He spent his early years in his native Poland, but lived in France for most of his life, being granted French citizenship in His music is often said to be primarily neoclassical , drawing on his Polish Jewish heritage as well as his French musical influences. His parents were both natives of Pinsk — his father Moishe Mowsza Tancman died when Alexandre was 10 and his mother Chana Tancman nee Hurwicz, — reared him and his older sister Teresa born in alone. The composer wrote the following about his childhood and heritage in a letter to an American researcher:. Shortly after completing his studies, Tansman moved to Paris , where his musical ideas were accepted and encouraged by mentors and musical influences Igor Stravinsky and Maurice Ravel , as opposed to the more conservative musical climate in his native Poland.
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Alexandre Tansman - In Alexandre Tansman "can be found a strong mixture of poetry Alexandre Tansman was born in Lodi , Poland , on June 12, Having begun to compose at the age of eight, he studied the piano, harmony and counterpoint at the Lodi Conservatory , and then followed courses in law and philosophy at Warsaw University , taking lessons in counterpoint, form and composition with Piotr Rytel, who was also Panufnik's teacher.
It was in Warsaw that Tansman first won recognition as a composer, winning the Polish State Prize there in Then, a year later, he emigrated to Paris , where he spent much of the rest of his life.
At first Tansman attached himself to the tradition of Chopin, a tradition whose traces, for a time, seemed lost, or, better still, forgotten, but which in the work of Tansman began to raise its voice anew.
Like his predecessor, who associated himself with French art, Tansman found in France the form, the order and logic of thought, the linear refinement his music needed, and learned there to remove from himself all a priori modern tendencies in order to give free course to his natural musical emotion. In becoming a master of French savoir faire Relatively soon his works appeared in the repertory of artists of such rank as Bronislaw Huberman, Maria Freund, Zygmunt Dygat and Mieczyslaw Horszowski.
In the Tansman's symphonic works Symphony No. Tansman's ballet Sextuorwas produced in Paris in , in in Chicago and in in New York under the direction of Tullio Serafin. In he came to America and appeared as a pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Following this initial American appearance he performed his works with many other major American symphonies, both as a piano soloist and as a conductor. In he set out on a concert tour through four continents that took him to America for the third time where his Four Polish Dances were conducted in New York by Arturo Toscanini in October Tansman wrote a number of symphonic and chamber works in the s that included: Symphony Concertante No.
In the years between the two world wars Tansman's musical style took form under the influence of the neo-classical sphere and in direct contact with the works of such composers as Ravel, Stravinsky, Milhaud and Roussel. Tansman's music shared with Stravinsky's neoclassicism and with French music the logic of the construction of form, a tendency towards the clarity and simplicity, avoidance of pathos and emphasis, but from the very beginning certain individual qualities set him apart from the young French as well as young Polish composers.
In search of an original style, Tansman did not shun the emotionalism and lyrical expression rooted in Chopin's music, in the Romantic tradition and most likely in the composer's personality. His interest also turned to new harmonies. Contemporary critics called his extended chords "skyscraper chords" or "Tansmanian chords".
Quite early on Tansman applied the effect of polytonality independently of Stravinsky and Milhaud. Endowed with melodic invention and a perception of the sensual quality of tone, he displayed a virtuosity in the application of polyphony and a masterful control of the techniques of the classics of the past. He also looked, however, for inspiration in jazz, in popular music, in exotic rhythms and oriental tone colour. He composed with great ease and was skilled in all forms of music.
During his years in the United States he devoted himself to composing, to giving concerts, teaching and lecturing in Los Angeles and San Francisco His compositions included Symphonies Nos. The period of artistic maturity coincided with the period after Tansman's return to Paris in His compositions were performed by the most celebrated conductors and soloists. He toured with concerts, was a frequent guest of foreign music centres and conservatories, taught at international courses in composition in Santiago de Compostela, prepared a large number of radio programmes for Radio France , gave interviews, published articles and wrote a book about Igor Stravinsky Paris , Tansman's style in his postwar works did not undergo significant changes.
It may be said that the composer remained faithful to the same aesthetic ideals and used the same methods in organizing his music material through a large part of his creative evolution. He showed no interest in the avant-garde experiments - pointillism, serialism, aleatorism. He considered the new techniques and new concepts of the music material a passing fad, but loyalty to tradition did not mean stagnation in Tansman's case.
He enriched his composing technique, extended the range of harmonies. He composed prolifically. Tansman's last years were marked by international recognition and world- wide birthday celebrations.
In the years that followed he was honoured in Poland by a medal for "outstanding contribution to Polish culture" awarded by the Polish Composers Union, he was named honorary member of the Polish Composers Union and received the Gold Medal of the Order of Merit of the Polish People's Republic and a Medal for Service for Polish Culture.
Alexandre Tansman died in Paris on 15th November, Alexandre Tansman met Andres Segovia in Paris in the early s, and in composed for him the famous Mazurka. Our collaboration has never stopped Some of them - the Gaillarde, the Branle - have counterparts elsewhere in Europe ; others are typically Polish The subject has been treated in a language which seems to me the most suited for a work based on national or traditional forms - that is, I have avoided any voluntary stylization or modernization which, if adapted to the pure melodic lines, the popular harmonic style, and rhythmic meters, would result in something artificial and hybrid.
Folk dance and folk song are closely akin, and it is not surprising that two Kolysankas - lullabies - are included in the suite. The first, with its recurring bass figure, is particularly beautiful, and calls for prismatic changes of coloration on the part of the guitarist. The Cavatina suite is also a collection of dances. The Preludio which opens the suite reminds one of opening movements popular in the days of lutenists.
The Sarabande is stately and mysterious. The Scherzino is a tribute to virtuoso guitarists of the past, such as Fernando Sor. The Barcarole is a beautiful, flowing conclusion to a very lovely collection of guitar pieces. The Danza pomposa , which follows is a dance in seventeenth century style. It is one of Tansman's best guitar scores. In the variations he explores all the different possibilities of the instrument while creating his own synthesis of theme and variants.
It is unabashed Romanticism and a look back to Tansman's musical roots. The Pezzo in modo antico , dedicated to Angelo Gilardino, is yet another "Tansmanization" of ancient modes and dance forms. Tansman was eighty-five when he wrote it. It is an optimistic work, after all his heart was always with his native land, and Lech Walesa was the embodiment of freedom for a country trying to break from the Communist yoke.
Tansman wrote a letter to Segovia : " Paris , June 2, My dear Andres: I am sending you the two manuscripts of the Chansons Populaires, I hope you like them. I tried to write them with the spirit of those the mes that are very beautiful, keeping their spontaneous character, without weighting them down with complicated harmonies, but developing them a little. Write me what you think Your A. Segovia performed these pieces all over the world.
Originally conceived as a suite in six movements, three of the original movements were added to the Suite "In modo polonico" and these three pieces remained unpublished until Notes by Victor and Marina A.
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Cavatina Suite, for guitar
Cavatina for guitar