The following titles have recently become available from Toccata Press…
Szymanowski's King Roger
The Opera and its Origins
Foreword by Sir Antonio Pappano
Other Operas No. 2 (ISSN 0960-0108)
Extent: 171 pages
Size: 24.1 x 16.4 cm
Published: April 2015
Composition: Royal octavo
Karol Szymanowski (1881–1937), the most important Polish composer after Chopin, wrote only two operas, the second of which, King Roger, completed in 1924, is a masterpiece. After decades of neglect this magnificent work has begun to receive more attention around the world, and this first extended study of King Roger investigates its origins, uncovers its ideology, examines its music and documents its history.
The book opens with an outline of the role the theatre played in Szymanowski’s career, from his early operetta, Lottery for Husbands, and the Straussian one-act opera Hagith, to his incidental music (Mandragora and Prince Patiomkin) and the rousing ballet-pantomime, Harnasie, based on legends from the Polish highlands.
In tracing the evolution of King Roger from conception to completion, Alistair Wightman, one of the leading Szymanowski scholars, examines the contribution of the co-librettist, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, and surveys the various strands which make up its ideology, from Euripides (The Bacchae) and Plato (Phaedrus and The Symposium) to works by Pater, Nietzsche, Merezhkovsky and Miciński. He charts Szymanowski’s fascination with the historical background of the opera, the world of the twelfth-century ruler of Norman Sicily, Roger II (1095–1154). Szymanowski’s own novel, Efebos, written in 1918–19 and only partially preserved, offers intriguing parallels with his opera.
Szymanowski’s opulent score, with its references to Byzantine chant and Arab music, is analysed with the aid of numerous examples, and the study is rounded off with an account of the performance and reception history of this breathtakingly beautiful work. In his Foreword Sir Antonio Pappano describes this books as ‘an essential guide to Szymanowski’s deeply disturbing but ultimately moving opera’.
Hans Gál: Music behind Barbed Wire
A Diary of Summer 1940
Translated by Eva Fox-Gál and Anthony Fox
English edition edited by Martin Anderson
Foreword by Sir Alan Peacock
Music and Society (non-ISSN series)
Extent: 243 pages
Size: 16 x 24 cm
Published: October 2014
Composition: Royal octavo ~ Editorial Introduction ~ Eva Fox-Gál: ‘Hans Gál: A Biographical Introduction’ ~ Richard Dove: ‘”Most Regrettable and Deplorable Things have Happened”: Britain’s Internment of Enemy Aliens in 1940’ ~ Hans Gál: Music behind Barbed Wire ~ Eva Fox-Gál: ‘Gál in Britain’ ~ Appendices – One: Personalia; Two: CD Programme; Three: Martin Anderson: Hans Gál in Conversation; Four: The Hans Gál Society; Five: The Contributors ~ Bibliography ~ Index of Gál’s Works ~ General Index
Illustrations: c. 50
The Austrian-born composer Hans Gál (1890–1987) was one of many Jewish refugees who fled to Britain from Hitler’s Third Reich only to find themselves interned in prison camps in Britain as ‘enemy aliens’ – the result of Churchill’s panic decision to ‘collar the lot’ in fear of a ‘fifth column’ of Nazi sympathisers. Gál thus spent five months over the summer of 1940 in internment camps – first in Donaldson’s Hospital in Edinburgh, then at Huyton, near Liverpool, and finally in the Central Promenade Camp on the Isle of Man.
The diary Gál kept during his captivity, a vivid and very human account of personal survival and creativity in extraordinary circumstances, is a monument to the human spirit. Many of his fellow internees went on, like Gál himself, to become shaping forces in the intellectual life of Britain – but in captivity this colourful array of distinguished personalities had to put up with bureaucratic inertia and the indifference of their captors to their undeserved fate. They emerge from the pages of the diary like characters in a tragi-comic human drama.
Gál’s contribution, of course, was music, and the CD with this book presents recordings of the Huyton Suite he wrote for two violins and flute (the only instruments available to him), songs from the satirical review What a Life! composed on the Isle of Man and the piano suite he drew from it.
A biographical introduction to Hans Gál by his daughter, Eva Fox-Gál, and a general historical introduction to British internment policy by Professor Richard Dove provide a framework for the diary; the Foreword is by the distinguished economist, the late Sir Alan Peacock, who studied composition with Gál. Together they throw light on one of the more shameful British responses to the threat of Nazi invasion.
