2017-2018 Season Calendar
|Summer Season 2018|
3 Mondays at 7:30 PM
The summer concerts will be held
|Monday, June 4,
7:30pm Austro-German Gems I
Christ and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church
120 West 69th Street (east of Broadway)
Joseph KREUTZER Grand Trio in A Major Op. 16 • date not known
Very little is known about Kreutzer, who wrote mostly chamber music and instructive pieces for bowed strings and guitar. He was also a conductor, violinist, and guitarist. Kreutzer was born in Aachen in 1790 to a music teacher. Moving to Düsseldorf around 1805, he established himself among the leading musicians of the city. Records indicate that he taught the composer Norbert Burgmüller and was concertmaster at the local theater. He died in Düsseldorf in 1840. Although he was born 20 years after Beethoven, his music harks back to the Classical era, having the easy fluency of Mozart’s music.
SCHUBERT String Quartet No. 11 in E Major D. 353 • 1816
Franz LACHNER String Quintet in C minor Op. 121 • 1834
The Bavarian composer’s work was much admired: Mendelssohn was fascinated by it and Schumann called Lachner the most talented composer in southern Germany; Tchaikovsky also felt that Lachner had to be placed near the pinnacle of fine composers. Wilhelm Altmann, in his Handbook for Chamber Music Players, commented on the Quintet with 2 cellos, stating that “It cannot be denied that there is a certain greatness about it. The main theme to the opening movement...has a pleading, almost tragic quality to it. The music is superbly developed and even at one point has a magnificent fugal section. The whole thing is quite effective.” Among his pupils was Josef Rheinberger, who completed his music education with a course under Lachner at the conservatory in Munich, and who later taught Ferdinand Thieriot.
| Monday, June 25,
7:30pm Vive la France
Christ and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church
120 West 69th Street (east of Broadway)
André-Frédéric ELER Horn Quartet Op. 1 • date not known
Born in Alsace in 1764, Eler moved to Paris early in his career. When the Paris Conservatoire was formed in 1795, he served as its first librarian for two years, and subsequently taught at different times accompaniment, solfège, vocal training, and counterpoint and fugue until his death in 1821. During this period, he wrote numerous pieces which were performed by the students there. The New Grove Dictionary notes, “Eler’s music demonstrates a solid technique characterized by pure and ‘correct’ harmonies...somewhat Classical melodies, and an interest in counterpoint unusually great among his French contemporaries.... Though he was interested in opera, and wrote well-orchestrated stage works with a good sense of drama, he had little success in the genre.... He also wrote much interesting chamber music, at a time when the genre was little cultivated in France, as well as orchestral pieces, vocal canons and a few works for the Revolutionary cause.”
George ONSLOW String Quintet No. 30 in E minor Op. 74 • 1847
Franglais son of the English Lord Edward Onslow and noble French woman Marie-Rosalie de Bourdeilles, Onslow lived his entire life in France. He won the prestigious directorship of the Académie des Beaux-Arts over Berlioz, who remarked, “Since Beethoven’s death, he wields the scepter of instrumental music.” Indeed, Onslow’s work was admired by Beethoven and Schubert, and Schumann and Mendelssohn regarded his chamber music on a par with that of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. His 36 string quartets and 34 string quintets were, during his own lifetime and up to the end of the 19th century, held in the highest regard, particularly in Germany, Austria, and England, where he was regularly placed in the front rank of composers. Publishers such as Breitkopf & Härtel and Kistner were among many that competed to market his music.
Camille SAINT-SAËNS String Quartet No. 1 in E minor Op. 112 • 1899
Late in life, at the age of 64, Saint-Saëns wrote his first String Quartet, which he dedicated to the violin virtuoso, Eugène Ysaÿe, who premiered it at the Concerts Colonne on 21 December 1899.
|Monday, July 16,
7:30pm Austro-German Gems II
Christ and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church
120 West 69th Street (east of Broadway)
Sigismond NEUKOMM “Schöne Minka” Quintet Op. 8 • 1809
Famous during the first half of the 19th century, Neukomm’s importance is as a transitional figure between Classicism and Romanticism. He was a prolific composer, his oeuvre comprising some 1300 works. Born in Salzburg, Neukomm studied with Joseph Haydn for 7 years in Vienna, beginning in March 1797. His arrangements of numerous works by Haydn were for the most part sanctioned by the composer. They included The Creation, Il Ritorno di Tobia, The Seasons, and Arianna a Naxos. Between mid-November 1808 and February 1809 he visited Haydn every day.
Ferdinand THIERIOT (1838-1919) String Sextet in D Major
The North German composer, cellist, teacher, and choral conductor was a pupil of Eduard Marxsen, who also taught Brahms in Hamburg, and of Josef Rheinberger in Munich. He performed as a soloist and as a member of several prominent string quartets. Brahms became a friend and recommended him for the position of Artistic Director of the Steiermärkischer Musikverein in Graz (1870-1885). After World War II, Thieriot’s archive (including the manuscripts) was taken to Leningrad, where the String Sextet was rescued when it was found floating in a flooded basement.
BRAHMS String Quintet No. 1 in F Major “Spring” Op. 88 • 1882
|2017 - 2018|
20-concert series: Mondays at 2pm and 7:30pm
|September 11 In Homage
Lowell LIEBERMANN Fantasy on a fugue of J. S. Bach • 1989
The fugue in question is the 24th in Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier. John Rockwell of the New York Times noted that the American composer took “that theme and subjected it to 10 minutes of excursions in a fashionable neo-Romantic, neo-conservative mode.”
Arvo PÄRT Da pacem Domine “Give peace, O Lord” • 2004
Originally for voices and string orchestra, Pärt later wrote several versions. Jupiter’s performance will be with a string quartet. In a New York Times review, Allan Kozinn commented on the prayer’s “temporal rootlessness” —”On the surface these are slow-moving, meditative scores...cast in sustained tones with little harmonic growth and hardly any momentum, yet a listener is drawn inexorably into its hypnotic four-part unaccompanied vocal texture.”
BRAHMS Chaconne in D minor for left hand piano • 1877
In presenting the dynamic work to his friend Clara Schumann, Brahms wrote: “The Chaconne is, in my opinion, one of the most wonderful and most incomprehensible pieces of music. Using the technique adapted to a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I could picture myself writing, or even conceiving, such a piece, I am certain that the extreme excitement and emotional tension would have driven me mad. If one has no supremely great violinist at hand, the most exquisite of joys is probably simply to let the Chaconne ring in one’s mind. But the piece certainly inspires one to occupy oneself with it somehow…. There is only one way in which I can secure undiluted joy from the piece, though on a small and only approximate scale, and that is when I play it with the left hand alone…. The same difficulty, the nature of the technique, the rendering of the arpeggios, everything conspires to make me feel like a violinist!”
Arvo PÄRT Fratres “Brothers” • 1985
Gentle and mystical, the medieval-like sound is captured through tintinnabulation (little bells), which the composer personally described: “I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements—with one voice, with two voices. I build with the most primitive materials—with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of the triad are like bells. And that is why I called it tintinnabulation.”
BRAHMS String Sextet No. 1 in Bb Major Op. 18 • 1859–1860
| September 18 Jazzing It Up
George GERSHWIN 3 Preludes • 1926
Jens Nygaard performed the Preludes many times, often saying, “I own this music.” In 1976 he purchased Gershwin’s birthplace, intending to restore the house and revive the neighborhood. An article in the Houston Post reported, “Composer George Gershwin’s birthplace has been saved from likely destruction by 45-year-old Jens Nygaard, a pianist, harpsichordist and chamber music impressario [sic]. With $6,000 from friends and relatives, he’s signed a contract to buy the two-story house in the slum-scarred East New York section of Brooklyn to restore it and perhaps rescue the whole neighborhood by doing so. Nygaard doesn’t know what the renovation will cost, but he said his chamber orchestra foundation will coordinate contributions to the house.” Sadly, the house was burned down before he could fulfill his dreams.
