Melodics in the Piano Compositions of Marij Kogoj


  • Ivan Klemenčič



In his piano compositions the composer Marij Kogoj continues the tradition of homophonic musical thinking. However, this was not sufficient, so that with the introduction of free polyphonic parts this homophonic fundament received a more minute, psychologically determined content. Kogoj 's counterpoint, in fact a romantic heritage, originated as a polymelodic unity of the homophonic and polyphonic principle; at first with the accent on homophony with the ramification of harmonic parts (during his studies in Vienna under Schreker and Schönberg) and with the polyphonic hypertrophy of voices, typical of the neo-romantic idiom, which clarified after the first World War and then later (in the final period up to 1932) with the introduction of a more linear foundation of the texture. In keeping with the tonal or still tonal harmonic design of the composition with the non-abstract, still neo-romantic way of musical thinking are the melodics – melodious and accentuated in the upper part. At the same time their development soon becomes complicated: dispersed motivic embryos as well as a mass of musical ideas appear to be the more progressive musical elements. With such a way of musical thinking, instead of using a rounded-off melody or theme, the composer most appropriately follows and adapts himself to quickly changing psychic happenings. On one hand his model extends to the edge of athematic style, although he cannot completely by-pass tradition (according to Scriabin's and Chopin's melodic models), whereas in his last phase he makes sensitive use of some contrapuntal constructional elements. In this period of partial rationalisation he surprisingly introduces con-structivistic elements into his temporarily subjectivistic style especially in the form of the countermovement of two or more melodies. His personal stylistic development becomes especially evident from an analysis of intervals. In his earlier period his starting point was static 85 romantic pessimism almost exclusively in intervals of seconds, which gradually grow beyond neo-romantic expression. With the emphasis on the fourth, seventh and second – in a new role – Kogoj reaches the summit in his mature period with his concise »Sketch« with which he explicitly, yet individually, joins expressionism. In his final period dissonant jumps beyond the octave bring him near to Schönberg's atonality and expressionism, although he simultaneously retreats from this; instead of dodecaphony he turns to Neue Sachlichkeit (with constructivistic elements and with less frequent neo-classical diatonics), or more precisely to its initial idealistic phase as an extension of expressionism. Thus he reaches melodically adequate means of expressionistic writing – except his »Sketch« – only in the phase when he is already partly deviating from it. (We find a similar situation in the previous period, in which Kogoj's orientation towards expression is accompanied by neo-romantic compositional elements.)


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How to Cite

Klemenčič, I. (1973). Melodics in the Piano Compositions of Marij Kogoj. Musicological Annual, 9(1), 68–86.