Hans Gál, born near Vienna in 1890, soon established himself as one of the foremost composers of his time, particularly following the decisive success, in 1923, of Die heilige Ente, the second of his four operas, which was staged in many major European opera houses until it was banned by the Nazis. In 1929 he was appointed Director of the Music Academy in Mainz, but was summarily dismissed after Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933. Returning to Vienna, Gál and his family again had to flee with the Anschluss in March 1938, to London. There an encounter with Sir Donald Tovey brought him to Edinburgh where – apart from the five months of internment as an ‘enemy alien’ documented in this diary – he spent the rest of his life, a much-loved and active composer, teacher, author and musical personality. He died in October 1987, aged 97. At the time of his death his music had fallen from sight, but in recent years a revival in interest has seen frequent performances, broadcasts and recordings of much of his substantial output, including symphonies, concertos, chamber music and a range of solo works, revealing a master craftsman with a distinctive voice.
The Life and Music of a Norwegian Composer
Arvid O. Vollsnes
Composer Studies (non-ISSN series)
Extent: 368 pages
Size: 16.4 x 24.1 cm
Published: March 2014
Composition: Royal octavo ~ Illustrations ~ LoW ~ Irgens-Jensen as Poet ~ Bibliography ~ Discography ~ Index of Irgens-Jensen's Music ~ General Index ~ Sampler CD of Irgens-Jensen’s Music
The Norwegian composer Ludvig Irgens-Jensen (1894-1969) was one of the towering creative figures of his native land, although his dignified and powerful music does not receive the attention its quality deserves, either at home or abroad. The success of his dramatic symphony Heimferd (‘Homecoming’) in 1930 brought him national fame, but the post-War triumph of modernism, coupled with his personal modesty, pushed Irgens-Jensen's tonal music into the shadows: its contrapuntally based textures and its modally tinged harmonies were seen as things of the past. But a growing number of recordings is reminding listeners that he was one of the most distinguished and distinctive voices in twentieth-century music – a figure of international importance, writing music of striking nobility and strength of purpose with some meltingly lovely melodic lines.
Arvid O. Vollsnes' Ludvig Irgens-Jensen: The Life and Music of a Norwegian Composer is the first discussion in English of this profoundly decent man and his life-enhancing music. A review of the original Norwegian publication of this book in Aftenposten, the main Norwegian daily paper, described it as ‘a gripping biographical portrait. As well as Irgens-Jensen's life we get a broad picture of Norwegian musical life from the 1920s to his death in 1969’.
A CD of extracts from Irgens-Jensen's works has been prepared to accompany the English edition to provide readers with an introduction to his highly individual and immediately appealing sound-world.
A Musician Divided
André Tchaikowsky in his Own Words
Edited by Anastasia Belina-Johnson
Foreword by David Pountney
Musicians on Music No. 10 (ISSN 0264-6889)
Extent: 434 pages
Size: 16 x 24 cm
Published: November 2013
Composition: Royal octavo ~ Recordings of André Tchaikowsky's Music ~ André Tchaikowsky's Recordings ~ Index of Tchaikowsky's Music ~ General Index ~ CD of André Tchaikowsky in recital
André Tchaikowsky was only 46 when he died. But his brilliance as a pianist had made him a familiar figure on the world’s concert platforms – and he made the headlines after his death when he left his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in performances of Hamlet. Yet for all his facility at the keyboard Tchaikowsky’s real passion was composition, and at the time of his death he had all but finished his magnum opus, an opera based on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Its premiere at the 2013 Bregenz Festival seems set to bring Tchaikowsky the composer the fame in the 21st century that escaped him in the twentieth.
The internal conflict between pianist and composer compounded an already complex character. A Polish Jew, Tchaikowsky had survived the Holocaust hidden by his grandmother in a Warsaw cupboard, and it was she who gave the young Andrzej Krauthammer the name Tchaikowsky to help fool the Nazis. Already an outsider as a Jew and deeply ambivalent towards his family, Tchaikowsky was also a homosexual – yet another disruptive element in a troubled personality.
The diaries Tchaikowsky kept between 1974 and his death chronicle the struggles that ran through his life. Debt kept driving him back to the concert platform when his true wish was to find the time to compose. Relationships came and went, undermined by his insecurity – although Tchaikowsky generated fierce loyalty among his friends. His spirited writing reveals him to have been astonishingly well read, familiar with the literatures of a number of European languages, and he details the joys and vicissitudes of his life with striking candour.
The diaries – an autobiography in all but name – are introduced and annotated by Anastasia Belina-Johnson, who also provides a chronology of Tchaikowsky’s life and a survey of his music.
A CD – a private recording of an informal recital in Australia – allows the reader to hear the voice behind the words and experience Tchaikowsky’s remarkable musicianship.