Paul Juon – Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 42
(b. Moscow, 6. March 1872 – d. Vevey, 21. August 1940)
Paul Juon belongs to a generation of composers who is often described as standing between the times, as belonging to a transitional period between late Romanticism and New Music. He is the same age as Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Reger, Zemlinsky, Ravel, de Falla and Vaughan-Williams, and only two years separate him from Schönberg. Juon was born in Moscow in 1872, where he grew up, but after a short stay in Azerbaijani Baku he settled permanently in Berlin in 1898.
Juon could rightly be described as a truly European composer: his ancestors came from Switzerland, Scotland, Germany, Russia and the Baltic States. Juon studied violin with Jan Hřímalý, a Czech virtuoso and professor at the Moscow Conservatory at the time. As a composer he was instructed by the Russians Sergei Taneyev and Anton Arensky as well as by the German Reinhold Succo and Woldemar Bargiel. Most of his works were published by the German publisher Robert Lienau. Juon possessed Prussian and later Swiss citizenship in adulthood. During his lifetime he was perceived as a Russian composer, for he was one of those composers, along with Rachmaninov and Medtner, who through their work abroad, made typical Russian stylistics internationally known, albeit not in all works.
In the end, it is Juon’s biography which explains many of the stylistic influences in his oeuvre. Many of his musical peculiarities can be traced back to his composition training with Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev, two of the most important Russian composition teachers. Taneyev in particular was known for his meticulous way of working, which was based on a perfect mastery of compositional technique in every respect. Taneyev, a student of Tchaikovsky, must have conveyed his assessment of the importance of absolute technical perfection and, in particular, contrapuntal skills to his pupil Juon. …
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