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Riverside radio presents the final program in a series of 15 Ernest Bloch the man and his music. The commentator for these programs is the composers Dr Suzanne BLOCK Mr. Block is a well-known authority on early music lecturer and a member of the faculty at The Juilliard School. In this series she provides a human ating details about her father's life and work and gives intriguing insights into the background of his compositions on our final program you will hear the violin sonata number one the soloist Isaac Stern and the play mystique provided in piano the Sonata number two. Here to introduce our program is Suzanne block. When a blog composes first balancer not in one thousand twenty it was a year after I had run the Elizabeth college Prize with his view of the streets had encouraged by the success he then set out to write a work for Valen in the same vein their work at his first performance in 1921 with Paul Konski and afterward in stand performing it. Their reaction to the work was similar to that of the year last week so I'm disliking what sounded to them in those days terribly dissonant and unpleasant. Others including Paul Rosenfeld the
critic to whom the work is dedicated went overboard in their praises in a long article entitled A critical impression of the latest work of one of the greatest musical talents of our generation published in Vanity Fair of May 1921 Rosenfeld devoted two and a half pages to the work and block. His descriptions are full of imaginative picturing in the second movement he saw a gigantic view of the workings of nature. And this is what he said. Here the music brings to mind not man but swarming in surging microscopic organisms innumerable millions of bacteria high on the piano and violin so high that one involuntarily squints while listening to the sounds. There commence creeping sings a shimmering relentless theme that slowly waveringly descends and gathers strength increases till the thin trickle grows into a stream. Rosenfeld went on that's for several columns finished by saying it is probable
that should he continue to advance as he has been advancing his recent works he may discover to the world one of the supreme musical temperaments of the modern age. In 1934 Rosenfeld's is appointed by Bloch Secret Service. We have these high hopes for block a dwindle greatly. Only time will answer the question of Rosenfeld's judgement. Others have written also about the Sonata have gotten too greatly involved picturisation the English musician and writer Alex Cohen gives a complete analysis of the work. And this is a condensed version of his description. The composer looks upon himself in the Sonata as a detached witness or narrator of circumstances and happenings in which he has taken no personal part. Almost as if he had returned to Earth in different incarnations to dispassionately observe a strange world of which he had no former memories. The first movement projects into sound the nightmare feelings that man is at the mercy not only of the eternal cosmic machine but of the machine that he himself
created that by some grim freak of an inexorable determinism he is fated to be creator destroyer and be destroyed. This movement though kindled by an idea follows no program. The second movement written after the reading of a book on Tibet conjures a monastery to the sound of mysterious bells ringing faintly through a rare altitude amid everlasting snows. The mind of the ghostly watcher turns for a brief space to the life of the senses that these ascetics have renounced. Then the mystic mood of contemplation is re-established. And now there emerges a vision of cruel primitive ritual. This ever occasion fades once again into the images of the immense monastery towering in its loneliness the violence and automatism for the first movement coupled with the Eastern motif of renunciation in the second seems to have unconsciously led Block's mind into the finale
to a realistic and merciless yet symbolic illustration of this insensate and doom of men. There are scenes of dark savagery a brutal march followed with a mad and terrible chant of triumph. All this impassive reviewed and registered by the composer as if by a distant spectator. The work ends with a calm epilogue though no one listens to music that certainly employs a wilder means greater dissonances melodically and harmonically where experiments in textures have gone far beyond what Bloch did with his Sonata. The work continues to have an impact. There are no fillers in the balance between both instruments has two interesting characteristics. First neither instrument predominates except for short moments and also at times the violin will be heard as a mysterious background giving a special coloring to the music where the sound is more
orchestral in character than that of chamber music. The works three movements are modeled after this book's valid Sonata number one performed by piano.
Ernest Bloch: The man and his music
Episode Number
Episode 15 of 15
Producing Organization
WRVR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Riverside Church (New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3659. This prog.: Violin Sonata No. 1; Poeme Mystique for Violin and Piano (Violin Sonata No. 2)
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Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: Riverside Church (New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-39-15 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:26:34
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Chicago: “Ernest Bloch: The man and his music; Episode 15 of 15,” 1968-12-30, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “Ernest Bloch: The man and his music; Episode 15 of 15.” 1968-12-30. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
APA: Ernest Bloch: The man and his music; Episode 15 of 15. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from