Frank Martin


Frank Martin was born in Geneva, the son of a Calvinist minister.  Although he received music lessons in youth, his parents insisted he study mathematics and physics - Martin began a course of study at age16, but did not complete it.  He had received no further tuition in music when, in 1926, took part in a seminar on the role of rhythm in musical education, given in Geneva by Emil Jacques-Dalcroze.  He studied and then taught at Jacques-Dalcroze's institute, lectured at the Geneva conservatory and was later president of the Swiss Musicians' Union.  Eventually his compositions began to receive performances and he travelled extensively to further them.  After the Second World War he taught in Amsterdam and Cologne.

Martin's lengthy development as a composer encompasses a wide range of styles and approaches; initially influenced by J.S. Bach and Fryderyk Chopin, he embraced the modernist influences of Ravel and Debussy, folk music from Bulgaria and India and free atonality before discovering the serial methods of Schoenberg.  Although his 'early' works have considerable merits, he is not thought to have achieved a mature style until 1941 with the completion of his oratorio Le vin herbé.  His most famous work is probably the oratorio Golgotha (1945-48), an example of his love of tone-colour, smooth part-writing and extended harmony.

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