|(b Marseilles, 17 Aug 1901; d Paris, 13 Jan 1971). French composer and conductor of Corsican descent. A pupil of Gaubert and others at the Paris Conservatoire, he won the Prix de Rome in 1927 and the Grand Prix de la Musique Française in 1952. During the 1930s he was one of the founders, alongside Prokofiev, Poulenc, Milhaud and Honegger, of the contemporary music group ‘Triton’. He divided his career equally between composing and conducting, and he conducted at many opera houses throughout the world. As a prolific composer, his orchestral music is important, especially the concertos he wrote for solo instruments and orchestra. However, he was attracted above all to the theatre, and it was two of his operas, L'Atlantide and Miguel Mañara, that established his reputation.|
Miguel Mañara tells of a mystical Don Juan who has renounced debauchery. The composer's own origins are reflected in Sampiero Corso, which deals with the oppression of Corsica by the Genoese in the 16th century. In Ulysse, Ulysses is demystified, returning amid ordinary sailors. Tomasi's postwar works reflect a disillusionment with mankind; L'éloge de la folie, which he described as a cross between opera and ballet, includes references to Nazism and napalm. Tomasi also composed several ballets, and several of his orchestral works were adapted for dance. Before his death he had been working on an operatic version of Hamlet.
His music is intensely direct in feeling, occasionally dissonant and highly coloured; he absorbed influences from his French contemporaries while retaining an individual voice.
A. Machabey: Portraits de trente musiciens français (Paris, 1949)
ReM (1956), no.230 [Tomasi and Corso issue]
B. Gavoty and D. Lesur: Pour ou contre la musique moderne (Paris, 1957)
R. Dumesnil: Histoire de la musique, v (Paris, 1960)
C. Chamfray: ‘In memoriam’, Courrier musical (1971), no.33
F. Ducros: ‘Les opéras d'Henri Tomasi’, Le théâtre lyrique français, 1945–1985, ed. D. Pistone (Paris, 1987), 299–308
‘Hommage à Henri Tomasi’, L'avant-scène opéra, no.109 (1988), 108–39
(b Bucharest, 22 Oct 1898; d Paris, 12 Aug 1985). French composer of Romanian origin. He studied in Bucharest (1908–19) with Bernfeld (violin), Cuclin (harmony) and Cremer (counterpoint), and at the Schola Cantorum, Paris (1919–25), with d’Indy (composition), Saint Réquier (harmony), Gastoué (Gregorian chant) and Lejeune (violin). In Paris he also received advice from his compatriot Enescu. From 1959 to 1962 Mihalovici taught at the Schola Cantorum. He was a founding member of both the Society of Romanian Composers, Bucharest, and the Paris contemporary music society Le Triton; in 1964 he became a corresponding member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
A prolific composer who tackled all styles and forms, he was a strong advocate of neo-classicism and placed great emphasis on melody and counterpoint. His harmonic language ranged from chromaticism to serialism. The imaginative play of instrumental sounds and the constant rhythmic variation (often inspired by Romanian folk music) reveals Mihalovici as a composer who was contemporary in his outlook despite a rigorous, academic background. Works such as Chindia, Rhapsodie concertante, the First Sonata for violin and piano, the ballet Karagueuz and the Third String Quartet are remarkable for their transfiguration of Romanian folk elements, their original modalism and rhythmic definition. He was awarded the Louis Spohr Prize (1955), the Copley Prize (1962) and the George Enescu Prize (1966). He was married to the French pianist Monique Haas.
G. Beck: Marcel Mihalovici: esquisse biographique (Paris, 1952)
Marcel Mihalovici: catalogue de l’oeuvre (Paris, 1968) [incl. preface by C. Rostand]
‘Marcel Mihalovici’, Courrier musical de France, lx/4 (1977) [biographical list of works]
T. Grigoriu: ‘Marcel Mihalovici la 80 de ani’, Muzica, xxviii/12 (1978), 15–17
V. Tomescu: ‘Jubileu: Marcel Mihalovici’, Muzica, xxviii/10 (1978), 13–15
D. Petecel: Muzicieni nostri se destainuie [Our musicians reveal themselves] (Bucharest, 1990)
His Sinfonietta, performed at the 1934 ISCM Festival, brought him international recognition and contributed to his growing reputation in the 1930s. He worked for Swedish radio as a conductor, composer and producer (1937–43); from 1945 to 1947 he was supervisor of the non-professional symphony orchestras, and he remained conductor of the radio chamber orchestra until 1953. He was also professor of composition at the Stockholm Conservatory (1947–59) and later director of music at Uppsala University (1961–6). In 1971 he retired to Helsingborg.
