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Biography of

Frank Martin

15 sep 1890 (Geneva) - 21 nov 1974 (Naarden)
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Frank Martin (September 15, 1890 – November 21, 1974) was a Swiss composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlands.



The Petite Symphonie Concertante (which made Martin's international reputation) is the best known of his orchestral works, as the early Mass is of his choral compositions and the Jedermann monologues (for baritone and piano or orchestra) of his works for solo voice. Other Martin pieces include a full-scale symphony (1936–1937), two piano concertos, a harpsichord concerto, a violin concerto, a cello concerto, a concerto for seven wind instruments, and a series of six one-movement works he called "ballades" for various solo instruments with piano or orchestra. Among a dozen major scores for the theater are operatic settings of Shakespeare (The Tempest, in August Wilhelm Schlegel's German version [1952 - 1955]) and Molière (Monsieur de Pourceaugnac [1960 - 1962]), and the satirical fairy tale La Nique à Satan (Thumbing Your Nose at Satan [1928 - 1931]). His works on sacred texts and subjects, which include another large-scale theater piece, Le Mystère de la Nativité (The Mystery of the Nativity [1957 / 1959]) are widely considered to rank among the finest religious compositions of the 20th century. Fellow Swiss musician Ernest Ansermet, a champion of his music from 1918 on, conducted recordings of many of Martin's works, such as the oratorio for soloists, double chorus & orchestra In Terra Pax, written in 1944, with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.[1]

Martin developed his mature style based on a very personal use of Arnold Schoenberg's twelve tone technique, having become interested in this around 1932, but did not abandon tonality. In fact his preference for lean textures and his habitual rhythmic vehemence are at the furthest possible remove from Schoenberg's hyperromanticism. Some of Martin's most inspired music comes from his eighties; he worked on his last cantata, Et la vie l'emporta, until ten days before his death. He died in Naarden, The Netherlands.

Principal Works



  • Ballade for Saxophone and Orchestra (1938)
  • Concerto for seven wind instruments, timpani, percussion, and string orchestra (1949)
  • Violin Concerto (1950)
  • Cello Concerto (1965)
  • Polyptyque, for violin and two small string orchestras (1973)


  • Pavane couleur du temps (Colour of weather Pavane) (1920) for string quintet ( 2 violins, viola, 2 cellos)
  • Trio sur des mélodies populaires irlandaises (1925)
  • Quatre pièces brèves for guitar (1933)
  • Ballade for flute, piano and strings (1941; based upon the version for flute and piano from 1939)


  • Eight Preludes for Piano (1947–1948)


  • Les Dithyrambes for soli, chorus and orchestra (1918; text by Pierre Martin)
  • Mass for unaccompanied double choir (1922 - 1924 / 1926)
  • In terra pax (1944)
  • Golgotha, oratorio for 5 vocal soloists, chorus, organ, and orchestra (1945–1948)
  • Requiem (1971–1972)


  • Le vin herbé (1938 / 1940 - 1941)
  • Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke (Der Cornet) (1942–1943)
  • Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann (1943–1944)
  • Songs of Ariel (1950)


External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Frank Martin. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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