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 two of the #ClassicsaDay #Opus1.
Nicolai Medtner (1880-1951) – Acht Stimmungsbilder, Op. 1
Pianist/composer Nicolai Medtner wrote his eight between 1895 and 1902. By the time his first works were published, Medtner was already an established concert pianist. Medtner, like Chopin, wrote works exclusively for the piano. His range was wider, though. In addition to solo piano works, Medtner wrote three piano concertos and several chamber works, mostly for violin and piano.
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)- Sonata da Chiesa Op. 1 No. 1
The twelve trio sonatas of Corelli were published in 1681. Publishing was an expensive business and most composers of the day relied on patronage and subscriptions to fund publications. That usually meant that only the best works from a composer’s catalog saw print. In Corelli’s case, Queen Christina of Sweden was that patron.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) – Variations on the name “Abegg”, Op. 1
Schumann’s first published composition was written between 1829 and 1830. The work is a set of variations on the name ABEGG. The inspiration was apparently Pauline von Abegg, who Schumann met when he was twenty. The five notes of the name form the theme (in German, “B” is read as “B-flat”).
Alban Berg (1885-1935) – Piano Sonata, Op. 1
Berg’s piano sonata was published in 1910 and may have been written a year earlier. Although the exact date isn’t known, it was written after Berg had started studying with Arnold Schoenberg. It’s the only work Berg assigned an opus number to.
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) – Festmarsch, Op. 1
Strauss completed the Festmarch in 1876. It was premiered and published five years later. The premiere was conducted by Franz Joseph Strauss, Richard’s father. The elder Strauss tried — unsuccessfully — to steer Richard away from the influence of Wagner.