Ivan Wyschnegradsky (1993-1979)
Quarter Tone Music (1934-1966)
La Journée de l’Existence by Ivan Wyschnegradsky 21 minutes
Ivan Wyschnegradsky was a Russian-born composer who in the early 1920’s designed the first quarter-tone piano. For the next 30 years Wyschnegradsky developed an intricate system for composing microtonal music, producing numerous musical works and written articles. However it was not until the 1970s that his music finally found the audience that it deserved. Part of his newly acquired cult status among young composers was due to a day long series of concerts produced by Radio France on January 21, 1978. It was during one of those concerts, that Wyschnegradsky’s first major work, composed in 1916-17, “La Journée de l’Existence,” finally got its world premiere. For a composer who had been long ignored by his contemporaries, to hear his early masterpiece finally performed 60 years after it was first composed was by all accounts a very moving and uplifting experience. Although not a microtonal piece, “La Journée de l’Existence” does contain within it all the germs of the microtonal works that were to follow it. Based in part on certain visionary experiences that Wyschnegradsky had prior to its composition the work is in two parts, the first of which traces the history of the cosmic consciousness and the second the development of individual consciousness.
Ivan Wyschnegradsky: A Memorial Tribute (December 14, 1979), Part 1
Ivan Wyschnegradsky: A Memorial Tribute (December 14, 1979), Part 2
On September 29, 1979, Ivan Wyschnegradsky died in Paris at the age of 86. Only in the last two years of his life did he become widely recognized in Europe for his contributions to the repertoire. Since the early 1920s he had composed in various microtonal systems in an attempt to expand the possibilities of musical expression. Presented in this program is the first American broadcast of Wyschnegradsky’s early (1916-17) mystical work “La Journee de l’Existence”. The performance, commissioned and recorded by Radio France, is stirring and extremely beautiful. In addition Charles Amirkhanian presents the first radio broadcast of his last interview with Wyschnegradsky, recorded at the composer’s Paris studio on June 4, 1976.
Tellus #14: Just Intonation