Symphonic Prologue to Dante’s „Divina Commedia“ Op. 40 for large Orchestra
(b. Troppau [Opava], Silesia, 8 October 1860 – d. Altona [Hamburg], 20 March 1944)
Symphonic Prologue to Dante’s „Divina Commedia“ Op. 40
for large Orchestra
Very slow and stretched (p. 2) – Animated but not too fast (p. 10) – gradually becoming a little bit decelerated (p. 16) – a tempo (p. 17) – gradually becoming a little bit decelerated (p. 40) – a tempo (p. 41) – very decelerated (p. 46) –
Very fast and fierce (p. 47) – decelerated (p. 52) – Slow (p. 53) – Very slow and heavy (p. 54) – Moderate (p. 55) –
very gradually more and more animated (p. 70) – slower – very decelerated (p. 72) – a tempo (Moderate) (p. 73) –
Calm – more and more decelerated (p. 81) – a tempo (p. 82) – a tempo (Calm) (p. 85) – Slow (p. 87)
Appraisals of Felix Woyrsch’s music state time and again that he was a musical conservative. Yet we should bear in mind that he hailed from the same generation as Edward Elgar, Gustav Mahler, Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek, Felix Weingartner, Richard Strauss, and Alexander Glazunov, not to mention younger contemporaries such as Hans Pfitzner, Hermann Hans Wetzler, Paul Juon, Hermann Suter, Alexander Zemlinsky, Siegmund von Hausegger, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sergey Rachmaninov, Franz Schmidt, and Richard Wetz. Judged by these standards, today Woyrsch seems by no means backward or underdeveloped; rather, he appears as a remarkably idiosyncratic and noteworthy symphonist in the tradition of Bruckner and Brahms, much like the Dresden composer Paul Büttner (ten years his junior) or the Frenchman Albéric Magnard (five years his junior). In his day Woyrsch was considered the leading musical figure in Altona (then the cultural capital of Schleswig-Holstein, now a district of Hamburg), and this both as a composer and as a conductor of large choral societies and orchestras.
Born in Silesia, Woyrsch first grew up in Dresden and later in Altona, which became his lifelong home. He went on to become head of the city’s Allgemeine Liedertafel (1887), church choir (1893), and Singakademie (1895) and played the organ first in the Peace Church and later at St John’s. In 1903 he founded the Altona Symphonic, Popular, and Youth Concerts, which elevated him to the rank of municipal music director in 1914, and in 1917 he was officially inducted into the Prussian Academy of Arts. He was an active conductor until 1931 and was awarded the Prussian Academy’s Beethoven Prize in 1938. As an elderly man, he did not, like so many others, offer his services to the Nazi régime, but continued in relative obscurity to cultivate his œuvre, which encompasses seventy-nine opus numbers and has attracted hardly any attention to the present day.
Although Woyrsch received lessons in Hamburg from Heinrich Chevallier (1848-1908), he was for the most part a self-taught composer who learned his craft from a ceaseless study of the great masters and a close observation of his contemporaries. Rather than seeking contact with his fellow-composers, however, he worked outside the successful currents associated with Strauss, Reger, Klose, Pfitzner, and Schoenberg.
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210 x 297 mm