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The Ondes Martenot

The Ondes Martenot was an early electronic instrument that was used in the ballet when Vicky is seeing Ljubov, Lermontov & Julian one after the other. It gave a very faint eerie effect of an "undulating and rather plaintive and dreamy rhythm, which gives the effect of recurrent waves of melancholy" (as the Monk Gibbon book puts it)

Oddly enough Miklós Rózsa wanted to use it in the score of The Thief of Bagdad (1940) as well. He was in communication with the inventor (Maurice Martenot) but the war stopped them getting together.

See also :-

The following is an extract from the obituary of Ondes Martenot player Jeanne Loriod:-

The ondes martenot, the invention of Maurice Martenot (1898-1980), is an electric instrument with a seven-octave keyboard; it produces sound, through loudspeakers, using two high-frequency oscillators. The pitch is prepared by the right hand on the keyboard or, for glissandi, by a metal ribbon, while the left hand creates the sound by depressing a raised lozenge in a drawer pulled out of the left-hand side of the instrument. The technical advance the ondes martenot brought over the theremin, an early electric instrument, was that the player now had complete acoustic control. That's where Loriod came into her own: she could make the ondes martenot sound like a human voice of extraordinary range.

The new instrument first stepped before the public on 20 April 1928, with a performance of Dimitrios Levidis' Poòme symphonique; the soloist was Martenot himself, who soon joined as propagandist for the instrument by his sister Ginette. Jeanne Loriod joined the class of Maurice Martenot at the Conservatoire just after it was opened in 1947, winning a première médaille, and in 1950 she became a member of the ondes-martenot quartet founded by Ginette. Loriod gave her first concert at the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome and never looked back: in the next half-century she was to play under the batons of some of the world's best-known conductors Boulez, Cluytens, Previn, Munch, Ozawa and Mehta among them and establish more or less single-handedly the concert repertoire of the ondes martenot.

It has become one of modern music's legends that the important ondes martenot solo in Olivier Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony (1946-48) was written for Jeanne Loriod; in fact, it was first performed by Ginette Martenot, but Loriod made the part her own: she recorded the work no fewer than six times. But Messiaen (who in 1961 married her sister Yvonne) did write for her later, including the demanding ondes part in his opera Saint François d'Assise. And other composers responded to the opportunity: André Jolivet, Marcel Landowski, Jacques Charpentier, Sylvano Bussotti, Jacques Bondon, Roger Tessier, Tristan Murail. In total, she gave some 100 first performances. She also ranged backwards, to revive works written for the first appearance of the instrument by Koechlin, Honegger, Varèse, Milhaud, Paul le Flem, Louis Aubert. Her repertoire was huge: it included 14 concertos, some 300 works with concertante parts for ondes and another 250 chamber works.

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