A new CD has been published by Romantic Discoveries Recordings.
Improvisationen, op. 11: 1. Grazioso 2. Andante con espressione 3. Un poco con moto 4. Allegretto 5. Presto 6. Allegretto tranquillamente 7. Allegro 8. Allegro moderato (scherzando) 9. Tranquillo. Sommermärchen und Herbstblätter, op. 39 (excerpts) 10. Anmuthig 11. Etwas langsam, gemüthvoll. 12. Capriccietti, 11 Stücke, op. 12: Mässig bewegt – Im selben Tempo – Etwas ruhiger – Ziemlich geschwind – Mässig bewegt – Im selben Tempo – Langsam breit – Unruhig – Sehr ruhig – Bewegt – Finale. Ländliche Scenen, leichte Stücke, op. 8: 13. Sommer-Morgen 14. Auf dem Teich 15. Verlassen! 16. Plaudernde Mädchen 17. Trauliches Plätzchen 18. In der Dorfschmiede 19. Die Schule ist aus! 20. Auf der Waldweise 21. Im stillen Grunde 22. Waldvögelein 23. Heimkehr vom Felde 24. Zur Kirmess. Romantic Discoveries Recordings CD 87.
Our thanks to Dr Klaus Tischendorf for supplying scores of these rare works.
Robert Fuchs was born in 1847 in Styria, the youngest of thirteen children. He attended the Vienna Conservatoire where he studied with Felix Dessoff and Joseph Hellmesberger, and subsequently taught there, being appointed professor of music theory in 1875. He retired in 1912. The list of his pupils includes Sibelius, Mahler, Enescu, Wolf, von Zemlinsky, Korngold, Schmidt and Schreker, and it has been suggested by one critic that Mahler’s Second Symphony bears the marks of several “Fuchsisms”.
Fuchs disliked the promotional aspects of life as a composer and did little or nothing to promote his works during his lifetime. He preferred a quiet and comfortable existence in Vienna, where his teaching position ensured both financial security and the opportunity to continue his work as he saw fit. Nevertheless, his five serenades did achieve popularity in his time, earning him the nickname “Serenaden-Fuchs”. Conductors such as Nikisch also did much to champion his orchestral works, though with little ultimate result.
Fuchs was reasonably prolific in most areas of composition, including four symphonies, but it is his chamber and instrumental music that is regarded as his most personal and significant. Brahms, who was not overly given to praise of other composers, said of Fuchs, “Fuchs is a splendid musician, everything is so fine and so skillful, so charmingly invented, that one is always pleased.” One might add that Fuchs is a supremely balanced composer: sensitive yet formal in approach, and tending towards intimacy of expression while not being without the capacity to express a more extrovert drama.
Fuchs’ works for piano include three piano sonatas, which have been recorded in recent years, and a number of other cycles. The Improvisationen, op 11, show him to have absorbed the influences of Schumann, Brahms and Mendelssohn, and reveal a composer of considerable emotional range and an instinctive command of the capabilities of the piano. The Capriccietti, op 12, are a set of pieces designed to play continuously as a cycle, not unlike Schumann’s Humoreske, and with a finale that is reminiscent of that from his Symphonic Etudes. Away from these ambitious works, the Ländliche Scenen are simple pieces that present an idealized world of rural childhood. Unpretentious and melodic, they show Fuchs at his most genial and lyrically inspired.