Igor STRAVINSKY L’histoire du soldat “The Soldier’s Tale” • 1919
Bohuslav MARTINU La Revue de Cuisine • 1927
The recipe for double trouble in “The Kitchen Review” goes more or less like this:
Francis POULENC Incidental Music from Léocadia • 1940
In 1957 Léocadia was brought to Broadway under the title Time Remembered, starring Richard Burton, Helen Hayes, and Susan Strasberg, but Poulenc’s music was ditched (what nerve!) for an inferior substitute by an American composer. Bassoonist Gina Cuffari will be our diva.
Nikolaï Girshevich KAPUSTIN Piano Quintet Op. 89 • 1998
Is this classical or is this jazz? The Canadian pianist Leslie De’Ath tells us that Kapustin was born in the Ukraine in 1937 and educated at the Moscow Conservatory. “His musical training was traditional, with a good exposure to the Russian virtuoso piano repertoire. Jazz became a big influence during his teen years, and has remained so throughout his career. From the late 1950s he immersed himself in the Russian jazz world, forming a quintet, and playing with Juri Saulsky’s Central Artists’ Club Big Band in Moscow. Later, he toured with the Oleg Lundstrem Jazz Orchestra throughout the Soviet Union. He now lives in reclusive domesticity in Moscow with his wife, devoting his time to composition and recording.” Richard Anderson perceives that “his music combines the extreme pianism of Rachmaninov, but one entirely in the jazz language of an Oscar Peterson.... Kapustin combines conservative structures such as sonata form or dance suites with a lavish jazz language. The improvisatory quality is omnipresent, yet every last detail is clear in the score. The music is unfailingly pianistic, both in the physicality of the hands, and in his overall output for the instrument.” De’Ath adds, “Kapustin’s piano music is technically formidable, and as a pianist he possesses a technique to match. He remains the definitive interpreter of his own music, not just by virtue of the truism that he composed it, but also because his own recordings are astonishing feats of technical and musical accomplishment. His style of writing is crossover, in the best sense of the term, and belongs to the ‘third stream’ trend of the later 20th century. Does his music sound more like jazz than classical? That probably hinges upon the ears doing the listening.”
| October 2 Brainy Bohemians
Johann SOBECK (1831–1914) Duo Concertant on Themes from Don Juan Op. 5 • published 1880
The Bohemian composer, teacher, and virtuoso clarinetist was born in Luditz near Karlsbad. Studies at the Prague Conservatory were followed by a long career as a soloist and principal clarinetist of the Royal Theatre in Hanover, Germany. Much of his music was written for the clarinet.
MOZART Selections from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro “The Marriage of Figaro” • 1786/1791
Wendt (1745–1801) transcribed over 50 opera and ballet scores, including 4 other Mozart operas, for Harmonien (wind bands), which were in vogue in Vienna and fashionable for the aristocracy’s entertainment. He was a first-rate oboist as well and found work easily. Among his employers were Count Pachta in Prague, Prince Schwarzenberg at Wittingau and Vienna (as first cor anglais player in his Harmonie), the National Theatre orchestra in Vienna, Georg Triebensee in the newly formed Kaiserlich-Königliche Harmonie, and the Hofkapelle (Court chapel in Vienna). For almost 20 years Wendt was largely responsible for the repertory of the emperor’s Harmonie, and had a special contract with the Schwarzenberg Harmonie to supply transcriptions for that ensemble as well. His combined income of 900 gulden a year was 100 more than Mozart’s imperial salary, and he had additional income for copying and composition to boot.
Josef SUK Quartet Movement in Bb Major Op. 11 • 1896
One of the most gifted Czech composers, Suk was Dvorák’s favorite pupil and in 1898 married his daughter Otilie, with whom he had a very happy family life until her early death in 1905 at age 27. He formed the celebrated Bohemian Quartet (later Czech Quartet) in 1891 with fellow students. From 1922 he also taught at the Prague Conservatory; among his pupils were Bohuslav Martinu and pianist Rudolf Firkusný.
Antonín DVORÁK Piano Quartet No. 1 in D Major • 1875
At age 34, Dvorák wrote his youthful and optimistic Quartet in just 18 days, after hearing the news that he had won the Austrian State Prize for poor, talented musicians. Apart from the much-needed award of 400 gulden, the Prize helped to build his career as the jury members included the music critic Eduard Hanslick, Johann Herbeck (director of the state opera), and Brahms, who was “visibly overcome” by the mastery and skill of the submitted works, which included the Quartet. Its premiere was held in Prague on 16 December 1875.
| October 16 Pianist-Composers
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL Grand rondo brillant in G Major Op. 126 • 1834
Hummel was born in Pressburg, Hungary, then a part of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy. A pupil of Mozart, Haydn, Salieri, and Albrechtsberger, he became one of Europe’s greatest composers and perhaps the greatest piano virtuoso in Europe for more than 2 decades. In 1804 he succeeded Haydn as Konzertmeister and later as Kapellmeister at the court of Esterházy in Eisenstadt. Hummel died a rich man after a long and successful career, then faded into obscurity with the arrival of Romanticism.
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 • 1848
The Hungarian Rhapsodies were drawn from Liszt’s native folk music, although many were tunes written by members of the Hungarian upper middle class, often played by Roma (gypsy) bands. The 9th Rhapsody was dedicated to Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, the Moravian-Jewish violinist and composer who was Paganini’s greatest successor.
RACHMANINOFF 2 Morceaux de salon Op. 6 • 1893
The Morceaux, possibly dedicated to the violinist Julius Conus, sit between 2 significant moments in the Russian composer’s output—the early C# minor Prelude (his first and great solo piano piece that became a warhorse) and his Symphony No. 1 in D minor, which had such a disastrous premiere under the inept baton of Alexander Glazunov that Rachmaninoff suffered a breakdown and could not compose for 4 years.
Adam NEIMAN Trio • 2017
CHOPIN Piano Trio in G minor Op. 8 • 1829
| October 30 Drawn to Vienna
MOZART Quartet in F Major K. 370 • 1781
Among the demanding works written for the oboe, the superb Quartet was composed early in the year for Friedrich Ramm, the virtuoso oboist of the Electoral Court Orchestra in Munich, where Mozart had gone to complete his opera Idomeneo for its premiere.
In September 1762, the Mozart family left Salzburg and headed for Vienna before their Grand tour. It was one of Europe’s most important centers of music, where all the Austrian emperors, for a hundred years or so, encouraged music in every way and attracted the best singers and performers to the city. He visited Vienna again in 1768, remaining there for a year; and in 1781, at the behest of his employer Archbishop Colloredo with whom he soon quarreled. The relocation led to a career as the finest keyboard player in Vienna, and as a composer. Vienna was his base until his death in 1791.
BEETHOVEN Trio in G Major WoO 37 • 1781
The Trio was most likely written for the von Westerholt family—the father, Electoral Equerry and Privy Councillor Baron Friedrich Rudolph Anton von Westerholt-Giesenberg, played the bassoon and maintained a wind ensemble among his servants; one of his sons, Wilhelm, played the flute; and his daughter, Maria Anna Wilhelmine, played the piano. The baroness, age 12 at the time, took piano lessons from the fifteen-year-old Beethoven and must have been a good student as the dominant piano part is not easy.
Vienna was Beethoven’s city for more than 35 years until he died in 1827. During this time he had 67 different addresses there. Born in Bonn in 1770, he was 17 when he first came to Vienna, hoping to study with Mozart, but he had to go home when his mother became seriously ill; she died soon after. When Beethoven returned to Vienna at age 22, Mozart had died almost a year before, so he studied with Haydn and also with Albrechtsberger and Salieri.
SCHUBERT Violin Sonata in A Major D. 574 • 1817
In the words of Michael Parloff, “The entire work is an unbroken stream of graceful, beautifully crafted melody, reflecting his quintessential genius for song” with “a final Allegro vivace...as a whirling Viennese waltz.” Schubert was Viennese through and through. He was born in Himmelpfortgrund, a district of Vienna, he lived much of his life in the city, and he died there. When he was away from Vienna, he would soon miss it. He would pine for his beloved Vienna and its life, his friends, the theaters, and cafes.
