Intimate Details of The Personal Life, Career, and Death of Frank Martin The Composer

Music has undoubtedly changed through the ages, yet the work of the talented Frank Martin is somewhat timeless. His genius was used to form some of the most studied music theories in the world today. Though he was Swiss, the composer and musician spent most of his life in the Netherlands. From there, the reach of his talent did not go unrecognized.

As much as his musical prowess is still celebrated to this day, how he got to be a remarkable composer continues to pique the interest of many people. This is also the case for information about his family background, love life, and the circumstances surrounding his death. Interestingly, his musical exploits started when he was a lad.

Frank Martin Was the Last Child of His Parent’s 10 Children

The composer was born on the 15th of September 1890, in Geneva, Switzerland. Records have it that his was a family of Huguenots who settled in Geneva after they fled Montelimar around 1754.

He was the last of 10 children in the family of a clergyman. It was during his childhood that he got started in music; he began playing and improvising on the piano before he began schooling. Many regard him as a genius because, by the time he was 9 years old, he had already composed a children’s song.

The amazing thing is that the song was perfectly balanced even though he had never been professionally taught music harmonies or forms. By the time he was 12, he managed to impress composers through his rendition of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

His Parents Made Him Study Mathematics and Physics at the University of Geneva

Despite his evident musical prowess, his parents had other plans for him. He took classical languages in high school and moved on to study mathematics and physics at the University of Geneva for a total of two years.

But while this was going on, he was studying piano and composition with Joseph Lauber. It was there that he was fully introduced to the intricacies of music and instrumentation.

After he was done paying his dues, he was appointed in a number of musical capacities in Switzerland and that disturbed his dedication to composing, as a result, he moved to the Netherlands in 1946.

The Composer’s First Marriage Produced A Son And Ended in a Divorce

Coming from a big family himself, it is no surprise that the composer had quite a big one as well. In the year 1918, he got married to Odette Micheli. The couple then had a son named Renaud, who was born in 1922.

Almost all through his marriage to Odette, Frank Martin and his family lived in multiple popular cities of the world. From the year they got married to 1920, the composer and his wife lived in Zurich. Thereafter, they moved to Rome and then Paris.

He worked with several popular musicians in Paris and it was around this time that he started having issues with his wife. By 1930, the two were divorced, but that was not the end of his love life.

Frank Lost His Second Wife to Septicemia And Married His Third in 1943

The musician didn’t waste time to find another lover after the collapse of his marriage to Odette. By 1931, he got married to Irene Guardian, the two had three daughters together – Francoise, Pernette, and Adrienne. They were born in 1932, 1935, and 1937 respectively.

Unfortunately, in 1939, Irene succumbed to septicemia, a dangerous bloodstream infection also known as blood poisoning. Though traumatized by the death of his wife, Frank continued to excel in music.

He found love again and got married to his third wife, Maria Boeke, in 1943. The couple moved to Amsterdam in 1946, the same year they had their first child together, Jan Frank. They later moved to Naarden and had another child named Anne-Therese in 1949. Beyond the aforementioned facts, much of his private life was kept under wraps.

Frank Martins’ Served As The President Of Swiss Association of Musicians 

Frank Martin learned to play the piano when he was very young and his passions were only spurred on further when he was 12 years old when he had somewhat of a spiritual experience after he heard St. Mathew’s Passion by Johann-Sebastien Bach in Geneva. The music he heard touched him so much that he was moved to compose his first piece. He did this without any professional musical instruction.

He leaped through a number of hurdles to solidify his stance in the industry. Among other things, he founded the “Société de Musique de Chambre de Genève”, taught at the “Institut Jacques-Dalcroze”, and was the artistic director of the “Technicum Moderne de Musique”.

Also, he was the president of the Swiss Association of Musicians from 1942 to 1946. What really set him apart was his interest in the 12-tone technique of Arnold Schönberg. He put his own stamp on it and became the creator of a synthesis of the chromatic and twelve-tone techniques.

Frank Martin
Frank Martin & Julian Beam: Image Source

Awards that Distinguished His Career

The accomplished composer and musician received a number of international and local awards. Some of them include the Composer Award of the Association of Swiss Musicians (1947), and the Geneva Prize (1951).

He also acquired several titles including Member of Honor of the Union Choral of Lausanne and Honorary Member of the International Council of Music, Paris (1973). The awards and recognition kept stacking up until his demise.

Frank Martins Probably Died of Natural Causes

Given his age at the time he passed on, it is safe to assume he died of natural causes. The legendary composer passed away on the 21st of November 1974. The composer remained active until his death. Even though he had retired from teaching in 1957, Frank Martins refused to give up compositing music, and as such, he continued doing so until his death. Records have it that he worked on his last cantata titled Et la vie l’emporta until ten days before he passed away in Naarden, the Netherlands. Though he passed on in the Netherlands, his remain was returned to Geneva and buried at the Cimetière des Rois (Cemetery of Kings).

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