As a composer Larsson continually oscillated between Nordic Romanticism, neo-classicism and more unconventional styles (serialism and polytonality). His first works are Sibelian, but his year abroad (1929–30) brought a change: the Ten Two-Part Piano Pieces (1932) include the first examples of 12-note technique in Swedish music, and a string quartet fragment of the same period is in a harsh tonal style reminiscent of Hindemith. Of much greater importance, however, is the Sinfonietta for strings (also 1932), a quite un-Romantic, contrapuntal piece with neo-Baroque motivic work in the outer movements; for a composer of Larsson’s gentle lyrical disposition it is a work of biting aggressiveness. It was followed by a series of successful and entertaining pieces in an increasingly warm, elegant neo-classical style, the Concert Overture no.2 (1934), the Saxophone Concerto (1934), the Little Serenade for strings (1934), the Divertimento no.2 (1935) and the much performed Piano Sonatina no.1 (1936). Works on a larger scale met with less success: both the Second Symphony (1936–7) and the monumental opera Princessen av Cypern (‘The Princess from Cyprus’, 1930–37) were criticized for their mixture of styles, lack of originality and weak ideas, and they were withdrawn, though the symphony was performed again after revision in the 1970s.
Larsson's appointment to the radio service brought another change, and until the mid-40s he concentrated exclusively on music for broadcasting, the theatre and films. Together with the poet Hjalmar Gullberg he developed a new type of radio programme, the ‘lyrical suite’, consisting of poetry readings interspersed with music. His works in this form included Dagens stunder (1938), from which the Pastoralsvit was compiled for concert performance, Senhöstblad (1938), which produced the Intima miniatyrer for string quartet, and Förklädd gud (‘The Disguised God’, 1940), a more cantata-like piece. In all of these, and particularly in the slower sections, there is a warm Scandinavian Romanticism, though the lively movements still show the airy, witty elegance of Larsson’s neo-classicism. During the war years he also wrote works of contemporary relevance, most notably the Obligationsmarschen (1940), which, in a Norwegian version, played a part in encouraging the resistance movement in Norway.
A return to substantial independent composition came with the First String Quartet (1944) and the Third Symphony (1944–5). In the Cello Concerto (1947) there was another change of direction, best demonstrated in the Musik för orkester (1948–9), one of Larsson's weightiest works. It represents an unconscious approach to Hindemith: there are polytonal tendencies, thematic metamorphosis is used without schematicism on an extended scale and the ideas have a new depth and tension. This direction was continued in the Violin Concerto (1952) and in the 12 concertinos for solo instrument and strings (1953–7), a group designed for skilled amateurs and comparable with Larsson's neo-classical works.
In the late 1950s, Larsson again reviewed his style. There had been 12-note suggestions in the Kyrie of his Missa brevis (1954), and he now developed his own 12-note technique, based not on series but on ‘interval piles’ (four of three notes separated by a major 3rd, or three of four notes separated by a minor 3rd). The few works written in this manner, including the Adagio for strings (1960), the Three Orchestral Pieces (1960) and the Orchestral Variations (1962–3), display an introspective, austere character. Larsson then moved in the opposite direction with the colourful cantata Soluret och urnan (‘The Sundial and the Urn’, 1966) and the Lyrisk fantasi for orchestra (1966). He returned again to neo-classicism in a series of lesser chamber pieces, and in the orchestral Due auguri (1971) and Råå-rokoko (1973) he brought together learning and humour in subtle musical witticism. His last major work, Musica permutatio (1980), is a cool, enigmatic return to his counterpoint of the early 1960s, but without using 12-note technique.
B. Wallner, H. Blomstedt and F. Lindberg: Lars-Erik Larsson och hans concertinor (Stockholm, 1957)
H. Connor: Samtal med tonsättare [Conversations with composers] (Stockholm, 1971)
G. Bergendal: 33 svenska komponister (Stockholm, 1972)
J. Carlstedt: ‘Lars-Erik Larsson’, Tonsättare om tonsättare, ed. S. Hanson and T. Jennefelt (Stockholm, 1993), 63–71
G. Bergendal: ‘Lars-Erik Larsson’, Musiken in Sverige, iv: Konstmusik, folkmusik, populärmusik 1920–1990, ed. L. Jonsson (Stockholm, 1994), 385–93
With their rigorously contrapuntal conception of musical form and their enthusiasm for unusual timbres and previously unexplored means of sound-production, from voices and instruments alike, these composers provided a source for much that was to become characteristic of Jolas' own emerging style. But there were important differences in her outlook, not least her passion for the voice and its expressive qualities. The confrontation of this essentially lyrical impulse with vocal writing which embraces the full gamut of avant-garde fragmentation, timbral experimentation and virtuosity gives her vocal works a special intensity, as in the deliberate exploitation of the confusions and complexities of contrapuntal text-setting in Mots (1963), or the later Sonate à 12 (1970), a tour-de-force of vocal invention and wordless drama. In Quatuor II, for soprano and string trio (1964), the textless voice sometimes opposes the strings, sometimes combines with them in more homogenous textures, but is always treated as fully equal to the other three parts in flexibility and sophistication, pursuing a kaleidoscopic and restless stream of invention. The work was commissioned and first performed by the Domaine Musical, and marked a breakthrough in public recognition for Jolas. D'un opéra de voyage (1967) brings about a complementary transformation, as the instrumental parts are treated like voices. This urge to celebrate the dramatic and expressive qualities of individual musical lines, whether instrumental or vocal, suggests parallels with the music of Berio.
