Author Topic: Friedrich Gernsheim  (Read 1265 times)

Alan Howe

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Friedrich Gernsheim
« on: Friday 21 October 2011, 00:01 »
Then there's the very fine German composer Friedrich Gernsheim:

Friedrich Gernsheim (July 17, 1839 – September 10, 1916) was a German composer, conductor and pianist.
Gernsheim was born in Worms. He was given his first musical training at home under his mother's care, then starting from the age of seven under Worms' musical director, Louis Liebe, a former pupil of Louis Spohr. His father, a prominent Jewish physician, moved the family to Frankfurt am Main in the aftermath of the year of revolutions, 1848, where he studied with Edward Rosenhain, brother of Jakob Rosenhain. He made his first public appearance as a concert pianist in 1850 and toured for two seasons, then settled with his family in Leipzig, where he studied piano with Ignaz Moscheles from 1852. He spent the years 1855–1860 in Paris, meeting Gioacchino Rossini, Édouard Lalo and Camille Saint-Saëns.
His travels afterwards took him to Saarbrücken, where in 1861 he took the conductor post vacated by Hermann Levi; to Cologne, where in 1865 Ferdinand Hiller appointed him to the staff of the Conservatory (one of his pupils was Engelbert Humperdinck); he then served as musical director of the Philharmonic Society of Rotterdam, 1874-1890. In the latter year he became a teacher at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, and in 1897 moved there to teach at the Academy of Arts, where he was elected to the senate in 1897.
Gernsheim was a prolific composer, especially of orchestral, chamber and instrumental music, and songs. Some of his works tend to Jewish subject-matter, notably the Third Symphony on the legend of the Song of Miriam. His earlier works show the influence of Schumann, and from 1868, when he first became friendly with Brahms, a Brahmsian influence is very palpable. Gernsheim's four symphonies (the first of which was written before the publication of Brahms' First Symphony) are an interesting example of the reception of Brahmsian style by a sympathetic and talented contemporary. Gernsheim's last works, most notably his Zu einem Drama (1902), show him moving away from that into something more personal. He died in Berlin.

Selected Works:

Orchestral works:

Symphony no. 1 in G minor, op. 32, 1875
Symphony no. 2 in E♭ major, op. 46, 1882[2]
Symphony no. 3 in C minor ('Miriam' or 'Mirjam'), op. 54, 1887
Symphony no. 4 in B♭ major, op. 62, 1895[3]
Piano Concerto in C minor, op. 16
Violin Concerto no. 1 in D major, op. 42
Violin Concerto no. 2 in F, op. 86
Fantasy Piece for violin with orchestra, op. 33
Cello Concerto in E minor, op. 78
Zu einem drama, op. 82 (given a radio recording by Klaus Arp and the SWR Radio Orch.
Divertimento, op. 53

Chamber music:

String Quartet no. 1 in C minor, op. 25
String Quartet no. 2 in A minor, op. 31, 1875 (recorded on Audite)
String Quartet no. 3 in F major, op. 51, 1886
String Quartet no. 4 in E minor, op. 66
String Quartet no. 5 in A major, op. 83 (Republished recently by Walter Wollenweber-Verlag, pub. originally ca 1911.)
Piano Quartet no. 1 in E♭, op. 6
Piano Quartet no. 2 in C minor, op. 20 (Pub. ca. 1870.)
Piano Quartet no. 3 in F major, op. 47, 1883
Piano Quintet no. 1 in D minor, op. 35
Piano Quintet no. 2 in B minor, op. 63, pub. ca. 1897 (definitely by 1898)
String Quintet no. 1 in D major, op. 9
String Quintet no. 2 in E♭ major, op. 89 (premiered in Feb. 1916 and mentioned in the Neue Zeitschrift that year. Two-cello quintet. Given its modern premiere in 2003 along with his string trio op. 74.)
Violin sonata no. 1 in C minor, op. 4, pub. ca. 1864
Violin sonata no. 2 in C, op. 50, pub. ca. 1885
Violin sonata no. 3 in F, op. 64, pub. ca. 1898
Violin sonata no. 4 in G, op. 85
Piano trio no. 1 in F, op. 28
Piano trio no. 2 in B, op. 37
Two other piano trios, in manuscript (search at the Altenberg Trio site. #2 in B is in their repertoire.)
Cello sonata no. 1 in D minor, op. 12
Cello sonata no. 2 in E minor, op. 87[8]
Piano sonata in F minor, op. 1

Organ Works:

Fantasy and Fugue for Organ, op. 76

Choral works and orchestral works:

Salamis, for men's chorus and orchestra op. 10
Nibelungen wiederfahrt, op. 73
Nornen wiegenlied, op. 65
Agrippina, op. 77


Several Gernsheim CDs have now been released, but most of his works still remain unrecorded.

eschiss1

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Re: Friedrich Gernsheim
« Reply #1 on: Friday 21 October 2011, 04:36 »
depends on what criteria we're using- there are composers I've seen-but-not-heard I'd like to know more about like Philipp Wolfrum, just to name one.
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Alan Howe

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Re: Friedrich Gernsheim
« Reply #2 on: Friday 21 October 2011, 09:34 »
The symphonies are, to my mind, very fine works. Although starting in the Schumann-Brahms style, by the time Gernsheim reaches No.4 we find a work which, in its free-flowing lyricism and more discursive approach, is quite distinct from the work of his predecessors and contemporaries.

