Author Topic: Robert Volkmann  (Read 2184 times)

Alan Howe

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Robert Volkmann
« on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 20:48 »
By popular demand....

Friedrich Robert Volkmann (6 April 1815 – 30 October 1883) was a German composer.

Life

He was born in Lommatzsch, Saxony, Germany. His father was a music director for a church, so he trained his son in music to prepare him as a successor. Thus Volkmann learned to play the organ and the piano with his father, as well as violin and cello, and by age 12 he was playing the cello part in String Quartets by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. In 1832 Robert Volkmann entered the Freiberg Gymnasium for the purpose of becoming a teacher. There he studied music with Anacker, who encouraged him to devote himself to music more fully. From there he went on to Leipzig in 1836 to study with Carl Friedrich Becker. In Leipzig he met Robert Schumann, who encouraged him in his studies. They met again several times after that.
When he finished his studies, he began working as voice teacher at a music school in Prague. He did not stay there long, and in 1841 he moved to Budapest where he was employed as a piano teacher and a reporter for the Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung. He composed in virtual obscurity until 1852, when his Piano Trio in B-flat minor caught the ears of Franz Liszt and Hans von Bülow, who proceeded to play it several times all over Europe. In 1854 Volkmann moved to Vienna, only to return to Budapest in 1858.
Thanks to the publisher Gustav Heckenast, who in 1857 bought the rights to publish all Volkmann's works in exchange for regular income regardless of sales, Volkmann was able to fully dedicate himself to composition, until Heckenast closed down his Budapest publishing house in the early 1870s.
While visiting Vienna in 1864, Volkmann became acquainted with Johannes Brahms, and they became close friends. In letters they addressed each other as "lieber Freund" ("dear friend").
In the 1870s Volkmann began winding down his life, composing very little. From 1875 until his death, Volkmann was professor of harmony and counterpoint at the National Academy of Music in Budapest. (Franz Liszt was the director there). Volkmann died in Budapest on 30 October 1883.

Compositions

Piano

Six Fantasy Pictures, Op. 1
Dythyrambe and Toccata, Op. 4
Souvenir de Maróth, Op. 6
Nocturne, Op. 8
Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 12
Buch der Lieder, Op. 17
Deutsche Tanzweisen, Op. 18
Cavatine, Op. 19/1
Barcarole, Op. 19/2
Ungarische Lieder, Op. 20
Visegrád, 12 musikalische Dichtungen (12 Musical Poems), Op. 21
Der Schwur (The Oath)
Waffentanz (Sword-Dance)
Beim Bankett (At the Banquet)
Minne (Love)
Blumenstück (Flower-Garden)
Brautlied (Wedding Song)
Die Wahrsagerin (The Sybil)
Pastorale
Das Lied can Helden (Song of Heroes)
Der Page (The Page)
Soliman
Am Salomonsthurm - Elegie (At Salomon's Tower - Elegy)
4 Marches, Op. 22
Wanderskizzen, Op. 23
Fantasia, Op. 25a
Intermezzo, Op. 25b
Variations on a Theme by Handel, Op. 26
Lieder der Grossmutter, Op. 27
3 Improvisations, Op. 36
Au tombeau du Comte Széchenyi – Fantaisie, Op. 41
Ballade, Op. 51/1
Scherzetto, Op. 51/2
Variationes Humoris Causa
Variations on the Rheinweinlied
Capricietto

Piano, four hands

Ungarische Skizzen for piano, four hands, Op. 24
Lieder der Großmutter for piano, four hands, Op. 27

2 pianos

‘In der Mühle’ , Op. 11/1
‘Der Postillon’ , Op. 11/2
‘Die Russen kommen’ , Op. 11/3
‘Auf dem See’ , Op. 11/4
‘Der Kuckuck und der Weihnachtsmann’ , Op. 11/5
‘Der Schäfer’ , Op. 11/6
7 ungarische Skizzen (7 Hungarian Sketches)
Zum Empfange
Das Fischermädchen
Ernster Gang
Junges Blut
In der Kapelle
Ritterstück
Unter der Linde
Die Tageszeiten, Op. 39
3 Marches, Op. 40
Rondino and March Caprice, Op. 55
Sonatina for 2 Pianos, Op. 57

