André Jolivet (1905-1974)
It was learning to play the Ondes Martenot which first got me into the music of André Jolivet – he wrote an extraordinarily beautiful and exciting concerto for the instrument.
Truly, he is a magician of sound. One of the few pupils of Edgard Varèse, he practiced techniques for maintaining ‘just intonation’ tuning and using ritualistic processes in music composition to regress to the true ‘life spirit’ of things.
Jolivet’s music is idiosynchratic. Using techniques to generate virtual overtones, his chord designs are characteristic and can end up sounding like fizzing fireworks. I like the way his rhythms and melodies work themselves out and how he uses register to climactic effect. Magical!
Pieces to check out: Concerto pour ondes Martenot & orchestre (1947), Cinq dances rituelles (1941).