The German violinist and teacher, August Emil Daniel Ferdinand Wilhelmj (1845–1908), was a child prodigy. When Liszt heard him play, he wrote a letter of recommendation to the violin virtuoso and composer Ferdinand David, declaring, “Let me present you the future Paganini.”
Marcel TYBERG Piano Trio in F Major • 1935–1836
Fred Flaxman, the award-winning public television and radio producer, broadcasted on Compact Discoveries the following “Sad Story”: “Marcel Tyberg was born in 1893 in Vienna, Austria. He was an accomplished composer, conductor and pianist. Notable conductors such as Rafael Kubelik premiered his pieces at venues in Prague and Italy. He composed symphonies on the scale of Mahler and popular dance music under the pseudonym of Till Bergmar. His father, Marcell Tyberg, Senior, who was born in Poland, was a prominent violinist. His mother [Wanda Paltinger Tybergova] was a pianist and colleague of Arthur Schnabel. In 1916, during World War I, the Tybergs moved from the crumbling Austrian Empire to the little resort town of Abbazia in what was then Italy. For a living Tyberg played the organ in local churches, taught harmony, and composed dance music, including rumbas, tangos, and waltzes. He also performed as a pianist and conductor. A friend of his wrote that Tyberg lived contentedly in ‘indescribable poverty.’ He was reluctant to publish his compositions, refusing several offers. He seemed to have no interest in fame or earthly possessions.
“During World War II, the Germans took over that part of Italy in anticipation of an Italian surrender to the U.S. and its allies. They imposed Nazi laws pertaining to the Jews in German-controlled territories. Tyberg’s father had died in 1927 and his mother died eleven days before he completed his final work, the Third Symphony.... On Sept. 14, 1943, the German government took control of Abbazia, along with the special censuses of Jews taken by local authorities. During such a census in 1939, Tyberg and his mother declared that they were religiously Catholic but, because Mrs. Tyberg’s great-grandfather was Jewish, racially Jewish [this made Tyberg one-sixteenth Jewish]. So the Italian fascists basically handed over Marcel Tyberg’s death warrant to the German government in 1943. Knowing this, and in anticipation of his capture and possible deportation, Tyberg entrusted all of his compositions and personal writings to his friend Dr. Milan Mihich. In addition, he gave Dr. Mihich a document authorizing him to take any action deemed desirable to preserve his music. Shortly afterwards the Gestapo captured Tyberg in a night raid and he was sent to the extermination camps first at San Sabba, then at Auschwitz, where he was killed on December 31, 1944, according to Nazi records.
“In 1945, following the end of World War II and the occupation of that area of Italy by Communist Yugoslavia, Dr. Mihich and his family fled to Milan along with the entirety of Tyberg’s compositions. When he died in 1948, his son, Enrico Mihich, a former harmony student of Tyberg’s who was then a medical student at the University of Milan, inherited Tyberg’s catalog of music. Dr. Enrico Mihich later came to Buffalo, New York, and became a member of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Mihich to this day keeps Tyberg’s music safely secured in his Buffalo home.”
| November 13 Stars in Prague
Johann Wenzel KALLIWODA Morceau de Salon Op. 229 • 
Kalliwoda was an esteemed Bohemian composer, conductor, and violin soloist during his lifetime. At the age of 10, the boy entered the newly founded Prague Conservatory, graduating five years later in 1816 with distinction, after which he joined the orchestra of the Stavovské Theatre, under Weber. In December 1821 the orchestra gave a farewell concert of his compositions before he departed for a tour of Germany, Switzerland, and Holland. While in Munich, he met Prince Karl Egon II, who offered him the post of conductor in Donaueschingen. Leading virtuosos, including Liszt and Robert and Clara Schumann, appeared at his symphony concerts. Schumann, among others, held a high opinion of his work and he is sometimes spoken of as the link between Beethoven and Schumann. In the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, co-founded by Schumann, he praised Kalliwoda for the tenderness and sweep of his compositions, even though he was critical of some of his work. For almost 40 years Kalliwoda directed and elevated the standard of Donaueschingen’s musical life. Highly respected, he was offered posts in the most famous musical institutions of Leipzig, Cologne, Mannheim, Dessau, and Prague, and was made an honorary member of music societies in Prague, Germany, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, and Sweden.
SCHUMANN Piano Quartet in C minor • 1829
Composed at age 18 and performed by Schumann and his music friends, it was well received by their teacher Friedrich Wieck and others present. While the composer lost interest in this youthful work, he later wrote of the refined harmonies of the Trio in his diary in 1846: “I remember very clearly feeling that a passage in one of my compositions (1828) was romantic, showing a spirit that moved away from musical tradition as a new poetry in life was revealed to me (it was the trio from a scherzo in a piano quartet).” In 1832 he would use its main theme in the fourth of his Op. 4 Intermezzos. He also described the closing Rondo in his diary as “wild merriment.”
Music played an important role in Prague, drawing to the city numerous musicians, among them Robert and Clara Schumann. In 1837 Clara played her husband’s works in private gatherings in Prague and other cities. Robert visited in 1838, relaying in a letter, “The young musicians of Prague amused me very much.” His oratorio Paradise and the Peri was performed to acclaim in Prague in 1845. The couple went on a 4-month tour in 1846–1847 and, in Prague, gave 2 splendid concerts, which drew “perfect ovations” for Robert. The attendees included the Bohemian-Austrian high nobility, and they made new friends. Clara returned to Prague in 1856, 1859, and 1865, each time performing Robert’s music
The autograph score of the Piano Quartet, which is full of errors and gaps, came to the possession of the Bonn University Library in 1974. A performing edition was then prepared by the Schumann scholar Wolfgang Boetticher in 1979. A new reconstructed edition has since been issued in 2010 by musicologist Joachim Draheim.
Antonín DVORÁK String Sextet in A Major Op. 48 • 1878
|November 27 Très Belle
Charles DANCLA String Quartet No. 8 in G Major Op. 87 • 1858
The quartet is a fine work with passages of rich string sonorities, a joyful and bright minuet, a sublime slow movement, and a bravura finale of perpetual motion. It was dedicated to his friend and compatriot François Soubies, a French politician of the extreme left wing group of the Montagne.
Dancla (1817–1907) came from a talented French family of musicians; his 2 brothers played the violin and cello, and his sister, the piano. He attended the Paris Conservatoire from 1828 to 1840 and won a premier prix in 1833; his school mates included Gounod and Franck. Performances by Pierre Baillot (one of his teachers) of quartets by Boccherini, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven sparked his interest in chamber music, prompting him to form his own group, together with his siblings. Their concerts at the home of the postman Hesselbein were a regular feature of the Paris season. In 1842, he failed to secure the sought-after post of principal professor of violin at the Conservatoire. Six years later, still dispirited, he left Paris to work in postal jobs, first in Cholet, then in Paris. In 1855, however, he was finally offered a position at the Conservatoire and five years later, became professor of violin, a post he held until he unwillingly retired in 1892. As a violinist Dancla was praised for his trill, lightness of bowing, and his brilliance. The New Grove Dictionary gives a summary of other achievements: “He was highly respected at the Conservatoire as a person, musician and teacher.... He was a prolific composer and won prizes for four of his 14 string quartets and three of his works for male chorus; but it is only through his didactic works that his music survives.... He may be regarded as the last exponent of the classical French school of violin playing.”
Vincent D’INDY Sarabande and Minuet for Sextet Op. 72 • 1918
Although almost forgotten today, d’Indy was a major influence on the generation of French musicians who preceded Impressionism. Born in Paris into a family of rich Catholic aristocrats, the composer-pedagogue could trace his ancestry back to Henry IV. As a child he was passionate about the military, so much so that when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, he enlisted in the National Guard at age 19. After the war he entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1872, studying with César Franck, who inspired him. In 1873 he met Liszt and Brahms in Germany; in 1875 he was the prompter for the premiere of Bizet’s Carmen; and in 1884 he was the choirmaster for a production of Wagner’s Lohengrin. In 1894 he, together with organist Alexander Guilmant and conductor Charles Bordes, founded the Schola Cantorum, where he taught until his death in 1931. As a counterbalance to his alma mater, the Paris Conservatoire, and its emphasis on opera, d’Indy’s curriculum focused on the study of the Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, and works of the late Baroque and early Classical periods. Among his many students were Isaac Albéniz, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, and, for a few months in 1920, Cole Porter.
