top of page

Ensemble Émigré and EchoSpore concerts in London, Solingen and Cologne

Updated: Jan 4

On November 26 (New North London Synagogue), December 3 (Zentrum für Verfolgte Künste Solingen and December 4 (Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln) 2023, Ensemble Émigré teamed up with the Echo Spore project at the HfMT Köln, led by Prof. Florence Millet, to perform a programme of works by composers who fled the Nazis and had strong links to Britain.


All photos by Daniela Tobias/Zentrum für verfolgte Künste Solingen

Performers from left to right: Yu-Chin Ho, piano, Sarah Yang, violin, Florence Millet, piano, Simon Brown, tenor, Archie Bonham, piano, Michael Foyle, violin, Norbert Meyn, tenor, Christopher Gould, piano


Simon Brown, tenor and Archie Bonham, piano, Royal College of Music


Sarah Yang, violin and Yu-Chin Ho, piano, HfMT Köln


Norbert Meyn and Christopher Gould, Ensemble Émigré


Michael Foyle and Florence Millet, Echo Spore/HfMT Köln


The Royal College of Music exhibition 'Music, Migration and Mobility - The Legacy of Émigré Musicians from Nazi Europe in Britain' was on display at all three venues.


Programme:

 

Part I

 

Maria Herz 

Tide rises, arranged for Violin and Piano

Pfade zur Welt, arranged for Violin and Piano

Violin Sonata (2nd movement, Andante mit Variationen)

Performed by Sarah Yang, violin and Yu-Chin Ho, piano (current students at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln)

 

Fritz Berend

Vier Lieder aus den Gaselen (Gottfried Keller)

1 Nun schmücke mir dein dunkles Haar             

2 Wenn schlanke Lilien wandelten                                                           

3 Perlen der Weisheit                                                         

4 Berge dein Haupt                                                                        

 

Mátyás Seiber

Invocation                                                                                                     

 

Hans Gál

Barbed Wire Song                                      

Keep fit                                                                                                         

 

Joseph Horovitz

Zum 11. März (Theodor Körner)                                                                                       

Performed by Simon Brown, tenor and Archie Bonham, piano

(current students at Royal College of Music, London)


INTERVAL

 

PART 2

 

Joseph Horovitz

Was die Kleine Will (O.J.Bierbaum)

Klage des Weisen (O.J.Bierbaum)

 

Peter Gellhorn       

Autumn (Walter de la Mare)

 

Fritz Berend 

Erhebung (R. Dehmel)

Der erste Mai (Fr.v.Hagedorn)      

Zeit bringt Rosen (Volkslied)                                                         

Performed by Norbert Meyn, tenor and Christopher Gould, piano              

 

Adolf Busch          

Suite in G Minor Op.38 for Violin and Piano                 

1 Praeludium

2 Allegro vivace

3 Andante e cantabile

 4 Adagio - Presto

Performed by Michael Foyle, violin and Florence Millet, piano         

 

Robert Kahn             

Wie eine Windesharfe (G.Hauptmann, Op 27, 1)

Liebesbrief (Ch. Morgenstern, Op. 31, 2)                                                           

Purpurschimmer tränket die Rebenhügel (G.Hauptmann, Op 27, 5)

Ständchen (Schack, Op 12, 2)

Idyll (Falke, Op. 52, 1)

Liebestrost (Klett, Op. 42, 10)

Performed by Norbert Meyn, tenor and Christopher Gould, piano

                                   

Robert Kahn         

Violin Sonata No 2 in A Minor                                          

1 Allegro

2 Moderato-Adagio ma non troppo

3 Allegro man non troppo ma con fuoco e poco a capriccio

Performed by Michael Foyle, violin and Florence Millet, piano

 

Programme notes by Norbert Meyn


The lives and music of all composers represented in this programme were significantly affected by the rise and catastrophic rule of the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, which caused them to flee to Britain and the US and disrupted their flourishing careers and creativity. In many cases it also caused their works to remain hidden. It is with a spirit of respect and excited curiosity that we seek to re-discover their music and celebrate their creative achievements today.

