Whilst sitting back having a root canal – my Dentist, who turned me on to Hummel (see Hummel under composers) – was playing one of those ‘compilations’. Something like “For meditation and relaxation.”
A piece came up and we both perked up our ears. “This is different … nice – wonder who this is.?”
A break in the spit vacuum and drilling comes and he reports, “It’s Spohr”
Neither of us had heard of him.
I had guessed Mendelssohn or Schumann and my dentist thought it was much later than that. Well I was closer to right! Louis (born Ludwig) Spohr was there when Beethoven was a baby and Mozart was a teenager! Mendelssohn and Schumann were not quite twinkles in the eye yet. But it wasn’t “Later” stuff. Earlier actually.
Here are some snippets from his biography:
Spohr was a noted violinist, and invented the violin chinrest, about 1820. He was also a significant conductor, being one of the first to use a baton and also inventing rehearsal letters, which are placed periodically throughout a piece of sheet music so that a conductor may save time by asking the orchestra or singers to start playing “from letter C”, for example). Spohr’s best works are his wistful, elegiac minor-mode first movements, hailed by many of his contemporaries as quintessentially Romantic and inherited by Mendelssohn; his deft scherzos whose influence was felt as late as Brahms; his expressive slow movements with their chromatic alterations which, on occasion, become cloyingly sentimental; and his light-hearted finales which are able to avoid the trap of trivial thematic material.
The ‘wistful, elegiac, and cloyingly sentimental’ bits get me … because sometimes cloyingly sentimental, elegiac and wistful … can come across as just plain moving! Like in this piece.
Here’s the piece that perked up our ears.
Spohr violin concerto no. 7 / Adagio