Ernest Bloch


Born: 1880   Died: 1959   Country: Switzerland   Period: 20th Century
A highly individual composer, Ernest Bloch did not pioneer any new style in music but spoke with a distinctive voice into which he could assimilate folk influences, 12-tone technique, and even coloristic quarter tones. In a stylistically atomized century his interests were universal, and his music was both beloved by the public and inspirational for a younger and more academically oriented generation.

His father was the quintessential
Read more Swiss, a well-off manufacturer of watches and clocks, including cuckoo clocks. Ernest had a diverse musical training that included advanced violin training, study of eurhythmics with Émile Jacques-Dalcroze; he traveled from Switzerland to Belgium, Munich, and Paris in due course. Bloch wrote prolifically in his student years but did not publish any of his works. He is not related to his contemporary Ernest Bloch (1885-1977), a German philosopher interested in musical issues.

Bloch married Margarethe Schneider in 1904; one of their children, Suzanne, became a well-known lute player. His music began to attract interest, and in 1910 his opera Macbeth was staged in Paris to a mostly uncomprehending audience. About this time he began writing music with specifically Jewish aspects in subject matter, reflected by orientalisms in the melodies -- often derived from Jewish worship chants and folk music. Some of the best known compositions of this series are the violin work Baal-Shem, an Israel Symphony, and Schelomo, a tone poem that also is one of the great cello concertos.

In 1916 he traveled to the U.S. as conductor for the Maud Allan dance company. The outfit went broke, stranding him in Ohio. The composer was thus forced to remain in America, but he soon found success as a composer, conductor, and music school administrator and teacher. In 1924 he took American citizenship. He became director of the San Francisco Conservatory in 1925 and in 1927 won first prize in a contest sponsored by Musical America with his composition America, an Epic Rhapsody.

He returned to Switzerland in 1930, and mostly lived there for the next decade. He composed and traveled widely in Europe to conduct his works. The rise of Nazism in Germany and a desire to retain his U.S. citizenship prompted a return to that country before World War II broke out. He settled at scenic Agate Beach, OR, and was appointed a professor at the University of California in Berkeley, teaching summer courses until he retired in 1952.

During both of his American teaching careers he shaped the early careers of an enviable list of successful students, including Antheil, Kirchner, and Sessions. Bloch died of cancer in 1959. Read less
Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations;  Bruch, Bloch / Kliegel
Release Date: 03/21/1995   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550519   Number of Discs: 1
On sale!
CD: $8.99
Low Stock
On sale!     CD:  $8.99 Add CD to Cart

Bloch: Violin Concerto, Poems Of The Sea, Etc / Oramo, Krysa
Release Date: 05/30/1995   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 639   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $19.99
CD: $14.99
In Stock
On sale!   $19.99   CD:  $14.99 Add CD to Cart

Bloch: Violin Sonatas No 1 & 2, Suite Hébraïque
Release Date: 02/22/2000   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8554460   Number of Discs: 1
On sale!
CD: $8.99
In Stock
On sale!     CD:  $8.99 Add CD to Cart

Bloch: Symphony In C# Minor, Schelomo / Thedeen, Markiz
Release Date: 10/12/1994   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 576   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $19.99
CD: $14.99
Low Stock
On sale!   $19.99   CD:  $14.99 Add CD to Cart

Dello Joio: Variations;  Creston, Bloch / David Amos, Et Al
Release Date: 08/12/2000   Label: Centaur Records  
Catalog: 2356   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $16.99
CD: $15.49
In Stock
On sale!   $16.99   CD:  $15.49 Add CD to Cart

Work: Concerto Grosso no 2


About This Work
Swiss-born American composer Ernest Bloch adopted the Neo-Classical style for his Concerto Grosso No. 2. Neo-Classicism became popular in the 1920s with composers such as Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971) and Paul Hindemith (1895 - 1963). Bloch Read more originally turned to this style for his very popular Concerto Grosso No. 1 for Strings and Piano obbligato (1924 - 25). In a nutshell, Neo-Classicism is the inclusion of characteristics of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music in a modern style and a rejection of the overly emotional nature of the late Romantic era. Searching for new methods of structural organization, composers turned to forms from the Baroque period such as the suite, toccata, and, in Bloch's case, the concerto grosso. (The concerto grosso, one of the most important forms of that period, consists of a smaller group of solo instruments against or contrasting the full orchestra.)

The Concerto Grosso No. 2 is in the traditional four movements standardized by Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762). The Maestoso is divided into three sections. Beginning in a typically grand manner, the smaller ensemble exchanges episodes with the orchestra before breaking into a faster fugal section followed by a solemnly slow ending that anticipates the mood to follow. The Andante commences without a break. Lush and rhapsodic, it is worthy of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958) at his most idyllic. The Allegro has a robust, rustic quality with its strictly square Baroque rhythms and sequences, highlighted by an interesting segment of chromatic triplets and a unison ending. Finally, the hymn-like opening of the Tranquillo misterioso; Allegro sets into motion an ostinato (a phrase that is persistently repeated) based on a descending chromatic pattern (movement in half steps) that gives the impression of a Baroque passacaglia. (This form, used frequently by J. S. Bach (1865 - 1750), is a type of continuous variation based on a recurring pattern usually in the bass.) Starting slowly, the pattern builds momentum and culminates in a faster tempo carried through to the end. While the form is distinctly borrowed from the eighteenth century, the sensibility is decidedly Romantic. Here, Bloch departs from Stravinsky's remote, more abstract embrace of Neo-Classicism. -- Mona DeQuis, All Music Guide Read less

Select a specific Conductor, Ensemble or Label or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below

ArkivMusic Recommendation

ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

Formats & Featured

Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $0.0/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Already a subscriber? Sign In