The Influence of Romanian Folk Music on the Music of George Enescu
The Influence of Romanian Folk Music on the Music of George Enescu, with special reference to Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, and Impression d’Enfance for Violin and Piano, op. 28.
Michael David Patterson
A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Philosophy (Music Performance) at The University of Queensland in September 2009 The School of Music
ii Declaration by author
This thesis is composed of my original work, and contains no material p
The Influence of Romanian Folk Music on the Music of George Enescu, with special reference to Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, and Impression d’Enfance for Violin and Piano, op. 28.
Michael David Patterson
A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Philosophy (Music Performance) at The University of Queensland in September 2009 The School of Music
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This thesis is composed of my original work, and contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference has been made in the text. I have clearly stated the contribution by others to jointly-authored works that I have included in my thesis.
I have clearly stated the contribution of others to my thesis as a whole, including statistical assistance, survey design, data analysis, significant technical procedures, professional editorial advice, and any other original research work used or reported in my thesis. The content of my thesis is the result of work I have carried out since the commencement of my research higher degree candidature and does not include a substantial part of work that has been submitted to qualify for the award of any other degree or diploma in any university or other tertiary institution. I have clearly stated which parts of my thesis, if any, have been submitted to qualify for another award.
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iv Acknowledgements I would like to acknowledge the support of my academic advisor, Dr. Denis Collins and my practical advisor, Mr. Spiros Rantos.
Abstract George Enescu (1881-1955) is the best-known Romanian composer and has been widely lauded for his folk- inspired compositions. While folk music was an important influence in Enescu’s music, it was always balanced by his passion for and intimate understanding of late Romantic compositional techniques. The extent to which he was influenced by the folk music of his homeland is a point of contention amongst some of the leading Enescu scholars. The English-speaking representative, Noel Malcolm believes that the influences in Enescu´s musical language were more diverse than scholars have suggested prior to the 1989 revolution. He believes that the depiction of Enescu as a folkloristic composer has contributed to his marginalisation and relative obscurity. By contrast, scholars such as Boris Kotlyarov and Grigore Constantinescu give greater weight to national characteristics in Enescu’s music. Enescu conceded that some of his early works made direct quotation of Romanian folk melodies, and that such an approach was limited in its possibilities. The composer’s more mature works employ characteristics of folk music and its performance traditions without the use of direct quotation.
This critical commentary will observe and comment on the folk influences in Enescu’s compositions as well as noting the influence of Western traditions and techniques. Due reference will be given to the work of Bartók, whose incisive study of Romanian folk music remains one of the most substantial and detailed primary sources today. In order to highlight specific examples of folk influence, as well as other techniques, three of Enescu’s works are targeted for specific study, namely the Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3 and his Impressions D’Enfance for violin and piano, op. 28. Each work exhibits a tie with the composer’s Romanian origins, but also with 19th and early 20thC composers such as Brahms, Wagner, Debussy and Fauré. This critical commentary highlights the fact that Enescu’s works display folk idioms and techniques developed using lateRomantic techniques.
v Keywords Enescu, folk, music, compositions, Romania, Romanian, composer, traditional, Bartók
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classifications (ANZSRC) 190407 30%, 190409 70%
Page DECLARATION AND PRELIMINARY INFORMATION ABSTRACT CONTENTS LIST OF MUSICAL EXAMPLES CHAPTERS 1 Introduction 2 Biographical Background 3 Enescu, Bartók and Approaches to Folk Music 4 Characteristics of Romanian Folk Music 5 Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1 6 Impression d’Enfance for Violin and Piano, op. 28 7 Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3 8 Conclusion BIBLIOGRAPHY 1 6 11 16 27 31 38 47 51 ii iv vi vii
LIST OF MUSICAL EXAMPLES
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Bihor area modal type. ‘Heroic’ melody modal type. Modal type for melodies with motif-structure. Câmpie area modal type. The Hicaz mode. Hexasyllabic arrangement. Octosyllabic arrangement. Băla, Mureş county. 1914, transc. B Bartók Rhythmic shift through displacement of the accent. The uncertain mode. A doina, Cintec Lung Cu Haulit from the Oltenia area (Alexandru 166). An instrumental dance melody from the Hunedoara area (Bartók 409). Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 1-4. Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 9-12. Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 30-37. Enescu, Impressions d’enfance, op. 28, bars 1-2. Underlying rhythm of Ménétrier´s opening melody. The second phrase of Ménétrier. Enescu, Impressions d’enfance, op. 28, bars 6-8. Enescu, Impressions d’enfance, op. 28, bars 34-36. Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 355-358. Dorian mode with raised fourth degree. 18 18 19 19 19 20 20 21 22 23 26
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
28 28 29 32 32 33 34 34 35 36
viii 23 Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, third movement, bars 21-22. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, first movement, bars 1-5 Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, first Movement, bars 6-9. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, first movement, second subject, bars 32-37 (with anacrusis). Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, start of the development section, bars 38-41. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, first movement, bars 63-64. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, second movement, bars 20-21. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3, third movement, bars 20-21. 39
1 Chapter 1
In this critical commentary I will examine how George Enescu drew upon the folk music heritage of Romania in the development of his musical language. This discussion will be balanced with consideration of the composer’s formal music education in Vienna and Paris and the reflection of this training in his compositional output. Enescu is the best known and most celebrated Romanian composer to date (Malcolm, “George Enescu”). The fact that he was influenced by folk music is generally agreed upon, but the extent of this influence is a point of contention, as may be seen in the monographs of Boris Kotlyarov and Noel Malcolm. Their respective books, Enesco1 and George Enescu: His Life and Music are the most substantial scholarly publications about Enescu in English (Waterhouse 118). Kotlyarov seems willing to attribute most of the composers distinctive compositional features to a folk music influence, while Malcolm is more sceptical, acknowledging folk influence but presenting the composer as more cosmopolitan. Their contrasting views will be balanced in this critical commentary, with due consideration of Enescu’s biographical information and examination of some of his more representative works. Three specific works will be targeted for more detailed discussion, namely the Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no. 3 and Impressions D’Enfance for violin and piano, op. 28. Each work exhibits a tie with Enescu’s Romanian origins, but also with his education in Vienna and Paris and the influence of composers such as Brahms, Wagner, Debussy and Fauré.
Translation from Russian to English by the Author.
2 Enescu was a ‘dyed-in-the-wool Wagnerian’ (Malcolm, Life and Music 75) living at a time when composers were seeking alternative paths to the advanced harmonic idioms developed by late nineteenth century composers. Exoticism, serialism, barbarism, neoclassicism, folklorism, nationalism and dadaism were but a few of the many trends explored by composers of this time (Vancea 6). Enescu, while patriotic and loyal to his homeland of Romania was not, like Bartók, driven to compose for the good of the nation (Suchoff 133). Nor did he conduct any detailed study or documentation of the music of the Romanian people in order to imbue his compositions with its spirit. And yet Enescu is hailed to this day as the greatest single exponent of Romanian music, and as a folklorist whose music portrays the character of the Romanian landscape (Malcolm, “Enescu in Bucharest” 31)2. However, Noel Malcolm has noted the lack of study on the influence of church music on Enescu’s output (Malcolm, “Enescu in Bucharest” 31). On both sides of the composer’s family there were strong ties with the Romanian Orthodox church, and Enescu always remained a keen exponent: ‘I think that the most difficult, necessary and urgently useful work that needs to be done in Romanian music is that which is required by church music’ (qtd. in Malcolm, Life and Music 27).
Enescu’s nationality was clearly an inspiration for such works as Poème Roumaine and the two Romanian Rhapsodies, but he did not devote time to the study of folk music. The composer’s exposure to folk music was restricted to what he would have encountered in day to day life. Compared to Béla Bartók, his knowledge of folk music, at an academic level, would have appeared minimal (see Chapter 3 below).
