Music Life News – 100th Birthday of Gottfried von Einem

Gottfried von Einem

Among the composer anniversaries of the year 2018 – Rossini, Debussy, Bernstein... – he is probably the least known composer today; in the 1950s and 1970s, however, he was one of the most frequently performed living composers: Gottfried von Einem. In 1918 he was born into a family of Austrian diplomats and military people. His Concerto for Orchestra Op. 4, premiered in 1944 by the young Herbert von Karajan, aroused the distrust of the National Socialist public because of its jazzy rhythm. You can find out more about his eventful life and his diverse work on the website of the Gottfried von Einem Music-Foundation, supplemented by numerous sound examples.

His international breakthrough came in 1947 when he premiered Dantons Tod (Danton’s Death) at the Salzburg Festival. The new production of this work about revolution and dictatorship at the Staatstheater am Gaertnerplatz in Munich can be seen until mid-November. In the summer, the Salzburg Festival (Austria) commemorated the composer closely associated with them during their lifetime with the Kafka opera Der Prozeß (The Trial).

In large parts, however, his music – further operas, ballets, four symphonies, solo concertos – which is always committed to an expanded tonality, rhythmically pointed and masterfully orchestrated – is still awaiting rediscovery. For oratorio choirs, the cantatas An die Nachgeborenen, Das Stundenlied after Brecht, the Hymnus an Goethe or the Missa Claravallensis would be worthwhile alternatives to the current repertoire.

His solo and chamber music, including five string quartets, and the numerous song cycles are also accessible to ambitious amateur musiciens.

Large choral works in reduced instrumentation

Carus - Reduzierte Besetzungen

The idea of the untouchable musical work of art is a child of the late 19th century. For centuries, the reworking of works and their adaptation to the circumstances of the respective performance was the norm.

Carus-Verlag takes up this pragmatic approach to masterpieces and offers a whole series of famous choral works with a reduced orchestral cast. This not only makes large works possible for smaller choirs - the new versions immerse the well-known works in an often refreshingly new sound.

The scope of the poems in the original ranges from a slightly reduced number of wind instruments (Haydn: The Creation) to chamber orchestra instrumentation (Brahms: Requiem and Schicksalslied, Dvořák: Stabat mater) to truly substantial revisions: While Bruckner’s Te Deum with brass quintet and organ suggests the power of the original version, Dvořák’s Mass in D with woodwind quintet offers a very chamber music sound. The most distant from the original is the imaginative arrangement of Verdi’s Requiem for only five musicians: horn, double bass, piano, marimba and percussion. The “blows of fate” of the bass drum, which are so characteristic of this work, must not, of course, be missing in this version either.

Lesser or hardly known works are also available in arrangements and may find their way into the repertoire: Rossini’s Stabat mater, Gounod’s Requiem or Puccini’s Messa di Gloria.

Both piano and choral scores can be used in all revisions, as well as combining the string parts of the original version.