Donald Martino: a survey of his recent music

Nicholls, David (1992) Donald Martino: a survey of his recent music Mozart-Jahrbuch, 73, (1), pp. 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)
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ePrint ID: 67433
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Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 21:26
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