Klein Ida’s Blumen, Ballet Overture
Klenau, Paul August von
Paul von Klenau – Klein Idas Blumen
(b. Copenhagen, 11 February 1883 – d. Copenhagen, 31 August 1946)
Preface (Katy Hamilton, 2017)
The career of the Danish conductor and composer Paul von Klenau (1883-1946) bridged the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and a tremendous stylistic (as well as political) shift in European culture. Whilst he trained with several notable musicians of the late Romantic era, he was to become a proponent of twelve-tone composition and, as a performer, championed the music of Mahler, Schoenberg, Delius and Bartók.1
Klenau was born in Copenhagen and undertook his earliest musical studies in the Danish capital before travelling to Berlin in 1902. There he spent two years at the Musikhochschule, taking lessons from Max Bruch (well into his sixties and greatly admired, if seen as rather old-fashioned by this time), before relocating to Munich to work with Ludwig Thuille, a close friend of Richard Strauss. He then spent a further year studying with Max von Schillings, another member of the Strauss circle who looked above all to Wagner for his musical models. Klenau got his first conducting job in 1907, and in 1908 his First Symphony was premiered in Germany, rich with the influences of Richard Strauss, Mahler and Bruckner. By 1913, he was the chief conductor of the Freiburg Opera House.
Klenau returned to Denmark for the duration of the First World War, where he later established the Danish Philharmonic Society (Danks Filharmonisk Selskab, 1920) and began programming the music of Arnold Schoenberg, previously unknown in Copenhagen.2 The two men became friends, and Klenau continued to mount performances of Schoenberg’s work in subsequent conducting posts. Returning to German-speaking lands in 1922, he settled himself in Vienna where he worked with the Konzerthausgesellschaft and the Wiener Singverein. He met Alban Berg, whose music he admired, and remained a great supporter of the work of the Second Viennese School, even after this music was condemned by the rapidly burgeoning Nazi Party. Klenau eventually returned to Denmark in late 1939, where he remained (focussing primarily on compositional projects rather than conducting) until his death in 1946.
The majority of musicological literature dealing with Klenau’s output tends to focus on his compositions of the 1930s.3 Whilst Schoenberg and his pupils suffered the condemnation of the Nazi government for their ‘degenerate’ method of twelve-tone writing, Klenau succeeded in writing and performing works using dodecaphonic procedures without falling foul of censorship laws. His actions during this period suggests that he was highly politically astute, even if this meant denying previous allegiances and friendships (such as his close working relationship with Schoenberg), and this allowed him to remain in Austria until 1939, and remain in the Austro-German contemporary concert repertoire after that date. …
Read full preface > HERE