Marjan Mozetich

born in 1948 in Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Marjan Mozetich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Marjan Mozetich (born 1948) is a Canadian composer. Born in Gorizia, Italy to Slovenian parents, Mozetich moved to Hamilton, Ontario in 1952,[1] where his father found work as a machinist.[2] He began studying piano, which started his musical training, and later studied composition with Lothar Klein and John Weinzweig at the University of Toronto, from which he received an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music Diploma in 1971[3] and a Bachelor of Music degree in 1972 in composition and piano.[4] With the help of the Canada Council[5] he then continued his musical studies in composition privately in Rome, Siena and London with Luciano Berio, Franco Donatoni, and David Bedford. Mozetich has written music for theatre, film and dance, as well as many symphonic works, chamber music, and solo pieces.[6] He has also written compulsory competition pieces for the 1992 Banff String Quartet Competition (Lament in the Trampled Garden) and the 1995 Montreal International Music Competition (Lesprit Chantant for violin and piano).[7] He received a fellowship from the Istituto musicale F. Canneti to be present at a seminar in Vicenza, Italy.[8] Co-founder of Arraymusic in Toronto, Mozetich served as their artistic director from 1976 to 1978. After his work with Array, he worked for some time at the University of Toronto music library, and he then became a freelance composer for a living.[9] Mozetich moved to Howe Island, near Kingston, Ontario, and has taught composition at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario from 1991 to 2010.[10] He has won several prestigious awards, including the first prize in the CAPAC (SOCAN)-Sir Ernest MacMillan Award. His major compositions include Fantasia... sul linguaggio pertuto, and Postcards from the Sky.


Early life

Mozetich's friends and family were not interested in music, so he discovered classical music on CBC Radio by himself. He was astounded by his discovery. His first loves were the romantics-Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. He felt that his own writing became romantic, too. He also first heard on the radio what was considered then as super-modern pieces, and these astounded him as well. They put his mind in a totally different perspective, which was almost a science-fiction feeling. He then started improvising some of his own "super-modern pieces" because he always preferred improvising to practicing. However, he lacked the knowledge of how to make the connection between playing the notes and putting them down on paper.[11]

After graduating from grade 13, Mozetich played with the idea of becoming a concert pianist. After failing his A.R.C.T. (He later received his A.R.C.T. performance diploma in 1971.), he gave up on that thought. He attended the University of Waterloo studying Psychology. About halfway through his courses, however, he realized that he was studying more for personal reasons than preparing for a career, like many other psychology majors. Thats when he shifted again towards music, and studied with John Wenzweig and Lothar Klein at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music.[12]


Early career

He was active in the avant guard music circles. This is when he co-founded Arraymusic and served as artistic director.[13] He founded Arraymusic with John Fodi, Clifford Ford, Gary Hayes, Michael Parker, Alex Pauk and Robert Bauer. They were all eager to show their music to the public, and with the founding of Array, they were able to do so. Its first public concert was presented in 1972.[14] Mozetich's works would go on to be performed by outstanding new music concerts across Canada and abroad.[15]

Since the 80s

He has advanced into a unique style of post-modern romantic music, which consists of a blend of the traditional, popular and the modern. This was positively received by the musical public. Many of his compositions have been recorded on the CBC-Musica Viva, Centredisc, BIS (Sweden), Cansona, and Chandos (England).[16] His works have been heard throughout Canada and abroad. They have been performed, broadcast, and some have even shown up on Canadian Airlines in flight music programs. A great deal of his music has been used by major contemporary dance companies, as well as in film.[17] He was the honoured composer on postmodern music at the Gent Conservatory Music Festival in Belgium in 1995. This is where three concerts with live national broadcast featured his compositions.[18]

Works 1990s to 2004

Since the 1990s, Mozetichs works have continued to present a taste for lyricism, rich romantic harmonies, and moto perpetuo rhythms. His works that explore the spiritual have introspective and meditative qualities that could be heard in his earlier pieces like El Dorado.[19]

These works include:[20]

