#ClassicsaDay #ForgottenComposers Week 2
This month the Classics a Day team presents a real challenge. And that’s to remember forgotten composers. It’s a challenge, but remembering the forgotten can be important, too.
The idea here isn’t to lift up composers who always labored in obscurity. Rather, the goal is to recall composers that were once popular.
Throughout this month, many of the composers I’ll be featuring will have the same story. During their lifetime they were famous and popular. People flock to hear them play, publishers fight for the rights to their music, and younger composers emulate their style.
And yet, after their death, it all goes away — and quite quickly. Usually, within a decade their music’s out of print, no one performs or discusses them, and they’re virtually eliminated from music history.
Why? The reasons vary. Sometimes it’s gender or racial bias. Sometimes it’s political upheaval. Sometimes tastes just change.
Here are my posts from the second week of #ForgottenComposers. I’ll leave it to you to judge if they deserve to remain so.
11/07/22 Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini: Sonata in G major
Maria Teresa was renowned as a keyboard virtuoso. Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa was both a fan and a patron, and Pinottini’s concerts were destination events for European music lovers. Although a good deal of her music was published, it was not well-curated. After her death in 1795, it was considered second-rate and not worth preserving. As a result, much of her music has been permanently lost.
11/08/22 Franz Schreker: Prelude to a Drama
Schreker, like Wagner, created a unique musical and dramatic aesthetic. After WWI, he was the most-performed operatic composer after Richard Strauss. But he was Jewish. His career was brutally shut down by the Nazis, who officially declared his music irrelevant. Schreker died in 1934, and that assessment of his work was carried forward by historians well into the 1990s.
11/09/22 Thomas Canning: Fantasy on a Hymn Tune by Justin Morgan
Canning studied with Howard Hanson at Eastman and had a successful career in academia. He taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music at the University of Toronto, the University of Hull, and West Virginia University. Most of his compositions were written for specific events, and though favorably received, were still music of the moment. His Fantasy on a Hymn Tune remains his best-known work, although that, too, has lapsed into obscurity.
11/10/22 Robert Fuchs: Piano Concerto in B-flat minor Op. 27
Fuchs was an influential composition teacher at the turn of the century. His pupils highly regarded him as a composer, including Sibelius, Mahler, Korngold, Wolf, Schreker, and Zemlinsky. Fuchs was never interested in promoting his music, so it fell into obscurity after his death.
11/11/22 Malcolm Arnold: Fantasy for Trumpet, Op. 100
Arnold was a trumpeter who turned to composition. At one time, he was the most-performed composer in Britain. He wrote over 100 film scores, including “Bridge on the River Kwai.” Anti-social behavior exacerbated by alcoholism eventually destroyed his career. Now only a few of his most popular scores are infrequently performed.