A composer’s inner biography: A sketch for the study of influences in Ljubica Marić’s oeuvre
Unutarnja biografija kompozitora - skica za studiju o uticajima u delima Ljubice Marić
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Attempting to investigate works of music through frank examination of possible influences is a delicate thing, sometimes maybe dangerous - as has been suggested by Jonathan Cross in his book, The Stravinsky Legacy. While the originality of a composer may appear to be threatened with such types of critique, for musicologists it is important to draw upon a deeper appreciation for how a composer searched for his/her own creative voice. The music of Ljubica Marić (1909-2003), one of the most important Serbian composers of the 20th century, has been chosen to demonstrate how composers need different influences during different phases of their maturation and how they deeply integrate them in order to create an individual utterance. Ljubica Marić first studied composition with Josip Slavenski at the Belgrade Music School (1925-29), and continued her studies with Josef Suk at the Master School of the Prague Conservatory (1929-32) where she obtained her diploma. Finally, she took Alois Hába’s c...ourse in quarter-tone music at the same institution from 1936 to 1937. The works she composed during the 1930’s were characterized by a radical will to break ties with traditional, mainly romantic music, so she chose to be influenced by the free atonal pre-dodecaphonic works of Arnold Schoenberg. Following World War II, she introduced some changes of expression that were more in keeping with links from the past. Her music became tonally stabilized, and thematic-motivational developments were rediscovered, resulting in an expression that became milder. But the changes need not necessarily be linked exclusively to the post-war climate of socialist realism. Rather, the previous style may have met up with some type of impasse - the sort that confounds or ultimately transforms an artist. For Ljubica Marić, however, it appears she was never truly satisfied with her first post-war works (1945-1950). What is certain is that she composed nothing during the several years that preceded her first masterpiece, the cantata The Songs of Space (1956). It is however worth examining whether or not they were really "dry years". It is certain that for Ljubica Marić, they were fresh discoveries of Serbian traditional singing, both folk and church, poetic and artistic treasures of the Middle Ages - but she also revived earlier experiences (from the pre-war decade) that she had rejected at the time, mainly the music of Stravinsky, Bartók and Slavenski. Although those influences can be detected in the score of The Songs of Space, the work has a strong individual imprint, an identity of its own. In the works that followed, The Passacaglia for orchestra and in several compositions belonging to the cycle Musica octoicha (Octoicha 1, The Byzantine Concerto, Ostinato super thema octoicha, The Threshold of Dreams) original traits of Ljubica Marić’s poetics became even more pronounced. The last works that she produced (in the 1980’s and 1990’s) are all for instrumental soloists or chamber ensembles. They continue with, and refine the main characteristics of the earlier ones. Ljubica Marić’s evolvement thus presents a search for originality of expression that was reached only after a process of selective assimilation and creative transformation of tradition had been fulfilled - but not until any "anxiety of influences" had been abandoned. It has been shown that Ljubica Marić, like other artists needed to be ready to be influenced, in order to absorb such influences in a creative way.
Posle kratkog osvrta na metodološke probleme sa kojima se suočava današnja muzikologija proučavajući krug tema vezanih za uticaje, u radu se prati kompozitorska evolucija Ljubice Marić, pri čemu se teži osvetljavanju mogućih uticaja na njeno stvaralaštvo u sukcesivnim razdobljima rada. Uočeni su tragovi plodotvornih "susreta" kompozitorke sa delima A. Šenberga, J. Slavenskog, I. Stravinskog i B. Bartoka, s jedne strane, i usmenom, još živom tradicijom srpske narodne svetovne i crkvene muzike, s druge strane. Za ocenu umetničke vrednosti dela Ljubice Marić bitno je to što su navedeni uticaji posle asimilacije doživeli dalekosežan preobražaj i kao takvi omogućili da njena dela steknu individualan pečat.