Another distinctive feature of Jolas' music which crystallized during the 1960s was her approach to rhythm and metre. Taking her inspiration from both Debussy and Lassus, she ‘unlearnt’ the traditional musical demarcation of time into strong and regular beats. J.D.E. (1966) presents one of the first in a long line of inventive and economical solutions to the problem of writing polyphonic music which loosens the ties of conventional rhythmic coordination, without sacrificing the contrapuntal relation of the parts by allowing freely unsynchronized playing. Placing notes within a given duration, rather than ‘on’ the beat, and smoothly but continually altering the tempo of the underlying beats, are two of the means used to create the undulating flow characteristic of Jolas' music. This fluidity is also apparent in her melodic contours, which frequently involve portamento and glissando, and in the textures and larger formal sections of a work, which are often seamlessly transformed one into another.
Together with her delight in blurring the distinction between voices and instruments, these preoccupations have remained characteristic of Jolas' music. While continuing to compose for non-standard ensembles (as in D'un opéra de poupée and Points d'or, both 1982), she began in the 1970s to write for full orchestra, often with a solo instrument. Several of these concerto-style pieces are cast in the form of a wordless song-cycle, beginning with the lyrical 11 Lieder for trumpet and orchestra (1977). At the same time she began to make use of the traditional ensembles of chamber music, beginning with the string quartet in Quatuor III (1973), an especially concentrated work cast as a succession of short études each exploring a specific kind of musical material or relationship between the four parts. Given her view of music as ‘sung’ melodic expression, it was inevitable that this reconsideration of the ensembles and institutions of the past would culminate in an opera. Two chamber operas seek in different ways to recreate the immediacy of popular (and ancient) theatrical forms: in the second of these, Le Cyclope (1986), which sets a satyr-play by Euripides word for word (in French), she succeeds in creating a particularly fluid, conversational kind of word-setting. The piece was written as a respite from work on her grand opera Schliemann (1983–93), an epic work on the theme of a lifelong quest which includes much play with different languages and musical cultures. While working on the score Jolas studied some of the operas she most admires, from Don Giovanni to Wozzeck, and occasionally acknowledged her debt in the music: she has no desire to reject the past, and feels able to take inspiration from earlier composers without compromising the integrity of her own, fully contemporary language. Thus she has described the organ piece Musique de jour (1976) as ‘a sort of four-voice fugue’ and ‘a homage to Monteverdi and Bach’, yet these models have been wholly absorbed into the work's own highly individual means of expression.
Since 1953, Jolas has accrued a host of prestigious awards and honours. She has also had a distinguished career as a teacher, much in demand as visiting professor in numerous American universities, and assisting and then succeeding Messiaen as professor of analysis (1975) and professor of composition (1978) at the Paris Conservatoire.
CC1 (V. Perlis)
B. Jolas: ‘Il fallait voter sériel même si…’, Preuves, no.178 (1965), 40–42
M.J. Chauvin: ‘Entretien avec Betsy Jolas’, Courrier musical de France, no.27 (1969), 163–73
B. Jolas: ‘Voix et musique’, Bulletin de la Société française de philosophie, lxvi/2 (1972) [entire issue]
I. Krastewa: ‘Betsy Jolas’, SMz, cxiv (1974), 342–9
D. Henahan: ‘Betsy Jolas Winning Recognition in the USA’, New York Times (30 Aug 1976)
J.W. LePage: ‘Betsy Jolas’, Women Composers, Conductors, and Musicians of the Twentieth Century, i (Metuchen, NJ, 1981), 103–15
B. Massin: ‘Betsy Jolas: Roland de Lassus me fascine’, Panorama-musiques, no.41 (1981) [interview]
‘Voir la musique’, L'âne, no.10 (1983) [interview]
J.-P. Derrien, ed.: 20ème siècle: images de la musique française (Paris, 1985), 143–5 [interview]
V. Perlis: ‘Recordings in Review: Betsy Jolas’, Yale Review (1995), 179–85B. Jolas: Molto espressivo (Paris, 1999) [collected writings]
Betsy Jolas Web Site: www.betsyjolas.com/
Traducción: Marcos Payo humet