Raff, Joachim (1822 - 1882)
MAGATAGAN, MICHAEL (1960 - )
|Copyright :||Public Domain|
|Added by magataganm, 14 Aug 2019|
Joseph Joachim Raff (1822 – 1882) was a German-Swiss composer, teacher and pianist born in Lachen in Switzerland. His father, a teacher, had fled there from Württemberg in 1810 to escape forced recruitment into the military of that southwestern German state that had to fight for Napoleon in Russia. Joachim was largely self-taught in music, studying the subject while working as a schoolmaster in Schmerikon, Schwyz and Rapperswil. He sent some of his piano compositions to Felix Mendelssohn who recommended them to Breitkopf & Härtel for publication. They were published in 1844 and received a favourable review in Robert Schumann's journal, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, which prompted Raff to go to Zürich and take up composition full-time.
Raff was very prolific, and by the end of his life was one of the best known German composers, though his work is largely forgotten today. (Only one piece, a cavatina for violin and piano, is performed with any regularity today, sometimes as an encore.) He drew influence from a variety of sources - his eleven symphonies, for example, combine the Classical symphonic form, with the Romantic penchant for program music and contrapuntal orchestral writing which harks back to the Baroque. Most of these symphonies carry descriptive titles including In the Forest (No. 3), Lenore (No. 5) and To the Fatherland (No. 1), a very large-scale work lasting around seventy minutes. His last four symphonies make up a quartet of works based on the four seasons. Arturo Toscanini conducted some performances of the Symphony No. 3 In the Forest in 1931.
The Douze Romances en form d'Études (Twelve Romances in the form of Etudes) op.8 are amongst the earliest of Raff's compositions. They owe their existence, as arguably does Raff's very career as a composer, to his friends the Curti brothers, Anton and Franz Alexander. When the 18 year old arrived in the Swiss lakeside town of Rapperswil in 1840 to take up his post as a schoolmaster, he was soon befriended by the pair, who came from a family established in the town. Anton was an opera singer who went on to become a noted Wagnerian, whilst his brother was a doctor. Between them they encouraged Raff's nascent musical ambitions.
By the autumn of 1843, when Raff wrote this set, he had become deeply dissatisfied with his teaching post and spent all his spare time absorbing the composer's craft and writing music. The Curtis had introduced him to Zürich's young kapellmeister Franz Abt and he too was enthusiastic about his new friend's talent. Between the three of them they managed to persuade Raff to write to his then idol Mendelssohn, including with his letter some of his compositions.
Mendelssohn's reply probably exceeded the young man's wildest hopes. He felt that Raff's talent was so promising that he should become a full-time musician. Mendelssohn not only praised the compositions, but reported that he had sent them on to his own publishers Breitkopf & Härtel with a recommendation that they be published by them. These "Twelve Romances in the form of Etudes" were amongst them.
Although originally designated as his op.10 by Raff, they were published by Breitkopf & Härtel in two volumes as op.8 in April 1845. Understandably, they were "respectfully dedicated" to Mendelssohn. Perhaps to appear the product of a more sophisticated author, the complete set boasted a French title and each Etude was given an Italian name. In May 1874, when Raff was at the peak of his popularity, Breitkopf & Härtel brought out a new edition which itself was republished after the composer's death in 1886.
They are naive and generally straightforward works which require little commentary, but there is a melodic freshness and straightforward charm to them which is very appealing. It's clear to see why Mendelssohn was so impressed by these products of a 21 year old who had never had (and was never to have) any formal musical training.
A barcarolle is a traditional folk song sung by Venetian gondoliers, or a piece of music composed in that style.
Source: Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Raff).
Although originally composed for Solo Piano, I created this Interpretation of the "Barcarola" from "Twelve Romances in the form of Etudes" (Op. 8 No. 7) for Wind Sextet (Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, English Horn, French Horn & Bassoon).
Download the sheet music here: https://musescore.com/user/13216/scores/5675599
|Sheet central :||12 Romances en forme d'études (4 sheet music)|