Songs of Resistance

Imre Weisshaus was most likely born on October 22, 1904, but it also could have been November, or some time in 1905. The ambiguity surrounding his date of birth continues in much of the rest of his life, with little concrete information available about the Jewish composer's life or career. He was born in Budapest, and studied with Bela Bartok at the Budapest Academy of Music from 1921-1924. During this time, Bartok's fascination with folk songs rubbed off on Weisshaus, and he would go on to arrange and transcribe thousands of traditional songs during World War 2. After finishing his studies, Weisshaus had a successful career as a pianist, performing across Europe and the USA. In 1931 he settled in Germany, but in 1933 was arrested by the SS for spying against the Germans and for his connections with the intellectual and artistic avant-garde. He was deemed to be not enough of a threat to keep imprisoned, but was subjected to a mock execution before being released. He fled to Paris, and changed his name to Paul Arma.

The Nazi invasion of France in 1940 forced Arma into hiding, and it was during this time that he became involved in the French resistance, transcribing 1800 French songs which would later be broadcast as part of a series titled La Resistance qui chante (Resistance Singing). Also part of the resistance movement was his set Les chants du silence (Songs of Silence), in which Arma used text by French writers, which were published together with art works by French artists. After the War Arma resumed his performing career, and broadened his career as an ethnomusicologist. He is now primarily known for his work in this field, due to his association with Bartok and his early cataloguing of folk music.

Divertimento No. 2 was written in 1951. The piece exists in two versions, one for flute, cello and harp, and one for flute, cello and piano. Each of the four movements clearly feature folk melodies, and often employ counterpoint to develop the material. The first and third movements are opaque and inconclusive, while the second and fourth movements are dance-like, with thick, often dissonant harmonies.

Flutis Jean-Pierre Rampal Music: Paul Arma, Divertimento de Concert Nº1 pour flûte et orchestre à cordes avec Piano. Record: LP Trois Concerts pour Flute - Damase - Arma - Tisné. Fl. Jean-Pierre Rampal