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ClassicsOnline Home » HERMANN, F.: Capriccios Nos. 1-3 / Grand Duo Brillant / Suite for 3 Violins / EICHHORN, J.P.: Variations (F. and A. Eichhorn, Kuppel, Hulshoff)
The prolific composer, arranger, editor and author of an influential manual, Friedrich Valentin Hermann is well known to violin and viola students to this day though his technically demanding music is rarely heard in concert despite its appealingly virtuosic Romanticism. Paganini was enthralled by the ability of the young prodigy Johann Paul Eichhorn, whose elegant and equally virtuosic variations receive their world première recording. Friedemann Eichhorn’s Naxos recording of Pierre Rode’s violin concertos (8.570469) has received high critical praise, while his recording with Alexander Hülshoff of Servais’s Grand Duos (8.572188) was ‘urgently recommended’ by Fanfare.
Friedrich Hermann (1828–1907)
Friedrich Valentin Hermann, violinist/violist and composer, was born on 1 February 1828 in the German city of Frankfurt am Main. He entered the Conservatory of Music in Leipzig (from 1876-1924 known as the Royal Conservatory of Music and today known as the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Hochschule for Music and Theatre) in November 1843 and studied with Moritz Hauptmann, Niels Wilhelm Gade, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and Ferdinand David. The Conservatory, the oldest in Germany, was founded in 1843 by Mendelssohn and Hauptmann, so Hermann was one of the first students of this illustrious institution. David, one of the foremost violinists of the time, later wrote that Hermann had worked diligently and with “good conduct” and that he deserved “the highest praise”. Though Hermann studied the violin and most of his editing work involved the violin, he was also an excellent violist. In 1846 he left the Conservatory to become First Violist of the Leipzig Orchestra, and he also played in various theatre orchestras. In 1847 he joined the Conservatory as a Professor (one of the first of its students to become a professor), and he remained at the Conservatory until his death. Besides his work with the Conservatory and the Orchestra, Hermann was a member of the Gewandhaus Quartet. In 1878, in order to devote himself to teaching, composing, and editing, he resigned all appointments except the Conservatory. His work as editor is well known. He edited classical violin works for both Peters and Augener, including compositions by Kreutzer, Bériot and Rode, and his cadenzas for some of these works are quite inventive. He was named Royal Saxon Professor in 1883 and died on 27 September 1907.
Hermann was present at the creation of one of the great European music institutions, the Conservatory of Music in Leipzig. David and Mendelssohn both had connections to the older French violin school of Kreutzer, Viotti and Rode, and Hermann showed the greatest respect for this school by editing numerous French school works. He edited many other composers as well, including Bériot, Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tartini, Haydn, Schubert, and many more. Though not primarily known as a composer, he composed a symphony, a quartet for wind instruments, and various other works. His own works betray his romantic tendencies, and display the new virtuoso style that was part and parcel of nineteenth-century string-playing. As befits a lifelong teacher, perhaps the best known of his works are his Violin School and his studies. His music is always well-constructed, and displays an affinity for the early Romanticism of the nineteenth century. His great clarity of texture is reminiscent of his great teacher Mendelssohn.
The works included here show Hermann’s love of the violin—surely there are few violin trios in the literature—yet the interweaving of three similar timbres comes across remarkably well, as is evidenced by this recording. The Burlesque in G major, Op. 9 was published in 1857 by Kistner in Leipzig, and the score is dedicated to Fréderic, Sophie, and Victor Ráczek. These three violinists are mentioned in The Musical World of 27 May 1854: “A concert was given in Herr Seuffert’s Rooms for the benefit of the little violinists Fréderic, Sophie, and Victor Ráczek, pupils of Herr J. Hellmesberger, artistic director of the Conservatory [Vienna]…They created a furore.” Apparently Hermann was quite taken with the “little” Ráczeks as well; certainly this piece was written for their performance. After a vigorous Allegro vivace introduction, an Allegretto presents a well-known Viennese folk-tune (Oh, du lieber Augustin), played pizzicato. A series of variations follows, an Allegro moderato, an Andante in harmonics, a sharply marked Moderato assai, a pulsating Lento (ending with harmonics again), and a brilliant Presto conclusion.
The Capriccio for Three Violins, Op. 2, was published in 1855 by Peters in Leipzig. The piece was first performed ten years earlier on 2 December 1845 at the Leipzig Conservatory during a showcase of student talent, Hermann himself playing the third violin part. The piece opens with an Adagio introduction in 3/4 time. The following Allegro molto in 4/4 time features a frantic theme in triplets, which eventually gives way to a dolce tune. These two elements both return; ascending scale passages lead to extended trills and a brilliant conclusion.
The Capriccio for Three Violins, Op. 5, published in 1856 by Peters in Leipzig, opens with a short rhythmic introduction (the entire piece is marked Allegro molto) before a theme in quavers wends its busy way. A more legato theme makes its appearance, as does a sprightly contrasting theme. This material slows down to a full stop on a fermata rest before the furious pace is renewed, only pausing before the furious conclusion for a con espressione passage.
The Capriccio for Three Violins, Op. 13, published in 1859 by Peters in Leipzig, begins with an ornate and lengthy Andantino. The succeeding Allegro scherzando has a graceful character in both its scherzo theme and in a more sweetly-sung tune. After an animato section, the opening materials return and conclude in a blaze of glory.
