Volbach, Fritz


Volbach, Fritz

Es waren zwei Königskinder Op. 21, symphonic poem

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Fritz Volbach – Es waren zwei Königskinder Op. 21

(b. Wipperfürth , 17. Dezember 1861 – d. Wiesbaden, 30. November 1940)

Es waren zwei Königskinder is a symphonic poem composed and imagined by Fritz Volbach. Fritz Volbach was born in Wipperfürth, Germany. Not much is known about his childhood. However, we know that he attended the Cologne Conservatory, which started his musical training. In 1885, he studied under many great musical minds of the time including Thomas Comer, Eduard Grell, and Carl Albert Löschhorn at the Konigliches Akademisches Institut fur Kirchenmusik in Berlin. A mere two years after he began studying there, he became a member of the staff and also a choral conductor. From there, he became the music director of the University of Tubingen. During this time, he finished composing Es waren zwei Konigskinder. The date and location of the premiere are unknown.

The symphonic poem’s music was composed in the appropriately late-Romantic style. The title of the work, Es waren zwei Konigskinder, comes from a German folk ballad. According to the tale, there are two royal children who love each other but they lived in castles that are separated by a deep body of water. The woman, Leander, lights a candle to guide the prince hero to her location but partway through his journey, she falls asleep and a wicked woman comes and extinguishes the flame, leaving the prince to drown. The following day she wakes up with a headache and asks the queen to go on a walk to the green sea. After managing to sneak away from the queen, she walks to the beach and finds the prince’s corpse. In a fit of anguish, she ends her story by drowning herself.

The music follows a similar path as the folk story. It starts with a hopeful major melody beginning with the comforting timbre of oboes, but then as tragedy strikes, the tonality shifts to g-sharp minor with emphasis on the darker lower instruments. However, Volbach breaks away from the story of the poem and ends the piece with a melody that starts as a solo. As more voices join in, more hope is added as the theme rises and resolves to a triumphant shift to C-sharp Major. As the story ends, so too does the song, this time not as a somber sad ending but rather as an energetic and warm one.

Conner Rice, 2023

For performance material please contact Breitkopf und Härtel, Wiesbaden.


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