Erwin Schulhoff DuetErwin Schulhoff - composers

Our choice to start our concerts Sur les routes de l’Est  with the Erwin Schulhoff duet has gradually become an evidence as we got along with our work, we soon realized that this musical work included a large number of the elements of the musical language which will be found in the Martnů as well as in the Kodály duet.

Their work will reveal a  sound notion of the counterpoint as well as a real interest for early music along with an impressive sense of rhythm, the influence of the folk dances and singing, as can be heard in the second movement of this  Schulhoff duet bearing the indication « Zingaresca » meaning « in a Gypsy style »

Erwin Schulhoff – Letter to Alban Berg – February 2nd 1921 :

My love for modern dances is quite remarkable , I have been spending whole nights dancing along with hostesses in nightclubs for the mere pleasure of rythmn and for the sensual feeling of intoxication which took hold of my subconscious during these moments. I thus build up a tremendous source of inspiration, for my immediate conscience is of a very down- to- earth type, I  would even call it animal like.

Source : Dictionary for the musicians (the Universalis dictionaries)

The Bohuslav Martinu duetsBohuslav Martinu - composers

We wished to put at the center of our program the two Bohuslav Martinu duets composed thirty years  apart with a completely different musical language; Martinu’s first creative period is marked by a rather neo-classical style dominated by the influence of Czech-Moravian folklore, the Polka as well as the jazz  rhythm. The second period, the one during which the second duet was composed, one year before he died, Martinu approaches a much more néo-impressionism romantic discourse having developped richer and more original harmonies.

Boluslav Martinu – 1946 :

It is in chamber music that I can be myself above all . When I start composing chamber music, I can barely express the joy I feel in conducting these four different voices.

Source :

Bohuslav Martinu’s musical output finds its influence in several elements :

[…] First, I would say from my own country’s folk musical background : Czecholovakia, the second source of influence is to be found in the English Madrigal and the third inspiration is Debussy.

Source : Interview USA 1942

Zoltan Kodaly - composersZoltán Kodály duet / meeting with Béla Vikar and Béla Bartók

This musical trip « on the Easter Roads » ends up in Budapest where Zoltán Kodály writes his duet in 1914 in which quite a few numbers of popular themes are to be found. It is thanks to the ethnologist Béla Vikar, who was the first one to record on a phonograph that Kodály met Béla Bartók.

These two men will strike up a real friendship and will embark upon long journeys in the countryside, looking out for folk themes to pick up.

Vikar did a tremendous job. He is therefore able to present for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900 no fewer than 500 reels on which more than 1500 Hungarian folk songs were recorded. These recording will deeply influence Bartók as well as Kodály’s work who then discover the complete  Hungarian oral peasant  tradition. They will make the most of these elements in an artistic, didactic as well as in a scientific field. The theme of Kodály’s dissertation presented in 1906 will consistently be « the strophic form in popular Hungarian folk songs », and it is indeed this musical language with its spoken accentuation present in the Hungarian spoken language that we find in this duet in which popular themes and impressionist colours intertwine, the very sort of impressionism that will be discovered by Kodály one year later while staying in Paris and listening to Debussy’s music.

Béla Bartók, about Zoltán Kodály – Article dated from 1920 :

So little has been passed on to us in a written way as far as ancien Hungarian music is concerned that were it not for the exploration into folk music there would be no historical conception of what magyare music can be like. […] For us, folk music is far more meaningful than for the peoples  who  have been developing  their specific music style for centuries.

Source : France Musique –July 23rd 2013

 Béla Bartók, about Zoltán Kodály

His art, just like mine, is rooted into a double culture : on the one hand it emerges from the peasant Hungarian land and on the other from French modern music [Debussy]. But although our art draws its inspiration into this shared soil, our productions proved drastically different from the very first day…His own form might very well be closer to some traditional ones. But it is precisely this essential difference which found in his music a completely new and unique  way of expression which makes his message so precious…

Source :

Béla Vikar about the collecting of traditional types of music :

I have always proved extremely reluctant to expect academically trained musicians to be able to perform this sort of work. Their classical training hardly makes it possible for them to express the very soul of folk songs.

Each of these three composers have been of a great interest for the different emerging artistic movements such as Dadaism or impressionism.


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