in 1957 and concentrated for the rest of his life on composition, which he pursued up to a few days before his death in Naarden, Holland, on 21 November 1974.

A prolific composer who essayed works for most conventional forces, and several for unconventional combinations as well, Martin wrote several religious works, while his biggest achievements are probably his opera after Shakespeare’s Tempest (1955), the Monologues from Hofmannsthal’s version of the medieval morality play Everyman (1949), the oratorios In terra pax (1944) and Golgotha (1945-8), and a cantata upon the Tristan and Isolde legend, Le vin herbé (1938-42). But it is his shorter concert works which have become more widely known, notably the Petite symphonie concertante (1945) for harp, harpsichord, piano and double string orchestra.

Martin’s mature idiom is marked by a concern for clarity of form and instrumental colour; a discreet but pervasive mastery of counterpoint; and lively, pointed rhythms owing something to jazz but more to Baroque dance-measures such as chaconne and gigue. To that extent, his music might be characterised as ‘neo-Classical’; but in contrast to some of his French contemporaries Martin could never be accused of the flippancy or superficiality which that term so often implies.

Though his fast movements are frequently witty or mordant, his predominant tone is one of sober lyricism that can accumulate a dark, sometimes ominous intensity, with occasional visionary illumination expressed through an urbanity of technique that recalls late Fauré. One of the keys to his musical character is the fact that as early as 1932 he began to explore Schoenberg’s method of serial composition. What most appealed to Martin was the logic and self-consistency of the serial idiom, rather than its capacity for extreme dissonance and formalism; and he tended to adapt certain features of the method intuitively rather than apply it rigorously.

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Frank Martin Performances & Interviews


Frank Martin Tracks

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Frank Martin
Mass for Double Choir: Agnus Dei
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Mass for Double Choir: Agnus Dei
Frank Martin
Sanctus, from 'Mass for Double Choir'
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Sanctus, from 'Mass for Double Choir'
Frank Martin
Le Vin herbé - Part 3: La Mort and Epilogue
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Le Vin herbé - Part 3: La Mort and Epilogue
Frank Martin
Le Vin herbé - Part 2: La Forêt du Morois
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Le Vin herbé - Part 2: La Forêt du Morois
Frank Martin
Le Vin herbé - Part 1: Le Philtre
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Le Vin herbé - Part 1: Le Philtre
Frank Martin
Le mystere de la Nativite - Part III
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Le mystere de la Nativite - Part III
Frank Martin
Pavane couleur du temps (Polyptyque)
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Pavane couleur du temps (Polyptyque)
Frank Martin
Mass for Double Choir - Sanctus
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Mass for Double Choir - Sanctus
Frank Martin
Mass for double choir (Gloria)
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Mass for double choir (Gloria)
Frank Martin
Pavane couleur du temps vers. for orchestra
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Pavane couleur du temps vers. for orchestra

Pavane couleur du temps vers. for orchestra

Orchestra
Camerata Zurich
Conductor
Marc Kissoczy
Frank Martin
Ballade
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Ballade
Frank Martin
Mass (Gloria)
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Mass (Gloria)
Frank Martin
Petite Symphonie Concertante (3rd mvt)
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Petite Symphonie Concertante (3rd mvt)
Frank Martin
Mass for Double Choir - Sanctus
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Mass for Double Choir - Sanctus
Frank Martin
Deuxième étude, pour le pizzicato (Études for string orchestra)
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Deuxième étude, pour le pizzicato (Études for string orchestra)
Frank Martin
Songs of Ariel (Full fathom five)
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Songs of Ariel (Full fathom five)

Songs of Ariel (Full fathom five)

Singer
Lauritz Jakob Thomsen
Conductor
Last played on
Frank Martin
Mass for Double Choir: Sanctus and Benedictus
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Mass for Double Choir: Sanctus and Benedictus
Frank Martin
Mass
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Mass
Frank Martin
Trio on popular Irish folk tunes
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Trio on popular Irish folk tunes

Trio on popular Irish folk tunes

Ensemble
Bukolika Piano Trio
Frank Martin
Petite Symphonie Concertante
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Petite Symphonie Concertante
Frank Martin
avane Couleur de Temps
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avane Couleur de Temps

avane Couleur de Temps

Performer
Oxalys Ensemble
Frank Martin
Petite symphonie concertante for harp, harpsichord, piano and double string orchestra
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Petite symphonie concertante for harp, harpsichord, piano and double string orchestra
Frank Martin
Mass for double choir
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Mass for double choir
Frank Martin
Le Vin herbé
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Le Vin herbé

Le Vin herbé

Performer
Rosie Hay
Howard Kirk
Stephan Wells
Gareth Dafydd Morris
Sian Meinir
Director
Polly Graham
Choir
Welsh National Opera Chorus
Frank Martin
Kyrie eleison (Mass for Double Choir)
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Kyrie eleison (Mass for Double Choir)
Frank Martin
Ode à la Musique   
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Ode à la Musique   

Ode à la Musique   

Choir
The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra
Orchestra
The Sixteen Orchestra
Frank Martin
Chansons: 2. le cocou
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Chansons: 2. le cocou
Frank Martin
Mass for unaccompanied double chorus
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Mass for unaccompanied double chorus
Frank Martin
Petite symphonie concertante for harp, harpischord, piano & double string orchestra
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Petite symphonie concertante for harp, harpischord, piano & double string orchestra
Frank Martin
Passacaille (1944)
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Passacaille (1944)
Frank Martin
Cello Concerto (1966)
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Cello Concerto (1966)
Frank Martin
5 Songs of Ariel
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5 Songs of Ariel
Frank Martin
Messa di Requiem - Agnus Dei
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Messa di Requiem - Agnus Dei
Frank Martin
Mass for Double Choir - Kyrie
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Mass for Double Choir - Kyrie
Frank Martin
Ballade for flute and piano
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Ballade for flute and piano

Ballade for flute and piano

Performer
Aniela Frey
Francois
Killian
Frank Martin
Mass for Double Choir
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Mass for Double Choir
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