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Glazunov's Writings, Blog 1: On the Work of a Composer

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The first of what I hope will be many more essays I will translate by him. The Russian grammar was hard to translate to English, but I tried my best! We begin:

It is very difficult to answer the question of how musical thoughts arise, what furthers the creative process and what living conditions contribute to the creative work. My situation was generally so. First, when improvising at the piano, or directly, such as while walking or insomnia occurred to the melody or the so-called themes. If the theme is borrowed, such as folk, it must become intimate and become like one's own, simultaneously with the theme of harmonization and need to figure out its outlines. The theme appears in the form of more or less brief episodes, and when we talk about composers who have major works resulted directly at once, then I hardly believe it. Whereupon work begins at times agonizing. You must use the skill of the art produced over the years, constantly check yourself instinctively form while not obeying it slavishly. All the creative work should take place in the mind, warm fire inspiration. Changing the separate component parts of a whole one has to often, as it is necessary to measure and focus on that will fully satisfy the creative flair. This point is one of the most painful, and if the development of thought in the finished work appears smooth and natural, later the author himself often forgets how much he racked his head on spikes over individual moments. As for giving impetus to creativity, then it is difficult to answer. Let me explain this by example.
Creativity needs freedom and focus, for with some discomfort the situation interferes in the work of my own life, when nothing was able to cool the overheated brain. But best of all was when I composed in the summer, when I saw creativity for many years in my cottage in Ozerki, including almost complete solitude. I started work after 12:00 in the day, before which I outline just how much I had to do for the day, recalling the previous day. Of course, one talks about their work in advance to deliberate more or less closer to the end [of a composition]. After 12 o'clock, I began to "think," and my brain is gradually warmed. I write down everything in a clean sweep for the most part, as all my voice lines and the details are clear to me in the head, representing the so-called inner ear. If anything was not possible, I would sit at the piano, listening to combinations or wander along the paths of my favorite garden.
By nightfall, I managed to do more if I ended up part of the planned work, and often I continued on without wanting to break away. I went late - about 2-3 o'clock [at night]. If I am able to perform the day's mission, I slept well, if not, not for a long time could I sleep. I remember one occasion when I did not succeed in a place in the composition. In a dream, I came up with it, and when I woke up, everything was ready to work. As a young man, a pupil of a secondary school, I was influenced by the study of music theory and become familiar with musical literature, I wrote almost daily. Meeting in 1881 with representatives of the Young Russian school, exceptionally welcoming me into their ranks, it has turned my head and gave a new impetus to creativity.
I was interested above all in their music, as well as instrumental and vocal works of Franz Liszt, and this primarily caused competition with my hand. Reading literary works did not cause me such creativity, as did exemplary music.

Once, in a private musical circle, I heard some music that I liked. My question was, who is the author, and I was told that it is my own student work, which I had completely forgotten. This case also impressed me, and I immediately began after a long break a lot of writing.

Suitable commissions for works not only tied me, but, on the contrary, inspired me. For example, I had a special zeal rise up and in a rather short time composed the ballet Raymonda [op.57] and music for King of the Jews [op. 95]. Pictures of nature fascinated me during a trip to Spain, Switzerland, the Crimea and the Caucasus, and there is little left to print my work through - obviously, less nomadic life contributed to my work as a composer.

The composer of genius I would call that who clearly outlines highly artistic individuality, and was innocent in that, as well as perfect processing of his thoughts, which already requires knowledge and technique. Such, for example, J. Bach, Mozart, Glinka and others.

From the foregoing it follows that the work consists of two sections: the first is an immediate creativity-- creative force that is given over, and the second sometimes, so to speak, a black mathematical work. Both should be in close unity, and this is the inspiration of the whole work.
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Updated Oct-02-2019 at 22:00 by Huilunsoittaja

Classical Music , Personal , Other , Composers