Paul von Klenau – Symphony No. 5 “Triptikon”
(b. Copenhagen, 11 February 1883 – d. Copenhagen, 31 August 1946)
Paul von Klenau was a Danish composer, though he spent a large majority of his life in Germany and in Austria, and was not well recognized as a composer in his native Denmark. He studied composition under Max Bruch, Ludwig Thuille, and Max von Schillings in Germany. Klenau had many conducting appointments, including longer posts as principal conductor of the Freiburg Opera and choral conductor of the Vienna Konzerthaus Society. He was a close friend of Alban Berg and Frederic Delius. In the 1920s he was a very vocal champion of Arnold Schoenberg, presenting his works actively and often in Denmark. In the 1920s. Before and during World War II he worked hard to champion 12-tone music as an example of “pure” music, and Hitler’s propaganda minister Goebbles commissioned two operas in 1937 and 1939 after his highly successful 12-tone opera Michael Kohlhaas in 1933. Hearing loss made it impossible for him to continue his conducting career, and he returned to Copenhagen in 1940 after Hitler’s invasion of Denmark where he remained until his death.
His first three symphonies completed symphonies were written early in his compositional career, between 1907 and 1910. The rest followed 28 years later, upon his return to Denmark. They are remarkably varied in style, to one lasting only 10 minutes, and another, the ninth having a score of 225 pages. The fifth symphony was premiered in Berlin by the Berlin Philharmonic on October 14, 1941, conducted by Carl Schuricht, to whom the work is dedicated. The program repeated a month later in Copenhagen, and then broadcast a day after Klenau’s 60th birthday on the Reich Radio Service. The name Triptikon appears only in the original manuscript, and in texts by Klenau and his wife, Marguerite Klimt, and the word refers to a three-panel artwork. The name was dropped on the published edition, and in the premier Schuricht called it the “little” symphony. …
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