 

Maria Herz (1878-1950) was born into an affluent family of textile producers in Cologne, Germany and received a private musical education from leading teachers at the Cologne Conservatory. In 1901 she married the chemist Albert Herz and soon after moved with him to England (Bradford), where she continued her pursuit of composition. While visiting Cologne in 1914 the family (now with four children) was prevented from returning to Britain at the outbreak of the war. After the death of her husband in 1920, Maria Herz added his first name Albert to her name to aid her progress as a composer. The following period was her most productive as a composer, and her late romantic and early modernist works were widely performed. Then, in 1935, she was forced to leave Germany and found refuge in Birmingham, where she lived in exile during the war. She then moved to the US to be with her daughters and died there in 1950 at the age of 72. (source: https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/resistance-and-exile/maria-herz/)

 

Few of her works were ever published, but her manuscripts are available through the Maria Herz collection at Zürich Central Library. For tonight’s concert we have chosen the songs TIDE RISES and PFADE ZUR WELT (arranged for violin and piano) and the second movement of her VIOLIN SONATA. Sadly it is difficult to find the precise dates of her compositions.

 

Fritz Berend (1889-1955) was born in Hannover as the son of a distinguished lawyer and an actress. He studied cello, piano, musicology, philosophy and art history in Munich and completed his doctorate in 1913, becoming assistant to Bruno Walter at the Munich Opera. During the First World War he served as an officer in the German army, and afterwards began a successful career as a conductor of opera and symphonic repertoire at Kaiserslautern, Hagen and Osnabrück and Münster, where he became principal conductor and artistic director. In 1933 he was removed from his positions by the Nazis, but with the support of his musicians was able to continue his work in Münster until 1936. He then moved to Berlin, where he was able to conduct the Kulturbund Orchestra. In 1938, he and his non-Jewish fiancé Isabelle Dieck emigrated first to Italy and then to Britain, where they were married in 1940. During and after WW2, Berend founded two orchestras with émigré musicians, conducted operas and concerts in Hampstead and around the UK and appeared at the National Gallery concerts. From 1951-53 he was guest conductor of the Carl Rosa Opera company, and chief conductor of Welsh National Opera 1953-54, an appointment cut short by illness. (Source: LexM University of Hamburg).

 

Berend’s VIER LIEDER AUS DEN GASELEN, most likely stem from the 1920s. They are settings of poems from the Gaselen collection by Gottfried Keller. Gaselen are poems that follow a particular rhyme pattern first seen in arabic poetry. 

 

The composer Mátyás Seiber (1905-1960) was born in Budapest, where he attended the Ferenc Liszt Consevatory, studying Cello with Adolf Schiffer and composition with Zoltán Kodály. In 1925 he took up a position as a cellist on a cruise ship in the Americas where he became acquainted with Jazz. Returning to Frankfurt, he became the director of the first Jazz department in a German conservatoire from 1928-33. In 1930, Seiber began experimenting with the twelve-tone composition technique. Due to antisemitic persecution, in 1935 he emigrated to the United Kingdom, where he became a highly productive and versatile composer, writing acclaimed chamber music as well as ballets, comic operas, chamber music, and film scores. From 1942 Seiber was a composition teacher at Morley College in London, where he was highly respected. He was killed in a car accident in Kruger National Park in 1960 while on a lecture tour of South Africa.

 

His song INVOCATION, based on a text translated from the German poet Goethe, opens the song cycle ‘To Poetry’, written for the tenor Peter Pears (partner of Benjamin Britten) in 1952. (Source: https://www.rcm.ac.uk/singingasong/)

 

Having studied composition with Eusebius Mandyczewskz in Vienna, Hans Gál (1890-1987) went on to lecture at Vienna University for a decade from 1919. In his native Austria and in neighbouring Germany he was a successful composer, with many of his works for orchestra, opera, chamber groups and choir being widely performed. He became director of the Konservatorium Mainz in 1929 and returned to Vienna after being removed from his post by the Nazis in 1933. From there he was forced to emigrate in 1938, moving his family to the UK. Gál and found employment in Edinburgh through the help of British musicologist Sir Donald Tovey. After the war he moved back to Edinburgh where he became a highly respected professor at the University. He continued to compose until his death in 1987 and wrote more than half of his oevre in the UK. His music has enjoyed renewed interest in recent years, and much of it has been recorded. (Source: RCM)

 

In 1940 Gál, like most German and Italian refugees in Britain, was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, where he wrote his diary entitled ‘Musik hinter Stacheldraht’ as well as the bilingual comic revue ‘What a Life!’, a parody on the life in the seaside camps where the seagulls could fly free but Jewish and other refugees were held in boarding houses behind a double barbed wire fence. This fact is lamented in the BARBED WIRE SONG. The second song from the revue in this programme, KEEP FIT, makes fun of the exercise sessions that took place behind the barbed wire every morning. (Source: https://www.rcm.ac.uk/singingasong/)