  • A Dance Toward Heaven (1994) for orchestra
  • Lesprit Chantant (1995) for violin and piano, written for the Montreal International Music Competition
  • The passion of Angels (1995) for two harps and orchestra
  • Postcards from the Sky (1996), a three-movement work for string orchestra written for and premiered by the Thirteen Strings of Ottawa
  • Time to Leave (1997) for violin, clarinet, trumpet, bass, marimba and piano, written for Arrays 25th anniversary concert
  • Hymn of Ascension (1998) for harmonium and string quartet, premiered at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival
  • Songline to Heaven and a Dance to Earth (1999) for string orchestra, premiered at the Guelph Spring Festival
  • Steps to Ecstasy (2001) for baroque orchestra, commissioned by the CBC and premiered by Tafelmusik
  • At the Temple (2001) for solo piano, also commissioned by the CBC, and premiered by Kristina Szutor at Sound Symposium 2002

This periods important concerted works include:[21]

  • Concerto for Bassoon
  • Strings and Marimba (2003), premiered by Michael Sweeney and the Seiler Strings
  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1999), written in honour of author Robertson Davies and premiered by pianist Janina Fialkowska in February 2000
  • Affairs of the Heart, a concerto for violin and orchestra premiered by violinist Juliet Kang in 1997
  • Concerto for Oboe and Strings (1995), commissioned by the CBC and premiered by Suzanne Lemieux and the Thirteen Strings of Ottawa

Distinguished works for solo instruments include:[22]

  • Baroque Diversion (1985), a suite in four movements, and Mozetichs third work for solo viola, commissioned by Rivka Golani
  • Five Pieces for Guitar (1997), written for Paul Bernard and recorded by William Beauvais on A Bridge Beyond

Even though there is no distinct folk quality to his work, Mozetich says that his own Slovenian lineage has to a certain extent made up for what he sees as a cultural vacuum in English Canada.[23] He says: You fall back on that heritage because in Canada there really isnt any tradition or indigenous type of music, besides native music, but that is very weak at this point and almost lost. Just look at the composers. There were Sir Ernest MacMillan and Healey Willan, people with a strong sense of the English in what they did. Then you jump to people like Weinzweig.[24] This shows an independence from colleagues, from teachers, from country, and from the past.[25]

Later Works

Mozetich believed that returning to tonality would be an experiment for him. He liked to look at what he did as post-modernism, and this made him look at tonality in new ways.[26] He ignored tradition, like Schoenberg, Stockhausen, and Ligeti did. Instead of acknowledging the world of modernism, Mozetich wanted to go back to tradition and see what he could express.[27] This experiment resulted in works such as El Dorado (1981). This work is an interesting mixture of minimalistic Gatling gun rhythms, lyrical melodies, sensuous scoring, and late-romantic textbook harmonies.[28]

Mozetichs music is lush, warm and strongly appealing, which he calls postmodern, or new age romanticism. He used only three or four chords and many times he used them in a kind of progression in a cycle, the same way pop music did, but a little more warped or extended. He felt that the reason people liked his music was because it somehow highly connected with pop music.[29] When he wrote his music, he thought more in terms of fantasy, of going into a lushness, melodies, rhythms that would kind of lull people.[30] He also did not avoid the dark side when composing his music because he believes in it, but he says there should be a balance between the two. Music should not be constantly making a point about how awful life is.[31]

Mozetich had success with his later works due to his harmonious relationship with what he says is termed, and almost degraded as, pop music.[32] Dance of the Blind is one example of this for Mozetich.[33] He says that he has accepted popular music and doesnt look at it in a derogatory sense, just as another form of music. Saying that serious music is also another form of music, Mozetich says that he can take what he wants musically from any area he pleases, and he thinks it is necessary to start blending and combining the different aspects of music.[34]

Dance of the Blind

This piece is believed by Mozetich to be his strongest piece, and has the infectious sound of a Parisian tavern jig.[35] It was composed for accordion, violin, viola, and cello, and was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1980. He wrote it for the Canadian-Slovenian virtuoso accordionist, Joseph Petric, and was premiered by him and the Arraymusic Ensemble on January 16, 1981.[36] It was later recorded by CBC records in 1990.[37]

With the enmeshed colour blend of the accordion and strings, and the consistent high-energy pulsation and repetitions, this piece is given a fresh modern sound. It is written in a ¾ waltz tempo, which is typical of the music for the dance-hall or cabaret. It also employs traditional harmonies and melodies. Reflecting on the composers musical heritage, as well as on the Italo-Slovene weddings and banquets of his childhood, this work is one of nostalgia. Concerning the title, Mozetich felt that it instinctively corresponded to the piece, though he had no intention in mind.[38]