Claude DEBUSSY Children’s Corner : Suite • 1908
The Suite of six pieces, four of which evoke Chouchou’s toys, was given its world première in Paris by the English pianist Harold Bauer on 18 December 1908. Maurice Hinson observed, “These pieces are...small humorous pictures inspired by childhood.... The descriptive, or fanciful titles are symbolic rather than programmatic. They point out, or suggest, through the music, qualities that are difficult to put into words. But Children’s Corner clearly reflects the nursery and the world of childhood fantasy inhabited by Chouchou.” The pieces are entitled in English, most likely a nod to Chouchou’s English governess, Miss Gibbs:
Jimbo’s Lullaby : inspired by Chouchou’s stuffed elephant
Théodore DUBOIS Piano Quartet in A minor • 1907
Dubois (1837–1924) held a dominant place in French music during the last third of the 19th century, teaching harmony at the Paris Conservatoire for 35 years (beginning in 1871) and serving as the Conservatoire’s director beginning in 1896. Until, that is, his abrupt retirement in 1905, precipitated by his refusal to award the coveted Prix de Rome to a young upstart by the name of Maurice Ravel. Dubois himself had previously studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where his teacher was Ambroise Thomas and where he himself also won the Prix de Rome. During his long career he was also the choirmaster and later the organist of L’église de la Madeleine (the Church of the Madeleine), succeeding Saint-Saëns. His many students included Reynaldo Hahn, Paul Dukas, and Florent Schmitt. Seven Last Words of Christ, written in 1867, was his most enduring composition; the oratorio became a fixture of Easter concerts for decades after.
| December 4 Role Models
Franz KROMMER Clarinet Quintet in Bb Major Op. 95 • published 1820
Born in Kamenice, Moravia, when Mozart was 3, Krommer (1759–1831) taught himself music theory as a boy through the study of works by Haydn and Mozart. He lived most of his life in Vienna, where he established a towering international reputation as a composer. Several contemporary sources state he was regarded, with Haydn, as the leading composer of string quartets and as a serious rival of Beethoven.
Karl GOLDMARK String Quintet in A minor • 1870
Goldmark, whose fame was limited to Vienna and to his own lifetime, is today remembered for his Violin Concerto and Rustic Wedding Symphony. Born into a lower-middle class Jewish family with over 20 children, he had a sporadic and largely self-taught education, which included an immersion in the study of the music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Determined, he moved into the forefront of Viennese musical life. His Op. 8 String Quartet made him famous overnight in 1860. He was also a music critic and championed the works of Wagner, founding the Vienna Wagner Verein. He was a teacher and counted Sibelius among his pupils. In 1866 he was made an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreund in Vienna, and in 1879, with Brahms and Eduard Hanslick, he judged a distribution of grants to artists. Although Brahms was his friend, one hears Mendelssohn and Schumann in his music, seasoned with lively Hungarian gypsy melodies. Together with Richard Strauss and others, he was made an honorary member of the Accademia di S Cecilia in Rome in 1914. His importance lies mainly in his operatic works.
MENDELSSOHN Sextet in D Major Op. 110 • 1824
While Felix’s education included the study of Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart, the effervescent Sextet reveals the influence of Beethoven and foreshadows Romantic sensibilities. Composed in less than 2 weeks, it was dashed off for one of the Mendelssohn family Sunday morning musicales, which gave Felix the chance to play the piano virtuoso part. These concerts had acquired an almost mythical status in Berlin, as the guest lists show—Spohr, Spontini, Hummel, Weber, and Moscheles all came, and Felix listened carefully to their opinion.
| December 18 Gifted Organists
Dieterich BUXTEHUDE Prelude and Fugue in D minor BuxWV 140 • circa 1690 /1920
Born in Helsingborg, Skåne (a part of Denmark in 1637, now a part of Sweden), Buxtehude is one of the most important composers of the mid-Baroque period in Germany, his influence affecting even Bach. His music was introduced to Prokofiev by Sergei Taneyev. According to Robert Cummings, “Prokofiev was an inveterate transcriber of his [own] orchestral works, reducing them to keyboard versions for his concert tours.... This transcription of Buxtehude’s organ prelude and fugue is a rarity...for he seldom arranged the works of other composers.... This...arrangement is unusual in other respects, too: it is devoid of virtuosic writing altogether and is exceedingly somber and faithful to the original—faithful, that is, to the portions that Prokofiev chose to transcribe, for he eliminated about the half of the original piece and omitted the flashier portions of the fugue. The main theme is delicate and stately in its Baroque sobriety, and the music barely hints at any hastening of its Andante molto marking. The whole is quite attractive in its calm grandeur and serene understatedness. This is a fine piece, but is it Buxtehude or is it Prokofiev?”
MOZART Duo in Bb Major for violin and viola K. 424 • 1783
The organ held a special attraction for Mozart, one that remained with him for life. In October 1777 he professed the organ to be his favorite instrument to Johann Andreas Stein, the Orgelmacher in Augsburg: “When I told Herr Stein I would love to try out his organ because organ playing was my real Passion, he seemed surprised.... The organ is in my eyes and ears the king of all instruments.” Wolfgang’s first documented playing on the instrument took place in the Franciscan church of Ybbs in Lower Austria in 1762. The following year, during the grand family tour, his father Leopold described how the 7-year-old’s playing in Wasserburg amazed the listeners: “He tried it right away, shoved the stool away and played standing at the organ, at the same time working the pedal, and doing it all as if he had been practising it for several months.” In subsequent years he acquired considerable knowledge of various organs in Europe. In Heidelberg, he played the organ in the Church of the Holy Ghost. In 1764 he played for the royal family on the Royal Chapel organ in Versailles, and in London he played the King’s organ so splendidly that they thought his organ performances were finer than his playing on the harpsichord. In 1765 he played the large new organ of the Bernardines order in Ghent, and in Antwerp the great organ in the cathedral church. He played another great organ at St. Bavo’s church in Haarlem, Holland at age 10, and at Verona’s San Tomaso church at age 13. In 1777 he played the old organ at the monastery of St. Ulrich. The next year he played on two different Silbermann organs in Strasbourg, and in 1789 on J.S. Bach’s organ in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. From 1779 to 1781 he held the position of Hoforganist in Salzburg. Mozart’s works for the organ include 3 fugues, an overture, the Eine kleine Gigue, and 3 pieces for the mechanical organ.
Joseph JONGEN Rhapsody Op. 70 • 1922
Remembered primarily for his organ music today, Jongen was considered the greatest living Belgian composer at one time. At age seven, the precocious Joseph was admitted to the Liège Conservatoire, and by age 13 he was composing. He was influenced by Debussy and Ravel in 1921, as can be heard in the Rhapsody.
Camille SAINT-SAËNS Piano Quartet in Bb Major Op. 41 • 1875
Among his numerous works for the organ, the Fantaisie in Eb Major (his first organ piece, which became his most popular) and the “Organ” Symphony are surely standouts. At the age of 23, the Parisian became the organist for L’église de la Madeleine (the Church of the Madeleine) in 1858 and soon developed his legendary gifts for improvisation. For some 20 years he had at his disposal the console of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s brand-new organ—four manuals, 48 stops, and an unprecedented symphonic wall of sound. The instrument, which took up the entire west wall of the enormous edifice, attracted a constant stream of musical stars, including his friends Liszt (he called Saint-Saëns “the greatest organist in the world”), Sarasate, and Anton Rubinstein (a frequent piano duet partner), all of whom made a point of stopping off at the Madeleine during their visits to Paris to hear him play.
| January 8 English Wizardry
Benjamin BLAKE “Solo” No. 2 in C Major Op. 9 • 1825
Very little is known about Blake (1751–1827). He learned to play the violin from Antonín Kammel, and he later studied also with Wilhelm Cramer, director of the Italian Opera orchestra at the King’s Theatre. “Blake himself played the violin in this orchestra from about 1775, and also at the Concert of Ancient Music. He came into public prominence however as a viola player. He was principal and soloist at the Professional Concert from 1785 to 1793, appearing regularly in string quartets with Cramer. He also played the viola at the Prince of Wales’s musical evenings, and his unusual interest in this instrument led to his publishing 18 duos for violin and viola in the 1780s. After the 1793 season Blake resigned from public performance. He was already studying the piano under [Muzio] Clementi to equip himself as a teacher, and though he continued to play the viola for the Prince of Wales he lived almost entirely by teaching until 1820 when he retired”(Wikipedia).