  

Joseph Horovitz (1926-2022) was born in Vienna and emigrated to England with his family in 1938. After completing a BMus at Oxford, he studied with Gordon Jacob at RCM and later with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. His compositions range widely from ballets, one-act operas, concertos and chamber music, through to pieces for brass, wind bands and choral works. He has also written many Son et Lumière, and over seventy scores for television. Horovitz was a Fellow of the Royal College of Music and received two Ivor Novello awards. In 2002 he received the Nino Rota Prize of Italy, and in 2007 he was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art First Class. (Source: https://www.rcm.ac.uk/singingasong/)

 

For many years, Horovitz did not feel inclined to set German texts to music. Finally, in 1995, he was persuaded to do so by the Austrian musicologist Christian Heindl, to whom the song ZUM 11. MÄRZ is dedicated. The text, an early 19th century poem by Theodor Körner, speaks of a faithful and loving singer who finds his way back to the distant house of the father. The two jovial Bierbaum settings WAS DIE KLEINE WILL and KLAGE DES WEISEN (performed after the interval), were composed around the same time. These three songs remain the composer’s only settings of German texts.

 

Born in Breslau, Peter Gellhorn (1912-2004) studied piano, conducting and composition at Hochschule für Musik Berlin, receiving the institution’s gold medal for outstanding achievement in 1932. A year after finishing his studies he was forced to emigrate to the UK where he became musical director at Toynbee Hall, East London until 1939. In 1940 he was interned, first in Warth Mills (Bury) and then on the Isle of Man, where he became engaged in musical activities. After his release he moved back to London where he worked as the repetiteur for Sadler's Wells Opera. He became a conductor at Covent Garden from 1946–1953, and repetiteur and chorus master at Glyndebourne Opera from 1954–1961. From 1961, Peter worked extensively as a chorus master at the BBC. Aside from working with singers, he was a highly respected teacher and enjoyed chamber music. His compositions and legacy were the subject of an AHRC-funded research project at the RCM in 2016.

 

Gellhorn wrote the haunting song AUTUMN to commemorate his friend Inge Kamphausen, who helped him escape to Britain and was later tragically killed in the bombing of Dresden. (Source: https://www.rcm.ac.uk/singingasong/)

 

Robert Kahn (1865-1951) had early success as a composer partially due to support from Joseph Joachim, Hans von Bülow, Clara Schumann and especially Johannes Brahms, who helped him considerably in Vienna in 1887. Having completed his studies he became a repetiteur at Leipzig Opera and from 1893 – 1930 was a highly respected teacher at the Königliche Hochschule für Musik and the Akademie der Künste (The Prussian Academy of the Arts) in Berlin. As a pianist he partnered with some of the greatest performers of his time, including the baritone Johan Messchaert and the violinist Adolf Busch. Friendships connected Kahn with the poets Gerhard Hauptmann and Christian Morgenstern. As a composer of Lieder, chamber and choral music he was a widely performed and published by major publishers until his vilification by the Nazis, who removed him from his position at the Akademie in 1934. In 1935 he began his extraordinary musical diary, the Tagebuch in Tönen, writing several short piano pieces per week. In 1939, when he was 73 years old, Robert Kahn and his wife Katharina emigrated to the UK, where he lived in Biddenden, Kent and Ashted, Surrey. Here he wrote the lion’s share of his Tagebuch, which by the time of his death in 1951 amounted to 1160 pieces. (Source: https://www.rcm.ac.uk/singingasong/)

 

Our selection of LIEDER by Robert Kahn, all written in the late 19th century, gives but a glimpse of his prolific output of over 300 songs. His immaculate taste for poetry and deep understanding of the art form in the tradition of his mentor, Johannes Brahms, is evident throughout his masterful settings.

The VIOLIN SONATA OP 26 IN A MINOR, first performed and reviewed in 1897, shows the wealth of motivic development, expansive melodic lines and rhythmic freedom in Kahn’s distinct style of writing. The first movement, Allegro, spins long and compelling melodic lines over an energetic accompaniment, varying the length of phrases freely and imaginatively. The second, Moderato-Adagio ma non troppo will remind you of the most heartfelt and quasi-religious Lieder settings earlier in the programme, inviting you to indulge in the creation of this supreme master of melody and harmonic progression, while the final Allegro man non troppo ma con fuoco e poco a capriccio (a very precise instruction!) is a life-affirming and virtuosic statement of grace and passion in perfect balance with characteristic rhythmical pacing and fervour.