During the 1982 “Enescu Festival” in Bucharest, Malcolm was perplexed by what seemed to be an exaggeration of the composer’s folk-music connection; “Again and again, we were told that Enescu expressed the spirit of Romanian folk-music, of the Romanian landscape, or even, as the Chinese pianist Li Ming-Chang informed us, of Romanian vegetation” (Malcolm, “Enescu in Bucharest” 31).
3 Nonetheless, elements of folk influence within his music are highlighted and lauded by music scholars. In many cases, this exaggerated emphasis has resulted from the political environment of Romania prior to the 1989 Revolution, in which the link between composer and nation through folk music was highly regarded (Valentina).
Scholarly literature on Enescu is nowhere near as abundant as on other eminent composers of Central and Eastern Europe. Malcolm´s monograph, George Enescu: His Life and Music of 1990 is the most recent and substantial book about the composer in English. His writings are widely referenced in recent journal articles, CD liner notes and performance reviews. Although frustrated by writers who exaggerate accounts of folk influence in Enescu’s music (Malcolm, Life and Music 11-12), he presents a balanced approach that considers folk influences whilst not ignoring Enescu’s many and varied influences from the West.
Kotlyarov’s monograph was used with caution in this critical commentary. As noted by John Waterhouse (118), the book provides some insightful discussion of Enescu’s music. However, some of the analyses are excessively florid and written in a way that exaggerates the role of nationalism in Enescu´s musical language. With regard to Enescu’s overtly Romanian works (Poème Roumaine, the two Romanian Rhapsodies and the Sonata for Violin and Piano, no. 3) Kotlyarov’s fundamental assertions about folk influence are undisputed. However, those made in discussion of other works, such as Enescu’s first and second violin sonatas (34-35) and Dixtuor, op. 14 (74) for woodwind seem more tenuous. Consider for example Kotlyarov’s remarks on the Sonata for Violin and Piano, no. 2: ‘Enesco uses a very rapid bow tremolo which in
4 piano-pianissimo makes the violin sound like a cobza’3 (34). Kotlyarov chooses to attribute the use of such techniques such as portamento and tremolo to folk influence (34) without considering a possible French influence. Enescu was studying at the Paris Conservatoire when he wrote this sonata, and would have been familiar with the ‘rapid bow tremolo’ in the first movement of Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (1897)4. Enescu’s use of tremolo is just as likely to be an impressionistic gesture as an imitation of a traditional Romanian instrument. Kotlyarov, however is quick to distance Enescu from impressionism, quoting Maxim Gorky: ‘in great artists [such as Enescu] realism and romanticism are always combined’ (qtd. in Kotlyarov 45). This sort of reference by Kotlyarov suggests that his writing was influenced by socialist realist thinking (Pegg).
The most significant Enescu scholar, aside from Malcolm and Kotlyarov, is Pascal Bentoiu, a Romanian composer and ethnomusicologist. He has published numerous essays on Enescu along with one monograph, Capodopere enesciene (1984) for which there is no published English translation. However, some of his writing is available in English at The International Enescu Society website5. His brief article, “George Enescu, the Composer” serves to confirm some of the more nuanced claims of Malcolm. In particular, Bentoiu supports Malcolm’s view of the composer as a marginalised figure whose oeuvre should not be consigned merely to the ‘national school’. In contrast to Malcolm however, Bentoiu suggests it is the complexity of Enescu’s mature compositions that is the primary reason for their relative obscurity today (Bentoiu).
A cobza is a lute-like instrument that was widely used for accompanying the voice or melody instruments in Romania around the time of Enescu (Rădulescu). 4 Ravel was friends with Enescu and would later entrust the first performance of his second sonata for violin and piano to the Romanian (Menuhin 101). 5
This Critical Commentary will refer to the writings of the aforementioned authors in its exploration of folk influence in Enescu’s music, while making it clear that there were other influences on his composing style that were possibly even stronger. Enescu was excited by music of the Romantic era because it spoke to him emotionally and with the same directness of communication that he intended to achieve in his own compositions (Malcolm, Life and Music 38). Enescu said that music should ‘go from heart to heart’ (qtd. in Malcolm, Life and Music 14). Although there were numerous influences on his compositional style, this emotional emphasis was always at the core of Enescu’s music. The three pieces studied in chapters 5-7 of this critical commentary reveal not only characteristics derived from Romanian folk music, but also the strength and importance of Western techniques in Enescu’s music. Chapters 2-4 are preparatory to the discussion of these pieces and consider the diverse influences that formed part of the composer’s mature musical language.
6 Chapter 2 BIOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND
Despite remarkable ability as a violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher, Enescu always considered himself to be principally a composer (Constantinescu 9). When reading about his life, and about how he touched the lives of other great musicians, it becomes clear that he was a remarkably facile musician, but also of very humble and kind disposition. Noel Malcolm referred to his ‘extraordinary [and] total musicalilty of mind’ (Malcolm, Life and Music 13). In his autobiography, Yehudi Menuhin referred to Enescu’s musicality as an ‘incandescence surpassing anything in my experience’ (Menuhin 84), and in the introduction to Malcolm’s monograph described him as ‘the most extraordinary human being, the greatest musician and the most formative influence I have ever experienced’ (Malcolm, Life and Music 9). Pablo Casals described Enescu as ‘the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart’ (Malcolm, Life and Music 263).
Enescu was born in Moldavia, a region of Romania that was so regularly invaded throughout history that its culture was rich with the influence of the East and the West (Menuhin 98). Enescu learnt the violin from a local Gypsy6 fiddler until his outstanding ability was recognised by Eduard Caudella, a professor of violin at the Conservatory in Iaşi, and he was sent to Vienna to commence his formal education (Malcolm, Life and Music 30). In Vienna, from the age of five Enescu was immersed in the music of the great Viennese classical composers – Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven – but it was music of the Romantic era, in particular the music of Wagner,
The word ‘Gypsy’ is used in this critical commentary in reference to itinerant musicians, and is not specific to any ethnicity.
7 that most excited the young Romanian (Vancea 8). Enescu later made special mention of Hans Richter who conducted The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and the Der Ring des Nibelungen during Enescu’s time in Vienna (Kotlyarov 20). He said that Wagner’s chromaticisms became ‘a part of his vascular system’ (Enescu, qtd. in Kotlyarov 20). Many of Enescu’s works display other qualities that point to Wagner’s influence: ‘elaborate forms, large proportions and intense sonority’ (Kotlyarov 20).
While in Vienna, Enescu studied composition with Robert Fuchs, whose other pupils included Mahler, Sibelius and Wolf (Malcolm, “George Enescu”). After graduating from the Vienna Conservatoire in 1893, the twelve-year old Enescu stayed on for one more year of composition lessons with Fuchs. The influence of Fuchs’s counterpoint teaching is apparent in Enescu´s celebrated Opus 1, Poème Roumain (1897) which is abundant in thematic superimpositions (Malcolm, Life and Music 63).
Paris was to become the young Romanian’s next home. Enescu’s arrival in 1895 was at a time when the city’s musical life was thriving as a result of strong government support (Pasler). At the Paris Conservatoire he studied composition with Massenet (1895–6) and Fauré (1896–9) (Malcolm, “George Enescu”). His early compositions from this period are clearly indebted to the Germanic tradition, as exemplified by the works of Schumann, Beethoven and Brahms. They also see the emergence of Fauré’s influence, which was to become increasingly significant (Vancea 8). Enescu’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 2 no. 1, his Sonata for Cello and Piano, op. 26 no. 1, and the Variations for Two Pianos on an Original Theme, op. 5 all date from this burgeoning stage.