Among the subscribers to the “Solos” were several musicians, including Muzio Clementi, his piano teacher; Clementi and Co., the piano company, 24 copies; Thomas Atwood, composer and organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral; Birchall and Co., the music publisher, 6 copies; George E. Griffin, organist of St Helen’s at Bishopsgate; Dr. Charles Hague, professor of music at Cambridge, 2 copies; William Horsley, organist of the Asylum and Belgrave Chapel; William Hawes, Master of the Boys at St. Paul’s Cathedral; Christian Kramer, conductor of His Majesty’s Private Band (George IV); William Shield, Master of his Majesty’s Band of Musicians; and a Mr. Dragonetti.
Henry PURCELL Chacony in G minor • 1678
In his short life of 36 years, Purcell (1659–1695) composed in virtually every genre and left a uniquely English form of Baroque music as his legacy. On his 18th birthday he became composer of the court violin band known as the Twenty-Four Violins; the Chacony was probably written soon after. “It is a magnificent example of the baroque mastery of...ostinato variations, which grow in power and magic with each repetition of the same eight-measure phrase” (Phillip Huscher). Britten has enriched the textures of the music and added expressive dynamics and articulation in his arrangement of the Chacony.
Frideric HANDEL Suite in D Major HWV 341 • 1733
The smart arrangement of dances including bits of Handel in 5 movements exploits the tonal capabilities of the valveless or natural trumpet. The Ouverture with festive fanfares comes straight from the Second Suite of Water Music (circa 1717), followed by the lively Gigue, also from the same work. Next come the gently lilting Air (a minuet) and springy Bourrée by an anonymous composer in the style of Handel. The final movement returns to Handel—a stately March rearranged from his less-known opera Partenope (1730). The Suite was published by a rival house rather than Handel’s own publisher, possibly by the arranger intent on capitalizing on Handel’s famous name.
Gerald FINZI 5 Bagatelles Op. 23 • 1941
An agnostic and pacifist of Jewish descent, Finzi composed unmistakably British music. The popular Bagatelles were written over many years using “20-year-old bits and pieces,” and completed during World War II in free moments snatched from his work at the Ministry of War Transport. They comprise a sunny “Prelude,” nostalgic “Romance,” tender “Carol,” beguiling “Forlana,” and a mischievous “Fughetta.”
Malcolm ARNOLD Grand Fantasia for flute, trumpet, and piano “Op. 973” • 1940
We learn from the publisher’s notes that “For the summer of 1940 Malcolm Arnold and his friend, the flute player Richard Adeney, persuaded a pretty blonde pianist to join them for a holiday in Cornwall. They pored over advertisements of accommodation, Malcolm pointing to a not very literate one and insisting they stay there. Thus, in August 1940, they found themselves on a farm at St Buryan, near Mousehole. The holiday was much against the wishes of all their parents, for there were fears at the time that the Germans might land in the West Country. It was for himself, Richard and Betty that Malcolm originally wrote this exuberant trio, which he named ironically Grand Fantasia, Op 973, a piece of escapism at the time of the Battle of Britain. All 3 instruments are handled with panache as Malcolm takes the listener on a European tour, with stops in Italy, Hungary and Austria. And the fantasia is not purely geographical for in this gloriously catholic work he manages to salute the idioms of opera, musical comedy and jazz. It is a helter-skelter affair, full of the joys of a youthful artist who knows he’s at ease in his medium. It is no surprise to find the manuscript telling us that it was not composed by Malcolm at all, but by ‘A. Youngman’. In February 1941 Malcolm and Richard organised some Saturday afternoon concerts in the Carnegie Hall—a room in Northampton’s public library. These featured a number of new works by Malcolm including the first public performance of Grand Fantasia.”
The English composer was the youngest of five children from a prosperous Northampton family of shoemakers. After listening to Louis Armstrong in Bournemouth, he was inspired to take up the trumpet at the age of 12 and five years later won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where he studied composition with Gordon Jacob and trumpet with Ernest Hall. In 1941 he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra as second trumpet and became its principal trumpet in 1943.
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Quintet in C minor • 1903, revised 1905
| January 22 Poles Apart
Karol KURPINSKI Fantasy for string quartet • 1825
It was this use of folk themes in his compositions—operas, orchestral works, polonaises—that kept Polish culture alive. An organ prodigy, Kurpinski (1785–1857) worked as a church organist at age 12, and in 1819 became Kapellmeister of the Polish royal chapel. The following year he founded and edited the first Polish music periodical, Tygodnik muzyczny (“Music Weekly”). From 1824 till 1840 he was principal conductor of the Warsaw Opera. The New Grove Dictionary states that Kurpinski was, with his teacher Józef Elsner, “a central figure in the musical life of Warsaw, and conducted Chopin’s first public concerts there. One of the most talented Polish composers before Chopin, he helped to lay the foundations of a national style and prepared the ground for Polish music of the Romantic period. Gifted with exceptional creative originality, he contributed to the development of Polish opera, introducing new musical devices and achieving an intensified dramatic expression.... Although brought up on the Viennese Classics, Kurpinski followed the spirit of his time, combining the new achievements of European music with the folklore of his own country.”
CHOPIN 4 Polish Songs from a set of 17 for soprano and piano Op. 74
CHOPIN Etude in C# minor Op. 25 No. 7 • 1824
Alexandre TANSMAN Septuor • 1931–1932
Tansman (1897–1986) is regarded as one of the greatest Polish musicians. Although he lived much of his life in Paris, he himself declared, “It is obvious that I owe much to France, but anyone who has ever heard my compositions cannot have doubt that I have been, am and forever will be a Polish composer.” His music drew on his Polish Jewish heritage as well as French musical influences. In 1941, with the threat of Hitler looming, he fled to Los Angeles with the help of Charlie Chaplin. There, he composed film scores, including Paris Underground (1945), which was nominated for an Oscar. Tansman was also a virtuoso pianist, performing worldwide for audiences, among them Emperor Hirohito and Mahatma Gandhi.
Ludomir RÓZYCKI Piano Quintet Op. 35 • 1913
Composition on the expansive Quintet began while Rózycki was on a visit to Paris in the summer of 1913, and was completed in Berlin a few months later. Colin Anderson observed, “It is immediately arresting in its dark heavy-heartedness—it may remind of Fauré—and it’s a beautiful piece, soulful sentiments and powerful emotions entwined, and superbly crafted. The three movements are of equal length, fourteen minutes here, with a central slow one that tolls particularly desolate if profoundly eloquent expressions that become somewhat relieved as the music progresses if only to sink back to melancholy. The Finale...offers a musical spring to the step without ever becoming glib...and...the work ends with a valiant response to previous doldrums.” The noted music critic Wilhelm Altmann felt that it was written by “an early 20th century Beethoven.”
|February 5 Nosh on Goulash
Franz DOPPLER Andante and Rondo Op. 25 • 1875
Born in Lemberg, Poland, Franz and his brother Karl were taught by their father, Joseph, who was a composer and oboist. Franz made his debut in Vienna at the age of 13 and became famous as a virtuoso flutist touring Europe with Karl, giving duo recitals before both became prominent members of Hungarian orchestras. Franz first joined the German Theatre from 1838, then the Hungarian National Theatre from 1841. He composed a German opera and several Hungarian operas that were produced at the Theatre, all with appreciable success. In 1853, together with Karl and others, they founded the Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra, and the brothers also resumed their concert tours throughout Europe.
