Wilhelm Grosz – Liebeslieder op. 10
(b. Vienna, Austria-Hungary [today: Austria], 11 August 1894 – d. Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, NY, USA, 10 December 1939)
Wilhelm Grosz was an Austrian composer, arranger, conductor, musical director, musicologist, and pianist born in Vienna on August 11, 1894. Grosz grew up in the early twentieth-century Austrian musical landscape, which witnessed the rise of atonality with the works of composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and Alban Berg. Because of this, he is credited as one of the first Austrian composers to compose jazz-inspired classical compositions. His musical education was extensive, as he received his PhD in musicology at the Vienna University in 1920, and won the Zusner Prize in 1917.
At the time of composing Liebeslieder in 1922, Grosz was partaking in a music festival in Salzburg with esteemed film composer Erich Korngold, who was also his childhood friend. Liebeslieder is a good example of Grosz’s abilities as a musicologist because it showcases love songs from non-Austrian cultures. The five poems upon which the movements are based are from Serbia, Russia, Magyar, Tunis (capital of Tunisia), and Russia again, respectively. Grosz loved these types of multiple movement works as shown in his Tanzsuite, op. 20, no. 2, where he explores a number of dances from all over the world.
The orchestration of Liebeslieder is quite dense with 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 Bb clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 1 C trumpet, 1 trombone, 6 1st violins, 4 2nd violins, 4 violas, 3 celli, and 2 double basses. The piece also calls for harp, piano, celeste, timpani, glockenspiel, xylophone, snare drum, triangle, cymbals, and tambourine.The piece features modal harmony in addition to standard major and minor harmonies. Modal harmony involves scale patterns that are slight variations on the major and minor scales (i.e., a Dorian scale is a minor scale with a raised sixth scale degree). The Aeolian mode roughly translates to a minor key, and Phrygian is similar, but the scale contains one extra flat 2nd, so the two tonalities there show some compositional innovation. In this particular piece, the Phrygian mode is featured within the accompaniment of movement 3 and the melody of movement …
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