n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Tussen Bethlehem en Bloubergstrand : vanaf die na die in Stefans Grové se oeuvre

Volume 53 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


The traditional concept of style in an artist's output usually amounts to no more than descriptions of detail facets about the artist's work. In a musical context these could include more or less vague descriptions of characteristic qualities such as rhythmic and melodic features, preferred formal approach and colourist qualities that can be regarded as typical for the composer's work in general, or works from a certain period of his/her creative life. In the case of the latter, it could mean that the composer adopted certain changes in approach to style, thereby rendering previous work stylistically "different" than later work. As a result stylistic qualities often lead to the well known triple division of early, middle and late style. When applied to Grové's work the earliest style orientation (around the late 1940s) might suggest elements of Debussy's fashionable Impressionism of the time, and slightly later Hindemith's neo-Baroque and Bartók's rhythmic drive. Works such as the Violin Concerto (1959) and Symphony (1962) form the apex of his second (expressionist) phase, with strong hints towards dodecaphony.
According to the composer himself, his adult (third) style came into being with a Piano Toccata from 1966, in which both textural and thematic orientation heralded a "new" stylistic phase. Since his return from the United States to South Africa in 1972, this phase gradually gave way to a fourth (!) phase, his "African" style approach in which his discovery of his "original African self" led towards the exploitation of largely simulated African musical elements. The composer's own strong emphasis on this style change as his "Damascus moment", "final home coming" and similar descriptions has even led to his remarking that he should destroy all previous music on a moonlit night on Blaauwberg beach, thereby rendering the "African" phase as the only musical legacy worth representing him as leading South African resident composer. However, upon closer scrutiny and in accordance with the composer's definition of his style as "African impulses within Eurocentric form" underlying older stylistic features such as contrapuntal orientation and specific colourist approach to orchestral music can still be detected beneath an "African" motive collage.
This article attempts to approach Grové's work from the point of an underlying "sameness" as far as stylistic development is concerned. To this end his stylistic development is treated according to Leonard Meyer's style definition and approach to "sketch analysis", i.e. a survey of all stylistic features independently, and approaching a possible argument for their mutual "interrelatedness", thereby ensuring a unified stylistic body. Related stylistic features tend to reappear in different works that originated at different periods in his career. In this regard the composer's own recent realisation that the "African" elements in the works dating from 1983 can possibly be traced back to one of his earliest works from 1948 is noteworthy, thereby underlining the hypothesis of a unified style profile as proposed in this article.

Die tradisionele idee van styl in die kunstenaar se produksie volstaan meestal by weinig meer as oppervlak-beskrywings van fasette van die kunswerk. In die musikale konteks kan sulke fasette neerkom op min of meer vae beskrywings van karakteristieke eienskappe wat betrekking het op ritmiese en melodiese aspekte, vormbenadering en koloristiek, dit wil sê eienskappe wat gesamentlik as tipies vir die komponis se werk in die algemeen beskou kan word, of werke uit 'n bepaalde periode. Hiervolgens kan die komponis se benadering voortdurend verander, sodat die bekende driedeling van vroeë, middel- en laatstyl tot stand kom. Indien hierdie verdeling op Grové se musiek toegepas sou word, sou sy vroegste styloriëntering (vroeë veertigerjare) die modieuse Impressionisme van Debussy kon suggereer, met 'n wending na Hindemith en Bartók ietwat later. Die ekspressionistiese fase dek belangrike werke soos die Vioolkonsert (1959) en die Simfonie (1962)

Die komponis self sien as sy derde, volwasse stylfase die klaviertokkate van 1966, 'n stylfase wat sedert sy terugkeer na Suid-Afrika in 1972 verder verryk is, en opgevolg is deur 'n vierde (!) fase sedert ongeveer 1983, wat sy "Afrika"-wortels tot uitdrukking moes bring. Vir die komponis is hierdie laasgenoemde 'n "Damaskus-moment", en veronderstel sy eindelike musikale tuiskoms. Hy beskryf die styl van hierdie musiek gepas as "Afrosentriese impulse binne 'n Eurosentriese vormgewing". Die artikel is 'n poging om hierdie eienskappe en dié van sy ouer musiek onder 'n enkele stilistiese noemer te bring. Vir dié doel word sy stylontwikkeling gehanteer in ooreenstemming met Leonard Meyer se styldefinisie en sy idee van 'n "sketsanalise", dit wil sê 'n ondersoek na alle stilistiese sisteme, en geargumenteer ten gunste van hulle onderlinge verwantskappe en samehorigheid. Dit wil byvoorbeeld voorkom asof verwante stilistiese eienskappe herverskyn in verskillende werke uit verskillende tydstippe in sy loopbaan. Dit is selfs moontlik om reeds in een van die vroegste werke uit 1948 elemente te vind wat vooruitwys na die onlangse "Afrika"-reeks werke.

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