Moses, a biblical oratorio for soprano, tenor, and bass soli, mixed choir and orchestra Op. 67
Max Christian Friedrich Bruch
January 6, 1838 (Cologne (Köln), Rheinprovinz, Königreich Preußen) – October 20, 1920 (Friedenau)
A Biblical Oratorio for soprano, tenor, and bass soli, mixed choir and orchestra, op. 67
Date of Composition: 1894-1895, Berlin
Premiered: 19 January 1895, Barmen, Germany under the composer’s direction (full orchestra, choir of 280 voices,
and organ). The oratorio was selected to celebrate the 7 May 1896 centenary of the Royal Academy of the Arts
in Berlin. The Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise) movement was performed by itself at the
Cologne Music Festival in the summer of 1895.
First Publication: Berlin: N. Simrock, 1895. Plates 10376-10377.
Max Bruch was a German composer who wrote over 200 works, notably his moving Kol nidrei for cello and orchestra, op. 47 and the first of his three violin concertos (Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26 1866), which has become a staple of the violin repertory. Although he was raised Rhenish-Catholic, the National Socialist party banned his music from 1933-1945 due to his name, his well-known setting of a melody from the Jewish Yom Kippur service (Kol nidre), and his unpublished Drei Hebräische Gesange for mixed chorus and orchestra (1888).
Bruch was also an accomplished teacher of music composition from 1892-1911, conducting seminars and ensembles at the Royal Academy of Arts at Berlin (Königliche Akademie der Künste zu Berlin). British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams studied with Bruch, describing him as a proud and sensitive man. He actively resisted the Lisztian/ Wagnerian musical trends of time, and modeled his works on those of Mendelssohn and Schumann. His concerti share structural characteristics with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, omitting the first movement exposition and linking multiple movements, and his most lasting contributions to chamber music include works written for his son Max, who was a clarinetist.
Child of his Time
Bruch was born in the same decade as Johannes Brahms, Georges Bizet, and four of the Russian Five or “Mighty Handful” (Могучая кучка). At the age of fourteen (1852), he was awarded the Mozart Prize of the Frankfurt-based Mozart Stiftung, which enabled him to study with virtuoso Ferdinand Hiller. In 1858, he moved on to Leipzig and then held posts in Mannheim (1862-1864), Koblenz (1865-1867), and Sondershausen (1867-1870).
Beginning in his early twenties, he received commissions for chorus, orchestra, and soprano solo such as Jubilate Amen, op. 3 (1858) and Die Birken und die Erlen, op. 8 (1859). As a young man, Bruch showed a preference for ancient literary material. Works like Frithjof: Szenen aus der Frithjof-Sage, op. 23 (1864), an oratorio based on a thirteenth-century Icelandic saga
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