The Contemporary Slovene String Quartet

  • Andrej Rijavec

Abstract

The string quartet of the 20th century has not remained a medium on the fringes, for which nothing new in the way of musical expression can be devised; on the contrary, it has followed and at times even provided an essential contribution to the picture of musical striving in this century: such was the case with Hindemith, with Schönberg and with Webern, not to mention the master of quartets – Béla Bartók. In Slovene music, their contemporary Slavko Osterc found a modern solution to the question of quartet sound and form with his 2nd string quartet (1934). Several decades were to pass before his technical and stylistic solutions were surpassed, and that at a level high enough to satisfy international criteria. The article deals with some compositionally characteristic post-war quartets, beginning with the 5th string quartet (1945) by Lucijan Marija Škerjanc, which in spite of its late date is still floating in post-romantic waters, whose sources go back to Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Ravel. The string quartet by Ivo Petrić from 1956 is the first to freshen the atmosphere to some extent with its Hindemithian »Fortspinnung« and Bartókian treatment of south Slavonic folklore. In contrast to the widely held opinion that folklore is hardly present in Slovene music – in comparison with compositions from other regions of Yugoslavia – the 3rd string quartet (1959) by Vilko Ukmar cannot conceal its folkloric elements. The tonally decentralized idiom oscillates between something which could be called »romantic expressionism« and standard expressionism. The Two compositions for string quartet (1968) by Vladimir Lovec are treated as a belated example of neo-classicism. Not until 1969 does the string quartet catch up with modern European and to some extent also with avant-garde sound solutions in this medium (other types of composition had done so long ago). In this respect Quatuor (1969) by Ivo Petrić and Triptychon (1969) by Primož Ramovš are especially important. While Petrić's literary Italian adverbs represent further emotional preconditioning of the performance, Ramovš 's changes of density, colour and dynamics have become the exclusive components of the work's »contents«. Sound has here become an end in itself, self-sufficient, with no extra-tonal imputations. In contrast to Petrić's quartet Ramovš's is extra-musically, explicitly non--programmatic and thus is more daring and more avant-garde. Pop-art III for string quartet (1971) by Darijan Božič goes even further because of the increased exploitation of the performers' creative potential. So the contemporary Slovene string quartet reveals a wide diapason of different aesthetic attitudes within which Ramovš and Božič, each in his own way, are pointing the way towards new solutions in this musical medium but also towards new problems.

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Published
1973-12-01
How to Cite
RijavecA. (1973). The Contemporary Slovene String Quartet. Musicological Annual, 9(1), 87-107. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.9.1.87-107
Section
Articles