8 Enescu’s fondness for heterophonic compositional techniques was fostered in his weekly counterpoint lessons with André Gédalge. The Frenchman was to remain special to Enescu as the following extract attests:
I was, am and always shall be Gédalge´s pupil: what he gave me was a doctrine to which I was already naturally attuned. […] Polyphony is the essential principle of my musical language; I’m not a person for pretty successions of chords. I have a horror of everything which stagnates. […] Harmonic progressions only amount to a sort of elementary improvisation. However short it is, a piece deserves to be called a musical composition only if it has a line, a melody, or, even better, melodies superimposed on one another. (qtd. in Malcolm, Life and Music 56-57).
Enescu’s Octet for Strings, op. 7 is clearly indebted to Gédalge in its extensive use of contrapuntal techniques (Malcolm, Life and Music 78). For instance, the first movement involves a prolonged fugal interplay between the first violin and the first viola parts. The second movement continues the contrapuntal sensibility with its highly energetic fugato (Malcolm, Life and Music 79).
As a composer, Enescu achieved his first large-scale success with Poème Roumain which was completed in 1897. Aside from its successful première in Paris in 1898, the work was a huge success when the composer conducted it in the Romanian capital of Bucharest (Malcolm “Enescu”). The work is rich in melodic superimpositions and thematic transformation, two techniques of which Enescu seemed particularly fond (Kotlyarov 35). Although thematic transformation was used extensively by Liszt, it is
9 more likely to have been Wagner’s transformation of leitmotifs in the Ring which inspired Enescu, as this was a work that he had memorised in its entirety (Menuhin 101). Enescu’s first Cello Sonata uses the technique so extensively that the thematic material becomes fatigued through all its convolutions (Malcolm, Life and Music 72).
Ensescu was not the first Romanian composer to create symphonic works based on Romanian folk melodies; he was following in a tradition established towards the end of the nineteenth century by composers such as Alexandru Flechtenmacher (National Moldavian Overture), Iacob Mureşianu (Stephen the Great) and Ciprian Porumbescu (Romanian Rhapsody) (Malcolm, Life and Music 62). Enescu’s foray into the use of quotation was short-lived and certainly atypical of his mature compositional style (Malcolm, Life and Music 12). His later works harnessed folk-like qualities without actually quoting melodies (Constantinescu 9-10). The composer’s attitude to incorporating folk melodies in symphonic works was cautious:
I believe that popular [i.e. folk] art is good in itself. To employ it in symphonic works amounts to enfeebling it as if diluting it in water. Every composer must inspire himself by his own means. I know only one exception, and it applies to rhapsodies where folk tunes are fitted to one another and not worked out. A popular melody can be developed by one means only – by a dynamic progression, by repeating it without alterations, without artificial endings or intercalculations…I wrote my rhapsodies in a purely instinctive way and only later tried to find out what inner requirement had induced me to choose that form. (qtd. in Kotlyarov 34)
10 These comments from a 1952 interview with Enescu echo writings of Claude Debussy from around the year 1900. The latter consistently denounced the act of taking melodies from the folk music, writing once to a Hungarian friend:
Your young musicians could usefully take inspiration from them, not by copying them but by trying to transpose their freedom, their gifts of evocation, colour, rhythm … One should only ever use the folk music of one’s country as a basis, never as a technique. (qtd. in Lesure)
Enescu graduated from the Paris Conservatoire in 1899, then began a ‘divided existence’ that revolved around two centres — one being an apartment in Paris, and the other a house in the Romanian countryside (Menuhin 99). Most of his performing and conducting duties were centred in Paris, while most of his composing was done in Romania. Enescu’s greatest passion was for composing music (Constantinescu 9), but he often complained that his hectic touring schedule left him with too little time to this activity (Malcolm, Life and Music 82).
11 Chapter 3 ENESCU, BARTÓK AND APPROACHES TO FOLK MUSIC
A comparison with the work of Bartók is useful when assessing Enescu’s interactions with Romanian folk music. Both composers were exposed to Romanian folk music, but Bartók’s approach to understanding its characteristics was far more scholarly than Enescu’s. During the period 1908-1918 Bartók conducted thorough and systematic study of Romanian folk music through fieldwork in Romanian villages and transcribing music of the peasants (Alexandru 120). His subsequent ethnomusicological publications observed the characteristics of Romanian folk music in great detail. Enescu’s exposure to folk music, by contrast, came from childhood exposure to Moldavian fiddlers and Gypsy bands, and from his first years of violin tuition with the Gypsy fiddler, Lae Chioru (Malcolm, Life and Music 30). Under Chioru’s tutelage Enescu learnt many folk melodies including those that would later appear in his Poème Roumain and Romanian Rhapsodies. While it may be useful to draw parallels between the careers of Enescu and other composers inspired by folk music – such as Karol Szymanowski, Arnold Bax, Zoltán Kodály, and Franz Liszt – Bartók is the most relevant reference point due to the timeframe of his career, and his extensive research of Romanian folk music (Botstein 142).
In the early years of Bartók’s career he was driven by an overriding patriotism which led him to become passionate about folk music research. He embarked on a systematic study of Hungarian peasant music in 1905, with a view to incorporating his discoveries into a new musical style (Erdely 27). In September 1903 he wrote to his mother:
12 Everyone, on reaching maturity, has to set himself a goal and must direct all his work and actions toward this. For my part, all my life, in every sphere, always and in every way, I shall have one objective: the good of Hungary and the Hungarian nation. (Suchoff 133)
In the early years of Bartók’s career, the Hungarian War of Independence (1848-49) was still relatively fresh in the people’s minds. Hungarians were a proud people who looked to their music to help build national morale and strengthen the nation’s sense of identity (Erdely 27). Bartók’s musicological work in the early twentieth century went far beyond popular renditions of folk music by bands in the major cities. He sought to document the ancient, traditional music of the Hungarian people, to understand its ancestry, and to thereby compose music with a true national spirit (Bratuz 29-30). In order to achieve this, Bartók undertook extensive musicological work in Hungary and Romania. He studied, recorded and transcribed thousands of peasant performances in scores of villages. Many of these villages were around the border of Hungary and Romania, including many in Transylvania which became part of Austria-Hungary after 1867, and then part of the Kingdom of Romania after World War I.
Between 1908 and 1918 Bartók collected around 3500 Romanian folk tunes (Alexandru 120). His was not the first substantial collection of notated Romanian folk melodies, although its precedents were scarce. One of the earliest examples, Musique Oriental, 42 Chansons et Dances Moldaves, Valaques, Grecs et Turcs by François
13 Rouschitzki was published in 18347. Bartók’s transcriptions, however, offer significantly greater detail, with thorough attention given to each subtlety of performance such as ornamentations, tunings and slides (Erdely 32). At no stage did Bartók attempt to harmonise or Westernise the material. In addition to documenting the melodies, he gathered contextual information relating to the social function of the music. For example, the first volume of Bartók’s Rumanian Folk Music contains information on the occasions where dances would take place, and a detailed description of the choreography involved (Bartók 27-41).
As a composer, Bartók’s earlier work was in keeping with evolving Romanticism as developed by Brahms and Wagner, and he dabbled in a popular nationalistic style that was reminiscent of Liszt (Suchoff 133). His 1903 parody of the Austrian national anthem in the Kossuth Symphonic Poem was received with great enthusiasm by the public (Suchoff 133). This work was premiered in the same year that Enescu conducted his Romanian Rhapsodies in Bucharest for the first time. The works of both composers were symptomatic of their formal training and the stylistic currents of the time (Vancea 8). Neither composer was writing in their mature representative style, rather, they were experimenting with new-found techniques in the context of a popular musical framework (Vancea 8).
After 1907 Bartók’s immersion in folk music started to become obvious in his compositions, as an increasing number of genuine Hungarian and Romanian folklorisms permeated their structure and tonality (Gillies). The Fourteen Bagatelles op. 6 (1908) are a good example of Bartók’s compositional style from this pivotal
Rouschitzki´s collection was published in the town of Iaşi, which was by coincidence the birthplace of Enescu.
14 time. These pieces display a new simplicity in texture and various compositional devices that are suggestive either of the influence of his recent folk music investigation, or of contemporaneous trends by other Western composers (Gillies).
