The music of Hugo Kauder this weekend. It occurred to me that, calling this feature the Weekly Gramophone has been a misnomer these past several years. I always seem to play radio recordings, airchecks, transcriptions of various historic performers or performances, but never have I actually offered any honest-to-god Shellac recordings (i.e. 78’s) which constitute real Gramophone recordings.
This week it changes – and it changes by way of a very rare set of discs I’ve had on the shelf for a very long time; a performance of the Piano Sonata Number 2 by the 20th Century Austrian composer Hugo Kauder, performed by the legendary Lilian Kallir in this circa 1946-1947 set of 78s which were initially released as part of the Hugo Kauder Society in the late 1940s. Also included are Two Melodies from 21 Melodies For Piano after the Sonata.
For your information, by way of The Hugo Kauder Society:
Kauder was born June 9, 1888 in Tobitschau, Moravia, now Tovacov, Czech Republic. His father Ignaz Kauder was Oberlehrer (principal) of the local German language elementary school. As a boy, Hugo Kauder had violin lessons with the local teacher, who eventually dismissed him when he had taught him everything he knew. These lessons were his only formal training in music.
In 1905, Kauder moved to Vienna to study engineering but often skipped school with classmate Egon Lustgarten to study scores in the Imperial Court Library. Of particular interest to him were several volumes of Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich (Monuments of Music in Austria), mainly works of Flemish composers of the 15th and 16th centuries.
From 1911 to 1917, Kauder played violin in the Wiener Tonkuenstler Orchester under such conductors as Ferdinand Loewe, Franz Schalk, Arthur Nikisch, and Richard Strauss. There he began a lifelong friendship with Dutch horn player Willem Valkenier (1887-1986), inspiring his numerous horn compositions.
From 1917 to 1922, Kauder was the violist of the Gottesmann Quartet.
In 1919, he met poet and philosopher Rudolf Pannwitz (1886-1969). Though he could not play an instrument, Pannwitz composed settings of classic poems, following his idea “quite unconventional at the time” that composers should find and reveal the music latent in texts, rather than creating the musical setting at will. Kauder adopted and elaborated this approach to vocal music and regarded Pannwitz as a life-long mentor.
In 1923 Kauder married the linguist, archeologist, and bible scholar Helene Guttman (1898-1949), a cousin of his study companion Egon Lustgarten.
For the rest of his life, in Vienna and later in New York, Kauder was self-employed as a composer and teacher of violin, music theory, and composition. As part of his efforts to bring his music to life, he conducted a chorus and a chamber ensemble of students and friends (including his son Otto) who studied and performed the classics as well as his own compositions.
Notable musicians who appreciated and performed Kauder’s music in Vienna before 1938 and to some extent after 1945 included the Gottesmann, Sedlak-Winkler, Rose, and Kolbe string quartets; the conductors Josef Mertin (1904-1998), Viktor Bermeiser, Siegmund Levarie, Karl Ristenpart, and Alexander Zemlinsky; pianist Adolf Baller, hornist Ernst Paul, and oboist Alexander Wunderer.
This is from the Hugo Kauder Society, formed in 2002 – there is no mention of an earlier Hugo Kauder Society from which there is at least one other recording made during that period and only available on 78s. In doing an exhaustive research via the Internet, there is no mention anywhere of this particular recording. So it is indeed a rarity – doubly rare because the pianist Lilian Kallir recording almost nothing during her career, and this set of discs isn’t mentioned anywhere either.
Here’s a little bit on the soloist by way of her New York Times obit by Allan Kozinn of October 27, 2004:
Ms. Kallir was born in Prague on May 6, 1931, and made her performing debut on radio when she was 4. She left Europe in 1940 and settled in New York, where she continued her piano studies with Isabelle Vengerova and Herman de Grab. She also studied composition, theory and harmony with Hugo Kauder, whose music she later performed in her recitals.
Ms. Kallir’s first important performance in New York was an evening of concertos with the National Orchestral Association at Carnegie Hall, in 1949, when she played the Schumann Concerto and gave the premiere of a Concerto by Alan Hovhaness in which she was asked to imitate the sound of a Javanese gamelan, partly by playing on the strings of the piano with a timpani stick. She made her New York Philharmonic debut in 1957.
Ms. Kallir met her husband when they were both students at Tanglewood, in 1947, but they did not marry until 1959. By then Mr. Frank was an assistant to Rudolf Serkin at the Marlboro Festival, in Vermont. They were married at Marlboro; the pianist Eugene Istomin was the best man.
The two pianists began playing recitals together in 1960, in a format that included solo performances by each, as well as at least one collaborative work.
So, a doubly rare set of recordings of some music that only recently has been discovered. And with over 300 compositions, there’s a lot to dig through.
In the meantime, enjoy.