Donald Martino: a survey of his recent music

Nicholls, David (1992) Donald Martino: a survey of his recent music. Music and Letters, 73, (1), 75-79. (doi:10.1093/ml/73.1.75).


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Donald Martino, who celebrated his 60th birthday in 1991, is one of America's most
distinguished composers. He has taught at Princeton, Yale, Brandeis and the New England
Conservatory, and since 1983 at Harvard, becoming its Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of
Music in 1989. He has gained numerous awards; has received no fewer than three Guggenheim
Fellowships, the most recent in 1982-3; is a member of the American Academy-
Institute of Arts and Letters and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences;
and in 1974 won a Pulitzer Prize for his Notturno. It is perhaps surprising, then, that his
music has been performed relatively little outside his native country (only four or five pieces
have been heard in the United Kingdom during the last decade), particularly given its
remarkable and unusual combination of virtuosity, serialism and reverence for the past.
Martino's compositional credentials are impeccable: his teachers included Ernst Bacon at
Syracuse (to 1952) and Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt at Princeton (1952-5). Two
Fulbright Grants, awarded in 1954 and 1955, allowed him to study with Dallapiccola in
Italy. Unlikely as it may seem, it was only at this stage that he turned to serialism: under
Dallapiccola's guidance, the music of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern began to hold as much
interest for him as that of an earlier muse, Bartdk. Martino has written of the relative importance
of his three principal teachers: 'Babbitt emphasized the detail and its relation to
the whole; Roger [Sessions] emphasized the overview; Dallapiccola the value of nuance and
color'.' Thus the norm in Martino's works embraces large-scale form, strong and lyrical
melody, and rigorous serial construction

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1093/ml/73.1.75
ISSNs: 1477-4631 (print)
Related URLs:
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Music
ePrint ID: 67433
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:54

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