*Note: This series will attempt to distribute pieces by little known composers. Please give your full attention and time to appreciate the geniuses whose ingenuity and musical pieces are not so well known as the “masters”. Many times, the most progressive and imaginative sounds were variations of a true prototype. These are those prototypes. Though in fact they may have borrowed some elements in times past…all still remain true to beauty. Beauty in truth.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it. ~Henry David Thoreau
Beginning with one composer that is most certainly little known to anyone. Why that is…one can only surmise how the truest beauty of a piece of real music can escape most ears. Dumbfounding as it may be, many can and will overlook the most beautiful by simply being themselves. What does this say about one’s own reflection? What does this say for the fate of the music world?
Beauty can never hide itself…it will always find its place within the world. We simply must take the time to appreciate, that perhaps we have not really ever heard, seen or felt.
Richard Wetz never bent to whims of pleasing the general public. He remained genuine and precise to his German nature. Perhaps this is why he was able to retain some of the truest elements of purest beauty within his pieces. He purposely avoided the large metropolises and creating “popular compositions” to increase his fame. This alone spoke volumes on how he cared to preserve the very elements that make music the most transcendent form. The tangible medium that could show the truth in beauty and the beauty in truth.
Listen to simply this posted piece alone and you shall begin to sense…hear the world transform before your very ears.
Richard Wetz was born in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia (Austria) on February 26th, 1875, and died in Erfurt on January 16th, 1935. He began by self-teaching, then enrolled in the Leipzig Conservatory but stayed for only six weeks. He took instruction privately from Richard Hofmann, director of the Choral Society of Leipzig. In 1899 he headed to Munich to study with Ludwig Thuille, an instructor/composer perhaps best-known today for a sextet, though it was Thuille’s violin sonata overshadowed in the concert at which Reger’s somewhat scandalous fourth sonata had its premiere….
Felix Weingartner, another composer/conductor of repute, arranged a theater conductor’s post for Wetz in Stralsund the next year, which lasted only a few months; after another try in Barmen – what is today Wuppertal – Wetz returned to Leipzig. No work awaiting him there, he used the opportunity to do some listening instead, to classical composers, to Bruckner and to Liszt (on whom he was later, in 1925, to write a book.)
He then wrote two operas to his own librettos before receiving a post as the director of the Erfurt Music Society in 1906, and his career might be said then to have truly been launched.
The next few years saw both the failure, unfortunately, of the second of his two operas, but also the success of his Kleist Overture, op. 16, premiered in Berlin in 1908 under Nikisch in a concert with Elgar’s Enigma Variations.
With increasing success came, of course, further compositions – one singles out from the period before the 1917 premiere of his first symphony in particular, his Gesang des Lebens (op. 29, just recorded on cpo with the 3rd symphony,) Chorlied aus “Oedipus auf Colonos” (op. 31,) Hyperion (on texts by Hölderlin) for baritone, mixed chorus and orchestra (op. 32, 1912,) and his sonata for violin (op. 33).
Premiered by Liszt-scholar/archivist Peter Raabe, the first symphony op. 40, in c, begins over a quiet and expectant rhythmic pulse, out of which develops naturally the movement’s long-breathed main theme. Particularly notable in this movement is a dissonant clash around fifteen minutes in, which leads to an expansive outburst of the second theme. After the recapitulation subsides into the more active coda, we are in a very different place. Frenetic downward scale fragments based on one of the subsidiary themes dispel any leisureliness from the forward motion of the work, and over them, increasingly urgent reminiscences of that same theme provoke first a collision, then two maestoso restatements, and ultimately resolution into several triumphant C major chords, and a pause… followed by repeated, insistent, and very final minor-third descents of Eb-C, the last C held unisono.
Those wondering at the sound of his music will find sometimes something of a mix, melodically, of Bruckner, Liszt, and Wagner, and structural and harmonic similarities from time to time as well. By no means, I think, will they find a particularly derivative composer, particularly in the first symphony; what gets said, how, in what order, why, and such questions… the composer seems to have developed answers that are at least partially his own. In the first symphony, though the mood is by no means uniformly bleak (one ought not in any event confuse tragedy in its classic sense, with bleakness,) the techniques are put to the service of an overall tragic goal; the second symphony has a quite different spirit, somewhat pastoral (as suggested by the booklet-notes to the cpo recording) perhaps, quite positive overall even in its largely minor-mode finale. I look forward to hearing the 3rd in Albert’s new recording, and any further Wetz recordings cpo or other labels should release.
For further reading and the source of this information please follow:
One more piece for the road:
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