While Bartók probed the riches of his country’s folk music, Enescu was strengthening his musical bonds in Paris. Here he wrote a number of chamber works showing his affinity with his composition teacher, Gabriel Fauré. These include the Sept Chansons de Clément Marot (1908) and the First Piano Quartet (1909). Certain Romanian folk characteristics inevitably permeated his output, as in Dixtuor (1906) where a number of passages are clearly indebted to the free flowing modal ornamentations of the doina8 (Malcolm 104). But as Enescu’s musical language began to mature, it became increasingly clear that his techniques could not be easily pigeon-holed. His synthesis of Western and indigenous Romanian music was becoming more seamless and natural (Malcolm 82).
Constantinescu states that Enescu was ‘thoroughly conversant’ with the folk music of Romania (9). However, there is no evidence of there having been a methodology to Enescu’s acquisition of such knowledge. Noel Malcolm tells us that in the composer’s later years ‘he took a close interest in current research, and influenced the thinking of the Romanian ethnomusicologist Constantin Brăiloiu.’ (Malcolm, Life and Music 24). However, Malcolm does not qualify this statement, and is quick to move the focus of Enescu’s folk awareness away from areas of research and into an emotional context. Malcolm draws our attention to the appeal that the folk idiom of the doina had to
The Doina is a free-flowing style of song or instrumental melody. See chapter 4 of this critical commentary.
15 Enescu, not because of any technical aspects, but because of ‘its expressive qualities’ (Malcolm, Life and Music 24). It is clear that Bartók approached the understanding of folk music characteristics in a fundamentally different way to Enescu. His knowledge was more academically grounded, and was demonstrated through his numerous ethnomusicological publications. As a result of his almost obsessive dedication to folk music research, Bartók’s mature works invariably display strong evidence of folk influence. On the other hand, Enescu’s mature style did not consistently exhibit the influence of folk music characteristics. His Piano Quartet, op. 22 no. 2 and opera Oedipe, op. 23 are examples of this. The former is more French than Romanian and owes considerable stylistic debt to Fáure (Whitehouse), while the latter is strongly rooted in late romantic techniques, including the use of leitmotifs (Kotlyarov 126). The influence of Romanian music can be found in Enescu’s late music, but it is not always a primary or pivotal in dictating its style. Therein lies the most significant point of departure in a comparison with Bartók’s compositional response to folk music.
16 Chapter 4 CHARACTERISTICS OF ROMANIAN FOLK MUSIC
Before approaching the technical aspects of Enescu’s compositions it is necessary to survey some of the characteristic elements of Romanian folk music. These include performance characteristics (ornaments, portamento, pitch nuances and so on) as well as structural characteristics such as modality, rhythm and form. Folk music and dance are an integral part of the Romanian peoples’ life (Alexandru 6), playing an essential role in occasions such as ‘nunta’ (marriage), ‘înmormântarea’ (burial), ‘botezul’ (baptism), ‘colinde’ (carol singing) and fertility rituals (Rădulescu). Romanian folk music is usually performed by professional musicians (‘lăutari’), many of whom are gypsies. The nature of the music varies depending on type of event, and the area in which it takes place. Romania was historically prone to invasion and shifts in its borders, and as a result its folk music exhibits the influence of many surrounding areas (Malcolm, Life and Music 21). Enescu spoke of Romanian music as a ‘composite of Arabic, Slav and Hungarian music, possessing nevertheless its own peculiar character, which you won’t find in the music of other peoples’ (qtd. in Malcolm, Life and Music 22). As a result, Romanian folk music is rich in its variety of meters, rhythms and modes.
It is possible to spend much time defining what is meant by ‘folk music’ in the Romanian context. Constantin Brăiloiu, one of the most important Romanian ethnomusicologists of the early twentieth century (Rouget), noted that it was common for the words ‘folk’ and ‘peasant’ to have interchangeable meanings in musicological studies (Brăiloiu 390). Bartók, whose ethnomusicological publications remain the
17 most substantial primary source of about Romanian folk music in English, largely conformed to this idea. Bartók also stressed the importance of avoiding the study of urbanised versions of folk melodies, which he considered less pure (Bartók 4). His definition of folk music is, ‘all music which the village folk spontaneously use as expression of their musical instinct and feeling’ (Bartók 5). The following is a very brief explanation of some of the important characteristics of Romanian folk music. Its aim is to provide a basis for the discussion of Romanian folk characteristics in the three specific works studied in Chapters 5-7.
Modality and Romanian Dance Music
Having transcribed over two thousand five hundred melodies from villages in northwestern Romania, Bartók was able to ascribe certain modal tendencies to the different genres of folk music he encountered. While Bartók’s classifications do not cover all types of Romanian folk music, or all of the areas within Romania, his analyses remain amongst the most insightful. More recent scholarly literature on the topic, including the work of Gheorge Oprea continues to use similar systems to categorize modal tendencies. Bartók divided the instrumental dance music into five types, indicating the most common mode used for each.
Example 1 shows the mode most common in Bihor dance melodies, with the final tone indicated as the second note of the mode. This points to a common feature of dance melodies from the western parts of Romania and adjoining Serbia, namely that the ‘finalis’ of most melodies is one step above the tonal centre (Marković 29).
Ex. 1. Bihor area modal type.
In the ‘heroic’ type of melody the fourth degree is sometimes raised, creating an augmented second between the third and fourth degrees (Ex. 2). The sixth degree is either major or minor (Bartók 48).
Ex. 2. ‘Heroic’ melody modal type.
The ‘Ardeleana’ genre of dance melody is similar to the ‘Heroic’ type, and usually features the same mode with the mobile fourth and sixth degrees. The difference is in the rhythm which in this instance is generally restricted to equal sixteenth note values (Bartók 49).
Motif-structure melodies are the fourth type of instrumental dance melody specified by Bartók. These melodies are generally restricted to a pentachord in range, occasionally stretching to the sixth (Ex. 3). The fourth tone is sometimes raised, creating a tritone with the tonal centre.
Ex. 3. Modal type for melodies with motif-structure.
The modal characteristics of vocal music are similar to those of their instrumental counterparts, although as an exception Bartók mentioned the Câmpie area, a hilly region in central Transylvania. Here he notes a predominance of an anhemitonic (without semitones) pentatony (Ex. 4).
Ex. 4. Câmpie area modal type.
The influence of Turkish modes is particularly apparent in the Muntenia area of Romania (Malcolm 22). Prominent amongst these modal collections is the Hicaz which features an augmented second between the second and third degrees (Ex. 5).
Ex. 5. The Hicaz mode.
Romanian folk musicians do not generally play with what Western musicians would consider accurate intonation. Bartók observed that ‘the minor-second interval is mostly too wide…’ (Bartók 16). Such deviation from even temperament was
20 inevitable considering the origins of the modes included countries like Turkey where semitones varied considerably in their width (Garfias 103). The variability of temperament was a characteristic that Enescu exploited in his Sonata no. 3 for violin and piano, as discussed below in the chapter on this work.
Meter and Rhythm
Brăiloiu was able to observe some commonality in the rhythms of the vocal music he studied. He noticed a tendency to use a ‘bichronal rhythmic system’, which employed a pair of durations (one long and one short) each corresponding to a syllable of sung verse (Alexandru 112). Example 6 displays a hexasyllabic arrangement wheras example 7 is octosyllabic. The sequence of the rhythmic values is not always the same (Ex. 8). This rhythm is found in most examples of the ‘colinde’ (carol song) (Alexandru 112). The regular arrangement syllables was referred to as ‘syllabic giusto’ by Brăiloiu (Alexandru 112).
Ex. 6. Hexasyllabic arrangement.
Ex. 7. Octosyllabic arrangement.
Ex. 8. Băla, Mureş county. 1914, transc. B Bartók.
