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Boris Blacher (1903-1975) was born in Manchuria to a Baltic father and German mother. He grew up in both Asia and Russia before attending school in Berlin. His cosmopolitan background, accented German and the fact he was one quarter Jewish all contributed to an insecure position within the prevailing political climate. In addition, Blacher’s political views and suspect social circles (reportedly including Jews) further tarnished him in the eyes of the cultural establishment. After being appointed in 1938 to the Dresden Conservatory he was ousted only one year later for his “degenerate” artistic style. However, following the war, Blacher quickly became a leading composer and teacher within the new German musical establishment. In 1948 Blacher became a professor at the Berlin Musikhochshule, eventually becoming its director in 1953, a position he held until 1970. Blacher’s harmonic language is reminiscent of Hindemith, though texturally his style has a distinctive lightness. This particular Sonata for flute and piano is especially rhythmically compelling. Persistent and intricate syncopations (jazz was an influence for Blacher) are featured in the first movement. The last movement is a study in perpetual motion, expressed in energetic triplet figures. However, the soul of the work lies in the lyrical expressiveness and deep melancholy of the second movement. Though this work was written in 1940, this represents the first recording of this Sonata. It is hoped that other flutists will be inspired to include this fine work in their repertoire.

Sources:

Boosey and Hawkes website accessed 2 June 2017. https://www.boosey.com/pages/cr/composer/composer_main.asp?composerid=2809&ttype=BIOGRAPHY&ttitle=Biography

Kater, Michael H. The Twisted Muse : Musicians and their Music in the Third Reich
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

[photo of Boris Blacher]. n.d. www.bellperc.com. Web. 15 June, 2017.