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Hummel Hunt!

Bortkiewicz Cherubini Composers - Ignored and Almost forgotten! Glazunov Hummel Hunt! Opera/Vocal Rubinstein

Obscure and underdog Composers. Why obscure?

In the case of Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778 – 1837) there doesn’t appear to be a good reason as to why he has become somewhat obscure. At the time he was composing; his music and compositions were spoken of in the same breath as Beethoven and Mozart. (see Hummel and Hummel Hunt on the right)

BUT … it’s a different story with SERGEI BORTKIEWICZ. He suffered every possible trauma from the Russian Revolution, The First World War … and the Second WW too! Even Nazi persecution! Constantly fleeing this, or losing that. How can a musician function? As he wrote:

“I’m writing to you from my bathroom where we have crawled in because it is small and can be warmed on and off with a gas light (!) The other rooms cannot be used and I cannot touch my piano. This is now! What awaits us further ? Life is becoming more and more unpleasant, merciless. I teach at the Conservatory with the heat at 4 degrees, soon even less! […]”

So here’s the Second (the shortest) Movement to Borkiewicz’ Piano Concerto #1 in B minor Op. 16. The passionate “theme” in this movement is so beautiful it could probably spawn a Popular Hit! (maybe it already has and I just don’t know it)

Hey! – I just listened again … and wonder?! Is there inspiration for George Gershwin here?

Bortkiewicz piano concerto no. 1 second movement


Another one from the list Lance sent me of “obscure / underdog” Composers. Lance says that this is his favourite violin concerto! So it’s gotta’ be worth a listen. WARNING: it’s Long!

Glazunov violin concerto in a minor op-82-moderato-andante-allegro


Anton Rubinstein

Not to be confused with the great pianist Artur Rubinstein, born in 1887, Anton Rubinstein, an even greater performer in his time and a clear rival to Liszt and other great pianists of the 19th century, had a marked effect on the development of music in Russia, establishing the first system of professional musical training at a new Conservatory in St. Petersburg in 1862.

Rubinstein grand sonata for piano 4 hands second movement


ANOTHER “Underdog” Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) Italian composer who spent most of his working life in France.

Talk about being cheated out of fame and posthumous recognition!!! Just read what was said about him … by “Them” – back then! And then listen to a movement from that vocal piece “They” raved about.

Posterity has a habit of elevating the obscure and neglecting the famous. Thus it is that Cherubini, hailed by Beethoven as ‘the greatest living composer’, is today often forgotten; ‘If I were to write a Requiem, Cherubini’s would be my only model’, Beethoven continued and the work was performed at his funeral in 1827. Schumann’s opinion was that it was ‘without equal in the world’. Berlioz considered that ‘the decrescendo in the Agnus Dei surpasses everything that has ever been written of the kind’.

Cherubini requiem-no-1-in-c-minor-agnus-dei

Bassoon Cutest Musical Squeak Hummel Hummel Hunt!

My Hummel Hunt – I didn’t even know him!

I didn’t know anything about Johann Nepomuk Hummel until my Dentist mentioned him the other day. My dentist is a Classical Music buff and I’d given him a 2 volume CD Set titled: In the Dentist Chair:

(It was all the music I thought folks might like to hear midst the trauma of drilling and vacuuming spit!)

As a result I’ve been on a Hummel Hunt.

At first it was like listening to a student of Mozart (as he was!) – but the more I listened and researched, the more I realised he was an accomplished and important composer in his own right. He’s one of those who went out of fashion shortly after they died, and are making a “Comeback” as I type.

The Great composers he actually ‘hung out’ with, and/or influenced by teaching them is amazing. Then if you add the composers who taught or influenced him … you come up with a Who’s Who of the “Classical to Romantic Bridge Period.”

Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Czerny, Liszt, Schumann, Schubert and the list goes on.

Here’s to a Hummel comeback! Next time you hear of a Hummel concert in your area – GO!

Later – P.S. – just found this on a music site: Historians tell us that pianist and composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel was spoken of in the same breath as Mozart and Beethoven in 1820 — but not for long…

Hummel piano-concerto-no-2-allegro-moderato


Theme and variations introduction Allegro