Bartók found that most of the Romanian instrumental music he studied could be reduced to a skeleton rhythm of four quavers per bar. Many of the melodies were sixteen bars in duration although roughly a fifth were half that length (Bartók 42). The quaver skeleton rhythm is fleshed out with various combinations of semiquavers and quavers: or or
Further variation is possible. In particular, the ‘heroic’ type of melody tends to use a regular dotted rhythm (Bartók 43):
Another variation of particular note can be found in pieces that have been exposed to Bulgarian influence. The ‘bulgarization’ of Romanian music involved the addition or subtraction of a semiquaver value from the bar of a fast piece (r=M.M. 150 or more). The result is a distinctive, limping feel that can be found in the folk music of Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey (Bartók 43). Another Bulgarian influence on Romanian folk music performance is the accenting of alternate semiquavers. This occurs either on the beat, or on the off-beat, the latter possibility acting as a substitute for accentuation which would ordinarily be provided by a second, chordal instrument (Bartók 43).
22 The broader sense of structure is generally achieved with symmetric combinations of phrases, e.g. two two-bar phrases making up a four bar melody, etc. Sometimes a rhythmic shift is achieved by displacing the accent at the beginning of a phrase. In the following example a letter denotes a crotchet value (Bartók 43).
OR Ex. 9. Rhythmic shift through displacement of the accent.
In the early eighteenth century, the great Moldavian voivode (general) Dimitrie Cantemir was active as a philosopher, historian, composer and scholar of music. In his Descriptio Moldavine the word doina is used in the title of any song that recalls the heroic deeds of Moldavian people (Alexandru 49). Nowadays this term is applied more liberally to songs, whether vocal or instrumental, whose rhythm is free and protracted, and whose mood is generally sad (Alexandru 49). Bartók used the term, ‘parlando rubato’ to describe the rhythm of such free melodies that would often involve improvisation around a melodic framework (Malcolm “Enescu”). The ‘Hora Lunga’ of Hungary and the ‘doina’ of Romania are examples of folk song that use a ‘parlando’ rhythm.
Similarities in the free improvisatory vocal melodies of the broader area including the Ukraine, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey have subsequently been drawn (Nixon), but the doina is distinguishable by its unique inflections, ornamentations and vocal effects. While Bartók was fascinated by this type of music from an
23 ethnomusicological standpoint, Enescu spoke more of its emotional significance (Malcolm 24). The dreaming, melancholic qualities of Romanian folk music are most obvious in the doina, and it is these qualities that Enescu considered most important when recreating the character of Romanian music (Malcolm 22).
The doina often portrays a sense of mournfulness and was originally performed by a solo singer. Its long improvised phrases involve a delayed resolution to the final note via florid ornamentation and emphatic recitative style declamation (Nixon). Instrumental groups of two or more players may set the melancholic doina over a drone (Nixon) or against a fast and regular accompaniment with ironic poignancy (Lloyd 20). Adding to the sense of freedom is the frequent use of an ‘uncertain mode’ (Rădulescu) where the third, fourth and seventh degrees of the scale are variable (Ex. 10)9.
Ex. 10. The uncertain mode.
Instrumentation Many of the instruments used in Romanian folk music have their origins in either Turkey or Western Europe (Rădulescu). This is indicative of the influence of nomadic musicians (gypsies) and of the willingness of the Romanians to adapt their traditional music to more contemporary, popular sounds (Malcolm, Life and Music 25). The violin, cymbalum, panpipes, cobza (lute) and the accordion are examples of instruments adopted by Romanian folk musicians during the nineteenth and twentieth
symbol indicates that a note should be raised by a quarter-tone.
24 centuries (Rădulescu). Native instruments such as the fluer (flute or whistle), bucium (alphorn) and cimpoi (bagpipe) have been used for significantly longer. Bartók’s observations about these instruments are particularly useful because of their high level of detail, and because they resulted from field work during Enescu’s lifetime.
The most common instrumental combination used by folk musicians in the Moldavia area, where Enescu was born, was violin and cobza10. In more recent times, the cymbalum (hammer dulcimer) has overtaken the cobza as the popular choice of chordal instrument (Lloyd 16). The type of cymbalum used in the Moldavia region usually had between twenty and twenty-five courses of strings, giving it approximately a two-octave range of chromatic notes. It is played with two hammers, one in each hand, lending itself particularly well to arpeggiated chordal accompaniments. Unlike the Hungarian version of the instrument, there is usually no pedal damper system employed.
The type of violin used by peasants and gypsies in Romania is identical to that of the Western tradition. In some regions, however, a flatter bridge is fitted to the instrument to enable the playing of three string chords with the bow (Bartók 16). Such an instrument would invariably be designated an accompanying role. It is rare for Romanian folk musicians to play higher than first position on the violin, although some gypsies would do so on the E string as a show of virtuosity (Bartók 16). While there is a cliché of Hungarian Gypsy violin music being full of glissando, portamento and vibrato, this is not an accurate description of Romanian folk violin playing. The use of such techniques is generally only for humorous effect (Bartók 17)
A cobza is a nine stringed lute-like instrument used to provide chordal accompaniment (Lloyd 16).
The peasant flute (fluer) is used throughout Romania. Made of wood, it is similar in design to the Western recorder and is configured to play a diatonic major scale (Bartók 17). The third, sixth and seventh degrees frequently deviate from standard Western tuning, delivering a pitch that sits somewhere between the major and minor possibilities (Bartók 17). Two different types of vibrato are used on the peasant flute. The first involves a fluctuation of pitch while the second produces a varying intensity of sound.
Ornamentation Romanian folk musicians employ a variety of ornaments in all genres of instrumental and vocal music. Trills, turns, mordents and acciaccaturas are employed widely in instrumental dance melodies (Bartók 69-658). Vocal doinas tend to exhibit florid improvisatory passages and dense ornamentation including a distinctive vocal ornament known as a ‘noduri‘. This vocal decoration sounds almost like hiccup and is achieved via an abrupt glottal gulp (Alexandru 51).
Although there is a dearth of scholarly writing about ornamentation in Romanian folk music performance, the transcriptions of Bartók and Brăiloiu are sufficiently detailed to reveal the richness of this practice. Instrumental dance melodies display frequent use of trills, mordents and acciaccaturas but only very seldom employ portamento which is more frequently found in vocal doinas (Bartók 17). Examples 11 and 12 use standard western notation for ornaments along with the following symbols: 1. The symbol 2. The symbol indicates a slight lengthening of the note. indicates a slight shortening of the note.
26 3. An arrow pointing up indicates the note was played or sung sharper than notated. 4. An arrow pointing down indicates the note was played or sung flatter than notated. 5. A diagonal arrow indicates a portamento 6. A crosshair notehead in Ex. 11 indicates use of a ‘noduri’
Ex. 11. A doina, Cintec Lung Cu Haulit from the Oltenia area (Alexandru 166).
Ex. 12. An instrumental dance melody from the Hunedoara area (Bartók 409).
27 Chapter 5 ROMANIAN RHAPSODY, OP. 11 NO. 1
Enescu’s two Romanian Rhapsodies, composed in 1901, have far outshone any of his other works in terms of their popularity and frequency of performance. This was a point of frustration for the composer because he felt that their relative simplicity did not represent his mature compositional style (Malcolm, Life and Music 12). The difference between the Romanian Rhapsodies and his other works exhibiting Romanian influence is that the rhapsodies contain direct quotations of folk melodies. Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 is essentially a pastiche of popular folk melodies, to which Enescu applied Western harmony and simple contrapuntal techniques. In stark contrast with many of Enescu’s mature works, this piece has a simple sense of pulse and meter within each section.
The nature of this work draws immediate parallels with the (almost contemporaneous) work of Bartók. In 1902 Bartók wrote the preliminary material for his Symphony in E-flat (BB25), a work that combined late Romantic techniques with the melodic and rhythmic characteristics of popular Hungarian music. Neither composer was satisfied with his early attempts to mesh the characteristics of folk music with those of Western art music (Gillies and Malcolm, George Enescu).
