Ludi Leopoldini. Op. 55 – FOR THE GOTTFRIED VON EINEM CENTENNARY
Einem, Gottfried von
Gottfried von Einem – Ludi Leopoldini op. 55 (1980)
(b. Bern, 24 January 1918 – d. Maissau near Hollabrunn [Lower Austria], 12 July 1996)
Konzertante Abwandlungen eines Themas Kaiser Leopolds I. für Orchester
(Concertante Transformations of a Theme of Emperor Leopold I for orchestra)
Thema. Poco sostenuto (p. 1) – I Allegro (p. 6) – II Moderato (p. 16) – III Presto (p. 26) – IV Adagio (p. 33) –
V Presto (p. 38) – VI Moderato (p. 49) – VII Alla marcia (p. 57) – Poco sostenuto (p. 64)
After World War II Gottfried von Einem won great fame with the overwhelming stage successes of his operas ’Danton’s Tod’ (The Death of Danton) after Georg Büchner, ’Der Prozess’ (The Trial) after Franz Kafka, ’Der Zerrissene’ (The Tormented) after Johann Nestroy, ’Kabale und Liebe’ (Intrigue and Love) after Friedrich Schiller, and ’Der Besuch der alten Dame’ (The Visit) after Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Einem went down in history as one of the most significant opera composers in the second half of the 20th century (his later operas ’Jesu Hochzeit’ [The Wedding of Jesus], ’Tulifant’, and ’Lucifer’s Lächeln’ [Lucifer’s Smile], all of them based on libretti by his second wife Lotte Ingrisch, are no less remarkable but didn’t maintain the successful series of their predecessors). The operatic fame increasingly overshadowed his works for orchestra, his chamber music and his songs. But in these genres he was a towering master too, with a unique tonal language full of capricious impredictability and polymorphically transformable lyricism. The fact that his music keeps up tonal relationship even in its most distant and sudden turns was used to his depriment at a time of totalitarian reign of dogmatic avantgarde aesthetics. Einem’s harmonic language always keeps up the primacy of euphony and at the same time attracts with high finesse and complexity. His harmony is continuously on the move. Performers need to develop a very sensitive awareness and have to engage in an intense process of studying to find orientation in Einem’s freely flowing and ramified structures. Furthermore, this music demands an advanced level of virtuosity from all its performers. It is not easy to grasp and decipher the multiple cross-linking of interrelations even if the tonal means seem to be familiar from a first superficial look. Towards the end of his life Einem’s development led him into a more serene, occasionally even aphoristic simplicity that is still interwoven with delicate subtlety.
Einem grew up in Schleswig-Holstein, near Plön. From 1938 to 1943 he was engaged as répétiteur at the Prussian State Theater Berlin under the tutelage of Heinz Tietjen. From 1941 to 1943 he studied composition privately with Boris Blacher who was decisive in shaping Einem’s compositional craft as well as his mental approach and ethical orientation. Einem maintain regular contact with the Berlin resistance movement against National Socialism and saved the life of his Jewish fellow musician Konrad Latte with a highly risky document document fraud. Therefore he was posthumously awarded the title ’Righteous among the Nations’ t Israel’s Yad Vashem. His breakthrough as a composer came already in 1943 with the première of his ’Capriccio’ Op. 2 by the Berlin Philharmonic under Leo Borchard, and Karl Elmendorff engaged him at Dresden’s Semper Opera.
After the war Einem became official consultant of the board of directors of the Salzburger Festspiele. In the course of his plan to bring Bertolt Brecht to Salzburg he arranged that Brecht received Austrian citizenship but this triggered a chain reaction caused by the anti-communist witch hunt of the McCarthy administration. Einem was pilloried and fired. He moved to Vienna which became the centre of his activities…
by Christoph Schlüren
Read full preface > HERE