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8.225090 - MOYZES, A.: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 (Slovak Radio Symphony, L. Slovák)
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Alexander Moyzes (1906-1984)

Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6

Alexander Moyzes, one of the most significant figures in modern Slovak music, was born into a musical family in 1906 in Northern Slovakia. After earlier technical studies, in 1925 he entered the Prague Conservatory, where he studied organ, conducting and composition. He graduated in 1929 and went on to study in the master class of Vítezslav Novák, from which he graduated in the following year with his Overture for Orchestra, Opus 10. It was Novák who directed his attention to Slovak music, the source of his inspiration.

In 1929 Moyzes was appointed to the teaching staff of the Music Academy in Bratislava, the Slovak capital. He was appointed professor of composition at the Bratislava Conservatory in 1941 and spent a number of years as principal music advisor to Radio Bratislava, until compelled to resign in 1948. On its foundation he became professor of composition at the Bratislava Music Academy, where he taught no less than three generations of Slovak composers. He headed the Academy as Rector from 1965 until 1971, and over the years undertook many important functions in the musical life of his country.

With Eugen Sucho and Ján Cikker, Alexander Moyzes must be considered one of the three leading composers of his generation in Slovakia. He succeeded in creating a style of composition that was thoroughly Slovak in inspiration, yet nevertheless took account of contemporary trends in European music, a synthesis that he was to consolidate in his later years. The two symphonies, Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 6, both written in a happy and generally carefree period of the composer’s life, represent the simple and musically optimistic style of his work as a symphonist, not yet overshadowed by gloomy conflict.

Symphony No. 5, Opus 39, with the subtitle "in accordance with the heritage of my dear father", was composed between December 1947 and April 1948 and Moyzes dedicated the work to the fifth anniversary of his father’s death. Mikulás Moyzes (1872-1944), a talented musician and teacher, provided his son Alexander with his first musical education and inspired him to study composition professionally. Moyzes’ father belonged, together with Viliam Figus-Bystry (1875-1937) and Mikulás Schneider-Trnavsky (1881-1958), to the prolific early representatives of Slovak national music who made the first attempts towards symphonic writing. Alexander Moyzes was deeply affected by some of his father’s organ and orchestral works, which he went on to modernise. This is precisely the case with Symphony No. 5, where the composer aimed to adjust and make instrumental innovations in his father’s Little Mountain Symphony. The formal, melodic and harmonic ground-plan of the symphony is lucid and transparent. The first movement, Allegro animato, is traditional in construction with elements of Slovak folk-dance, as, for example, with the East Slovakian folk-song used in the secondary theme, a rhythmical development section and varied recapitulation. The second movement, marked Adagio molto, proves the command of instrumentation and formal construction of which the younger Moyzes was master. The third movement, Allegretto ma non troppo, brings a carefree theme, almost suggesting operetta, played by solo flute and oboe. The final virtuoso Allegro fresco e vivace, with its continuing semiquaver motion, quotes in the central section a joyful East Slovakian folk-song again and leads the music on to a triumphant conclusion.

Symphony No .6, Opus 45, was completed in January 1951 and performed by the Slovak Philharmonic in May of the same year. The composer used the thematic material of his earlier Concertino for large orchestra, Opus 18, of 1933, which had originally been planned as a piano concerto. From the five movements of the symphony the first is a brief introduction, the second is the principal movement in classical form, the third is a slow movement, the fourth a scherzo and the fifth a finale. The musical structure is clear and symmetrical in all aspects of the treatment of the material, from the simple thematic exposition to the brilliant contrapuntal fugato in the last Allegro ben ritmico.

Ivan Marton

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