DMA Research

An Analysis of Géza Frid’s Concerto for Clarinets, Op. 82 (1972):

Rediscovered repertoire by a Hungarian, Jewish, Dutch composer

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            Géza Frid (1904-1989) was a significant Hungarian-born Dutch composer and pianist of Jewish descent. His compositional style was highly regarded in the Dutch musical scene of the 20th century; his music has been programmed on multiple occasions by the Concertgebouw Orchestra and in 1949 and 1954 won the City of Amsterdam Music Award.   Major influences on Frid’s musical development started in his native Hungary where he studied with Béla Bart ó k and Zoltan Kodaly before his move to the Netherlands.  In 1972, he composed a significant concerto for B-flat, A, E-flat and bass clarinets (Op. 82) and dedicated it to George Pieterson, principle clarinet with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

            Scholarly discussions of Géza Frid’s clarinet music are not to be found in either the US based International Clarinet Society’s The Clarinet, or in the Dutch based De Klarinet.   Intensive World Cat library searches have yielded no recordings of this piece, and currently there is not even one recording of Frid’s Concerto for Clarinets on YouTube or in the Naxos Music Library. The Concerto for Clarinets is an effective and interesting piece providing a significant addition to the standard clarinet repertoire; the goal of this research is to introduce and promote this hitherto unknown work to the worldwide clarinet community.  

            Save for some short selections on the Géza Frid website set up by his dedicated son, Arthur Frid, and a Wikipedia article, no translations exist of Géza Frid’s autobiographical material[1].   His life story is exceedingly interesting, having been a Jewish composer during the World War II years that survived the German occupation of the Netherlands.  Fortunately Frid published two autobiographical books in the Dutch language, In 80 Jaar de Wereld Rond and Oog in Oog Met… [ Around the World In 80 Years and Eye to Eye With…] and numerous articles for the Dutch music magazine Mens en Melodie [People and Melody], revealing his deep musical insights. In these publications, Frid wrote extensively about his own views on the development of music in his time, as well as various anecdotes of experiences with famous composers he knew personally such as Ravel and Bartók.  For the purposes of this research, selections of his works of prose relating to his personality as a musician and composer as well as portions of his articles touching on the music of the Concerto will be summarized and translated by the author into English from the original Dutch.

            My research provides a general overview of the historical aspects of Géza Frid’s life, his WWII experiences, and his career. A basic analysis of Frid’s Concerto for Clarinets is given regarding form, harmonic language, and a special feature invented by George Pieterson called the “tremolo special”. Since this concerto was specifically composed for the Reformed Boehm system clarinets that George Pieterson used, a discussion of the differences between the French, German and Reformed Boehm clarinet systems will be included.  A corresponding performance aspect of this project includes a historically informed performance of this piece using the specific models of clarinets for which it was written. (see video of Recital)

            The dedicatee of Géza Frid’s Concerto, clarinetist George Pieterson, sadly passed on in April of this year (2016); this project is intended to be a fitting laudation to his expertise and enthusiasm in teaching a generation of professional clarinetists in the Netherlands, including the author. 



[1] Arthur Frid, email conversation 12/04/16.  Arthur remembers how, as a teenager, he was often recognized as “Frid’s son.” Although he learned piano, violin, recorder and composition from his parents, he found his own voice and became a criminologist associated with the Legal Faculty of the Free University of Amsterdam. These days he’s glad to be known as “Frid’s son,” and enthusiastically promotes his father’s music on www.gezafrid.com.

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Radio

Van Buskirk: If I Could Start Again for clarinet solo
Beebe: How Was it We Were Caught? for clarinet and computer
Martino: A Set for Clarinet
Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)
Muczynski: Time Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 43
Juon: Trio Miniatures
Rota: Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano
Bruch: Pieces (8) for Clarinet/Violin, Viola/Cello and Piano, Op. 83
Piazzolla: Oblivion
Muczynski: Fantasy Trio for Piano, Cello and Clarinet, Op. 26
Walker: Full Circle for Flute, Clarinet and Piano
Poulenc: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in B-flat major, FP 184
Gunn: Euphonicum Tangenturis
Webster: Carmen Rhapsody for Clarinet Flute and Piano
Vermont Virtuosi: Vermont Virtuosi and Walter Parker in Duscussion
Márquez: Zarabandeo for Clarinet and Piano
Sutermeister: Capriccio
Bassi: Fantasy on Verdi's "Rigoletto"
Persichetti: Parable XIII for Clarinet solo, Op. 126
Guastavino: Sonata para clarinete y piano
Juon: Trio Miniatures
Rota: Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano
Bruch: Pieces (8) for Clarinet/Violin, Viola/Cello and Piano, Op. 83
Piazzolla: Oblivion
Muczynski: Fantasy Trio for Piano, Cello and Clarinet, Op. 26
Stravinsky: Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo
Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56
Gunn: Euphonicum Tangenturis
Webster: Carmen Rhapsody for Clarinet Flute and Piano


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