I’m a regular contributor to the #ClassicsaDay Twitter feed. For January 2018, I decided to mark the first month of the new year with firsts. Each post features the first published work of a different composer.
Emphasis on the word “published,” In some cases, the Opus 1 is the first mature work of the composer. Sometimes the work was written mid-career. A few are spurious, and a few were written quite late and simply assigned the Opus 1 designation.
Each work seems to have a story that’s a little long for the typical tweet. So here they are. This is week one of the #ClassicsaDay #Opus1.
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) – Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1
Rachmaninov had attempted to compose a piano concerto when he was sixteen but abandoned it. He composed what’s known as the Piano Concerto No. 1 when he was 18. He premiered the concerto in 1892. Rachmaninov extensively revised the concerto in 1917, and revised it again in 1919.
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) – Sonates pour un traversiere un violin ou hautbois con basso continuo composées par G. F. Handel, Op. 1
These sonatas, published by John Walsh n 1732 weren’t the first works Handel composed. Both their origin and their instrumentation are in question. Some were originally sonatas for other instruments (violin, oboe, or recorder). At least four are spurious, though all are of good enough quality to remain in the repertoire.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) – Piano Trio No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 1
Beethoven’s Opus 1 is a set of three piano trios. He may have started work on them as early as 1791, and weren’t ready for publication until 1795. They were published in 1795.
Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) – Oror (Lullaby) for Violin and Piano, Op. 1
Alan Hovhaness’s first published work was written in 1922 and revised in 1926. Oror shares the Opus 1 designation with two other works (although it’s not labeled Opus 1, No. 1). Opus 1 No. 2 is an unpublished Suite for violin and piano (1927). Opus 1, No. 3 is a four-movement work completed in 1934. The first movement is for piano and cello, while the remaining movements are for piano alone.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) – Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 1
Brahms completed the Piano Sonata No. 1 in 1853. It was actually the second sonata chronologically for this 20-year old composer. What would be published as Piano Sonata No. was his first. Brahms felt the C major sonata the stronger of the two works, and so submitted it first for publication. Robert Schumann recommended the sonata to Breitkopf & Härtel, beginning a long association between the publishing house and Brahms.