György Selmeczi: Symphonic poems

Saint Orpheus Fragments The Saint Orpheus Fragments is an open series of symphonic poems inspired by the famous essay novels of Miklós Szentkuthy: St. Orpheus Breviary.
The St. Orpheus Breviary is one of the top intellectual performances of the 20th century. The tremendous text corps is only comparable to Proust and Joyce, a reading that is hard to approach: its reception and understanding is almost a life program. Szentkuthy’s special affinity to music further increases the power of the fascinating work of art essentially embracing European spirituality. The three orchestral pieces, composed under the influence and impact of the St. Orpheus Breviary, do not attempt to address the monumental work in its entirety but rather look at the most characteristic parts as independent compositions and find solutions for the musical representation of the diversity of the text. It would be straightforward to “transfer” and mirror Szentkuthy’s musical references, however a more subjective approach appears to be more appealing: in fact the composition tells a story in musical forms of expression making it knowingly and deliberately eclectic.
The symphonic series opposes the traditional formal structure; by deploying a multiple linearity simultaneously formulating and varying several thematic materials it progresses in time without satisfying the reprise requirement. The series is open: further reflections and commentaries are possible to come in the “time passing by”.

Alba Felix For more than a decade the composer has been interested in the genre of symphonic poem as a work of art. It was a highly important form of creative composition at the age of romanticism, however it almost disappeared from the composers’ practice in the 20th century, and even a certain level of pejoration was then associated with it: according to the theoretic principles of the second half of the century the literary-philosophic or dramatic inspirations of compositions were considered to be deconstructing the “clarity” and sovereignty of musical structures. The postmodern era again shows interest in musical compositions inspired by history or literature: musical processes are more and more commonly linked to literary forms, historic events or dramatic actions.
The composition Alba Felix („happy dawn”) attempts to mediate the complex and “enigmatic” connotations of the word “Alba”, and also demonstrates the commitment to the Lisztian traditions of symphonic poems. However, by incorporating the catholic church song (“O aurora lucidissima”) and by deploying several specific rhythmic, harmonic and formal solutions Alba Felix still proves to be a musical composition of the 21st century.

Bulgakov The musical fundamentals of the symphonic poem composed in the spirit of the above mentioned principles were written as a stage music to accompany the dramatic play Ivan the Terrible by Mikhail Bulgakov. The broad variety of musical materials inspired by the original play and its era (Russian folk song and folk dance, romance, estrade music, movement march etc.) appear in a condensed and dynamic form being autonomously “self-arranged” as a dramaturgical capability. This process, sometimes arrogant, sometimes burlesque, is interrupted by the characteristic orthodox prayer finding exactly the right place of the “story” in space and time even if deprived of vocality. The composer is offering the sounding footprint of the common 20th century “experience” shared by all of us.

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György Selmeczi: Symphonic poems