György Sándor LIGETI Régi magyar társas táncok “Old Hungarian Ballroom Dances” • 1949
“Let me tell you an anecdote,” divulged Ligeti in an interview. “Some eight years ago, I read a review published in New York. It said the Six Bagatelles had been performed in the city and Ligeti who had so far written indigestible music, had at last produced some beautiful stuff. The critic had no idea when the quintet had been composed [it was 1953]. If my verbunkos arrangement Old Hungarian Ballroom Dances were to be played again, it could easily become my most popular composition, even though it is but the arrangement of pieces by Lavotta, Bihari, and Csermák.” János Lavotta (1764–1820), János Bihari (1764–1827), and Antal Csermák (1774–1822) were popular composers in the verbunkos (Hungarian dance and music) style. New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini finds that “Below the surface of this genial suite of dance tunes, you detect the young composer sticking it to the Soviet cultural police with seemingly ironic touches: sour voicing of chords; excessively filigreed clarinet riffs; sturdy bass lines that turn thumpy.”
Tommasini also provides the following background: “Born in 1923 to a Jewish family,...Ligeti was conscripted into a labor camp during the last phase of the war. In late 1945 he resumed his musical studies at the conservatory in Budapest. But in 1948 composers working in the People’s Republic of Hungary were subject to the Stalinist decree banning modern music.” Such were the circumstances under which Old Hungarian Ballroom Dances was written.
Antonín DVORÁK Sonatina Op. 100 • 1893
In the book New Worlds of Dvorák by the Dvorák scholar Michael Beckerman, he has depicted a curiosity—an illustration of a poem by Anne Reeve Aldrich, “Music of Hungary,” dedicated to Dvorák, showing that the composer has crossed out every instance of the word “Hungary” and written in “Bohemia.” (Perhaps he was objecting to the poet’s conflation of his homeland with Hungary, whereas he would have strongly identified with Bohemia and would never have considered his homeland to be Hungary.) The poem appears in Aldrich’s book Songs about Life, Love and Death, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1892.
Zoltán KODÁLY Intermezzo with folk airs
Both Dohnányi and Kodály were students at the Budapest Academy of Music, but their music took different paths. Dohnányi continued composing in the Brahmsian tradition, and Kodály became one of first and most significant figures in the field of ethnomusicology. In 1905 he visited many remote villages to collect authentic folk songs, transcribing and recording them on phonograph cylinders. In 1907 he joined the faculty at the Academy, and later became Dohnányi’s assistant when the latter was appointed director in February 1919, under the Soviet Republic government. However, in October, a new counter-Revolutionary interim government replaced him with the prominent violinist Jenö Hubay after Dohnányi had refused to dismiss Kodály from the Academy for his leftist leanings (he was later reinstated). In 1911, with the creation of the New Hungarian Music Society, Kodály and Dohnányi firmly established themselves alongside Bartók as a powerful force in Hungary’s developing musical culture.
David POPPER 2 Etudes Op. 73 Nos. 1 and 22
Erno (Ernst von) DOHNÁNYI Piano Quartet in F# minor • 1891
Next to Liszt, Dohnányi is considered Hungary’s most versatile musician, whose tireless work reshaped the country’s musical life on a vast scale, and whose influence was far-reaching. Born in 1877 in Pressburg, young Ernst was first taught the piano by his father at age 6 and was composing by 7. During his childhood, Dohnányi sometimes spent time in the summer with his father in Upper Hungary at the old country house of Karl Haulik, a zealous amateur musician. During one of these visits Dohnányi met a Viennese artist named Ernst Stohr, who painted his portrait in pastels. As told by Dohnányi’s third wife Ilona in the biography, A Song of Life, “When he heard the Piano Quartet that Dohnányi had composed when he was fourteen years old, Stohr exclaimed, ‘This work has to be performed in Vienna!’ and took the manuscript with him when he departed for the imperial capital. Stohr arranged for Dohnányi’s Piano Quartet in F-sharp Minor to be performed in Vienna on 11 March 1894 at a concert of the Ersten Wiener Volks Quartet (First Viennese People’s Quartet), with the sixteen-year-old composer at the piano.”
| February 19 Mostly Italian-Swiss Gems
Édouard DUPUY Introduction and Polonaise • 
Dupuy led quite a colorful and peripatetic life—by 1785 he was leader at the private theater of Prince Henry of Prussia, but a scandal led to his dismissal in 1792, so he became a touring violinist instead. By 1793 he was in Stockholm, working actively as a singer and composer in the court orchestra. He was then expelled from Sweden in 1799 for political reasons and moved to Copenhagen where, in 1807, he sang the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. His stay in Denmark, however, was cut short—his pupil in singing, Princess Charlotte Frederikke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, fell in love with him, and their alleged affair led to their exile in 1809. Dupuy then went to Paris, but in 1811 a change in the Swedish political situation enabled him to return to Stockholm, where he died in 1822.
Luigi BOCCHERINI String Quintet in A minor Op. 25 No. 6 (G300) • 1778
Boccherini’s closest friends in Madrid were the Font family—violist Francisco Font and his three sons, violinists Antonio and Juan and cellist Pablo. They premiered the majority of his quintets with the Italian composer playing the more virtuosic second cello. The addition of another cello resulted in an innovative string quintet with two cellos, which became Boccherini’s main contribution to the chamber music repertoire.
Joseph LAUBER (1864-1952) Trois Morceaux Op. 18 • date not found
Lauber, born in Ruswil, Switzerland, studied at the Zurich Conservatoire before going abroad in 1884, first to Munich to study with Joseph Rheinberger, then to Paris, where he studied composition with Louis Diémer and Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatoire. Returning to Switzerland, he became the organist in Neuchâtel for several years and for two years taught at the Zurich Conservatoire. He eventually settled in Geneva, teaching at the Conservatoire and also serving as Music Director of the Grand Théâtre de Genève. In 1900 Lauber cofounded L’Association des Musiciens Suisses, which premiered a number of his works and to this day promotes Swiss composers. His oeuvre comprises more than 200 compositions in many genres including an opera, an oratorio, symphonies, concertos, and chamber music for various ensembles and instruments.
note: The Joseph LAUBER Trois Morceaux will be replaced by:
Max BRUCH Eight Trio Pieces, Op. 83 Nos. 2, 5, 7
Giuseppe MARTUCCI Piano Quintet in C Major Op. 45 • 1877, revised 1892
Championed by Toscanini, Martucci was perhaps the most significant representative of Italian instrumental music in the second half of the 19th century and revived Italy’s interest in non-operatic music. His compositions are said to unite romantic sonorities with Parnassian elegance, as can be heard in the Piano Quintet.
| March 5 Schubert’s Circle
Johann Rudolf ZUMSTEEG (1760-1802) Duo for flute and cello • 1800
Zumsteeg’s importance lies in his development of the ballad, which exerted an unequivocal influence on young Franz Schubert, whose friend Josef von Spaun claimed he could “revel in these songs for days on end.” The German composer was also a solo cellist in the court orchestra in Stuttgart; while there, he wrote 10 cello concertos. The dramatist Friedrich Schiller was his close friend.
Franz LACHNER (1803–1890) Herbst “Autumn” Op. 30 No. 1 • published 1831
It has been said that Lachner’s concert songs were his most distinctive works, as evident in Herbst with its ominous rustling in the piano and the lovely duet between the singer and obbligato cello.
Graham Johnson clarifies the relationship between Lachner and Schubert: “Lachner was the most successful composer of the Schubert circle, the only one of Schubert’s younger musical friends to become a musical celebrity outside Vienna. Moritz von Schwind, Lachner’s close friend as he had been Schubert’s, also made his career in Munich and became a celebrated visual artist. Although he is largely forgotten now (there are some signs of a revival) Lachner is the ‘missing’ link between Schubert and Schumann. He was born in Bavaria, and he was to return there as a favourite son; in the intervening years, one may call these his ‘Schubert period’, he lived in Vienna where he was a pupil of Sechter and the Abbé Stadler. He was a friend of the composer from about 1823, although we have no idea how he was introduced to the Schubert circle. In 1826 Lachner was appointed to a post at the Kärntnertor Theatre. He was with Schubert on many occasions in the last years of the composer’s life, but his memoirs of the time are not always reliable. He seems to have been more interested than many of his contemporaries in Schubert’s instrumental works. He claimed he often discussed his current compositions with Schubert, and that the two men showed their sketches to each other. This must have been something rare indeed: since his break with Mayrhofer, Schubert had no one among his friends, apart from Schober perhaps, with whom he might have had this kind of exchange. Lachner returned to Munich in 1836 and he played an increasingly dominant part in the musical life of that city. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lachner’s return to Munich, Moritz von Schwind dedicated to him the ‘Lachner roll’, twelve-and-a-half metres of remarkably witty drawings on a roll of paper thirty-four centimetres high. This depicted Lachner’s career from its beginnings, and included several drawings of Schubert surrounded by his friends. Schwind’s own close position to Schubert, and the integrity of his memories, verifies the strength of the connection between Lachner and his immortal mentor.” After his return to Munich in 1836, he conducted the Vienna Court Opera and became an important figure in that city. The works of Beethoven he performed were considered exemplary.
