Kaminski, Heinrich


Kaminski, Heinrich

Piano Book in 3 Volumes (complete, hard cover)

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Heinrich Kaminski – Klavierbuch (Piano Book) in 3 Volumes (1934-35)

(b. Tiengen, 4 July 1886 — d. Ried near Benediktbeuern, 21 June 1946)


Klavierbuch I

Präludium (p. 3) – Courante (p. 5) – Sarabande (p. 7) – Polonaise (p. 10)

Three Duets
Duet I in E-flat (p. 17) – Duet II in F minor (p. 18) – Duett III in A-flat (p. 21)

Klavierbuch II

Tanzspiel (Dance Game)
Eröffnungsmusik (Opening Music, p. 3) –
Festlicher Tanz der Paare (Festive Dance of the Couples, p. 4) –
Schwertertanz der jungen Männer (Sword Dance of the Young Men, p. 6) –
Tanz der jungen Mädchen (Dance of the Young Girls, p. 8) –
Rundtanz (Round Dance, p. 10)

Klavierbuch III

Präludium und Fuge (Prelude & Fugue in F minor, p. 3)
Präludium und Sarabande (Prelude & Sarabande in D minor, p. 11)


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 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.

Kaminski’s small œuvre for piano is still overshadowed not only by his choral, orchestral, and chamber music works, but also by the music he wrote for organ that in contrast to his piano music never completely vanished from concert programs. Apart from a few songs and the duo works for cello and piano (’Musik’, 1938), violin and piano (’Hauskonzert’, 1941), and French horn and piano (’Ballade’, 1943), Kaminski used the piano in his ’Orchesterkonzert mit Klavier’ (Orchestral Concerto with Piano, 1936) and integrated it into his ’Concerto grosso’ for double orchestra (1923). Apart from the present ’Klavierbuch’ (Piano Book) in 3 volumes his compositions for piano solo are only a still unpublished Piano Sonata in F major from 1909 and later ’Zehn kleine Übungen für das polyphone Klavierspiel’ (Ten Little Exercises for Poylphonic Piano Playing, published by Bärenreiter in 1935). Evidently the whole body of Kaminski’s mature piano œuvre took shape within the short timeframe between 1934 and 1938. It is most likely that the principal reason for this extraordinary agglomeration of creative powers was Edwin Fischer’s (1886-1960) interest for Kaminski’s music, and Kaminski wrote his ’Orchesterkonzert mit Klavier’ on Fischer’s request…

by Christoph Schlüren, December 2017


Read full preface > HERE

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