Wiesbaden, Germany: Saturday 4 October 1997.
A Forgotten Composer - Founding concert of the Raff Society
Music of Joachim Raff was performed in the Villa Clementine on the occasion of the 175th Birthday of this once well known composer. However the main purpose here was the founding of the local Raff Society. Born in Lachen near Zürich in 1822, the composer, music teacher, journalist and conductor came to Wiesbaden in 1856 where, over a period of 21 years, he produced the major part of his very many works. During his time in Weimar (1850-56) as assistant to Liszt, he was able to gain valuable experience in the field of instrumentation. From 1877 until his death in 1882 Joachim Raff was Director of the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main.
In order to revive the music of one who had almost been forgotten, one must imagine his audience. His compositional abilities are best revealed in his works for chamber orchestra. And in these, many listeners will be extremely surprised at the contrapunctual methods of this musician who is still regarded as purely eclectic. Extracts from the performances can be heard by following the links...
The musical part of the founding concert opened with a Sonata for violin and piano No 1 in E minor op 73. The first movement bears the title Bewegt mit elegieischen Pathos (moving with elegaic pathos). The Sonata for violincello and piano in D major, op 183, written later, is somewhat more lively. The central movements are shorter, but the finale becomes pompous. The Trio for violin, violincello and piano No 1 in C minor op 102 deserves to be included in today's chamber music programmes. And why is an attempt not made to include one of the great orchestral works in a symphony concert in Wiesbaden, where most of them were written?
The musicians Jochen Brusch (violin), Mario De Secondi (violincello) and an untiring and exquisite pianist Stefana Chitta-Stegemann deserve the highest praise for their intense performance. Jürgen Sachs, first President of the Wiesbaden Raff Society, opened the meeting with some word of welcome. Dr Mathias Wiegandt from the University of Freiburg in a short and lively address recommended to his listeners to take a new look at Joachim Raff.
[Originally published in German in the Wiesbadener Zeitung of 7 October 1997 and subsequently in the Newsletter of the Joachim Raff Society]