General information
Title CZLa Bagarre (Vřava)
Subtitle CZAllegro pro velký orchestr
Title ENLa Bagarre (The Tumult)
Subtitle ENAllegro for large orchestra
Title DELa Bagarre (Das Getümmel)
Subtitle DEAllegro für grosses Orchester
Title FRLa Bagarre [auth.]
Subtitle FRAllegro pour grand orchestre
CategoryOrchestral Music
SubcategoryWorks for Large Orchestra
Halbreich number155
Parts of the composition (movements)Allegro
Instruments3332-4331-Timp-Batt(GC, Tamb picc, Ptti, Tamb rull, Tam-tam)-Pf-Archi
Place of compositionParis
Year of origin1926
Initiation of composition1926
Completion of composition05/1926
First performance
Performer Kusevickij, Sergej Aleksandrovič
Date of the first performance18.11.1927
Location of the first performanceBoston
Note on the first performanceSergey Alexandrovich Koussevitzky (cond.)
Ensemble Boston Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Autograph deposition
InstitutionCzech Museum of Music
OwnerČeské muzeum hudby
CopyrightÉditions Alphonse Leduc, Paris
Purchase linkbuy
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Title on a cover of the autograph score: "LA BAGARRE | Allegro pour un grand orchester [sic!]."
About the composition

Technology and sports made its entry into the world of fine arts in 1920s France more than anywhere else. The society had ceased to be interested in “Clair de lune” or “La Mer”; it was rather the excitement and inspiration resulting from the scientific and technological progress that became the inclination of the decade. The young generation of composers spoke throughout their works in favor of the new life style, which made it possible for people to live faster, enjoy more free time, and become engaged in sports. In 1923, for example, Arthur Honegger wrote the symphonic composition called Pacific 231, which celebrated the fastest and most powerful engine of the day. Five years later, Honegger approached again the theme of sports and games, this time in a symphonic composition called Rugby. Further examples include the short tone poem Foundry (1928) by the Russian futurist Alexander Mosolov and a cycle of songs called Agricultural Machines (1919) by the French man Darius Milhaud. Both compositions were a sign of admiration for technology.

Bohuslav Martinů shared these composers’ fascination for technology and machines. Having composed the orchestral rondo Half-Time, H 142 (1924), Martinů clearly entered a world of new expression. Leaving behind the subtle colours of impressionism, he instead underscored formal clarity and rhythm as important constructional elements. The symphonic composition La Bagarre (The Tumult), written in 1926 in Paris, is an example of Martinů’s work inspired by technology. Instantly popular among conductors, Václav Talich expressed the desire to include La Baggare in his London concert programme in 1928. However, he was not to be the first to introduce La Baggare on the world concert stage. Serge Koussevitzky, conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra, had already premiered the composition in November 1927. Both the music and the composition’s dedication may have inspired the immediate success of La Baggare in the United States. Bohuslav Martinů decided to dedicate La Baggare to Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly over the ocean.

In the programme of the Boston premiere, Martinů wrote: "La Bagarre is full of movement, verve, uproar, and pressure. It is a great masses’ movement in a forced, unmanageable run. I have dedicated the composition to Lindbergh's landing in Bourget: it well represents my imagination, as well as it clearly sets its goal and development. In Half-Time, the symphonic rondo, I tried to capture the tension of the audience of a football match. The subject of La Bagarre is basically very similar, yet still multiplied and taken out to the street. It is a delirious boulevard, stadium, mass, multitude, dressed in the same way. It is chaos, dominated by a shared sentiment, an invisible tie that moves everything forward and creates one identical mass, full of unexpected, uncontrollable elements. It is strongly contrapuntal in character. All interests, big and small are left aside. At the same time, they merge in a new composition, a new strength, and a new face of powerful, invincible human mass. La Bagarre, however, is not a descriptive music. It is subject to the rules of composition; it possesses its own motif, the same as the human mass has its motif of ecstasy, which directs the movement. La Bagarre is, actually, a triptych: its central movement, usually relaxed, is replaced by a faster tempo than that of the first and third part, and concludes wiht a forceful Coda (Presto)."

Sandra Bergmannová, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert, 17. a 18. 12. 1998

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