About this Recording
8.550745 - GOLDMARK: Rustic Wedding Symphony / In the Spring

Karl Goldmark (1830 - 1915)

Overture: Im Frühling (In the Spring), Op. 36
Ländliche Hochzeit (Rustic Wedding), Op. 26
Hochzeitsmarsch (Wedding March): Variations
Brautlied (Bridal Song): Intermezzo
Serenade: Scherzo
Im Garten (In the Garden): Andante
Tanz (Dance): Finale
Overture: In Italien (In Italy), Op. 49

Karl Goldmark was born in the Hungarian town of Keszthely in 1830, three years before the birth of Brahms in Hamburg, and died in Vienna in 1915 four years after the death of Mahler, three years before the death of Debussy. His career spanned a long period of great musical change, although he remained himself firmly in the tradition of Mendelssohn, tempered by the influence of Wagner and Liszt. He was one of a family of twenty , familiar from childhood with the music of the countryside and of the synagogue. The size of the family and the modest resources of his father deprived him of a consistent education and he had his first instruction on the violin from a local choir member in 1841 in Deutsch-Kreuz, where his family had settled in 1834. In 1842 he continued his music studies in the nearby town of Ödenburg and two years later was sent by his father to Vienna, where he was able to study for some eighteen months with Jansa before lack of money compelled cessation of this course, leaving him to teach himself in preparation for entry first to the Vienna Technical School and then to the Conservatory to study the violin with Joseph Böhm. The disturbances of1848 and the temporary closure of the Conservatory brought a return to Deutsch-Kreuz and work in the theatre orchestra in Ödenburg, followed in 1851 by similar employrnent in Vienna at the Josefstadt Theatre and later at the Carlstheater. Here he acquired a thorough practical knowledge of theatre music that was of use to him in his own work as a composer.

Goldmark's first concert of his own compositions in Vienna in 1858 was not well received, inducing him to move to Budapest, where he supported himself by teaching, while studying traditional textbooks on the techniques of composition and the music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. By 1860 he was again in Vienna, where he won success with his Opus 8 string quartet and began to establish himself as a music critic and fervent supporter of the cause of Wagner . His importance as a composer was fully established with his Overture Sakuntala in 1865, reinforced ten years later by the most significant of his operas, Die Königin von Saba (The Queen of Sheba). Official honours in Vienna and Budapest confirmed his leading position in the musical world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an eminence acknowledged also in Italy, where DieKönigin von Sabawon immediate popularity. His later operas include Merlin, Das Heimchen am Herd (The Cricket on the Hearth), based on Dickens, Die Kriegsgefangene (Briseis) (The Prisoner of War), Götz von Berlichingen, after Goethe, and, with greater success, Ein Wintermärchen (A Winter's Tale), from Shakespeare. In orchestral repertoire his works include two symphonies and two symphonic poems, with a number of concert overtures, while his A minor Violin Concerto retains a place in modern repertoire.

Goldmark's Ländliche Hochzeit (Rustic Wedding), a symphonic poem rather than a symphony in its programmatic content, although it retains more or less the traditional structure of the latter form, with an additional Intermezzo as second movement, is an attractive and approachable work. It opens with Wedding March Variations, the simple theme, with familiar musical connotations, announced at the outset by the lower strings, to betaken up by the wind in the first variation. The strings provide a more lyrical second variation, leading to a cheerful outburst of sound from the brass and to a more melancholy version of the material, replaced by a livelier contrapuntal treatment of the theme by the whole orchestra and a still rapider scherzando variation. This is followed by a dramatic minor key version of the melody, followed by a variation with a running string counterpoint, relaxing into gentler lyricism in the variation that follows. The ingenious treatments of the simple material continue with a running variation for the violins, succeeded by a more ponderous return to the minor and a version in which the woodwind has a significant part to play, with a solo violin. A brief fanfare heralds the return of the original Wedding March and the theme is entrusted yet again to the lower strings. The second movement Intermezzo, a bridal song, is tender and lyrical and is followed by a scherzo, a village Serenade that has more of the spirit of the latter, whatever its structure, with its solemn dance rhythms over a drone bass in contrast to its other material. The slow movement, Im Garten (In the Garden) suggests more than a mere marriage of convenience, brokered by some village match-maker, and the symphonic poem ends with a final Dance, its fugal opening combining rustic festivities with symphonic tradition, while its reminiscences of what has passed confirm the unity of the whole work.

The Overture In Italien was issued in 1904. It starts with a burst of vivacious energy, relaxing into a lilting dance and later into lyrical tenderness, with the help of a solo violin. This is interrupted by are turn to the cheerful jollity of the opening and the swing of the dance. The Overture Im Frühling (In the Spring), written in 1888and published the following year, opens with an evocative violin melody, to which livelier material provides a contrast in a generally gentle celebration of the season in which the lark ascends to the heights before a robust conclusion.

National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
The RTÉ Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1947 as part of the Radio and Television service in Ireland. With its membership coming from France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Hungary , Poland and Russia, it drew together a rich blend of European culture. Apart from its many symphony concerts, the orchestra came to world-wide attention with its participation in the famous Wexford Opera Festival, an event broadcast in many parts of the world. The orchestra now enjoys the facilities of a fine new concert hall in central Dublin where it performs with the world's leading conductors and soloists. In 1990 the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra was augmented and renamed the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, quickly establishing itself as one of Europe's most adventurous orchestras with programmes featuring many twentieth century compositions. The orchestra has now embarked upon an extensive recording project for the Naxos and Marco Polo labels and will record music by Nielsen, Tchaikovsky, Goldmark, Rachmaninov, Brian and Scriabin.

Stephen Gunzenhauser
Stephen Gunzenhauser, a graduate of Oberlin College and the New England Conservatory, served Igor Markevich and Leopold Stokowski as assistant conductor before becoming executive and artistic director of the Wilmington Music School in 1974. In 1979, he became conductor and music director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. He records exclusively for Naxos and Marco Polo and his recordings include works of Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, Vivaldi, Mozart, Glière, and Liadov. In 1989/90 he recorded all nine Dvorak symphonies with the Slovak Phi1harmonic, as well as the three Borodin symphonies with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra.

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