Overture for a Tragedy, Op. 18 for orchestra
Overture for a Tragedy, Op. 18
As the half-brother of Clara Wieck-Schumann and brother-in-law of Robert Schumann, Woldemar Bargiel became part of Schumann’s artistic world right from the beginning. In the days when people were still writing about him, he was often called an ‘epigone’ – which ignores the fact that his early style was influenced not only by his ‘honoured brother-in-law’, as he called Schumann in his letters, but also by Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn and Schubert. In later years Bargiel moved closer to Brahms and a more classical idiom. He was a conservative composer who remained within his own self-imposed stylistic limits, but he was always inventive in developing musical forms and ideas, and his compositions represent a considerable artistic achievement. Indeed, it is fair to describe him as one of the best German composers of the middle of the nineteenth century. His continuing commitment as a performer to the music of J. S. Bach and other earlier masterpieces brought him closer to neo-classicism and inured him to the influence of late Romanticism.
Woldemar Bargiel was born in Berlin on 3 October 1828. His mother, Mariane (née Tromlitz), was married to Friedrich Wieck before divorcing him and marrying Adolph Bargiel, a teacher of piano and voice teacher. When the Wiecks’ daughter Clara married Robert Schumann on 12 September 1840, the eleven year-old Woldemar became Schumann’s brother-in-law. Clara was nine years older than Woldemar, but they maintained a close relationship throughout their lives and Robert fostered Bargiel’s musical development.
In 1846 Bargiel went to study at the Leipzig Conservatory on the recommendation of Mendelsohn; his teachers there were Moritz Hauptmann, Ferdinand David, Ignaz Moscheles, Julius Rietz and Niels Gade. At his last public examination on 20 December 1849, Bargiel attracted widespread attention with the first movement of an octet for strings which was performed with Joseph Joachim as first violin. It was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship and marked Bargiel’s admission to the circle of young composers promoted by Robert Schumann. He was mentioned in Schumann’s ‘Neue Bahnen’ (‘New Paths’) in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik in October 1853, an article which is famous for launching Brahms’ career: ‘Many new, significant talents appeared, a new force in music seemed to announce itself
210 x 297 mm