Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

Martin Curda


Position: Postgraduate student Email:

PhD Research

Thesis:  Analytical and Cultural-Critical Perspectives on the Music of Pavel Haas

The Czechoslovak composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944) can be regarded as an artist of several identities. For most of his life, he lived in Brno, Moravia, where he studied with Leoš Janáček in the early 1920s. Thus, he was profoundly embedded in the local Moravian musical culture with its prominent folk music legacy. In stark contrast to these regional affiliations, Haas identified himself to a considerable extent with the tendencies of the international avant-garde of the inter-war era. Haas was Jewish by origin, Czech by mother tongue and Czechoslovak by nationality. Although it is not clear how much importance Haas himself attached to his Jewish origin, this eventually proved fatal to him: in the early 1940s he was imprisoned in Terezín (Theresienstadt) along with a remarkable assortment of Jewish artists and intellectuals and eventually killed in Auschwitz.
Outside his home country, Haas is known, if at all, for the tragic period of his last years in Terezín. However, the label of ‘Holocaust music’ does not do justice to his musical oeuvre. My research strives to reconstruct the variety of cultural, aesthetic and compositional-technical background from which Haas’s music emerged. New insight is gained from regarding it in the context of Czechoslovakian avant-garde of the 1920s, the aesthetic discourse surrounding Neoclassicism or Janáček’s compositional technique.
Since there are hardly any archival sources to draw upon, apart from Haas’s scores, I adopt a synthetic methodological approach to music analysis, one which combines, as the working title of my thesis states, ‘analytical’ with ‘cultural-critical’ perspective. Regarding music as a particular way of ‘encoding’ cultural content, I use the techniques of discourse analysis to draw conceptual links with avant-garde theories (particularly those underpinning the so-called ‘Poetism’ movement) and explain how some of the key concepts are ‘encoded’ in and communicated by the musical structure.

Contributions in Conferences / Study Days / Workshops:
SMA ‘TAGS’ Conference (Keele University, 18–19 April 2013)
‘In Search of Modern Moravian Music: Tradition and Innovation in the String Quartets of Janáček’s students from the 1920s’ (20 min paper)

RMA Postgraduate Study Day (Keele University, 22 June 2013)
‘Rhythm as Form-Generating Agent in the Music of Stravinsky, Janáček and Haas’ (5 min paper)

RMA Graduate Students’ Conference (Birmingham, 6–8 January 2014)
From the Monkey Mountains: The Body, the Grotesque and Carnival in the Music of Pavel Haas’ (20 min paper)

SMA ‘Writing Club’ Workshop No. 4 (Leeds, 6 March 2014)
From the Monkey Mountains: The Body, the Grotesque and Carnival in the Music of Pavel Haas’ (thesis chapter)

Voice of Humanities Conference (Cardiff University, 20 March 2014)
‘Translating French Neoclassicism into the Vocabulary of Czechoslovakian Avant-garde’ (20 min paper)

SMA ‘TAGS’ Conference (Royal Holloway, University of London, 2–3May 2014)
‘Rhythm as Form-Generating Agent in the Music of Pavel Haas’ (20 min paper)

International Musicological Conference: Nationality / Universality ‘Musical historiography in Central and Eastern Europe’ (Radziejowice, near Warsaw, 15–18 September 2014)
‘Poetism in the Music of Pavel Haas: Towards a Cultural-Analytical Approach to Music Historiography’

Committee Membership:
Cardiff University, School of Music: PGR Student Representative (2012 – present)
Society for Music Analysis: Student Representative (2014 – present)
Jazz and Cinema Conference (Cardiff, 1–2 November 2013): committee member
Voice of Humanities Conference (Cardiff, 20 March 2014): student committee member

2012 – present             PhD (Musicology), Cardiff University, School of Music
2010 – 2012                Mgr (Musicology), Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic)
2007 – 2010                Bc (Musicology), Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic)

Personal Website