Frank Martin (composer)

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Frank Martin, visit to Finland, 1959

Frank Martin (born September 15, 1890 in Eaux-Vives , † November 21, 1974 in Naarden , Netherlands ) was a Swiss composer .


Frank Martin was the youngest of ten children of the Calvinist pastor Charles Martin , who was of French Huguenot origin. He had only one musical teacher, Joseph Lauber , who taught him piano, harmony and composition and who performed Martin's first work at the Swiss Tonkünstlerfest in Vevey in 1911 . From 1908 to 1910 Martin studied mathematics and physics at the University of Geneva. After stays in Zurich, Rome and Paris, he returned to Geneva in 1926. Here he founded the local Société de musique de chambre to maintain the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the following years he was also closely associated with Émile Jaques-Dalcroze , who introduced him to the technique of rhythmics and at whose institute he taught from 1928 to 1938. Martin has also performed as a pianist and harpsichordist, and during World War II he was President of L'Association Suisse des Musiciens . In 1946 he moved to the Netherlands. From 1950 to 1957 he taught composition at the State University of Music in Cologne.

Martin's grave in the Cimetière des Rois , Geneva

Martin married Odette Micheli in 1918 , with whom he had a son, Renaud, who was born in 1922; the marriage was divorced in 1930. In 1931 he married Irène Gardian and in 1940 Maria Boeke (1915-2017), with whom he lived in Amsterdam from 1946 and from 1956 in Naarden (near Amsterdam). Their son is called Jan.

In his personal style, which he developed in the 1930s after his earlier works were still clearly influenced by the music of César Franck and Gabriel Fauré , Martin developed a synthesis of Arnold Schönberg's twelve-tone technique and traditional classical tonal music .

The main focus of his work is on vocal works, including several oratorios , including Le vin herbé , In terra pax , Golgotha , Le Mystère de la Nativité and the Requiem . There are also numerous smaller works as well as works for solo voice and orchestra such as The Cornet after Rilke's The Way of Love and Death of the Cornet Christoph Rilke and the Six Monologues from Jedermann . In addition to weighty music-dramatic works such as Roméo et Juliette , Athalie and Der Sturm , Martin's diversity is also evident in pure instrumental music. Several solo concerts (for violin, harpsichord, cello, piano) as well as chamber music for various instruments, including above all to mention, are evidence of this the ballads for saxophone (1938), flute (1939), piano (1940), trombone (1940), cello (1949) and viola (1972). Originally for Andrés Segovia , he composed the functional harmony with twelve-tone technique for guitar, the Quatre pièces brèves . The composer Ingo Schmitt is one of his students .


Chamber music

  • Piano quintet (1919)
  • Trio sur des mélodies populaires irlandaises (1925) (piano trio)
  • String trio (1935/36)
  • Sonata da Chiesa for viola d'amore and organ (1938, revised for flute and organ 1941, for viola d'amore and string orchestra 1952)
  • Ballad for saxophone (1938)
  • Ballad for flute and piano (1939)
  • Ballad for piano (1940)
  • Ballad for trombone (1940)
  • 8 preludes for piano (1948, dedicated to Dinu Lipatti )
  • Ballad for cello (1949)
  • String quartet (1967)
  • Ballad for viola, woodwind, harp, harpsichord, timpani and percussion (1972)

Solo works

  • Quatre Pièces Brèves for guitar (1933) - also as a piano version under the title Guitare (published 1976). An orchestral version (with Ernest Ansermet) was made in spring 1934.

Vocal music

  • Cantate pour le temps de Noel ( Christmas Cantata ) (1929/30)
  • Mass for two four-part choirs (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo 1922; Sanctus, Agnus Dei 1926)
  • Le vin herbé ( The Magic Potion ), secular oratorio by Joseph Bédier based on three chapters of the Roman de Tristan et Iseut (I: Le Philtre - Der Liebestrank 1938; II: La Forêt de Morois - The forest of Morois and III: La Mort - The Death 1940–1941) for solo voices, choir and instrumental ensemble
  • Six monologues from Jedermann , for baritone and orchestra (1943–1944)
  • In terra pax , oratorio (1944)
  • Trois chants de Noël , for soprano, flute, piano, based on poems by Albert Rudhardt (1947)
  • Berceuse for tenor, piano four hands and guitar (1947)
  • Golgotha , oratorio (1948)
  • Cinq chansons d'Ariel , for mixed choir based on Shakespeare's The Tempest (1950)
  • The Storm , opera in three acts (1956)
  • Le Mystère de la Nativité , oratorio (1957–1959)
  • Drey Minnelieder , based on medieval texts for soprano (or flute) and piano (1960)
  • Monsieur Pourceaugnac , musical comedy in three acts based on Molière (1960–1962)
  • Drei Poèmes de la Mort (based on texts by François Villon) for tenor, baritone, bass, two electric guitars and an electric bass (1969/71)
  • Requiem (1971/72)
  • Et la Vie l'emporta (1974)

Orchestral music

  • Piano Concerto (1934)
  • Symphony for large orchestra (1937)
  • Ballade pour saxophone (ou cor de basset) et orchester (1938)
  • Petite symphonie concertante for harp, harpsichord, piano and two string orchestras (1944/45), a work commissioned by Paul Sacher
  • Concerto for 7 wind instruments, timpani, percussion and string orchestra (1949)
  • Violin Concerto (1950)
  • Concerto for harpsichord and small orchestra (1951/52)
  • Etudes for string orchestra (1955–1956)
  • Passacaille (orchestral version) orchestration of the organ piece of the same name from 1944 (1962)
  • The four elements , orchestral suite (1963)
  • Cello Concerto (1965)
  • 2nd piano concerto (1968)
  • Polyptyque for violin and two string orchestras (1973)



  • Bernhard Billeter : Frank Martin. Career and musical language of his works , Mainz 1999.
  • Kerstin Schüssler-Bach: Frank Martins Musiktheater. A contribution to the history of the opera in the 20th century , Bosse Verlag, Kassel 1996, Cologne contributions to music research, Vol. 193 (= Diss. University of Cologne 1995).
  • Maria Martin-Boeke: Souvenir de ma vie avec Frank Martin , Éditions L'Âge d'Homme, Lausanne 1990.
  • Gerd Michael Dausend: Frank Martin: Quatre Pièces Brèves and other works with guitar. In: Guitar & Laute 9, 1987, Issue 2, pp. 22–26 (proofread and authorized by Maria Martin, Frank Martin's widow).
  • Harald Kaufmann : Frank Martins Cornet writes a letter in: From inside and outside. Writings on music, musical life and aesthetics , ed. by Werner Grünzweig and Gottfried Krieger, Wolke, Hofheim 1993, pp. 104-107.
  • Harald Kaufmann: Conversation with Frank Martin, in: From inside and outside , pp. 177–180.
  • Hanspeter Renggli: Frank Martin . In: Andreas Kotte (Ed.): Theater Lexikon der Schweiz . Volume 2, Chronos, Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-0340-0715-9 , p. 1190 f.
  • Rudolf Klein : Frank Martin - his life and work , Lafite Verlag, Vienna 1960, 72 pp.

Web links

Commons : Frank Martin (composer)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerd Michael Dausend: Frank Martin: Quatre Pièces Brèves and other works with guitar. In: Guitar & Laute 9, 1987, Issue 2, pp. 22-26; here: p. 23.
  2. Gerd Michael Dausend (1987).
  3. Gerd Michael Dausend (1987), p. 25 f.
  4. ^ Inscription Deutschordenshof, Singerstraße: Frank Martin 1965 (accessed June 10, 2014)