Henschel, George


Henschel, George

Serenade für Streich-Orchester in Canonform, Op. 23



George Henschel
(b. Breslau, 18 February 1850; d. Aviemore, 10 September 1934)

Serenade für Streich-Orchester in Canonform, Op. 23

Marcia p.3
Andante p.10
Scherzo p.15
Finale p.26

George Henschel was a musician of many talents.  Born Isidor Georg Henschel to parents of Polish and Jewish ancestry in Breslau, Silesia (now Wroclaw, Poland) he studied at the Leipzig Conservatory with Moscheles, Reinecke, Richter and Goetze.  Initially a pianist, he later became one of the great lieder singers, eventually introducing the concept of the lieder recital to Britain and the USA.  He sang the role of Hans Sachs in a concert performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger at Munich at the age of 18.  He was much admired by Brahms, with whom he became a friend after the great composer chose him in 1874 to sing the role of Christ in Bach’s Matthäus Passion in his last concert as director of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde.  In fact, Henschel was the only person who Brahms ever invited to share a holiday with, on the island of Rügen in 1876.   He was also a conductor of note, becoming the first conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1881.  The same year he married an American singer, Lilian Bailey, with whom he toured Europe and America giving joint recitals (he was a fine accompanist).

After his tenure in Boston, Henschel and his wife moved to Britain, where he immersed himself in musical life, eventually taking British nationality.  He started a series of “London Symphony Concerts” in 1886, the year he replaced Jenny Lind as Professor of Singing at the Royal College of Music.  He was appointed conductor of the Scottish Orchestra (now the Royal Scottish National Orchestra) in 1893.   He retired from giving recitals in 1914, was knighted the same year and settled in Scotland near Inverness, where he died in 1934.  He had a small recording career, contributing Symphony No. 1 to the first complete set of Beethoven symphonies, and he recorded several Schubert and Schumann lieder for Columbia in 1928 (when he was 78!), accompanying himself at the piano.

His Serenade for String Orchestra in Canon Form dates from 1873 or 1874, a time when Henschel lived in Berlin and was starting to make a name as a singer.  The circumstances of its composition are unclear, but this was when Henschel was completing his studies at the Akademische Hochschule für Musik in Berlin and , fast jedes Mal in zwei Teilen.was a regular dinner guest of Clara Schumann and Josef Joachim, its director. 1874 was in fact a very important year for Henschel, for he was engaged as a soloist for the first time at a major festival (the Niederrheinische Musikfest at Cologne).  More importantly, it was there he met a composer who was to become a close friend, Johannes Brahms.  It is not known when, or if, the Serenade was performed before Henschel gave it on 19 January 1884 with the Boston Symphony.  It is in four movements, each of which serves to demonstrate Henschel’s skill with counterpoint, since each is built upon a lengthy canon, almost always in two parts.

Phillip Brookes, 2016

For performance material please contact Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden. Reprint of a copy from the Musikbibliothek der Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Munich.

Read full preface / Komplettes Vorwort lesen > HERE

Score Data

Special Edition

The Phillip Brookes Collection


String Orchestra


210 x 297 mm





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