On Husa's use of twelve-tone rows
Source document: Musicologica Brunensia. 2012, vol. 47, iss. 2, pp. -93
License: Not specified license
Professor Emeritus of the Masaryk University, PhDr. Jiří Vysloužil, DrSc., is the author of the monograph Karel Husa: Skladatel mezi Evropou a Amerikou (Karel Husa: A Composer between Europe and America) (Praha 2011). His fundamental treatise aims at one of key questions of musical output of Karel Husa, American composer of Czech birth and honorary doctor of the Masaryk University in Brno. He acquired the twelve-tone technique only while in the USA. Before that, during his studies at the Prague Conservatoire and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (1942-1947), the music by Schoenberg and his pupils was hardly heard anywhere. He got to know it while in Paris (1947-1954). His limited interest in the twelve-tone technique is testified by his reports for the Prague music magazine Tempo (published until 1948). The change came after Husa's arrival to the USA (1954). He was impressed by the entrance made by the dodecaphony and serialism into the American musical scene. In 1968 he wrote his String Quartet No. 3 in which he united the twelve-tone (neo-)baroque concertato forms. He was awarded the Pullitzer Prize for it. He then carried on composing in the twelve-tone technique. There was one composition of his which was originally intended for the American concert band, but under the influence of occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies, he switched to programmatic intentions. He called it Hudba pro Prahu 1968 (Music for Prague 1968). In 1969 he arranged the score for a symphony orchestra and performed it as conductor at its European premiere (31 January 1970 in Munich). In the work with the twelve-tone row he integrated the musical idioms of the Hussite battle chorale Ktož jsú Boží bojovníci (Those Who Are Warriors of God) which gave the composition a unique ideological meaning by processing the derivatives of the tone row.