Aus ernster Zeit op.56, Concert Overture
„Aus ernster Zeit“ (“From Serious Times”)
Overture Overture, op. 56
(b. Zara, Dalmatia, 2 June 1863; d. Winterthur, Switzerland, 7 May 1942)
Felix Weingartner’s compositions have been dismissed by most critics as mere Kapellmeistermusik (conductor’s music) – serviceable pieces lacking in originality that are said to be typical of the compositional output of most conductor-composers. As one of the outstanding conductors of his age, Weingartner is especially vulnerable to such a charge, since his directorial brilliance completely overshadows his compositional endeavours, the results of which cannot be said to occupy as eminent a place in the Late Romantic repertoire as his recordings do in the early recording era.
Weingartner gave much importance to the compositional side of his musical career, considering it to be at least as equally important as his conducting. His output is substantial, comprising seven symphonies and a dozen operas. Stylistically, his compositions belong the transitional period between the Late Romantic and Early Modernist eras. He wrote in a highly melodic language and produced lustrous orchestral sounds. The structure of his pieces is generally straightforward and shuns overtly complex harmonic structures. It was a style that was quickly going out of fashion: by the end of his career, Modernism had established itself as the dominant musical idiom, to the detriment of his compositional legacy.
Weingartner had little influence upon other composers, with the notable exception of Erich Korngold, who dedicated his Sinfonetta (1912) to him, and whose style resembled strongly to his. Weingartner is today known almost exclusively for his recordings, notably his oft-reissued recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies.
Aus ernster Zeit is very much an occasional piece, and to understand it fully it is necessary to explain the circumstances in which it was conceived. World War I broke out in the summer of 1914, and music was not spared from the passions total war aroused. Cultural links between European countries were severely disrupted, and there was much chauvinistic talk of banning ‘enemy’ music. At first, Weingartner drafted a dovish cultural manifesto to be signed by both French and German cultural figures, but it found few takers. Instead, on 4 October 1914, his name appeared below the ‘Manifesto of the Ninety-Three’ [Manifest der 93], a declaration by prominent German scholars and artists. The document defended the German conduct of the war in strident terms, and alleged that the Entente Powers were waging war against nothing less than German civilization itself. Weingartner was in good company: his fellow signatories included Engelbert Humperdinck and Siegfried Wagner among the musicians, as well as more than a dozen winners of the Nobel Prize. (In his memoirs, Weingartner maintained that he had been tricked into signing the document, and points out that he withdrew his signature in 1917).
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210 x 297 mm