Double Fugue for String Orchestra (first print)
Double Fugue for String Orchestra (first print) (1911)
In the turbulent years of transition from the post-romantic tonal tradition to so-called modernism, Heinrich Kaminski was one of the few composers who managed to maintain continuity despite the change of paradigms, and to fashion a distinctive, wholly unmistakable and timeless style that neither echoes nor denies nor obstructs the past. His artistic motto was “Evolution, not Revolution,” and his clear intention was to transport the supreme achievements of German counterpoint, from Johann Sebastian Bach and late Beethoven to the symphonic grandeur of Anton Bruckner, into new realms of expression and intercultural cohesion. In this he succeeded convincingly and with flawless craftsmanship. He also succeeded in conveying essential aspects of his artistic bearing and ethos to his most gifted and earnest pupils, particularly Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling (1904-1985) and Heinz Schubert (1908-1945). From the mid-1920s to the early 1930s he was considered a central voice in contemporary music, a figure standing above reaction and avant-garde alike. Yet his art was condemned to insignificance by the Third Reich. This is hardly surprising for a man who saw in Bismarck the
“primary source of the dogged, headstrong, and unfortunately all-too successful resistance to the honest and admirably perspicacious efforts of Crown Prince Friedrich III (in conjunction with his spouse and his sister, the Grand Duchess, and his brother-in-law, the Grand Duke of Baden) to create a genuine federation of German lands (without Prussian hegemony!), so that beginning in 1871 the Prussianization of Germany was able to proceed ever more viciously along its path to this catastrophic end.”
Though Kaminski’s music escaped being blacklisted, it was considered undesirable and no longer performed, with few exceptions (especially by Heinz Schubert in Flensburg and Rostock). With the cessation of hostilities his day might well have come, but he only had one more year to live, and it is highly unlikely that the crypto-fascist spirit of total serialism, that bane of modern music, would have granted him a sufficiently large niche in which to operate. As his music is also extremely complex and very difficult to perform, there has yet to be a Kaminski renaissance, although some leading musicians, such as Lavard Skou Larsen in Neuss, have taken up his cause with passion and expertise. His major creations belong to the genres of sacred music (with orientalizing tinges), orchestral music, and chamber music. Nor should we forget his two basically untheatrical stage works, Jürg Jenatsch and Das Spiel vom König Aphelius, whose mystic ambience brooks comparison with Wagner’s Parsifal, Enescu’s Œdipe, and Szymanowski’s Krol Roger. Kaminski’s work gave rise to a mighty and multi-layered current violently cut short by the vicissitudes of German history. Perhaps it is possible today to draw on that current and to rise above the contradictions of history.
According to Birgitta Hartog’s catalogue of works in Heinrich Kaminski (Komponisten in Bayern 11, Tutzing, 1986), the Double Fugue for String Orchestra, or optionally for solo strings, was composed in 1911 while Kaminski was living in the Berlin-Zehlendorf apartment financed by his patroness Martha Warburg (1879-1973) and studying composition with Paul Juon (1872-1940). It is already a striking example of his bejeweled craftsmanship, deep command of counterpoint, and distinctive stylistic independence. He had begun his studies in autumn 1909 at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, where he was taught piano by the famous Leschetitzky pupil Severin Eisenberger (1879-1945) and theory by Wilhelm Klatte (1870-1930). This was followed by a brief intermezzo in composition with Hugo Kaun (1863-1932) before he found, in Juon, the teacher who would put the decisive polish to his studies. But from the very outset he aspired, in unworldly contemplation, to find a language entirely his own. Clara Holler, a fellow-student from Eisenberger’s class, wrote about the young composer in her memoirs of 1956: ….
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225 x 320 mm