Compositional Style

Mozetich has seen success with using an existing style, while using expressions of his individuality within it. This skill first appeared in his work Changes for string quartet (1971, revised 1983), and this demonstrates the influence of Penderecki and Ligeti.[39] He describes Penderecki as the first composer who gave him a sense of direction, a feeling of something concrete and structured that he could grasp on to, which Mozetich felt was because Penderecki was also Slavic. Mozetich has an affinity for middle European and Slavic music.[40]

Some of his other early works displaying this ability include Sereneta del nostro tempo (string quintet, 1973) premiered by the Forun Players of Rome, solo pieces for piano (Maya, 1973) and viola (Disturbances, 1974), as well as assorted chamber works premiered by Array.[41]

From 1976 to 1981, his style shifted toward a lyrical minimalism with strong harmonic definition, as demonstrated in works like Procession for chamber ensemble (1981) and El Dorado for harp and strings (1981).[42] After 1981 his music became diatonic and post-romantic. This transition can be heard in pieces such as Fantasia sul un linguaggio perduto for violin, viola, and cello (1981, later arranged for string orchestra 1985), Sonata for flute and harp (1983), and Death and the Morning Star for baritone, choir, and orchestra (1986).[43]

Awards and Recognition

  • His string quartet, Changes (1971), was performed by the Orford Quartet and selected as one of the two most outstanding works at the 1971 Composers Symposium in Montreal[44]
  • In 1977 he won CAPACS Sir Ernest MacMillan Award/Fellowship. He was the featured composer on postmodern music at the Ghent Conservatory Music Festival in Belgium[45]
  • Nocturne for string orchestra (1975) was chosen to represent Canada at the adjudication for the 1978 International Society for Contemporary Music Festival in Helsinki[46]
  • He won second prize at the International Gaudeamus Competition in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, for his wind quintet Its in the Air (1975) [47]
  • In 2002 he was invited to be composer-in-residence at the Regina Symphony New Music Festival[48]
  • He was nominated for Juno awards for three of his works for Classical Composition of the Year: Affairs of the Heart in 2001, Angels in Flight and, winning the award, Lament in the Tramples Garden in 2010.[49]

Selected works

  • Disturbances for Viola Solo (1974)
  • A Veiled Dream for Flute, Viola and Harp (1977)
  • Survival for Viola Solo (1979)
  • Water Music for Flute, Viola and Cello (1979)
  • Dancing Strings, Suite of Six Pieces for Viola and Piano (1980)
  • El Dorado for Harp and Strings (1981)
  • Fantasia... sul linguaggio pertuto for Flute and String Trio (1981)
  • Trio in Jest for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (1983)
  • Baroque Diversions for Viola Solo (1985)
  • The Passion of Angels, Concerto for Two Harps and Orchestra (1995)
  • Affairs of the Heart Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra (1997)
  • Postcards from the Sky for String Orchestra (1997)
  • Goodbye My Friend, Triptych for Flute, Viola and Harp (2000)
  • Concerto for Bassoon, Marimba and String Orchestra (2003)
  • Scales of Joy and Sorrow for Cello, Violin, and Piano (2007)


  1. Queen's University Website
  2. Schulman, 14
  3. Influences of Many Musics
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  5. Queen's University Website
  6. Influences of Many Musics
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  11. Schulman, 14
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  13. Queen's University Website
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  19. The Canadian Encyclopedia
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  22. The Canadian Encyclopedia
  23. Kaptainis, 20
  24. Kaptainis, 20
  25. Kaptainis, 20
  26. Kaptainis, 1820
  27. Kaptainis, 20
  28. Kaptainis, 20
  29. MacMillan, 7
  30. MacMillan, 7
  31. MacMillan, 7
  32. Kaptainis, 20
  33. Kaptainis, 20
  34. Kaptainis, 20
  35. Kaptainis, 20
  36. Influences of Many Musics
  37. Influences of Many Musics
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  39. The Canadian Encyclopedia
  40. Schulman, 14
  41. The Canadian Encyclopedia
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  44. Schulman, 14
  45. The Canadian Encyclopedia
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  • Queen's University, School of Music, Faculty website
  • Official website
  • Canadian Music Centre
  • Influences of Many Musics
  • The Canadian Encyclopedia
  • MacMillan, Rick. "Mozetich not afraid of "popular" tag"
  • Schulman, Michael. "A composer straightens out the confusions in his life"
  • Kaptainis, Arthur. "Marjan Mozetich: Returning to tonality again
This page was last modified 18.05.2014 12:40:17

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