#196– April 24, 2023
Symphonie Nr.5 “Concertante” by German composer Karl Amadeus Hartmannn is our Composition of the Week. In 2023 we commemorate 60th anniversary of his death.
Written in 1950, it uses material from a previously conceived composition, the burlesque concertino for trumpet and wind ensemble from 1931.
It was premiered 72 years ago, in Stuttgart, Germany, on April 21, 1951, at the South German Broadcasting Hall, during the Musiktage Stuttgart, with the South German Broadcasting Orchestra under Hans-Müller-Kray.
The Symphonie is structured in three movements: I.Toccata “Lebhaft”; II.Melodie “Langsam”; III. Rondo “Lustig sehr lebhaft”. It has a duration of 20 minutes, and it is scored for:
“Karl Amadeus Hartmann pays homage to Igor Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” in the slow-central section of his 5th symphony. The famous opening theme is first quoted by the clarinet and continued by a muted trombone and bassoon. The framing movements are characterized by the spirit of the Baroque concerto: here a variety of solo wind instruments compete with one another. Originally conceived as a concerto for solo trumpet and wind instruments, individual sections of the work took form during Hartmann’s ‘wild’ years when he was experimenting with multifarious styles.” (Program Notes by Editor)
Karl Amadeus Hartmann was born on 2 August 1905 in Munich and encountered art and music at an early stage. He studied trombone and composition at the Staatliche Akademie der Tonkunst in Munich from 1924 to 1929. Hartmann presented his first composition which displayed influences of jazz, Dadaism, persiflage technique and New Objectivity within the framework of the Opera Studio at the Bavarian State Opera. His Miserere for orchestra brought him initial international recognition at its performance at the IGNM Festival in Prague in 1935; in 1936, he won the Carillon competition in Geneva with his String Quartet No. 1. Following studies with Hermann Scherchen, Hartmann became the pupil of Anton Webern in 1941/42 whose compositional style exerted a strong influence in the following years.
In 1945, the composer was appointed as dramatic producer at the Bavarian State Theatre. Hartmann’s attempt to acquaint the audiences not only with classical modern works but also contemporary music by young composers became the guiding concept of the musica viva concerts which Hartmann organised right up until his death.
After the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933 which resulted in a ban on the performance of Hartmann’s works, he regarded composition as his commitment to humanity. Several of his works are based on direct autobiographical experiences.
Alongside the violin concerto (Concerto funebre) composed in 1939, Hartmann’s eight symphonies provide an impressive and committed testimony to the composer’s instrumental oeuvre. During the post-war years, Hartmann began to revise the substantial symphonic sketches which he had created during his period of internal emigration.
From 1948 onwards, Hartmann’s compositions were performed with increasing frequency. In 1949, he was awarded the Music Prize of the City of Munich. This was followed by the Kunstpreis from the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts (1950), the Arnold Schoenberg Medal from the IGNM (1954), the Große Kunstpreis from the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (1957) and the Ludwig Spohr Prize from the city of Braunschweig (1959), the Schwabinger Kunstpreis (1961) and the Bavarian Order of Merit (1959). Hartmann became a member of the Academy of Arts in Munich (1952) and in Berlin (1955) and received an honorary doctorate from the Spokane University in Washington in 1962. Hartmann died on 5 December 1963.
Other works for winds include:
- Toccata variata for wind instruments, piano and percussion (1931-1932)
- Burleske Musik for wind instruments, percussion, and piano (1931)
- Tanzsuite, for clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, and trombone (1931)
- Lied, for trumpet and wind instruments (1932)
- Concerto for piano, wind instruments and percussion (1953)
- Concerto for viola, piano, wind instruments and percussion (1954-6)