Written in the fall of 2008, Postcards from the 1930’s features several of the ca. 300 mainly epic melodies recorded during Albert B. Lord and Milman Parry's ethnomusicological research of mountainous regions of former Yugoslavia in 1934-5. During a residence at New York’s Columbia University in 1941-2, Bela Bartok transcribed and analyzed the structure of 75 of these melodies, publishing them as Serbo-Croatian Folksongs (New York: Columbia University Press, 1951). The original recordings are in the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature at Harvard University. Transcriptions for viola and piano, and cello and piano, were made soon after composing the version for violin and piano.
Musical frames are intended to set, unaltered, the opening two or three repetitions of a musical strophe of so-called “women’s songs” (lyric and narrative poems sung by women, usually without instrumental accompaniment). The melodies in Postcards from the 1930’s follow, as closely as possible Bartok’s meticulous annotations: imagining and composing various piano accompaniments allows a musical dialogue between past and present musical textures. Titles are abstracted from song texts, translated into English by Albert B. Lord and included in Bartok’s publication. Ordering of songs here are alphabetic, and should not be followed literally: different performances may include some or all of the songs, in various permutations of order.
Postcards from the 1930's, recorded by Katie Wolfe and Ketty Nez for Albany Records.
Recordings below of the premiere by violinist Katie Wolfe and pianist Ketty Nez, Boston University, 1.22.2009.
A Brief, Sad Letter (Hercegovina) poem text
Beside the Crystal Waters of a Brook (Hercegovina) poem text
By Sarajevo There's a Green Garden (Hercegovina) poem text
Dheza Falls Asleep by the Sea (Hercegovina) poem text
It's Money That Marries Off a Homely Girl (Hercegovina) poem text
It's (More) Money That Marries Off a Homely Girl (Hercegovina) poem text
Listen to a Wonder Never Heard Before! (Hercegovina) poem text
Nona Una (Dalmatia) poem text
Oh, Green Pine Tree (Dalmatia)
Old Mother of Dzhaferbeg (Bosnia) poem text
Two Black Ravens (Hercegovina) poem text
Were I to Choose a Man (Hercegovina) poem text
What is the Reason, My Beloved? (Hercegovina) poem text
Zorna Zorka (Hercegovina) poem text
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