Bloch, Ernest

Ernest Bloch (24 July 1880 – 15 July 1959) was a Swiss-born composer who marched through the worlds of avant-garde Jewish art or concert music and the Western classical tradition. Bloch's music exemplifies several post-Romantic influences, including the styles of Richard Strauss, Claude Debussy, and Gustav Mahler. His interest in Claude Debussy's and Maurice Ravel's chromatic sounds is apparent in his tone poem Hiver-PrintempsBlock wrote a large group of works about Jewish subjects, including the Israel SymphonyTrois poèmes juifs for orchestra, the tone poem Schelomo for cello and orchestra, and the suite Baal Shem for violin and piano. The full maturity of his musical application of Jewish themes and the liturgy is demonstrated in his sacred service Avodath Hakodesh for chorus, baritone, and orchestra. Bloch's works show a strong neoclassical trend that combines musical forms of the past with techniques used in the 20th century. His Concerto Grosso No. 1 and his Piano and string quintet, which use fourth color tones and enhance the emotionally intense nature of music, have been some examples.

There are numerous other influences on Bloch's works, not only his Jewish origin. It's possible that his mastery of musical color evocation is at the core of the matter. While the slow movement of the first Quintet has a Gauguinesque South Seas and the Chinese of the Episodes, his other compositions function with an equally telling but completely distinct impact. Helvetia and the United States are next to Israel, while Nirvana is next to Scenes from Jewish Life. Composer Benjamin Bloch's work does not fit into any conventional musical genres. As a result of his correspondence with Mahler and meeting Debussy, he received instruction from a number of notable musicians, including Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, Iwan Knorr, and Ludwig Thuille. According to their Hebrew names, several of his works are significantly influenced by his Jewish roots. "The only manner in which I can make music of life and importance" is to compose music that expresses my Jewish identity as an adult, according to Bloch's father, who at one time wanted to be a Rabbi.

Bloch's work employs a wide range of modern harmonies. Twentieth-Century Harmony by Vincent Persichetti lists all of them. These include the use of the Dorian mode and substantial modifications in harmony in his Concerto Grosso No. 1, tone clusters in his Piano Sonata No. 1, the percussive use of harmony, as well as serial harmony, in his Piano Quintet according to Persichetti, Ernest Bloch seems to have had a peculiar passion for the cello from a young age. The Cello Sonata, written when he was a student in Brussels, is idiomatically written for the instrument, with soaring cello melodies balanced by an equally lavish quasi-orchestral piano section. The three pieces influenced by Jewish mythology, include the well-known Nigun for violin, which is performed here in a rather successful transcription by Joseph Schuster, the three miniatures From Jewish Life, and the longer Méditation hébraque, written for Casals and closest in idiom to his cello masterpiece, Schelomo, are even more distinctive.

Cello Compositions of Ernest Bloch | Animato Strings


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