Frederick Jacobi tonight. Most likely the premier recording of his Concertino for Piano And Orchestra composed in 1946, premiered shortly after – and this recording appears to be made anywhere from 1950 to 1953. Jacobi’s wife Irene, who was also the dedicatee, is joined by the Belgian Radio Symphony, conducted by Franz André and issued in the U.S. on the SPA Records label (SPA-7), listed as being issued anywhere from 1952-1953.
Frederick Jacobi might not ring many bells today, but in the earlier part of the 20th century, he was considered one of the most representative of American composers and, according to a 1923 issue of Vanity Fair, considered one of the most successful of the “younger generation”. Prolific, and as this performance of the Piano Concertino is any indication, refreshing and inventive, Jacobi was indeed one of the bright lights on the horizon of American Classical Music at the time. Breaking out of a mold which cast American Classical music too much in the shadow of its European counterparts (although, truths to tell, there are bits and pieces of this Concertino reminiscent of Rachmaninov, but maybe only in the late romantic sense.
During his lifetime, Frederick Jacobi enjoyed a healthy reputation and was on a vigorous concert schedule, playing throughout the U.S. and with some of the major orchestras in the country at the time. His music was also widely performed throughout Europe, before and after the War. and to enthusiastic audiences.
But after Jacobi died (in 1952), his music became less and less performed, slipping into relative obscurity. And nowadays he is thought of as “One of Americas Lesser-known Composers”. A completely unnecessary and unwarranted relegation.
So, if you aren’t familiar with the music of Frederick Jacobi, take some time out and play this one – I think you might be pleasantly surprised, and like myself, wonder why he became one of the overlooked and forgotten.