* Born April 04, 1905 in Nice
* Died September 28, 1991 in Valenciennes
* Period: Modern (1870-)
* Country: France
* Genres: Chamber
The marvelously capable composer Eugène Bozza is one of those
countless creatures in the forest of modern music who never made it
into the mitten. A prodigious talent coming of artistic age in Paris
between the wars, Bozza lived through virtually the entire century,
and was a coeval of every musical -ism imaginable (expressionism, futurism,
objectivism, serialism, minimalism, maximalism). But none of them stuck
to him, and he appears to have been quite fine with that. He composed
music with no stories attached, immaculately crafted and attentive to
the playing idioms of all instruments. He wrote music primarily for
the players, and left the historical mitten largely alone.
Perhaps Bozza's Mediterranean birth-city helped determine his cloudless
career: He was lucky enough to be born in Nice. He eventually left the
coast for 1920s Paris; no country boy, he played the cosmopolitan game
like the best of them, and cleaned up—a high spot at the Conservatory
and a decade of premiere prix. Bozza secured a post as conductor of
Paris' Opéra-Comique during the nightmarish decade between 1938
and 1948, and moved three years later to Valenciennes, where he directed
the Ecole Nationale de Musique until his retirement in 1975.
While it might not tell a grand story of musical innovation, Bozza's
work radiates a very precise color and tone, and three of its hallmarks
inevitably trace back to the composer's time in Paris. Wit and eclecticism,
defining much of Bozza's music, have always illuminated the City of
Light, but Paris between the wars made both qualities into doctrines.
Jean Cocteau's 1918 manifesto Le Coq et l'Arlequin opened the door with
its sharp-tongued lashing of all music romantic or "impressionistic"
in character. "We have had enough clouds, waves, aquaria, water-sprites,
and nocturnal perfumes," Cocteau swiped. Music better get its drugged
Wagnerian senses out of the 19th century and hit the music halls and
the circus; let it shimmy with jazz-bands and chatter with machines.
Everything must be bright and sharp, sharp and cutting, cutting-edge
and au courant; parody and pastiche must give the old espressivo the
That Bozza apprenticed in this environment comes across in virtually
all his mature music, and today's Sonatine for brass quintet is no exception.
Composed in 1951, the Sonatine emerged into a France painfully alienated
from its prewar "harlequin years." But Bozza's pristine score
sounds entirely—or almost entirely—unaffected by the preceding
catastrophe, as if it had spent the intervening time catching up on
its beauty-rest. The result is a work sunlit with facility—its
humor as agile as its craftiness, its formidable virtuosity meant to
come off sweatlessly dapper.
The opening Allegro is a marvel of articulate lightness; Bozza seems
intent on proving how un-metallically buoyant brass instruments can
sound. They dance balletically, on-point even. The second movement (Andante,
ma non troppo) has funeral-march qualities, but the music unfolds with
an expressive moderation less intent on lament than on giving the performers
a chance to show off their lyrical side. The Scherzo returns to the
spirit of the opening movement, the virtuosity now notched up a bit.
Only the opening of the last movement briefly halts this dandying charm,
making way for a "Fanfare" composed of two bizarre near-quotations.
The first comes from the climax of Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony, one
of the composer's most blistering anti-war statements; the other comes
from Ravel's Mother Goose Suite. Is Bozza suggesting that the horrors
of the recent past are (or ought to be) dissipating into fairy tales?
His reply is as inscrutable as it is amiable—a Tarantella, historically
branded a kind of "death dance" but played out here with restrained
----------------------------------------------------------- In Breif --------------------------------------------------------------
French composer and conductor Eugène Bozza wrote many large-scale
stage works, but he is best known outside of France for more modest woodwind
and brass pieces in a highly accessible, elegant, lyrical style. Some
have become standard student test works; others, for wind quintet, saxophone
quartet, and various unusual instrumental combinations, are favorite faculty
recital items. Celebrity soloists rarely play his music, but Bozza is
nevertheless widely heard in European and American conservatories.
He studied at the Paris Conservatory with the likes of Büsser
and Rabaud; he was a brilliant student, taking first prize in violin,
conducting, and composition. In 1934 his lyric fantasy La Légende
de Roukmani garnered him the Prix de Rome. After the Italian sojourn
that came with that prize, Bozza served as conductor of the Paris Opéra-Comique
from 1939 to 1948. In 1951 he moved to Valenciennes to become director
of the Ecole Nacionale de Musique, a post he held until his 1975 retirement.
In 1956 he became a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Among his larger
works are a symphony, a violin concerto, a piano concerto, and two Requiems.
Perhaps significantly, his stage works -- including the ballets Fêtes
romaines and Jeux de plage and the operas Beppo and La Duchesse de Langeais
-- were premiered not in Paris but in provincial centers, notably Lille.
~ James Reel, All Music Guide
"Eugène Bozza." Classical Artist Biographies.
All Media Guide, 2006. Answers.com 17 Dec. 2006. http://www.answers.com/topic/eug-ne-bozza