Ulrich, Hugo


Ulrich, Hugo

Symphonie triomphale (Symphony No. 2) in C major Op. 9

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Hugo Ulrich – Symphonie triomphale (Symphony No. 2) in C major, Op. 9 (1853)

(b. Oppeln [Opole], Silesia, 26 November 1827 – d. Berlin, 23 March 1872)

I Allegro moderato ed energico (p. 1)
II Scherzo. Vivace (p. 44) – Trio. Meno vivace (p. 72) – Coda (p. 84)
III Adagio (p. 89)
IV Finale. Allegro molto (p. 113) – Maestoso (p. 164)

The Silesian Hugo Ulrich belongs to those composers who began very promisingly and whose star sank considerably in the course of their lives. Both parents made music with enthusiasm, the father at the piano, the mother as a tasteful singer of Mozart arias. The father was a teacher at the highly respected Royal Catholic Grammar School of Oppeln, but died when Hugo was nine years old. Gymnasium rector Kotzolt (presumably related to the famous singer Heinrich Kotzolt [1814-81] from neighboring Schnellewalde [now Polish Szybowice]) taught him from then on to play the piano and organ and recognized his outstanding musical talent. When Hugo lost his mother at the age of twelve and was orphaned, Kotzolt took over the guardianship. He was sent to Breslau’s Gymnasium St. Matthias and admitted to the associated Convict in exchange for church music service. The Breslau cathedral organist and composer Moritz Brosig (1815-87) taught him basso continuo. He passed his abitur in Glogau in 1846 and then went to study in Berlin, where he devoted himself entirely to music against the wishes of his guardian. Breslau University music director Johann Theodor Mosewius (1788-1858), who had trained him in singing, recommended him for study to Adolph Bernhard Marx (1795-1866), who, however, refused to accept a student who had no financial means. This turned out to be a stroke of luck for Hugo Ulrich, because it was through Giacomo Meyerbeer’s mediation at Stern’s Conservatory that he came to Siegfried Dehn (1799-1858), one of the most outstanding music theorists, counterpoint masters and composition teachers of the era, who trained such masters as Mikhail Glinka, Friedrich Kiel, Peter Cornelius, Anton Rubinstein and Hans Bronsart von Schellendorf. The lessons with Dehn had such a motivating effect on Ulrich that, after the Piano Trio Op. 1 dedicated to his teacher, he composed not only a string quartet in E-flat major Op. 7 but also two symphonies, which brought him many performances, success and recognition: the 1st Symphony in B minor Op. 6, published in print by Bote & Bock in 1852, and the 2nd Symphony in C major Op. 9, the so-called “Symphonie triomphale”, published the following year by Schott. The latter was submitted on the occasion of the wedding of the Duke of Brabant (later King Leopold II of Belgium) and Archduchess Marie Henriette of Austria for the competition of the Royal Belgian Academy in Brussels, winning first prize of 1500 francs, and Ulrich attended the acclaimed premiere at the Temple des Augustins in Brussels on September 24, 1853.

The music lexicographer Hermann Mendel (1834-76), who considered him to be „one of the most gifted composers of the present day,“ stated: „the symphony had the same success at every performance in the various places, and new creations by the youthful composer were awaited with the most eager expectations. In these works, Ulrich had completely revealed himself as an artist by the grace of God, so that one believed that one had to expect the highest from him. The fact that he did not fulfill these hopes is mostly due to the wretchedness of our overall musical conditions, which only support and favor mediocrity, but force more important natures to fight bitterly. Ulrich was just too significant to be supported by our modern music scene, but he also did not have the courage to fight with them to the death, and so, in spite of his splendid talent, he unfortunately was reduced to manual labor. In September 1855, he was finally granted the opportunity to see the land of his longing, Italy, which he entered with the most magnificent plans for new works; he lived in Venice, Turin, Genoa, Rome and Milan, and after he had first completely given himself over to the unadulterated enjoyment of the wonderland, he also began to work again. An opera: „Bertran de Born“, for which Max Ring had written him the text, occupied him seriously, among other things, until external circumstances drove him back to Germany. In March 1858, he returned to Berlin and soon found himself so caught up in the gravity of daily life that the creative joy of his youth was completely lost. Teaching was so distasteful to him that he soon gave it up completely; only for a short time did he work as a teacher at the conservatory; but then, in order to eke out a living, he made arrangements for piano [of symphonies and string quartets by Joseph Haydn, among others]. These belong to the best that can be achieved in this field; but he himself went to ruin in the process. He was able to complete most of his opera, as well as a third symphony in G major, but time and people had robbed him of all desire to create; he was no longer able to work on anything that even corresponded to his first works. In addition, in the last years of his life, the first traces of the terrible illness, a painful kidney disease, already appeared, to which he succumbed on March 23, 1872. He rests in Berlin in the Catholic churchyard in Liesenstraße. Even if it took a more favorable fate to fulfill all the hopes that could be placed in him, he has also created a memory for himself in the history of his art with what he left behind.”

Hugo Ulrich’s most prominent composition student during his 1859-62 tenure at Stern’s Conservatory was Hermann Goetz. In addition to his three symphonies, Ulrich wrote several overtures for orchestra. The 3rd Symphony has remained unprinted, and no recordings of his two early symphonies exist to date.

Hermann Kretzschmar had seen in the young Hugo Ulrich in his ‘Führer durch den Konzertsaal’ a bearer of hope, but from another source it is later succinctly said: “Unfortunately Ulrich did not possess the energy to take up the fight for life. Neither through teaching nor through office did he want to commit himself, and so his genius flagged early on, weighed down by food worries. Even the support of friends could not help him, for he remained a child in matters of money. Despite the scholarship that the Prussian government gave him to travel to Italy for a few years, he could not bring himself to complete his career victoriously.”

Stylistically, the young Ulrich was an enthusiastic continuator of the conservative Mendelssohn/Schumann line. The “Symphonie triomphale” bears the dedication: “composée à l’occasion des fêtes du mariage de S. A. R. Monseigneur Duc de Brabant avec S. A. I. R. Madame la Princesse Marie Henriette, Archiduchesse d’Autriche.” The scoring features double woodwind, timpani, and string orchestra, as well as a brass section of 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, and ophicleïde [now bass tuba]. The majestic coda of the finale, appended to the fast movement in the manner of Medelssohn‘s ‚Scottish Symphony‘, is built on the chorale ‚Nun danket alle Gott‘.

C.S., June 2022

Aufführungsmaterial ist er Performance material is available from Schott Music, Mainz (de.schott-music.com).

Full preface / Ganzes Vorwort > HERE

Score No.



Repertoire Explorer




210 x 297 mm





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