Franz Anton SCHUBERT (1768–1827) Flute Quartet in G Major Op. 4 • n.d.
Unrelated to the famous Schubert, Franz Anton came from the German family of musicians active in Dresden in the 18th and 19th centuries. He is remembered mainly for his caustic remarks when by mistake a copy of Erlkönig, which became one of Schubert’s most celebrated songs, was sent to him by the publisher Breitkoft & Härtel. He huffily retorted in a letter of 18 April 1817 that the “cantata” was not his composition but that he would retain the copy “so as to learn if possible who has so impertinently sent you that sort of rubbish and also to discover the fellow who has thus misused my name.” He and his music are virtually forgotten today, whereas the beloved Erlkönig will live on to eternity. Franz Anton was also a friend of Franz von Schober, who had a very close and special relationship with Schubert.
SCHUBERT Mignon Lieder • 1815–1821
Reimann, the German composer and arranger, has selected from Schubert’s numerous settings 3 of the lesser-known poignant songs—Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, Heiß mich nicht reden, and So laßt mich scheinen bis ich werde—and has transcribed and linked them brilliantly “as a continuous, organically connected mini-cantata for voice and string quartet, which follows Mignon through her longing for an absent lover, passionate secrecy, and anticipation of release in death” (Andrea Budgey). The lyrics concern Harfenspieler or Harper (the mad father) and his delicate daughter, Mignon. The poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are from his second novel, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.
Born into a musical family in Berlin in 1936, Reimann became a répétiteur at the Deustche Oper Berlin and a distinguished accompanist of lieder, most notably in performances with the great German lyric baritone, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, for whom many of his original works were written, including the opera King Lear.
SCHUBERT Piano Trio in Bb Major Op. 99 • 1827
| March 19 Rooted in Russia
Alexandr GRECHANINOV Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in Bb Major Op. 161 • 1939
Grechaninov (1864–1956) was a late starter; his piano lessons did not begin till age 14. Three years later he went to the Moscow Conservatory and studied counterpoint and theory with Arensky and form with Sergei Taneyev. When a disagreement with Arensky occurred in 1890 over composition teaching he left and studied with Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After the Revolution, he lost his pension and became anxious in Soviet Russia, so he left for Paris in 1925, and then immigrated to the United States at age 75 in 1939, the year he composed the Bb Sonata. Grechaninov was a piano and choral teacher for most of his career, and he composed in all genres, but has a special place in 2 fields: children’s music and liturgical music, the latter testifying to his liberal religious outlook. His music was influenced by Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Mainly decadent in style, he never abandoned Russian lyricism.
Anton ARENSKY Piano Quintet in D Major Op. 51 • 1900
Viktor Belayev, in Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, proclaimed the Quintet a “masterpiece” and Cobbett himself stated that the scherzo “sparkles like diamonds in the sun.” Arensky studied with Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, graduating with a Gold Medal. He became one of the youngest professors (in harmony and counterpoint) ever to teach at the Moscow Conservatory, where he was influenced by Tchaikovsky and Sergei Taneyev. Among his pupils were Rachmaninoff and Scriabin. He died at age 44 from tuberculosis, most likely exacerbated by his drinking.
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Trio in C minor Op. 8 • 1923
Reinhold GLIÈRE String Sextet No. 3 in C Major Op. 11 • 1904
The noted critic Wilhelm Altmann asserted, “This magnificent work is packed with a treasure chest of wonderful musical ideas. The writing is so powerful it approaches the orchestral in nature.” Glière’s teachers included Taneyev, Arensky, and Ippolitov-Ivanov, and among his students were Khachaturian, Myaskovsky, the eleven-year-old Prokofiev, and Scriabin’s young son.
| March 26 Germans of Note
Richard STRAUSS Variationen über Das Dirndl is harb auf mi (Variations on a Bavarian Folksong) TrV 109 • 1882
Strauss came from a musical family (his father was principal horn of the Munich Court Orchestra for 49 years) and spent much time and effort in his early years on music, composing more than 140 pieces by the time he matriculated from the Ludwigsgymnasium at age 18. The Variations were written in March 1882 in his 17th year. In August, he entered the University of Munich, where he read philosophy, aesthetics, history of art, and literature. The title is an in-joke. Harbni was the name of the amateur orchestra in Munich, comprising family and friends, conducted by his father Franz Joseph Strauss. It comes from the Bavarian expression “nie harb” meaning never bitter, never bad-tempered. The orchestra name thus reflects on its noble goal of living in peace and harmony and avoiding any harm towards fellow men. The work includes quotations from Wagner’s Ring and is one of Strauss’s first pieces to use his favorite device of quotation.
Eduard FRANCK String Quartet No. 3 in C minor Op. 55 • circa 1870, published 1899
Renowned in his day as a composer, concert pianist, and teacher, Franck was born in Breslau in 1817 and studied with Mendelssohn. As a teacher, he was much loved, and according to the New Grove Dictionary, “he was also admired as a pianist with a particularly fine touch; his music, largely instrumental, was praised by his contemporaries, including his friend, Schumann.” Other prominent admirers were Mendelssohn and Chopin; Moritz Moszkowski was among his pupils. Eduard’s son, Richard, whom he taught, became a composer as well—Jupiter performed Richard’s Piano Trio in May 2016. The Francks came from a privileged banking family in Breslau.
BEETHOVEN Piano Trio in Eb Major Op. 38 • 1802 or 1803
The descriptive text of the autograph at the Beethoven-Haus museum explains, “In the dedication written in French...Beethoven expresses very warm feelings for the doctor, who had treated the composer from 1801 onwards. Schmidt played the violin and his daughter the piano. This is the reason why the composer suggested in his dedication that the work should be played within the family, at least when the beloved daughter’s playing had improved somewhat. Beethoven’s extremely high regard for the doctor is not only apparent in the dedication. Even in the so-called Heiligenstadt Testament, which Beethoven wrote on 6 October 1802 in great desperation due to his increasing loss of hearing, he had written of the doctor in respectful and thankful terms [in false hopes of a cure] despite his general bitterness ‘...I thank all my friends, in particular Prince Lichnovski and Professor Schmidt.’ [He also sought the opinion of his friend in Bonn, Dr. Franz Gerhard Wegeler]: ‘People talk about miraculous cures by galvanism [therapy using electricity]; what is your opinion? A medical man told me that in Berlin he saw a deaf and dumb child recover its hearing and a man who had also been deaf for seven years recover his. I have just heard that your Schmidt is making experiments with galvanism.’”
When Beethoven heard of the Septet’s sensational reception in London in 1815, he snarled, “That damn work; I wish it could be burned!” For the poet Walt Whitman, however, it evoked thoughts of “Dainty abandon, sometimes as if Nature laughing on a hillside in the sunshine; serious and firm monotonies, as of winds; a horn sounding through the tangle of the forest, and the dying echoes; soothing floating of waves but presently rising in surges, angrily lashing, muttering, heavy; piercing peals of laughter, for interstices; now and then weird, as Nature herself is in certain moods—but mainly spontaneous, easy, careless…”
| April 9 The Great vs. The Five
César CUI 5 Pièces Op. 56 • 1897
Although Cui made his living as a military engineer specializing in fortification, he adored music, composed prolifically, and wrote music criticism as well. He contributed almost 800 articles between 1864 and 1918 to various newspapers and other publications in Russia and Europe. As a critic, he sought to promote the music of contemporary Russian composers, especially the works of the Five. He was also the spokesman for this New Russian School.
