Leo Justinus Kauffmann – Concertino für Kontrabass und Kammerorchester
(b. Dannemarie/Oberelsass 20. September 1901 – d. Straßburg 25. September 1944)
Concertino für Kontrabass und Kammerorchester
Kauffmann was at the height of his creative powers when he tragically died in the rubble of the Strasbourg Conservatory after an Allied air raid. He had just turned 43. Two operas, Die Geschichte vom schönen Annerl and Das Perlenhemd were successfully premiered in quick succession in Strasbourg and re-enacted at a number of German theatres and in the Netherlands, two more were in the works and planned for premieres in Dresden. As an extremely productive composer, Kauffmann has taken all common genres into account, from the lied genre to chamber music in a wide variety of instrumentation to orchestral music, ballet or opera. After a brief alignment with late German romanticists in younger days – especially Hugo Wolf’s lieder – or French Impressionism, Kauffmann developed his own style very early on, which takes up elements of contemporary light music. Influences of modern dance music (“Two-Step”, “Tango”) can already be found in works by the sixteen-year-old. In his brilliance and agility, Kauffmann’s music often recalls the spirit of the Group des Six, Milhaud and Poulenc, for example, or the chamber music of early Hindemith, music that was labeled with the terms “neoclassicism” or “neo-baroque”. Kauffmann also shares the extended major-minor tonality, the often cheerful and burlesque tone and the preference for tight forms with the aforementioned; Titles such as “piece”, “divertimento”, “bagatelle”, “suite” are preferred to more complex form concepts such as “sonata” or “symphony”.
Pushed from his position as a piano teacher at the Rheinische Musikschule in Cologne by the busy Nazi composer Richard Trunk even before the Nazis came to power, Kauffmann lived for many years mainly from his work as director of several choirs in the Cologne area – for which he had numerous spiritual and secular Works created – and of commissioned work for the Reichssender Köln. Kauffmann composed radio operettas, radio drama music, chansons and entertaining instrumental music without fear of contact with the “light muse”. The Alsatian, who had sometimes been in trouble with National Socialist cultural technocrats, had found a niche for himself. But it was not only material necessity that was at stake, but also the joy of the new creative possibilities of broadcasting when making this decision. The light and brilliantly agile, concise and never overloaded pieces for the broadcast certainly met his artistic credo and are also reflected in works outside of radio broadcasting. The Alsatian composer has always remained a stylistic and transcultural cross-border commuter. …
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