The opening of Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 makes use of a simple twophrase folk melody, “Am un leu şi vreau să-l beu” whose text is about about having a small amount of money and wanting to spend it on alcohol (Chotil Fani 2005). Enescu divides the basic melody into two phrases, giving the first to the clarinet and the
28 second to the oboe (Ex. 13). The second occurrence of the clarinet phrase (bar 3) is embellished with ornaments, namely acciaccaturas, of which two start below and one above the main note. This style of ornamentation is typical of that employed spontaneously by Romanian folk musicians in instrumental dance music (see above, page 25).
Ex. 13. Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 1-4.
Romanian folk music is almost exclusively monodic11, a fact that Enescu recalls through unaccompanied solo lines during the first eight bars (Rădulescu). From bar 9 Western influence emerges in the form of a diatonic harmonisation of the melody, incorporating predominantly parallel thirds (Ex. 14). The strings and harps join in bar 20, providing a harmonic and rhythmic bed on which the first theme is repeated.
Ex. 14. Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 9-12.
Traditional Romanian music is monodic, except for those songs that employ a drone. This occurs frequently in music performed on the Romanian bagpipe (cimpoi). However, Western style chordal accompaniment and occasionally melodic harmonisation do occur in Romanian Gypsy bands (tarafuri) (Rădulescu).
29 It becomes immediately apparent in this work that Enescu is emphasising the folk melodies by restricting thematic development, and treating orchestration in a way that is transparent and does not distract from the melodies. This is clear when Enescu introduces the next melody, “Hora lui Dobrică”. The octosyllabic framework (see above, page 20) governs the rhythmic feel of the accompaniment provided by the harps, celli and basses.
While Enescu has maintained the essential melodic and rhythmic elements of the folk tune, he has added two key elements that remove it from its purest form. First, he has applied diatonic harmony to the melody, using the first and second violins along with the violas to sound all three notes of the A major chord (Ex. 15). Second, he has ornamented the melody in a florid manner and pitched it in a transposition that is above the first position on violin, which was more commonly used by professional peasant musicians (Bartók 16). These two facts point to a more urban realisation of folk melodies, where lăutari performed in bands and took greater liberties with performance in order to show off their virtuosity (Lloyd 16). This approach is continued in the following sections which make use of the folk melodies: “Mugur – mugurel” (bud, small bud); “Ciobănaşul” (the small shepherd); “Ciocârlia” (the lark) and “Hora morii” (the round of the mills).
30 Ex. 15. Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 30-37.
Although Enescu always showed a great appreciation for the music of the late Romantic era, his treatment of well-known folk melodies is characterised by restraint: ‘The simpler the way a folk melody is presented, the more brightly that melody shines…’ (Enescu qtd. in Constantinescu 10). The orchestration of the Ciocârlia12 section (from rehearsal mark 24) is a good example of this. Enescu divides the orchestra into ‘on’ and ‘off’ beat instruments, distributing the notes of each chord amongst the treble (off-beat) instruments. The composer’s input is minimal and the melody is given complete focus13.
Enescu has added clever textural elements to the orchestration, such as arpeggiation by the harps in the manner of the Romanian cymbalum (Kotlyarov 9,10). But aside from the orchestration and the manner of weaving the folk melodies together, there is very little in this work that represents Enescu’s own musical language (Malcolm, Life and Music 65). It involved the application of simple Western harmonic practices to Romanian folk melodies — a treatment that stands in stark contrast with Enescu´s mature orchestral writing, which was prone to extremes of detail and variation (Malcolm, “George Enescu”).
This melody has its best-known incarnation in the form of a violin and piano arrangement by the great Romanian violin virtuoso Grigoraş Dinicu, edited by Jascha Heiftetz. 13 Bartók also used this approach in some of his earlier works for piano, where ‘the folk melody is mounted like a jewel’ (Gillies).
31 Chapter 6 IMPRESSIONS D’ENFANCE FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO, OP. 28
This work is divided into ten short movements, of which I will examine two in some detail – “Ménétrier” (The fiddler), and “Vieux mendiant” (The old beggar). These movements demonstrate different ways in which Enescu was able to express folk influence in his mature compositions. While in the Romanian Rhapsodies there is a sense of restraint in Enescu’s use of harmonies and chromaticism, Impressions d’enfance offers a more expansive musical language. The work employs a wide variety of musical devices and styles, including folk music idioms, musical onomatopoeia, impressionistic tone-painting, and Romantic compositional techniques to depict scenes from his childhood.
The first movement, “Ménétrier” contains the most overt reference to Romanian folk music, both by nature of its title (meaning Gypsy fiddler) and by its rhythmic and modal content. It does not make direct quotation of Romanian folk melodies, but rather uses modes and technical devices to express the character of Romanian folk music. Of the ten movements, “Ménétrier” is the only one written for unaccompanied violin. By omitting the piano from this movement Enescu evokes the image of the “lautar” or Gypsy fiddler playing alone and points to the monophonic tradition of Romanian peasant music. Its initial playfulness is articulated by simple dance rhythms, the regularly dotted semiquavers suggesting the influence of what Bartók described as ‘heroic’ melodies (Bartók 48).
32 The first bar presents an immediate ambiguity of key or modality. If the listener perceives B as the root note then a simple B minor tonality is implied. However, if the listener perceives G as the root (as suggested by the anacrusis F#) then the aural perception is that of a Lydian mode which is common in northwestern areas of Romania such as Bihor and Cluj (Alexandru 66). The recurrence of the note G at the beginning of the second phrase (marked a’ in Ex. 16) acts to reinforce the latter possibility.
Ex. 16. Enescu, Impressions d’enfance, op. 28, bars 1-2.
The succession of melodic cells a-b-a’-b’ is built on a simple underlying rhythm (Ex. 17), that is consistent with the sorts of rhythms observed by Bartok in Romanian instrumental dance music (see page 21). This rhythm could easily form the basis of a folk melody, but Enescu alters it in a way that is more consistent with Western techniques. The tied note B obscures the rhythmic emphasis at the beginning of the phrase, and the following accents are on the third and fourth beats of the bar confusing the sense of pulse.
Ex. 17. Underlying rhythm of Ménétrier ´s opening melody.
33 In the second part of the melody (Ex. 18) Enescu uses the technique of structural displacement that Bartók identified in traditional Romanian dance music (see above, page 22). Each letter name represents a melodic idea, a crotchet in duration (except for the first occurrence of ‘d’ which is longer to exaggerate the tempo reduction at that point). Rather than using a symmetrical pattern like a-b-c-d-a-b-c-d, Enescu uses the pattern a-b-c-d-b-c-d-b-b-c. The treatment of melodic cells in this example is similar to that observed by Bartók in Romanian folk music (Bartók 45). Use of structural characteristics like these allowed Enescu to go beyond the limitations of recreating folk music, whilst maintaining strong references to its traditional idioms.
Ex. 18. The second phrase of “Ménétrier”.
Enescu’s treatment of structural characteristics also takes what is common in Romanian folk music and extends upon it. For example, it is common in Romanian folk music to exercise simple repetition of melodies, but in “Ménétrier” Enescu develops and alters the melodies (Bartók 48). Notice that the melodic fragments b and b’ in Example 18 have been altered in the second appearance of the melody (Ex. 19). The movement then proceeds with further development of melodic ideas via chromatic transposition, inversion and other Western techniques.
Ex. 19. Enescu, Impressions d’enfance, op. 28, bars 6-8.
