Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Better Know a Composer: Nicolas Medtner

Over on Eastman's new blog, grad student Cahill Smith fills us in on Nicolas Medtner (1880-1951):
While he would have certainly objected to this description–his style is completely unique–the quickest way to describe Medtner’s music is as a cross between Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. Medtner was a self-proclaimed follower of Beethoven and wrote music with a similar thematic unity, often using the smallest basic materials to create massive structures and dramatic contrasts: if themes were money, Medtner could feed a family of four with a few nickels and dimes.
Medtner's familial ties to Europe might explain his affinity for Beethoven and the mainstream classical tradition, but according to Smith, the composer's music also shows the influence of mother Russia:
At the same time, Medtner imbued his works with exotic Russian harmonies that echo Rachmaninoff or Scriabin. Intense drama, lyricism, fantasy, and childlike innocence are all to be found in Medtner’s music.
Smith will be performing an all-Medtner program in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Sunday. Here's a video preview: