Kogoj's Suite for Orchestra »Če se pleše« (When Dancing)

  • Ivan Klemenčič


Although an advocate of pure instrumental music, Kogoj asserted himself predominantly in vocal compositions. Apart from all his attention to piano music and to that for violin, in the instrumental field Kogoj wrote only one work for orchestra, the suite »When Dancing« (Če se pleše), presumably commissioned and composed prior to 1932. Greater productiveness in this direction was probably averted by the less favourable possibilities of performance and by the composer's inherent affinity for vocal music. However, considering some of his plans, it is not impossible that compositonally he would have developed also in this field, if only mental illness had not hampered him completely after 1932. The crucial question treated in the analytical part of the article is the relation between the dance aspect and its artistic reinterpretation in the composition. Its texture reveals that all three dances as well as rhythms served the composer only as a starting point for artistic transformation, which is already evident through the use of poly rhythms and unaccentuated rhythmization. Kogoj's par-sonal traits come thus more to the fore in his rather free treatment of form. Herewith, as usual, he made neither use of athematic nor thematic principles, but applied his idiosyncratic ways of motivic transformation and variation. The melodies characterize the dance movement in the »Foxtrot«, in the waltz »Chopiniana« and the »Tango«. However, Kogoj transformed the whole by agitated interval structure, by discontinuai melodic lines and by rather artificial polymelodics. In spite of dance music manipulations, his personal touch is even more evident in harmony: from the rather free treatment of tonality to compound tertian harmonies, chords by fourths and added-note-chords. As regards instrumentation Kogoj, a pupil of A. Schönberg, is expressively colourful; by breaking up motifs among different instrumental groups and laying stress upon individual instruments, he strongly introduces wind and brass instruments without tending towards massive sound. By such realization Kogoj achieves strong and differenciated expressivenes, ranging from lyricism to expressive aggressiveness, which reflects his innate experience and the metamorphose of the dances. Condensed and complicated, this music is stylistically, in its smallest melodic cells, still neoromantically predicatory: however, a higher, »irrational« logic – lacking any sensual satisfaction whatsoever or neoromantic emotional tension – directs the whole into a far more compressed and emotionally intensive expressiveness. Though thematically not belonging to Kogoj's central kind of musical confessions, this suite remains to be a work of art with all the characteristics of Kogoj's idiom, a composition, ambitious in its design and persuasive in its musicality. Bearing all this in mind, it can be classified as one of the most typical contributions to Slovene musical expressionism, or more precisely, to the latter's second phase, approximately between 1927 and 1932, with influences of Neue Sachlichkeit, which in Kogoj 's case represents a broadening of thematics, radicalization of expression and a personally more controlled, and less exuberant compositional design.


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How to Cite
KlemenčičI. (1976). Kogoj’s Suite for Orchestra »Če se pleše« (When Dancing). Musicological Annual, 12(1), 67-88. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.12.1.67-88