Nicolò Palazzetti

From Bartók to Darmstadt: Analysis of Bruno Maderna’s First String Quartet

Béla Bartók’s influence on Italian post-war composers spans over several generations of composers. One of these composers is Bruno Maderna (1920-1973), who, since 1945, has modelled his serial poetics on some aspects of Bartók’s music. Following on my PhD research, I intend to study the extent of this Bartókian influence on Maderna by analyzing his first String Quartet (1943-45) – a work still little known. The three-movement quartet uses the Franco-Flemish canonic techniques and is informed by principles of symmetry: arch macroform, symmetrical harmonic field, palindromic sonata form (i. e. reversed recapitulation) for both Allegro movements. Hence, like in many Bartók’s masterpieces of the 1930s, the slow movement (Lento a fantasia) is the formal and organic nucleus of the work. The dialectic between symmetry and expressiveness, which appears in the ‘Youth’ Quartet for the first time, will be at the heart of Maderna’s serial works made in Darmstadt.