Alexander Reinagle – Sonata For Piano – Shirley Resiman, piano – Society For Forgotten Music – February 13, 1950 – Mutual – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Out of the usual Contemporary/mid-20th Century format and into something from the 18th century. The music of Alexander Reinagle. His piano sonata, as performed by pianist Shirley Reisman in this broadcast of Society For Forgotten Music which was aired over Mutual and WNYC, New York on February 13, 1950.
Alexander Reinagle was born in Portsmouth, England. His father was a Hungarian professional musician and his mother was Scots. His brother was Joseph Reinagle. He studied music with his father, then with Raynor Taylor in Edinburgh. He went on a trip to London in 1763. He met Mozart and his family a year later.
At first, Alexander Reinagle made a living in the shipping industry, making several trips to the American colonies during the 1770s. In Edinburgh, he taught music and presented several concerts. His first keyboard compositions were published in Glasgow and became popular in the American colonies.
In 1786, Alexander Reinagle decided to try his fortune as a professional musician in the newly independent United States of America. He moved to New York City, and, later moved again to Philadelphia, which was the national capital at the time. He helped revitalize the musical life of Philadelphia in the 1790s, introducing that city to the music of Haydn and Mozart, as well as his own original compositions.
One of Alexander Reinagle’s admirers was American President George Washington. In 1789, Reinagle composed a “Chorus”, which was performed for Washington at Trenton, New Jersey, during Washington’s journey to his inauguration. Later, in Philadelphia, Nellie Custis, Washington’s step-granddaughter, was one of Reinagle’s music students. Washington was a frequent concertgoer, and could often be seen in the audience at Reinagle’s concerts. On Washington’s death in 1799, Reinagle composed a Monody on the Death of George Washington.
In Philadelphia, Reinagle worked closely with Thomas Wignell in producing opera ballets with the New Company, at the Chestnut Street Theater. Reinagle and Wignell produced over 75 programs with the New Company. At Wignell’s death in 1803, Reinagle moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he became associated with the Holliday Street Theater. He died in Baltimore in 1809, and is buried in Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery there.
Shirley Reisman performed with the New Jersey and Omaha Symphonies and the Symphony of the New World throughout her career. She has presented piano recitals throughout the U.S. and Canada, and has also been heard in WQXR and WNYC radio broadcasts. She died on October 10, 2012.