Symphony No. 1 in E-flat, Op. 34
(b. Rain am Lech, 2 April 1803 – d. Munich, 20 January 1890)
Symphony No. 1 in E-flat, Op. 34
Franz Lachner came from a prodigiously musical family where all progeny, both male and female, were organists. Their father, Anton Lachner (1756-1820), was a horologist and played the organ and violin; Franz played the organ, violin, cello, horn and double bass.1 His first teacher was his father but he later studied with Caspar Ett, Simon Sechter (1788-1867 who taught Brahms’s teacher, Eduard Marxsen, and Anton Bruckner) and Abbé Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833, a friend of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert). In 1823 he won a competition to become the organist at the Evangelische Kirche in Vienna.2 Whilst in Vienna he became friends with and drinking companion3 of Schubert and his circle which included the painter Moritz von Schwind.4 He also met Beethoven through the piano factory of Anton Streicher.5 Lachner held other important posts in Vienna, becoming first assistant conductor at the prestigious Kärntertortheater, then principal conductor in 1829. In 1834 he went to Mannheim for two years as Kapellmeister, then in 1836 to the court opera in Munich where he remained for thirty years. He was also the director and leader of the Musikalischen Akademie and director of music at the Königliche Vokalkapelle there.6 In 1864 he was supplanted by Hans von Bülow at Wagner’s request and retired in 1868. He was fêted during his life being awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Munich in 1863 and Freeman of the City in 1883. Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) was one of his pupils.7 All this gives a picture of a man who frequented the highest musical circles and who was thoroughly trained in his art. His own output consisted of 8 symphonies (1828? -1855?), 7 large orchestral suites (1861-1881) comprising between 4 and 6 movements, 4 operas, organ music, songs, church music, string quartets and chamber music for various ensembles.
As a person he was generous, recommending Wagner for the Royal Maximilian Order in 1864 and then successfully in 1873.7 The oft related comments about him by Wagner ‘ein vollständiger Esel und Lump zugleich sein’8 (a complete ass and scoundrel) are contradicted in recently published letters showing Wagner as friendly and sufficiently intimate to invite himself to lunch, calling Lachner ‘Hochgeehrtester Freund!’ (most honoured Friend).9 It is mostly in Cosima’s diaries that disrespect is seen, where he is mocked for writing Suites and not keeping strict tempi.10 Clearly relations could not have been so bad if Lachner recommended Wagner for the award a second time. Wagner was keen that Hans von Bülow conduct his Tristan und Isolde and persuaded Ludwig to appoint Bülow as Court Kapellmeister for Special Services,11 but it was only through Lachner’s years of technical work with the orchestra that this opera was able to be played. Lachner took all the rehearsals and Bülow conducted the performance.
To show how high he was held in general esteem, to celebrate his twenty-five years at the Munich court opera Moritz von Schwind made the 12.5 metre long Lachnerrolle – a series of coloured sketches celebrating his life and work. This was the first time Schwind had attempted to show a personal artistic history through pictures.12 On Lachner’s retirement the poet Eduard Mörike said “ist mein alter Freund Lachner pensioniert worden und mit ihm alle gute Musick”13 (my old friend Lachner is now pensioned off and with him all good music).
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210 x 297 mm