Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
Sat December 5, 2009
Works by Ignaz Brull and Walter Burle Marx
Works by German-Jewish Composer Ignaz Brull and German-Brazilian Composer Walter Burle Marx
On this hundredth anniversary of the Fleisher Collection, we'll hear some of the first music that Mr. Fleisher put on the shelves, and a world premiere that's only a couple of months old.
Ignaz Br?ll (1846-1907), Overture to Macbeth, Op. 46 (1884), Karelia State Philharmonic Orchestra, Denis Vlasenko, conductor
Walter Burle Marx (1902-1990), Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1982), Dennis Parker, cello, Louisiana State University Symphony Orchestra, Carlos Riazuelo, conductor
Br?ll: Serenade No. 1, Op. 29 (1876), movements 4 and 5, Belarussian State Symphony Orchestra, Marius Stravinksy, conductor
In 1929, when Edwin Fleisher decided to step back from the running of the Symphony Club (which he had founded in 1909), he gave all of his music to the Free Library. Along with chamber music and books were over 3,000 orchestral titles, with full scores and complete sets of parts. He decided that the best way to catalog these was "by acquisition," library-speak meaning the first item to be cataloged becomes #1, the second #2, and so on. It's a good solution for a limited-access collection of similar items, since in the Dewey Decimal System all orchestral music would start with the same number. It makes even more sense now, since the Fleisher Collection has grown to over 21,000 titles!
Near the top of the to-be-cataloged stack was Ignaz Brull, whose Macbeth became Fleisher #60, and whose first Serenade came in at #263. (The Symphony No. 5, "Leonore," of Joachim Raff is #1: now you know.) Brull is a perfect example of the unjustly neglected composer. He did achieve a level of fame, mainly from his opera Das goldene Kreuz, which continued to be performed until the Nazi ban on Jewish composers, years after his death. He had been a concert pianist, and later taught at and then ran a piano school in Vienna. His home became a center of Viennese musical society, with he and his wife often hosting parties including Mahler, Hanslick, Goldmark, and a close friend, Johannes Brahms.
His Macbeth is a concert overture, not an operatic one. Here, Brull is in fine command of the orchestral and emotional palette. The earlier Serenade was his first success in the orchestral realm, bringing his name to the attention of many people. We hope that these recordings will re-open appreciation of his music yet again.
Walter Burle Marx always went by the name Burle Marx. At least, that's how he signed his scores. And that's how he's known at the Fleisher Collection, where he was once a frequent visitor. Born in Sao Paulo to a German father and Brazilian mother, he was the older brother of the famous landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Like Brull, Burle Marx concertized as a pianist in Europe. However, it was as a conductor presenting Brazilian music at the 1939 New York World's Fair that American audiences were first introduced to him. Burle Marx came to the U.S. permanently in 1952, moving to Philadelphia to teach piano and composition at the famed Settlement Music School.
His many works in all forms are meticulously crafted. His language is warm and energetic, often flashing with humor. This concerto ravishes. Dennis Parker has made it his own, the live recording from this past October convincing us in its passion. From the earliest boxes on the shelves to the latest recordings, Edwin A. Fleisher continues to have an impact in the world of orchestral music.