Donna Diana, overture
Reznicek, Emil Nikolaus von
Emil Nikolaus Freiherr von Reznicek
(b. Vienna, May 4, 1860; d. Berlin, Aug. 2, 1945)
Overture to the opera
2 fl./picc. – 2 ob. – 2 cl. in A – 2 bn – 4 hn in F – 2 tpt in C – triangle – timp. – str.
Duration of performance: approx. 5 min.
It is a curious fact that the composer of a work popular enough to be the signature tune of a quiz programme broadcast on German television in the 1970s and 1980s, a real crowd puller, should be entirely forgotten today.
This work, the overture to the opera “Donna Diana”, composed in Prague in 1894, is indeed a piece that, because of the freshness and vitality of its sound and its memorable tunes, stays in one’s head as an ear-worm long after one has heard it, and so its use as the signature tune of a programme called “Know that tune?” is not so surprising.
Like many other composers, Reznicek was not at first able to devote himself full-time to music, but had to develop his musical career in parallel to his law studies, which he completed in Graz. At the same time he studied piano and music theory with Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn at the Leipzig conservatoire. After finally deciding in favour of music, he in the end returned to Graz and worked there as répétiteur, and later as conductor. During this period he lived, among other places, in Zurich, Mainz and Berlin, but spent the longest period – about seven years – in Prague, where he was a military bandmaster. Subsequent appointments took him to Weimar and Mannheim. After having made his name as a conductor in this way, he moved to Berlin in 1902, and up until 1905 he conducted some of the chamber concerts of the Berlin Philharmonic. After a brief engagement as conductor of the Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw, he returned to Berlin in 1909 and worked there as conductor of various ensembles.
Reznicek’s artistic ambitions were evidently compatible with educational goals, and in 1906 he taught music theory at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatoire in Berlin, and between 1920 and 1926 he taught composition and instrumentation at the University for Music (Hochschule für Musik) in Berlin. Shortly before, in 1919, he had been appointed as member of the Berlin Academy of Arts (Akademie der Künste), and in 1934, together with Richard Strauss, he founded the Permanent Council for the International Cooperation of Composers (Ständiger Rat für die internationale Zusammenarbeit der Komponisten). Because of his professional success he was finally appointed honorary member of the General German Music Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein) in 1935.
These biographical facts raise the question whether Reznicek’s success was based primarily on his ability as a conductor or on his compositions, which, apart from a lectureship for composition, have scarcely been mentioned. What is certain, however, is that the core of his work lay unambiguously in the realm of music for the stage and that it was as an opera composer that his greatest success lay, as indeed the present-day reception of the opera “Donna Diana” retrospectively suggests.
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210 x 297 mm