Dr. Damjana Bratuz
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The Long Echoes (I): Aspects of Bartók and Brancusi

In this paper I present a juxtaposition of two different ‘languages’ and examine the common source of symbolization they manifest. Around 1907, both the Hungarian composer and the Rumanian sculptor adopted ancient structural and formative elements – hence the allusion in the paper’s title to Baudelaire’s poem Correspondances. It was already a vanishing world, said Bartók, when he reclaimed its “mother tongue” and its powers of signification as his own, a world that had been, he said, “beautiful both to the ear and the eye.” Bartók and Brancusi shared psychological correspondences and a concern with incorporating into their work elements from the Eastern and Western world; both treated their peasant material in accord with its intrinsic codes; both accomplished in their work that anamnesis described by Mircea Eliade.

Today, the concepts and the example of Bartók and of Brancusi find a strangely congenial climate and resonance. In Canada, while some artists have trans/planted their ethnic heritage into their new climate of expression, others have sought to create a connection with the land by grafting their imagination onto an existing artistic humus, in order to search for, and capture, an organic connection with roots “more potent than ethnic identity”(Woodcock)

In analyzing the results of such a ‘grafting,’ George Woodcock (1973-74) recalled Baudelaire’s long échoes: “Correspondences exist indeed – he wrote - … in whatever in the mind of man is common and conveys like a sensitive membrane the echoes of Lascaux to modern man ,,,” In juxtaposing the examples of Bartók and Brancusi, this paper examines the “personal mythology” by which they were able to “throw back the resonance, which is perhaps our only way of communicating with those who are far from us in cultural space and time.”

Prepared for the conference Resonant Intervals: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Music University of Calgary, May 8-12, 1991.


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