Frank Martin
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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. Even from there, the reach of his talent did not go unrecognized. So, here is some insight into the life of the man whose musical prowess is still celebrated to this day.

Frank Martin’s Biography

The man, Frank Martin, was born on 15 September 1890, in Geneva Switzerland. He was the last of 10 children in the family of a clergyman. It was during his childhood that he got started up in music; he began playing and improvising on the piano before he even went off to school. His form of genius started quite early 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 was never 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.

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. While this was going on, he was studying piano and composition with Joseph Lauber. It was then that he was fully introduced into the intricacies of music and instrumentation. After he was done paying his dues, he spent the totality of 1918 and 1926 living in Zurich, Rome, and Paris. There he worked on his style and really found his musical footing.

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.

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Frank Martin
Frank Martin & Julian Beam: Image Source

Wife And Family

Coming from a big family himself, it is no surprise that the composer had quite a big one. In the year 1918, he got married to Odette Micheli, their union was blessed with a son, Renaud who was born in 1922. By 1930, the two were divorced, but that was not the end of his love life. 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 and passed away shortly.

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Facts About the Composer – Frank Martin

He Was an Accomplished Musician

Though traumatized by the death of his wife, Frank continued to excel in music. From then to 1946, he leaped through a number of hurdles that solidified his stance in the industry. During that time, 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”. He was also the president of the Swiss Association of Musicians from 1942 and 46. What really took him to a whole new level 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.

His First Composition

As stated above, Frank Martin learned to play the piano when he was very young and his passions were only spurred further when he was 12 years old. 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.

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He Received a Handful of Honours Before he Passed Away

In his time on earth, 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), the Geneva Prize (1951). He also acquired the title, Member of Honor of the Union Choral of Lausanne and Honorary Member of the International Council of Music, Paris (1973). The awards kept stacking up till his demise. His last piece of work, cantata Et la vie l’emporta, was attended to until 10 days before his death which was on 21 November 1974.

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