The Origins of Constructivism in the Early Works of Jonas Švedas (1927–1981)

  • Yusuke Ishii
Keywords: Jonas Švedas, Lithuanian immigrants in the USA, Bela Bartók, recomposition, chromatic completion, constructivism


In 2022 and 2023, the author of the paper had an opportunity to conduct research at the Lithuanian Research Center in Lemont located in the suburbs of Chicago and to collect data on composers of the Lithuanian diaspora in the USA, including Jonas Švedas (1927–1981). The article discusses the process of the formation of Švedas’s composition style and the features of the musical language in the early period of his life up to 1960. After comparing the data ever published and
the data collected by the author in the USA, discrepancies in the years of the creation of his works were noticed. After examining the composer’s manuscripts and reconstructing a more accurate chronology of his work, it turned out that the chronological discrepancy was due to the composer’s frequent recompositions. By tracing the process of recomposing, the article aims to reveal not only the features of Jonas Švedas’s early work, such as the influence of Bela Bartók or the technique of chromatic completion, but also the constructive decision of his composition – the decontextualization of the folk song. The manifestation of constructivism can be seen in his compositional strategy, which is significantly different from the usual adaptation of folklore used by Lithuanian composers, or the method of weaving folklore into the fabric of modern sound used by Lithuanian modernists.