Paul Juon – Mysterien, op. 59 for cello and orchestra
(b. Moscow, 6 March [22 February] 1872 – d. Vevey, 21 August 1940)
Paul Juon was born in Moscow to Swiss Parents, studied in Russia and Germany, taught in Aberbajan and Berlin, and died in Switzerland. Thus it seems quite correct, that Claus-Christian Schuster, pianist and founding member of the International Juon Society, wrote that: „His life and work is overshadowed by a feeling of homelessness: not Swiss, not Russian, not German, not romantic, not modern, and not folkloric, but rather a little bit of each of them – in addition, compellingly and impressively human and sincere it its personality.“
Starting at the Moscow Conservatory in 1888, Juan studied violin, at the request of his father, with Jan Hřímalý but interested himself mostly for his studies of theory and composition with Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev. In 1896 he moved to Berlin to study under Woldemar Bargiel (who died in 1897). That same year his first work were published, and he won the Mendelssohn Prize for composition. After a brief teaching in Baku, Aserbaidschan, he returned to Berlin where he taught composition until 1934. Sibelius admired Juon and sent some of his Finnish students to Juon in Berlin. At the turn of the century he wrote his own book about music theory, and translated Arensky’s book on harmonic theory and Modest Tchaikovksy’s biography of Peter Tchaikovsky into German. This translation practice served him well during WWI where he worked as a translator in a prison camp. He was married twice and had 6 children. In 1929 he won the Beethoven Prize for composition, and in the 20s and 30s his music was widely played and published – his works numbering nearly 100 – including chamber music and a many programmatic orchestral pieces. As in the case of his op. 89 Suite for Piano Trio, he sometimes reworked the titles of his programmatic music to remove the suggestion of literary idea. He moved to Vevey, Switzerland in 1934 after being denied early retirement by the Nazi government, and he commissioned a house built by architect Fernand Kurz, where he continued to compose until his death in 1940.
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