Composite Identities: The Music of Schulhoff, Frank, and Bartók
Emily Botel & Abigail Shiman, violins; Erica Zappia, viola; Helen Newby, cello
Erwin Schulhoff Five Pieces for String Quartet
Gabriela Lena Frank Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout
Béla Bartók String Quartet No. 4
This evening’s program explores the idea of cultural identities in the music of Erwin Schulhoff, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Bela Bartok. Each of these composers are, to varying extents, musical anthropologists. Frank and Bartok’s music often incorporates folk and native music styles into a western classical structure, whereas Schulhoff integrates elements of modernism, neoclassicism, jazz, and dance from a number of sources and cultures. Schulhoff’s Five Pieces, a seemingly modern take on the baroque dance suite, highlights several aspects of the composer’s hybrid style: bizarre caricatures and parodies of traditional forms (Alla Valse and Alla Serenata), an homage to Czech folk music (Alla Czeca), an admiration for contemporary, popular dance (Alla Tango), and a rapid and rhythmic finale (Alla Tarantella). Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian-Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian-Jewish descent, Gabriela Lena Frank keenly explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions. According to Frank, Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout “draws inspiration from the idea of mestizaje … where cultures can coexist without the subjugation of one by the other.” Frank counts composer Béla Bartók among her many influences, particularly regarding his passion for ethnomusicology. The composer’s deeply personal and idiomatic language, one rooted in the synthesis of eastern Europe folk music and Western art sources, has cemented him as one of the twentieth century’s most important composers. Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4 displays an enormous range of expression while concurrently reflecting his preoccupation with formal unity and coherence.