In the section marked “Con Brio”14 Enescu used a distinctive technique derived from Romanian music, namely the alternation between major and minor modal degrees15 (Rădulescu). Initially16 the modal finalis is ambiguous and there is a prolonged oscillation between G sharp and G natural (Ex. 20). The note A then resolves itself as the modal root and there is an alternation between C sharp and C natural (the third degree) above it. Wheras Enescu had used a similar alternating third degree in his Romanian Rhapsody no. 1 (Ex. 21) in a section that quotes the popular folk melody Ciocârlia, his use of the same modal technique in Impressions d’enfance is manifested differently in that it forms part of an original melody.
Ex. 20. Enescu, Impressions d’enfance, op. 28, bars 34-36.
Page 4, system 4, bar 2 of the Salabert Editions publication of 1952. See “uncertain mode” on page 23 above. 16 From page 4, system 4, bar 4 of the Salabert edition.
Ex. 21. Enescu, Romanian Rhapsody, op. 11 no. 1, bars 355-358.
In addition to these modal characteristics are a number of instrument-specific techniques that allowed Enescu to point to Romanian folk performance without quoting folk melodies. His explicit notation of open-string usage17 along with the prevalence of the open fifth in this movement (especially just before the “piú largamente”) are characteristic of Romanian folk violin performance (Bartók 17). At the end of the movement the open D and A strings are played using pizzicato and bow effects. While such techniques are rarely used by peasant musicians, they were frequently employed by gypsies for the sake of humour or virtuosity (Bartók 17).
The “Vieux mendiant” (the old beggar) movement is a departure from the preceding movement, “Ménétrier”, in a number of ways. It is more representative of the Western influence in Enescu’s style, specifically that derived from the French school of the early twentieth century (Kotlyarov 90). Enescu’s composition teacher, Gabriel Fauré taught a harmonic language of expanded tonality and modality which is evident in “Vieux mendiant” (Nectoux). There are a number of instances of stacked thirds resulting in seventh and ninth chords such as the B half-diminished ninth chord in the ninth bar, the D minor seventh chord in the twelfth bar and the C7 augmented chord in the thirteenth bar. Although the sustained opening chord of this movement is in D
For example in the “Con Brio” section, in bars 2-10, and in the second system of page 5.
36 minor, there is no stable sense of tonality and Enescu does not use a key signature. The first nine bars of the piano part are based on a mode that is common in Romanian folk music, namely the Re-mode (Dorian) with a raised fourth (Ex. 22)18 (Alexandru 116). The violin part during the same passage, however, is in C minor adding to the sense of tonal polarity between the violin and piano parts.
Ex. 22. Dorian mode with raised fourth degree.
In conveying the image of “An Old Beggar”, Enescu said that he had in mind a ‘cheerless and stifled sonority’ (qtd. in Kotlyarov 90). He achieves this through sustained dissonance and use of the lower registers of both instruments. Enescu develops the opening statements of the violin and piano with increasing levels of chromaticism, further destabilising the sense of tonality (Kotlyarov 90). The advanced chromaticism, tonal effects and programmatic nature of this movement remove it almost entirely from the sphere of folk influence and into that of twentieth century Western music.
The two movements, “Ménétrier” and “Vieux mendiant” are representative of the broader style of Impressions d’enfance. In their depiction of scenes from Enescu’s childhood they display certain characteristics of Romanian folk music but but also contain features that may have been drawn from impressionistic works of early twentieth century France (Ocneanu). Romanian folk music idioms are used more as gestures than as the basis for the musical or modal structure of each movement. The
This mode is a ‘Heroic’ melody modal type as described by Bartók (see page 18).
37 most explicit use of folk characteristics is in the “Ménétrier” movements that portrays a Romanian Gypsy musician. The other movements make extensive use of harmonics, glissandi and other tonal effects to mimic animals, objects and parts of the scenery.
38 Chapter 7 SONATA FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO, OP. 25 NO. 3, DANS LE CARACTÈRE POPULAIRE ROUMAIN
In the subtitle to the third sonata for violin and piano Enescu deliberately uses the word ‘caractère’ rather than ‘style’. An interview in 1928 found the composer eager to emphasise the distinction: ‘I don’t use the word “style” because that implies something made or artificial, whereas ‘character’ suggests something given, existing from the beginning’ (qtd. in Malcolm, Life and Music 183). Published in 1926, this sonata shows the Enescu´s mature response to folk music influence. He implies in his statement that the Romanian characteristics of the piece were not deliberate, studied or contrived, but rather were naturally part of his musical language (Malcolm, Life and Music 183). This is in contrast with earlier works such as the Romanian Rhapsodies which Enescu considered relatively void of his personal compositional input (Malcolm, Life and Music 64). In this chapter I will focus on the first movement of this sonata and how it demonstrates Enescu’s synthesis of Western and Romanian folk elements. In order to identify some of the principal melodic ideas I have used capital Roman numerals (I, II, etc.) in the musical examples (Exx. 23 and 24).
Enescu’s third Sonata for violin and piano is rich in ornamentation including trills, mordents and turns as well as pitch nuances. In Example 23 the note E is raised by a quarter-tone as indicated by the symbol symbol (see also Ex. 10 above). Enescu uses the
to notate the gradual portamento up from the open D string to a C that has
also been raised by a quarter-tone. Enescu was not the only composer of the early twentieth century to use quarter-tones. In 1925, one year prior to the publication of
39 Enescu’s sonata, Robert Schmitz19 had arranged performances of Charles Ives’ Three Quarter-Tone Pieces for two pianos in New York (Burkholder and Wiecki 5). Bartók used similar pitch gradation in the original version of his Sonata for Solo Violin, BB124 (Rushton). Neither of these composers used quarter tones to recreate folk music practice (Gillies, Burkholder), and it is not certain that Enescu did either. His use of quarter tones in Ex. 23 narrows the semitone interval between the notes E and F, contradicting Bartók’s observation that Romanian folk violinists tended to widen the semitone intervals (Bartók 16). It is more likely that Enescu used these pitch variations as expressive tools to heighten the intensity of certain modal degrees (Kotlyarov 86).
Ex. 23. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, Third Movement, bars 2122.
Enescu described the sonata to the American violinist, Benno Rabinoff as a ‘fantasy on the life and soul of the gypsy fiddler…’ (qtd. in Kotlyarov 86). As such it displays some of the modal characteristics that the gypsies brought from neighbouring areas such as Turkey, Hungary and Bulgaria. This fact is evidenced by the frequent use of augmented seconds. The melodic contour at the beginning of the piano part features two augmented seconds, from C to D sharp, and from F to G sharp. The scale featuring such augmentation between steps 3-4 and 6-7 is often referred to as a Gypsy scale or a Hungarian scale (Anon “Gypsy Scale”). Although frequently used in Hungarian Romantic music, its Arabic origins were no doubt familiar to Enescu, who
Head of the Franco-American Musical Society.
40 referred to such Middle Eastern influences in his interview with Bernard Gavoty (Malcom Life and Music 23). As the performance of traditional music in Romania was customarily dominated by nomadic gypsies, Romanian folk music evolved to incorporate musical features of surrounding countries (Rădulescu and Malcolm Life and Music 23).
The piano part starts with a descending modal figure and the violin enters in contrary motion with a chromatic line (I in Ex. 24). These two motifs are the first of four principal ideas that form the thematic basis of the first subject. Enescu used sonata form to bind this movement together, subjecting each motif to extensive manipulation and development (Kotlyarov 74). For example, the technique of thematic superimposition is evident from the outset where the violin introduces motif I over a premonition of motif II in the piano part (Ex. 24). Enescu has also made use of thematic transformation, reversing the notes of motif II to generate the ascending idea II’ (Ex. 24). The movement proceeds with close imitative interplay between the violin and the right hand of the piano during which motif II eventually gives way to a new idea, motif III (Ex. 25). These developmental techniques are derived from Enescu´s Western composition training, and as with many of his compositions he manages to generate an extensive amount of musical material from a few ideas (Malcolm, Life and Music 72, Kotlyarov 76).
Ex. 24. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, First Movement, bars 1-5.
Ex. 25. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, First Movement, bars 6-9.