Lionel Harrsion

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Re: Friedrich Gernsheim
« Reply #3 on: Friday 21 October 2011, 17:55 »
The symphonies are, to my mind, very fine works. Although starting in the Schumann-Brahms style, by the time Gernsheim reaches No.4 we find a work which, in its free-flowing lyricism and more discursive approach, is quite distinct from the work of his predecessors and contemporaries.
I agree, Alan.  My interest in Gernsheim arose initially from what I've always regarded a most unlikely source: Widor, in his 'Technique de l'orchestre moderne...' illustrates a particular use of the timpani by quoting a passage from Gernsheim's 3rd Symphony which he commends for being 'singularly dramatic in energy' (translation by Edward Suddard).  This either shows an extraordinary breadth of experience on Widor's part or else Gernsheim's work was at one time better known in France than it probably is now!

eschiss1

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Re: Friedrich Gernsheim
« Reply #4 on: Friday 21 October 2011, 21:56 »
I'm under the impression it was better known in some countries (maybe Germany, Britain and the US) toward the end of his life than it is now- not that that would be difficult. Though more seriously, Gernsheim works played in Boston in the late 1800s / early 1900s included, I think, one of his violin concertos, a brief solo song, at least; Salamis by Gernsheim was performed in New York City in January 1905 (I think). (A Boston Symphony Orchestra programme viewable in the US here around page 1023 has a list of a number of works by Gernsheim up to 1910 and their premiere dates and performers as known at the time, by the way - e.g. Piano Quintet no.1 premiered Rotterdam July 10 1876 with composer as pianist; Piano Quintet no.2 premiered likewise Feb. 12 1897, composer as pianist, etc. Karl Piening, the cellist who gave the UK (at the Proms) and perhaps also the international premieres of Ewald Straesser's apparently now lost??? cello concerto in D, also gave the honors for Gernsheim's op.78 concerto in E minor (at Eisenach, Feb.16 1907, according to the same source.)
The occasion for all the detail is (1) because apparently they believed in detailed program-notes in those days and (2) the occasion itself was the Boston premiere of Gernsheim's Zu einem Drama (premiered Berlin, October 24 1910) (the Boston concert also with performances of Reger's Hiller Variations, Saint-Saëns' first cello concerto and Wagner's Tannhaüser-Overture. Heinrich Warnke- ah, have seen his name as composer I think! - was cellist in the Saint-Saëns, Max Fiedler conducted. January 27/28 1911. Philip Hale wrote the descriptive notes.
Many of these opinions subject to change without further notice.

eschiss1

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Re: Friedrich Gernsheim
« Reply #5 on: Friday 21 October 2011, 23:04 »
By the way, I noticed something heartening (to me) written in the comment section to the Mandelring quartet coupling of Brahms and Gernsheim quartets over at Amazon.com . Quoting and trying to keep fairly brief-

"I play violin and viola and upon hearing this recording I set out to find the music for the Gernsheim quartet - and was successful. I have played it twice ...with 2 different groups, both like it ... They [the 2nd ensemble] in particular, were very much won over by this dramatic work and are eager to play it again."
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ArturPS

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Re: Friedrich Gernsheim
« Reply #6 on: Friday 21 October 2011, 23:20 »
Not long I bought that arte nova cd and got a friend of mine to buy it too. I was telling him that I don't get the "he's copying Brahms" atitude twoards him. His first symphony predates Brahms' first and sounds very Brahmsian, so maybe, just maybe, they were children of their (same) age and background?

I really was impressed, the 4th is b-flat in all it's beautifulness :D

eschiss1

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Re: Friedrich Gernsheim
« Reply #7 on: Friday 21 October 2011, 23:53 »
Now if the 4th reminds me of anyone it's - for a moment - one of Berwald's symphonies (toward the opening of the finale of the former, I think.) Hrm. Must listen to the symphonies of both again. Yes. :)... (and so what if they didn't know each others' music- Gernsheim's music was a bit luckier than Berwald's briefly even at least in the US, as Berwald's 4th, I _think_, didn't get its US premiere until the 2nd half of the 20th century...)
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