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Variations on a Theme by Glinka in G minor • 1878
This second of 3 concertante works was written while Rimsky-Korsakov was Inspector of Naval Bands. He explained in his autobiography, Chronicle of My Musical Life, that the compositions were written, “firstly, with the goal of providing concert solo works for instruments not often afforded such roles, and secondly, for me to master the virtuosic concerto/concertante compositional style, with its solo, tutti, cadenzas, etc.”
Mily BALAKIREV Octet Op. 3 • mid-1850s
Balakirev, the wunderkind from Nizhny Novgorod, went to St. Petersburg in 1855 at age 18. There, he met Glinka, who taught him composition and gave him advice on the instrumentation of the Octet. He later saw himself as the “Father of Russian Music,” inheriting the mantle from his idol, Glinka, and became a pivotal figure in The Five.
TCHAIKOVSKY The Seasons Op. 37a • 1876
| April 23 Touched by Mozart
Leopold MOZART Horn Concerto in D Major • 1755
Johann Georg Leopold Mozart (1719–1787) was born in Augsburg, Germany, and died in Salzburg, Austria. He was a distinguished musician in his own right and an accomplished composer of considerable imagination, impressively enough that some of his own work was confused with that of his son. Much of this music was written earlier in his career, diminishing in output as he devoted more and more of his attention to the development (and exploitation) of Wolfgang’s talents. Leopold was also an excellent violinist and worked at the local court of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, first in an unpaid position, then rising through the ranks of the orchestra to become court composer in 1757, and vice chapelmaster in 1762. Another important contribution to music was his excellent treatise on his teaching methods, published in 1756, the year of Wolfgang’s birth. The Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule (A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing) was influential in its day and was widely reprinted and translated. It continues to be an important scholarly source on authentic 18th century performance practice, detailing many points about musical expression and ornamentation, and other topics.
MOZART Violin Sonata in Bb Major K. 454 • 1874
The Sonata was written for the violin virtuoso Regina Strinasacchi of Mantua, to be performed by both of them at a concert in the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna on 29 April 1784. In a letter to his father, Mozart wrote, “She has a great deal of taste and feeling in her playing. I am this moment composing a sonata which we are going to play together on Thursday at her concert in the theatre.” Hermann Abert’s classic biography recounted that Mozart was delinquent in copying the piece out, and “it was only with difficulty that the violinist was able to extort her part from the composer on the eve of the concert. She had to rehearse it on her own the next morning. Mozart himself turned up at the concert with a sketch containing only the violin line and a few accompanying chords and modulations, playing the work virtually entirely from memory and without any rehearsal, a feat observed by the emperor [Joseph II] from his box by means of his lorgnette. In spite of this, the performers achieved an excellent rapport and were much applauded.”
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL Grand Serenade No. 2 Op. 66 • circa 1814–1815
The uniquely scored work was written for an outdoor concert series hosted by Count Franz Pálffy at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace in 1815. For the entertaining piece, favorite themes are quoted from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Zéphir (possibly the opéra comique Zéphir et Flore by Denis Ballière de Laisement, written in 1745 but not performed till 1754), and La Tempesta di Mare (The Storm at Sea). The original score apparently “also contains stage directions which involve the players, with the exception of the piano, moving themselves from their original positions and repositioning to new locations on the stage. It seems possible that dancing and acting would also be taking place on the stage,” according to the music writer Michael Cookson. Immensely popular, the Serenade was published several times, and created “a sensation at evening festivities in Vienna’s imperial gardens.”
Hummel got free lessons from Mozart, with whom he lived, and, like Beethoven, studied with Salieri and Haydn, as well as composition with Albrechtsberger. In 1804 he succeeded Haydn as Kozertmeister and later as Kapellmeister at the court of Esterházy in Eisenstadt. Hummel and guitarist Mauro Giuliani became acquainted soon after Giuliani’s arrival in Vienna in 1807, and went on to collaborate as both performers and composers in a fruitful partnership that resulted in several works for guitar and piano, as well as larger ensembles. Hummel and Beethoven were also close friends for many years until their falling out in the late 1810s, but a remarkable reconciliation took place at Beethoven’s deathbed in 1827; at the funeral, Hummel was a pallbearer and Schubert, a torchbearer.
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 in C Major Op. 21 • 1799–1800
Written at the height of his Classical powers, the Symphony was first performed for Beethoven’s benefit at the Imperial Theatre in Vienna on 2 April 1800, and dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, an early patron and intimate friend of Haydn and Mozart. A few months later it was played at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. What did his contemporaries think? A Viennese critic, writing in 1802, declared it “a masterpiece that does equal honor to [Beethoven’s] inventiveness and his musical knowledge. Being just as beautiful and distinguished in its design as its execution, there prevails in it such a clear and lucid order, such a flow of the most pleasant melodies, and such a rich, but at the same time never wearisome, instrumentation that this symphony can justly be placed next to Mozart’s and Haydn’s.”
| April 30 The French Connection
Alexander SCRIABIN Andante Anh. 20 • 1889
Scriabin, who was influenced in his early life by Chopin, wrote the Romantic Andante while studying at the Moscow Conservatory. After graduating in 1892 with the “Little Gold Medal,” he made a number of trips to Paris, the city of his first concert abroad (in 1896). Other visits followed in 1898, when he played a successful concert at the Salle Erard, in 1900 during another tour, in 1904 to make arrangements for the performance of his Symphony No. 3 and again in 1905 for its performance, and in 1907.
Camille SAINT-SAËNS Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs • 1887
Maurice RAVEL Le Tombeau de Couperin • 1919
After a stint of active duty in World War I, Ravel, haunted by memories, returned to work on Le Tombeau. What had begun as an homage to François Couperin and the golden age of 18th century French music became a memorial in honor of the dead—each of six movements dedicated to a friend who had died on the front. Ravel began the piano version in 1914, completing it in 1917. In 1919 he chose 4 movements to orchestrate, and the brilliant, stylish suite premiered in Paris on 28 February 1920. Using the forms of the Baroque dance suite, Ravel wrote a graceful Prléude, a somewhat dissonant Forlane (a Northern Italian dance), a Menuet, and a Rigaudon (an old dance from Provence).
Ernest CHAUSSON Concert in D Major Op. 21 • 1889–1891
Neither a sextet nor a concerto, the lush Concert is deeply individual, dramatic, and resplendent, laden with new sonorities. It was dedicated to the Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe, who premiered it in Brussels in 1892 with pianist Auguste Pierret and members of the Ysaÿe Quartet. Ruthlessly self-critical and pessimistic, Chausson ruled it “Another failure!” But the Belgians thought otherwise, as revealed in his diary, “Never have I had such a success! I can’t get over it. Everyone seems to love the Concert.”
| May 14 Super Stars
BEETHOVEN Sextet in Eb Major Op. 81b • 1795, published 1810
The easygoing spirit of this early work, in an extension of the divertimento, leans on Mozart, but with Beethoven touches. Alexander Vogel in The Beethoven Companion feels “the development of the younger Beethoven as he proceeds from movement to movement. The last movement, Rondo, is one of his most beautiful compositions: a vigorous and rhythmical first subject foretells the magnificent Rondo of the Violin Concerto, and a haunting second subject gives it great profundity.”
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in D minor • date not known
In a review of Vadim’s performance of his transcription in 2006, Fred Kirshnit of the New York Sun wrote, “The challenge here is that Mendelssohn’s original violinist didn’t need to stop playing to breathe, whereas Mr. Lando, at least theoretically, had to take a breath sometime. He must be a very good underwater swimmer, however, as he was able to fashion long and extended runs and otherwise lyrical passages seamlessly. The piece is more than just juvenilia, sporting a solid sense of melodic development. After all, Felix composed it only three years before he penned ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ The final Allegro was one of those movements that express the German notion of authentic Gypsy music.”
BRAHMS Piano Quintet in F minor Op. 34 • 1864
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