Chamber music

Romance in E major for Violin and Piano, Op. 7
Chant du Troubadour, Op. 10
Allegretto capriccioso for Violin and Piano, Op. 15
Rhapsody for Violin and Piano, Op. 31
Sonatina No. 1 for Violin and Piano, Op. 60
Sonatina No. 2 for Violin and Piano, Op. 61
Capriccio for Cello and Piano, Op. 74
Piano Trio No. 1 in F major, Op. 3
Piano Trio No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 5
String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 9
String Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 14
String Quartet No. 3 in G major, Op. 34
String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 35
String Quartet No. 5 in F minor, Op. 37
String Quartet No. 6 in E flat major, Op. 43
Trio for Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 76
Andante mit Variationen for Three Cellos
Romanza for Trumpet, Horn and Euphonium

Orchestra

Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 44
Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 53
Konzertstück for piano and orchestra, Op. 42
Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 33
An die Nacht, Fantasiestück for Viola and Orchestra, Op. 45
Fest-Ouvertüre for Orchestra, Op. 50
Serenade No. 1 in C for String Orchestra, Op. 62
Serenade No. 2 in F, Op. 63
Richard III, Overture for Orchestra, Op. 68
Serenade No. 3 in D for String Orchestra, Op. 69
Overture in C major for Orchestra

Choral Music

Mass No. 1 in D major, Op. 28
Mass No. 2 in A flat major, Op. 29
6 Songs, Op. 30
Offertorium: Osanna domino Deo, Op. 47
3 Songs, Op. 48
2 Songs, Op. 58
Weihnachtslied, Op. 59
Altdeutscher Hymnus, Op. 64
Kirchenarie, Op. 65
2 Songs, Op. 70
3 Hochzeitslieder, Op. 71
2 Works, Op. 75
Ich Halte Ihr Die Augen Zu
Abendlied

Lieder

5 Songs, Op. 2
3 Gedichte, Op. 13
3 Songs, Op. 16
3 Songs, Op. 32
3 Songs, Op. 38
Songs, Op. 36
Sappho, Op. 49
3 Songs, Op. 52
Vom Hirtenknaben, Op. 56/1
Erinnerung, Op. 56/2
3 Songs, Op. 66
6 Duets, Op. 67
3 Songs, Op. 72
An die Nacht

Alan Howe

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 20:53 »
Quite a lot of Volkmann's music has been recorded. For me his best music is to be found in his 1st Symphony, which clearly influenced Borodin's 2nd (compare the opening pages!) It is a fine score, vital, propulsive and full of memorable music - absolutely worthy of revival today. For audio excerpts, follow this link (tracks 2 -5 for the Symphony):
http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/SESSIONID/14b4acb310a945e850299f20f7bd5e58/cpo/detail/-/art/Robert-Volkmann-1815-1883-S%E4mtliche-Orchesterwerke/hnum/6019596

britishcomposer

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    • Andrew Young (1885-1971)
Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 21:11 »
You are right, Alan, the 1st is a remarkable work - even if I risk to rouse uproar: I prefer it to any Draeseke symphony. But I like the 2nd, too. It is lighter in mood and structure but nonetheless truly inspired music.

Is there any evidence, that Borodin actually KNEW the Volkmann 1st? Of course, it sounds as if he did but it would be nice to know if he really did!

BTW, the cpo cover states to present the complete orchestral works. That's wrong - as a glance at your worklist shows. Strange that they didn't consider a modern recording of the Konzertstück for piano op 42. The old one, from LP I think, clearly shows its age...

Alan Howe

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 22:40 »
Volkmann's Symphony No.1 was given its Russian premiere in Moscow in 1864, so it's entirely possible that Borodin knew the work...

