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8.570435 - SCHWARZ-SCHILLING, R.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Sinfonia diatonica / Symphony in C Major / Introduction and Fugue (Serebrier)
Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling (1904-1985)
Born in Hanover on 9 May 1904, the son of manufacturer Carl Schwarz, Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling received piano lessons at an early age from a pupil of Franz Liszt and began to compose at the age of fourteen. After high school he took up the study of music, first in Munich and Florence, then in Cologne, where he studied composition with Walter Braunfels (1882-1954), conducting with Carl Ehrenberg (1878- 1962), and organ. Having reached a certain degree of proficiency, he was then sent by Braunfels in 1927 to Ried near Benediktbeuern in Upper Bavaria to complete his studies with Heinrich Kaminski (1886-1946), the eminent heir to the German contrapuntal legacy of Bach, Beethoven, and Bruckner. It was Kaminski who became the young man’s decisive influence. There he also met the Polish pianist Dusza von Hakrid, whom he married in 1929. In the same year the young couple settled in Innsbruck, where Schwarz-Schilling worked as an organist and choir conductor until 1935. In Innsbruck he composed his first two outstanding works, which were soon given a widespread hearing: the String Quartet in F minor (1932) and the Partita for Orchestra (1934-35). From 1935 to 1938 Schwarz-Schilling was a free-lance composer in Feldafing on Lake Starnberg near Munich. In 1938 he joined the staff of the Berlin Musikhochschule. He lived in Berlin until his death on 9 December 1985.
Heinrich Kaminski who, soon after Hitler’s rise to power, founded the secret “Order of Those who Love” as an act of inner emigration, was the young newlyweds’ godfather. In 1938 an anonymous and courageous official in Kochel, close to Kaminski’s home, falsified Dusza von Hakrid’s personal documents to conceal her Jewish ancestry and give her a new “Aryan” identity. Thereafter the family, now including children, had to endure regular interrogations from the Gestapo. They were under suspicion, but no proof was found against them. Being of Polish origin, Dusza von Hakrid fell under the prohibition against performing in public. Even in this threatening situation Schwarz-Schilling refused until the very end to follow the request to become a member of the National Socialist Party. It was not until half a century later, in 2003-04, that their son Christian Schwarz-Schilling (b. 1930), one of Germany’s most experienced politicians (federal minister, High Representative of the United Nations in Bosnia-Herzegovina), discovered the truth about his maternal descent.
Kaminski, a persona non grata in the Third Reich, died in 1946 soon after the cessation of hostilities. In the last months of the war his former pupil Heinz Schubert (1908-1945) had fallen in the conscripted national militia. Schwarz-Schilling was now the only surviving exponent of the Kaminski tradition. In 1955 he was appointed professor of theory and composition at the Berlin Musikhochschule, and in 1969 he became head of its composition department. From the 1960s on he travelled all over the world as an organist and conductor, to the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Israel.
Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling was a particularly prolific composer of sacred works, organ music, and songs. His piano and chamber music is also remarkable. His most important post-war compositions are the Violin Concerto (1953), Missa in terra pax for mixed a cappella chorus (1955), Sinfonia diatonica (1956), Laetare for mixed chorus, strings, and two trumpets (1958), Symphony in C (1963), the a cappella motet Über die Schwelle (Over the Threshold, 1975), and his confessional magnum opus, the large-scale cantata Die Botschaft (The Message, 1979-82) for mezzo-soprano, baritone, chorus, and orchestra.
As an artist, Schwarz-Schilling was sustained by a profound mastery of tradition and strove wholeheartedly for continuous ennoblement, refinement, and evolutionary innovation in his musical resources. He never yielded to the temptations of everyday sensationalism or aesthetic doctrines such as twelve tone ideology, but drew in a highly personal way on the clear forms and elaborate techniques of musical tradition – canon, fugue, chorale. At the same time, however, his controlled manner shows him to be a child of his restless age, and a subliminal, powerfully urgent expressivity constantly flares forth from his music. As a human being Schwarz-Schilling was more than a universally educated man who expressed himself through art: he was a man of action who lived what he recognized and discovered to be right and necessary.
In 1949 Schwarz-Schilling took the first movement of his marvellous String Quartet in F minor, completed in 1932, and rearranged it as Introduction and Fugue for String Orchestra. He wrote the following commentary:
“The String Quartet would not have taken shape if my early experience of Bach and a particular predilection for the classical string quartet literature — up to late Beethoven — had not guided me though my youth and years of study and inspired the development of my personal musical language and creative personality. Although the Introduction, with its fantasy-like improvisatory character, and the fugue, with its tight Allegro tempo, may seem antithetical, both movements have the same motivic kernel: the fugue subject is the inversion of the opening of the Introduction. When the climax of the fugue’s development is reached, the two elements — the theme and its inversion — are directly juxtaposed. At the same time the tempo broadens, imparting a sense of free declamation to the Coda’s development until an intensified Allegro concludes the movement with a short stretta.”
The première of Introduction and Fugue for String Orchestra was given in Berlin on 10 April 1949 by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996).
Schwarz-Schilling finished the Sinfonia diatonica, the first of his two symphonies, at the beginning of 1957. It was first performed by Rolf Agop (1908-1998) and the Dortmund Municipal Orchestra on 31 January 1957 in the Capitol Film Theater, Dortmund. The programme booklet of this première included the following comments by the composer:
One year later Schwarz-Schilling led the Munich Philharmonic in a performance of his Sinfonia diatonica, but soon thereafter he lost interest in the work and sanctioned the separate performance of its Largo movement. We know that he wanted to revise the finale in particular, but it never happened. Whatever the case, these are marginal weaknesses, as anyone listening to this world première recording will perceive.
The Symphony in C, completed in December 1963, is Schwarz-Schilling’s main post-war orchestral composition. Its first performance took place on 10 January 1964 in Wuppertal with Hanns-Martin Schneidt (b. 1930) conducting the Wuppertal Municipal Orchestra. Schneidt also introduced the work to the Berlin Philharmonic in the same year. Schwarz-Schilling himself conducted two radio recordings of the Symphony in C in 1964 (NDR) and 1965 (RIAS Berlin). The composer’s own commentary on the work reads as follows:
Schwarz-Schilling’s late style left all romantic extravagance and expressionist overstatement behind in favor of an immediate, austere purity of expression. The Sinfonia diatonica is characterized by filigree craftsmanship and a lithe classicism that is very refreshing in the context of the German post-war symphony. Entirely metaphysical in character, the Symphony in C abstains from instrumental brilliance and explores the glowing spheres of a transcendent inner vision. Its centripetal harmonic gravitation, continually orbiting the central C, bears a kinship to Jean Sibelius, particularly to the Seventh Symphony. With his two remarkable contributions to the genre, Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling ranks among the most singular and eminent German symphonists in the latter half of the twentieth century.
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