 

Adolf Busch (1891-1952) was for many the finest violinist of his day. A child prodigy in his native Westphalia, Busch enjoyed a stellar career as one of Germany’s most thoughtful and expressive musicians. He was a friend of Max Reger and other composers, founded the Busch String Quartet and established a loyal following in Britain, Italy and elsewhere through his frequent concert tours.

Like his brother Fritz, who became the chief conductor of Glyndebourne after his emigration, Adolf refused to perform in Nazi Germany and moved first to Switzerland and then to the United States, stating that he would only return when Hitler and other Nazis were publicly hanged. In recent years, Busch has also come into focus as a notable composer, and many of his works have been recorded.

 

The SUITE IN G MINOR for Violin and Piano opus 38, dated 1927, corresponds to Busch's middle period, when he was extremely active as a soloist, first violinist of the Busch quartet and as an orchestra leader. One can hear in his recordings a loyalty to the composer in text and spirit. This seriousness of purpose applies equally to his compositional approach. Like those of one of his inspirations, Paul Hindemith, his compositions are very challenging for the performer, although never meant expressly for virtuosic show. His tonal language is detailed, structured and rich, with honest and genuine content, yet not without moments of lightness and humor. His own formidable technique, as well as that which he cultivated in his students (who included Yehudi Menuhin and Stefi Geyer) forms the background to the considerable demands he places on the violinist in the Suite. Complicated double-stops and passages of virtuosic fingerwork and string-crossing are never far away. Similarly, the unusual pianistic patterns, very wide range of chords and intervals, surprising consequences of voice-leading or material development put a strain on the pianist's hands that would have undoubtedly been inspired by the uncompromising artistic approach of his duo partner Rudolf Serkin (who later became the husband of Busch's daughter).

The question of how far Busch strays from tonality in the Suite is a broad one. Drawn to its ambiguous border, his use of polytonality, enharmonic equivalents and unusual spelling of accidentals surprise the performers' eyes and the audience's ears at every turn. Yet all the complexities yield essential, emotional or rhetorical meaning. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he admitted his wish for his next life was to be an organist! While the title Suite refers to the Baroque form of a series of dances all in one key (famously by Bach or Couperin), here one could also imagine a kind of sonata, particularly since the slow movement features a singing quality in contrast to the more vivacious outer movements. (Source: Florence Millet)

 

About EchoSpore and the Lichterfeld Foundation:

The EchoSpore Project at the HfMT Köln is an initiative led by Prof. Dr. Florence Millet since 2018, supported by the Deutsche Bank Stiftung and the Lichterfeld Stiftung.

The project has generated recordings, videos, CDs and orchestral concerts in Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Orchesterzentrum Dortmund, Chamber Opera on tour in NRW, Theresienstadt, WDR Radio broadcast, Imanuelskirche Wuppertal, Prague Jerusalem Synagoge and German Embassy, Paris Lycée Honoré de Balzac, Museum Solingen and many more. https://echospore.hfmt-koeln.de/das-projekt/. The Lichterfeld Foundation (« Stiftung Lichterfeld »), a trustee from the « Ruhrstiftung Bildung und Erziehung » (... training for education), has set its goal to (re)discover persecuted composers who lost their rights and were forced into exile, into ghettos, interned in camps or murdered. This objective is firmly based on the quality of the music itself. The fate of these particular artists and their œuvre started with a deliberate stigmatization in violation of their fundamental rights. Today it is a prevailing necessity to make light of their somber destiny. These artists were all under severe physical, mental, silent or verbal violence. The EchoSpore project aims to be a (further) biotope in order to permit this rich body of musical culture to regenerate itself, to unfold and grow. There are only few well-known works in the wealth of pieces written by these composers, most need to be brought to the attention of a largre public. Both the words Echo and Spore are found in various languages in a similar form: English, German, French, Dutch. In Spanish, one finds « eco-espora » and in Italian « eco-spora ». The metaphore of the spore (« …serve to outlast adverse conditions and are extremely resistant… ») is superbly fitting to serve as an image to our project. Source: http://www.echospore.de


This project was supported by the Deutsche Bank Stiftung, Stiftung Lichterfeld and the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln.




8 views0 comments
bottom of page