For me, Volkmann is not as original a composer as Draeseke, but then he really belongs to the previous generation. A better comparison would be with his contemporary Rufinatscha and here again I think Rufinatscha is ahead of Volkmann in originality (the former reaches his symphonic maturity in the 1840s with his 5th Symphony). Nevertheless, I think that Volkmann 1 is a very fine piece and ought to be in the concert repertoire today.

eschiss1

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 23:15 »
Tchaikovsky definitely did know at least one of the Volkmann symphonies and it is believed to have influenced either his own first or second symphony?... (hrm. at least if memory serves. Until I can confirm that should remove "definitely" there!)... but Tchaikovsky does mention playing through one of Volkmann's serenades (at the piano? with string orchestra? not sure.) in a letter May 21/June 2 1878 to von Meck. (This from an early edition of Tchaikovsky's letters available online.)
Many of these opinions subject to change without further notice.

britishcomposer

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    • Andrew Young (1885-1971)
Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #5 on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 23:18 »
Volkmann's Symphony No.1 was given its Russian premiere in Moscow in 1864, so it's entirely possible that Borodin knew the work...

Ah, fine! Borodin copied from Volkmann, de Boeck copied from Borodin, now we have to find the one who copied from de Boeck! ;)  ;D

(Yes, I remember having read a review by Tchaikovsky.)

eschiss1

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 23:21 »
I first heard of Volkmann in the back-page catalog of an International Music publication (maybe a Bach cello suite transcribed for viola) where it mentioned several of his string serenades available from them; I knew Tchaikovsky's well from a recording (and was later to try to play it in a small string ensemble), so this caught my eye particularly, though it was awhile before I heard any of his music, I think.
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Alan Howe

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #7 on: Saturday 22 October 2011, 23:21 »
Volkmann clearly inspired a lot of music!
Seriously, though, he was a very fine composer and should be much better known today.

Leo K

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #8 on: Sunday 04 March 2012, 20:02 »
I'm listening to the CPO set of Volkmann's orchestral works, and absolutely love what I'm hearing!

 8)

Alan Howe

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #9 on: Sunday 04 March 2012, 22:16 »
I'm very glad. Volkmann's best music should certainly be re-admitted to the modern-day concert repertoire.

Peter1953

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #10 on: Monday 05 March 2012, 20:38 »
And his chamber music, the string quartets and piano trios, are really superb. I strongly recommend these magnificent works (all from cpo). You’ll love it!
"Voyez mon ami, l'essentiel dans la musique c'est la mélodie" - Gioacchino Rossini

petershott@btinternet.com

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #11 on: Monday 05 March 2012, 21:00 »
Seconded! Volkmann was the first vaguely 'unsung' composer I encountered 15 or so years ago. And it was the desire to acquire recordings of every single work by Volkmann that got me into the habit of devising all kinds of flimsy excuses to go visiting sometimes very distant record shops (all now closed down) and scouring every inch of shelf and grubbing around in deletions bins. Heavens, wonder how many hours in my life has been devoted to the task!

But, yes, Volkmann was a terrific find - and how sad it is that I've never seen his music - orchestral or chamber - included within a concert programme in the UK. There are some composers who seem destined to have an existence solely within a domestic record player or CD player, and that is a considerable shame. It is no more than an impression, but I always think that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with far fewer concerts and orchestras there was in fact a far greater variety in works performed. True or false?

eschiss1

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #12 on: Monday 05 March 2012, 21:56 »
It seems the last time a Volkmann work was programmed at the Proms was 1904 (and only one other time, in 1899- the Serenade No.3 both times, according to the Proms Archive site). Still, something may have been performed elsewhere more recently, will check I think... Bachtrack.com doesn't turn up anything anywhere this year but that's hardly complete.
Many of these opinions subject to change without further notice.

sdtom

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #13 on: Saturday 31 August 2013, 03:06 »
It sure sounds like Borodin was influenced by Volkmann. Until I picked up this CPO recording the only experience I had with Volkmann was the Overture to Richard III on the Battle Music Naxos recording. I've listened to the 1st Symphony all day and haven't even gotten to the other CD in the set. It is a wonderful work worthy of being performed. People would really like it.
Tom :)

eschiss1

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Re: Robert Volkmann
« Reply #14 on: Saturday 31 August 2013, 03:48 »
Ah, I find a PDF from a group that gave what they call the "London "premiere""- second pair of quotes theirs - of Volkmann's B-flat minor trio back in 1995... (search on e.g. Google for Volkmann 1995 trio, or something like that. The group seems to be called The Chamber Music Society...
Many of these opinions subject to change without further notice.