During the past few weeks in SB, Jess and I have been marking our wall calendar with the names of friends and family whom we've seen that day. Santa Barbara is not particularly large and we have come into contact with a providentially large amount of old acquaintances in the most unlikely places. From bumping into friends while walking Numi on the beach, to meeting up with old classmates at French Press (a hipster-mecca coffee shop), to visiting my 95-year old granddad in Oxnard, relationships abound!
I expound on the blessings of connecting to people to introduce my overview post on Boris Goltz's prelude set. The trick that I first encountered when I became aware of this composition is that YOU CAN NOT FIND IT! Anywhere. Sure, if you could hop in a plane to St. Petersburg and dig around in libraries, maybe, but for the masters student living in Spokane, the location of a seemingly unpublished musical treasure provided a very difficult obstacle. What recourse does one have? Community. Don't have one? Make one.
Just over a year ago (July 20, 2011) I began to send out professionally and courteously worded letters to just about everyone I could think of who could help me in my quest. Of the many that went unanswered and the few that could provide no clear direction (including those from Slavist Superstars Dr. Taruskin and Dr. Mazo - but they responded!), I eventually came upon a Muscovite music student who sent me photographed copies (Sept. 3, 2011) of the precious document that I had to transcribe with Sibelius for six months to read. At the same I had talked to someone during the November AMS Conference in San Francisco connected with the Prokofiev Archive in Goldsmith University in London who gave me some names, particularly the name of a prolific collector of Russian piano music busy at work on an encyclopedia in the subject. So, just as I was finishing up my six-month Sibelius transcription, the British collector sent me a copy of the 1971 Leningrad "Muzika" edition of Goltz's 24 Preludes, Op. 2.
I mention this arduous quest to highlight the following: 1) musicology is like an Indiana Jones movie, but more exciting, 2) I know the pieces pretty well as I've transcribed every little dot and dash into a computer program, and 3) the young scholar/person can only benefit from making new friends. Perhaps by exploring the music of Boris Goltz on this blog, common interest in a remarkable man who wrote remarkable music can serve to create new relationships as we revel in the nearly-forgotten treasures of the past! Here's what we have to deal with:
Composer: Boris Grigorevich Goltz (1913–1942)
Location: Leningrad Conservatory
Year of Composition: 1934–35
Publication: "Muzika:" Leningrad, 1971
Number of Pieces: 24
Key Order: Chopinesque (C a G e... F d)
Key Signatures: Yes
Average Length: 32 measures
A quick word about stylistic influences: Given their length, form (mostly ABA'), and textures, these preludes fall in a direct line stemming from Chopin through the nineteenth-century Russian prelude composers, to contemporaries like Shostakovich and Zaderatsky. Goltz missed the radical experimentalism of the 1920s and instead begins to compose during the advent of Stalin's Socialist realism, an ultimately odious aesthetic theory that stressed (among other things) intelligibility. (The true definition of that nefarious aesthetic is a philosophical/artistic/political Rubik's Cube of confusion and obfuscation. Perhaps that's a post for later.) While Goltz's music may seem strange enough at the first hearing, when compared to the music of Feinberg, Shcherbachov, Dzerzhinsky, or early Shostakovich (all composers showing some side of the ruckus 20s), his grounding in conservative traditions becomes more pronounced. He has melodies. He has cadences. He ends on triads. Think of it like kuchka 2.0, nineteenth-century nationalism injected with a bit of Prokofiev's linear style and some twentieth-century bite. In fact, the style, in the right hands, is an amazing interplay between musical expectations in the Classical vein and modern humor/disillusionment/movie theater techniques getting in the way. Very, very fun!
That's the basic overview of this collection of pieces. Next time we'll take a look at the first piece in the set and see if we can't make the world a better place through analysis!
(Unfortunately at this time I cannot share a copy of the Prleudes with you. It was part of my agreements with my foreign contacts that the sheet music remain private. Sorry! I am in the process of seeing if I can create a new version of the music for publishing in this hemisphere, but have a ways to go through international copy write laws and archival comparison before that can happen. I'll keep you posted.)