Gernsheim, Friedrich

Piano Quintet Op. 63 (parts)


Friedrich Gernsheim

Quintett für Pianoforte, 2 Violinen, Bratsche und Violoncell, Op. 35 (1877)

(b. Worms, 17 Juli 1839 — d. Berlin, 11 September 1916)

I Allegro moderato
II Andante molto cantabile
III Vivace ed energico
IV Allegro con brio

Zweites Quintett (H moll)
für Pianoforte, 2 Violinen, Viola und Violoncell , Op. 63

I Molto moderato
II Adagio
III Allegretto molto grazioso e sempre scherzando
IV Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo presto


When one sees the name Friedrich Gernsheim — and this still happens all too rarely — then usually in connection with that of Johannes Brahms: Gernsheim belonged to the Brahms Circle; Gernsheim was influenced by Brahms. This is partly true, but overlooks a lot. Granted, Gernsheim was a conservative composer, little drawn to program music and by all accounts less drawn to opera than Brahms; he was also a friend of Brahms’s from their first encounter in 1862 until the death of the great master. But the charge that he was merely a Brahms epigone rests upon unfamiliarity with his works, and often upon latent (or not at all latent) anti-Semitism as well. When one takes a closer look at his works, one recognizes in Gernsheim a composer who in his music — whether thanks to his origins in the Rhineland, or whether because of his activity as conductor — melds together echoes of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Spohr, Schubert and (of course) Brahms into a convincing style of his own. Above all one recognizes in Gernsheim a composer who developed an almost unflinching sense of formal perfection and who was averse to any kind of empty gesture.

Friedrich Gernsheim came from an enlightened, largely assimilated, and yet deeply religious Jewish family in Worms. Karl Holl, the author of a 1928 study that remains the standard work on the composer (Friedrich Gernsheim, Leben, Erscheinung und Werk) relates a story that is representative of the family’s spiritual-intellectual attitude: There had long been in Worms a building at one of the city gates that bore the sign “Jewish Prison”; Jews who had sought to evade the Jew tax were incarcerated there. After the French army conquered the city and introduced the legal principle of “liber-ty, equality, fraternity”, the composer’s grandfather mounted a ladder and smashed down the sign with a club. Years later at that very location his son Abraham


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225 x 320 mm

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