Violin Concerto in G minor, Op.52
(b. Leobschütz, 15. February 1855 – d. Berlin, 4. December 1915)
Violin Concerto in G minor, Op.52
Violinist, conductor, and composer Gustav Hollaender was born on 15 February 1855 into a highly educated, creative, and musical family. His father, Siegmund Hollaender, a doctor, and mother, Renette Danziger, raised three sons of whom Gustav was the oldest. Younger brothers Victor and Felix became a composer and a writer respectively. Gustav was the uncle of Friedrich Hollaender, a famous film composer.
During his formative years Gustav enjoyed an extraordinary musical education. At first he studied violin with Ferdinand David at the Leipzig Conservatory. Later he studied with Joseph Joachim and Friedrich Kiel at the Königlich Akademische Hochschule für ausübende Tonkunst (Royal Academy for the Performing Arts) in Berlin, where his family had moved from Gustav‘s birthplace of Leobschütz.
Gustav surrounded himself with excellent musicians at the onset of his career, a practice he maintained throughout his lifetime. He began his career as a professional violinist at the Court Opera in Berlin. In 1877, he taught violin at the F. Kullak‘schen Musikinstitut. On a tour to Austria as a soloist, he accompanied Carlotta Patti (ca. 1840-1889), a notable coloratura soprano and sister of the famous Adelina. In 1881, he formed the first of several different chamber-ensemble groups that he organized throughout his career: a piano trio with Xaver Scharwenka (piano) and Heinrich Grünfeld (cello). With this group, which was active from 1871-1881, Gustav is credited with transforming the chamber music evenings at the Berlin Singakademie.
The year 1881 launched a series of appointments as concert master for various musical organizations, teaching opportunities, and new chamber groups. Gustav was appointed as concert master of the Gürzenich Concerts in Cologne and violin teacher at the Rheinische Musikschule. Three years later in 1884, he served as the first concertmaster at the Cologne Stadtheater. In that city he also founded the GürzenichQuartett with Emil Baré (second violin), Joseph Schwartz (viola), and Friedrich Grützmacher, jr. (cello). This ensemble enjoyed a successful concert tour in Germany, Belgium, England, Italy, and Denmark.
After returning to Berlin, in 1894 Gustav took over the Stern‘sche Konservatorium in Berlin (now the JuliusSternInstitut). At this time the conservatory experienced a golden age under his leadership. More than 1,000 students per year enrolled, and it was managed without any subsidy. He also founded yet another string quartet, this time with Willy Nicking, Heinrich Brandler, and Leo Schrattenholz. Walther Rampelmann and Anton Hecking joined the ensemble after the departure of the latter two.
Gustav bequeathed the importance of the arts and music to his three children. Tragically, two became victims of the Holocaust. His oldest daughter, Melanie Herz-Hollaender (b. 1880), worked as a teacher for recitation. She was fortunate to have emigrated in 1939. Gustav‘s son, Kurt (b. 1885), became a businessman. Following the „Aryanization“ of the Stern‘sche Konservatorium, he founded the Jüdische Private Musikschule Hollaender in BerlinCharlottenburg at Sybelstraße 9. In 1940, it ceased to exist. On 27 October 1941, Kurt and his wife were deported to the Ghetto Litzmannstadt and were murdered there. Gustav‘s younger daughter, Susanne Landsberg (b. 1892), became a singer. She worked as the co-owner at the Jüdische Private Musikschule Hollaender. On 29 January 1943, Susanne was deported to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where she was murdered shortly thereafter.
Not surprisingly most of Gustav‘s compositions are for the violin. His oeuvre includes a number of compositions for violin and piano, several pedagogical publications, and three violin concertos, one of which is the Violin Concerto in G Minor, op. 52. Gustav composed this concerto in 1893, and it was published in Berlin by Ries & Erler in manuscript form that same year. He dedicated this concerto to the eminent conductor and composer Franz Wüllner (1832-1902), who is best known today for having premiered Richard Wagner‘s Das Rheingold and Die Walküre in 1869 and 1870 respectively.
In many respects this concerto reflects characteristics typical of the genre in the nineteenth-century, particularly in Germany. An impressive virtuoso solo that effectively highlights the technical and expressive possibilities of the violin during the second half of the nineteenth century is accompanied by a customary orchestra consisting of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B, two bassoons, four horns in F, two trumpets in F, timpani, and full complement of strings. Also characteristic of the genre are its three movements set in a fast (allegro non assai)slow (adagio)fast (allegro energico) tempo scheme… (Jean Hellner)
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