Piano Quintet in C-sharp minor Op. 54 (score and parts)
Károly (Karl) Goldmark
Piano Quintet op. 54 in C sharp minor
(b. Keszthely, 18 May 1830 — d. Vienna, 2 January 1915)
First performance Leipzig, 1916
Published by Josef Weinberger, Leipzig
Duration: 35 minutes
Hungarian composer Karl Goldmark was one of twenty children born to a Jewish cantor and his wife in Deutschkreutz. His talent was recognized at an early age but his family, lacking resources, could not provide him with an adequate education, musical or otherwise. His younger life consisted of a series of upsets; he received some violin training at a local music school and became proficient enough to get accepted at the Vienna Conservatory, but the 1848 Revolution put an end to this. His teacher, Leopold Jansa, fled the country and the young Goldmark was mistakenly arrested and nearly executed by the Imperial forces. The rest of his training came about through his own autodidactic efforts and with the help of fellow musicians.
He succeeded in returning to Vienna by age 30 and remained there for the rest of his life. As a composer he wrote operas, the most famous of which is Die Konigin von Saba (The Queen of Sheba), two symphonies, an unnumbered symphony titled Landliche Hochzeit (Rustic Wedding), a violin concerto, two symphonic poems, and several concert overtures. He also wrote a good deal of chamber music, including string quartets, 2 string quintets, 2 piano trios, sonatas for violin and cello, and much more including two quintets for piano and strings. The first of these, op. 30, was published in 1879, when he was not yet 50 years old; the second quintet, his op. 54, dates from the end of his life and was not performed until after his death.
The C-sharp minor quintet provides a fascinating glimpse into the octogenarian composer’s methods: he was one of the most conservative of his generation, yet in this piece he was stretching his own rules to the limit. He retained the writing style he had developed and inherited from others; much of this piece sounds like it could have been written by his friend Brahms, with some Schumann and Mendelssohn thrown in. But his use of tonality is very forward-looking. In one respect his method resembles that of Hindemith, who sometimes framed his works with “bookends” consisting of traditional and familiar material, while pushing the limits by incorporating newer or less traditional material in the middle sections.
The work, which last some 35 minutes, is in a traditional four movement scheme, with a slow second movement and scherzo third movement.
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