The second subject (Ex. 26) reveals more of the Romanian folk-dance character. It does so through use of two rhythmic characteristics in the piano part, namely the offbeat accentuation and the lilting dotted rhythm. The regular off-beat accentuation is suggestive of the Bulgarian influence in Romanian music (see chapter 4 above). The beginning of the development is heralded by a sustained G# in the violin part under which the piano mimics the arpeggiation of a Romanian cymbalum (Ex. 27)
43 (Malcolm, Life and Music 72). The development section juxtaposes the melancholic G sharp minor of the second subject against C# major. In a vertical sense, this could be considered an instance of bitonality, a technique that had been explored by Ives and Bartók, as well as famously by Stravinsky (Whittall). Horizontally, the superimposed chords create the same dorian modal collection that Bartók observed in the ‘heroic’ dance melodies of Romania (see “Modality and Dance Music” on page 19).
Ex. 26. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, First Movement, second subject, bars 32-37 (with anacrusis).
44 Enescu´s skill for thematic transformation is again displayed in the recapitulation where he combines the notes of the first subject with the rhythm of the second (Ex. 28) (Kotlyarov 78).
Ex. 27. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, start of the development section, bars 38-41.
Ex. 28. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, First Movement, bars 63-64.
45 French pianist, Alfred Cortot developed an understanding of the second movement through discussion and performance with Enescu. He described the movement as ‘an evocation in sound of the mysterious feeling of summer nights in Romania: below, the silent, endless, deserted plain; above, constellations leading off into infinity’ (qtd. in Malcolm 187). The composer’s French influences are more apparent in this movement than the other two. Enescu´s approach to depicting the Romanian landscape is in parallel with that of Debussy in works such as Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune in which chromatic passages are set against pedal notes (Hurry 93). Enescu describes the desert plains of Romania with the incessant repetition of the note B which is played with the instruction ‘sempre ped’. The sound of wind across the plain is depicted by a chromatic run in the violin part (Ex. 29), the effect of which is heightened by the instruction to play with the bow near the bridge.
Ex. 29. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, second movement, bars 2021.
The final movement of the Sonata has the feel of a lively Romanian dance. The regular off-beat accompaniment (firstly with double stops in the violin part, and then with staccato chords in the piano left hand) gives a regular rhythmic feel which contrasts with the freer tempo of the first two movements. The melody is based on Hicaz mode which is common in Romanian folk music but finds its origins in Turkey (see chapter 4 above) (Reinhard and Stokes). While the tempo and character of the
46 final movement are decidedly brighter, there are distinct thematic connections with the first and second movements (Kotlyarov 82). For example, the descending motif from the first movement (II in Ex. 24) reappears in a more lively and rhythmic piano figuration (bracketed figures in Ex. 30).
Ex. 30. Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 25 no.3, third movement, bars 20-21.
For the composer, this work represented a more satisfactory approach to the use of folk music characteristics in art music compositions (Malcolm, “Enescu Violin Sonatas”). It is a dense interpolation of Romanian traditional characteristics and techniques derived from Enescu’s composition training in Vienna and Paris.
The genesis of this compositional style extends from the composer’s second Romanian Rhapsody, and includes crucial developments made in Dixtuor, op. 14 and the Sonata for Piano, op. 24 no. 1. In the third movement of the piano sonata Enescu portrays the atmosphere of the Romanian plains at night and he does so using distinctly Romanian musical idioms without making direct quotation of folk melodies (Malcolm, Life and Music 181). This sonata paved the way for much of the atmospheric imagery of Impressions d’enfance and for his mature use of folk music in the third sonata for violin and piano (Malcolm, Life and Music 181).
47 Chapter 8 CONCLUSION
Enescu’s use of Romanian folk music changed significantly between the writing of his Romanian rhapsodies and his Impressions d’enfance. During the early years of his compositional career he quoted folk melodies, orchestrating them with simple diatonic harmony. Later works, such as Impressions d’enfance and the third sonata for violin and piano display many features drawn from Romanian folk music but the melodies are entirely original. These works also show more extensive thematic development as well as the use of impressionistic gestures (Ocneanu). In many ways these later works are more personal in nature, and reflect a greater depth of expression in terms of musical substance and notational detail (Menuhin, “Georges Enesco” 41). It is little wonder Enescu was upset that throughout his lifetime the public continued to favour his relatively simple Romanian rhapsodies over his more mature compositions. Bartók experienced similar disillusionment when he found his audiences preferred his simpler early works such as the 1905 arrangement of the Rhapsody op. 1 and the Piano Quintet to his more mature compositions (Gillies).
The three pieces studied in this criticial commentary reveal how Enescu’s treatment of Romanian folk music material changed during his career. In his first Romanian rhapsody, Enescu found presenting folk melodies in a Western harmonic context to be limited in its expressive possibilities. He believed that the best way to serve an existing folk melody was to minimise any treatment or development through Western techniques (Constantinescu 10). In the Third Sonata for Violin and Piano and Impressions D’Enfance the composer created new melodies and harmonies that drew
48 their inspiration from Romanian folk music. By removing himself from any obligations to existing folk melodies, Enescu was afforded a wider palette of compositional tools. He was able to apply liberal thematic transformation, modal and scalar superimpositions as well as incorporate impressionistic gestures and late nineteenth century developmental techniques.
Bartók’s extensive and region-specific study of Romanian folk music helped to focus the discussion of folk influence in Chapters 5-7 of this Critical Commentary. Many of the modal characteristics in Impressions d’enfance point to traditional dance melodies of northwestern Romania (Bartók 48), whereas the Turkish sounding modes in the third violin sonata are more common in the southern counties, Oltenia and Muntenia (Lloyd 19). While some characteristics of Romanian folk music are region-specific, cross-pollination of these idioms by transient gypsies was inevitable. Bartók acknowledged the importance of Gypsy musicians in village life and did not exclude their performances from his folk music collections or studies (Bartók 4). Gypsy performance tendencies such as the use of extended range (higher positions on the violin E string), pizzicato and glissando effects were observed in all three works studied in Chapters 5-7. The Gypsy scale was also used in one of the main motifs of the first movement of Enescu’s third sonata for violin and piano.
In their compositional careers, both Enescu and Bartók moved from simplistic reference to folk melodies to a more expansive musical language that embraced many techniques. While Bartók is known to have applied techniques of development to traditional folk melodies (Leong 254), Enescu was vehemently opposed to the idea (Kotlyarov 34). Both composers imitated folk melodies at times (for example
49 Enescu’s ménétrier movement of Impressions d’enfance, and Bartók´s Contrasts for violin, clarinet and piano) but both believed that the best expression of folk music was through unforced assimilation of characteristics (Leong 253, Kotlyarov 34). Enescu achieved this objective most vividly in his third sonata for violin and piano. Discussion of this work in Chapter 7 indicates that it uses features from Romanian folk music as part of an extended range of compositional tools. These included thematic superimposition and transformation — techniques in which Enescu was highly skilled having studied Wagner’s music, especially his transformation of leitmotifs in the Ring cycle. Enescu also made use of Western structural tools such as sonata form to bind the thematic material together.
Enescu’s stature in the history of Western music history has suffered from the paucity of scholarly study of his music, and from the emphasis given by some studies to folk music influence and nationalistic features (Malcolm, Life and Music 11-12). Enescu’s mature compositional language was the result of many musical influences.
Like all creative geniuses, Enescu did not passively submit to or adopt external trends, much less assimilate such trends eclectically. It is nevertheless tine20 [sic] that Enescu was not indifferent to the novelty and the aesthetic values of the French impressionism, whose language he assimilated, using it as forcefully as he used his native Romanian values. (Ocneanu)
Although a greatly celebrated figure in his homeland, Enescu’s work went far beyond its much highlighted folkloristic elements. If Enescu’s position in the history of
The author most likely intended to use the word “true” and not “tine”.
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