Hermann’s Grand Duo Brillant for Violin and Cello, Op. 12, was published in 1858 by Kistner in Leipzig and dedicated to one of the great violinists and composers of the mid-nineteenth century, Louis Spohr. This work consists of three movements. The first movement, Allegro con fuoco, begins with a vigorous thrusting theme, which soon gives way to an espressivo section in which the instruments take turns accompanying the expressive material. These materials are reworked until a double-stopped molto marcato ending. The second movement Adagio is a soulful meditative piece that has the instruction espressivo no fewer than six times in the score. The middle section features double-stops (tremolo against the melody), and the movement ends tenderly and quietly. The third movement, a vigorous Allegro moderato, begins with an upward thrusting theme that alternates with more lyrical material. The movement ends with a flourish.
Suite for Three Violins, Op. 17, contains five movements of diverse character. The opening Grave, marked Energico, ed appassionato, ma in tempo moderato, opens with a passionate fortissimo outburst. The drama is maintained throughout, though with lyrical interludes, and the movement ends as it began—fortissimo. The second movement, Scherzo, begins with light-footed pizzicati, over which a fleet bowed melody runs at a vivace pace. A passionate middle section appears before the return of the opening material. The third movement, Canzonetta, is marked Allegretto tranquillo, and features a beautiful florid melody. The fourth movement, Giocoso, is a happy rollicking movement whose two repeated sections are full of good humour. The fifth movement, Marcia funebre e Presto, begins with a lugubrious muted funeral march in 2/4 time. The mutes come off in the following Presto section. The manic character of the Presto is interrupted by two cadenzas, which lead to a revival of the muted funeral march. The Presto returns, and this time has the last word.
– Bruce Schueneman
Johann Paul Eichhorn (1787–1861)
The Eichhorn family of musicians originated in Coburg in Oberfranken, Germany. Johann Paul Eichhorn was born in 1787 in the village of Neuses near Coburg, the son of a linen-weaver. Even though music played an important rôle in the Eichhorns’ life from very early on, after his confirmation Johann Paul Eichhorn learned the trade of linen-weaving and worked as a weaver until his twentieth year. At the same time he showed evidence of a particular musical talent and taught himself the violin so that he could play dance music with village musicians. At the age of twenty he was called up for military service in Coburg. His aim was to obtain a posting with the military band, so he took lessons in horn and trombone.
In 1810 Johann Paul Eichhorn was appointed ‘hautboist’ of the court chapel, where however he played mostly trombone and bass horn. For the latter instrument he wrote various works which he often performed later in concerts with his children. After his marriage to Margarete Elisabeth Mann a son, Johann Gottfried Ernst, was born in 1822. After Margarete’s death Eichhorn remarried, in 1823. He had five children by Margarete Elisabeth Wittig, among them Johann Carl Eduard, who was born in 1823. The brothers Ernst and Eduard were both musically very gifted. They were taught by their father and were soon spoken of as “violinist child prodigies”. As early as May 1828 they gave their first public concert. With their first concert tour, in 1829 through Bavaria, there began a busy period of travelling which, in the years that followed, saw them giving concerts to the English King and the Russian Tsar.
The Eichhorn children gave concerts in the principal cities of Europe, and in 1829 played to Nicolò Paganini when he gave a concert in Coburg. Paganini was so enthralled that he performed together with them at the court of Duke Ernst of Coburg, but his plan to take the children on tour with him came to nothing. In 1832 the Eichhorn brothers, now aged eight and nine, performed in Kassel for Louis Spohr, who spoke enthusiastically of their prowess. In 1833 the young boys appeared before the Pope and afterwards the eleven-year old Ernst was appointed Ducal Chamber Virtuoso in Coburg. In 1836 the accolade Court Musician was conferred on his brother. The child prodigies gave concerts until 1837 when Ernst’s poor health put an end to touring. From then on they worked at the Ducal Chapel Royal, with Ernst as leader and soloist, and Eduard as second violin. Later on the other Eichhorn brothers, Albrecht and Alexander, were also appointed to the Chapel Royal and played various instruments. Together with the townspeople of Coburg Ernst and Eduard founded a music society which existed until 2002.
Ernst Eichhorn died on 16 June 1844, at the age of only 22. His father, John Paul Eichhorn, died on 28 April 1861. After Ernst’s death Eduard Eichhorn played for several decades at the court theatre, as leader. Both he and his brother Alexander played in the first performance of The Ring of the Nibelungen at Bayreuth. Eduard died on 3 August 1897.
The works of Johann Paul Eichhorn, recorded here for the first time, were written at the beginning of the 1830s for his children Ernst and Eduard and were published by the Parisian firm of Launer. One can well imagine what an impression the children must have made with these showpieces. While the viola, played at that time by their father, is confined to a harmonically accompanying rôle, the violins develop the respective themes in ever more virtuosic transformations. Apart from tenths and fingered octaves there is scarcely a violinistic device which is not deployed. It is only then that one realises that these works were to be performed by the hands of children. And are the Eichhorn brothers related to my family, which also hails from Franconia? No, alas …
– Friedemann Eichhorn
Translated by David Stevens
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HERMANN, F.: Capriccios Nos. 1-3 / Grand Duo Brill...