Carl Goldmark: In Memory of the Composer and his Work
June 6, 2014
The 2nd January 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of the composer Carl Goldmark. After a youth full of deprivation and mainly autodidactic studies, Goldmark became a celebrity in his latter years and today is still considered as one of the foremost Hungarian composers.
His opera „Queen of Sheba” became world famous. In Vienna alone it was seen as many as 275 times. The musical drama was performed in most opera houses worldwide, including the Scala and the Metropolitan. It was particularly popular in Italy, as its rich musical score is comparable to the operas of Verdi and Puccini. Famous conductors such as Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini, Richard Strauss as well as Bruno Walter, tenor singers Enrico Caruso und Leo Slezak or the soprano Selma Kurz included the opera in their repertoire.
Other outstanding compositions include a violin concerto, two symphonies (the first Op. 26, Laendliche Hochzeit – Rustic Wedding), several symphonic overtures, two piano quartets, two piano trios and a violin as well as a cello sonata.
Goldmark’s work was affected during the Nazi era by the ban on Jewish composers. However, Goldmark also remained forgotten after the end of World War II. Only his violin concert has been occasionally performed by internationally acclaimed musicians such as Nathan Milstein, Itzhak Perlman or Sarah Chang.
This is mainly due to the fact that while Goldmark’s major work, „The Queen of Sheba“ has long been popular with the audience, it was heavily criticized by critics. The devastating critique of the 1875 premiere by Eduard Hanslick, still regarded as influential today, leaves its mark on current music literature. Though Hanslick too was Jewish, he criticized „The Queen of Sheba“ in particular for „its plaintive, whining music” with its „oriental-Jewish character“.
Apparently Hanslick and his followers did not concern themselves with the Jewish interpretation of the Queen of Sheba legend. In contrast to the Christian and Islamic interpretation, Sheba is not seen here as the beautiful, infatuating yet also wise Queen, but as a demon. The Jewish legend even goes as far as comparing the Queen of Sheba with Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Lilith is Adam’s equal and was therefore rejected in favour of the devoted, submissive Eva. If the two main female characters, the Queen of Sheba and Sulamith, are understood as rivals for the favour of King Solomon‘s favourite Assad, this conflict convincingly creates the opera’s drama, and its scoring is overwhelming. Moreover, the legend of the Queen of Sheba, present in all three Abrahamic religions, offers a message of peace at a time of the “clash of civilizations”.
In November 2014 the AustrianAcademy of Sciences will hold a conference on the life and work of Carl Goldmark, the National Széchényi Library of Hungary and the Vienna Library will mount exhibitions in 2015. In addition the National Széchényi Library of Hungary is planning to bring out a facsimile edition of the autograph of the violin concerto.
We call on the world of music to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of the composer Carl Goldmark in 2015 and once more to perform his musical work.
Dr. Thomas Aigner, Head of Music Collection, Vienna Library; Yonatan Cohen, Conductor and Pionist, Israel and Berlin; Dr. Albrecht Duemling, President, Musica Reanimata, Berlin; Andreas Fallscheer-Schlegel, Reutlingen; Komm. Rat Michael Feyer, Businessman, Vienna; Galil Trio (Noa Chorin, Nur Ben-Shalom and Daniel Seroussi), Berlin; Dr. Primavera Driessen Gruber, Founder and Deputy President, Orpheus Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to researching, documenting, and promoting the awareness of persecuted and exiled music and musicians, Vienna; Paul Gulda, Pianist, Musician, Pedagogue, Vienna; Michael Haas, Research Director, Jewish Music Institute for Suppressed Music, Royal Holloway College, London University; SR Gerhard Heinrich, President,Carl Goldmark Association, Deutschkreutz; Manfred Kölly, Mayor of Deutschkreutz; Prof. Kolja Lessing, Violinist, Pianist and Composer, Würzburg; Anna Mayer-Benedek, Boardmember, “Wir erinnern – Begegnung mit dem judischen Mattersburg“ (We Remember – Encounter Jewish Mattersburg), Vienna; Nina and Dr. Konrad Melchers, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia, Berlin; Balázs Mikusi, Director, Department of Music, National Széchényi Library of Hungary, Budapest; Dr. Adalbert Putz, Founding Member and Member of the Advisory Board, Carl Goldmark Association, Deutschkreutz; Peter Sarkar, CEO, Musica Reanimata e.V., Weimar; Gerd Schaller, Conductor, Founder and Artistic Director of the Ebrach Summer Music Festival; Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dieter Senghaas, Bremen; Dr. Peter Stachel, Austrian Academy of Sciences; Paul Stein, Lector, Vienna; Robert Strobl, Vicemayor of Deutschkreutz, CEO, Carl Goldmark Association; Mag. Andrea Winklbauer, Curator, Jewish Museum, Vienna.
Contact: Dr. Konrad Melchers; Manteuffelstr. 57; 10999 Berlin, Germany
Ph.: +49(0)30-61073877; F.: +49(0)30-61073970; mob.: +49(0)170-3403509; Em: KMelchers@t‐online
Announcements of concerts with Carl Goldmark works
Queen of Sheba Performances
Budapest Summer Festival on MargaretIsland, July 2015 and from September 2015 at the HungarianState Opera (cf. Müsorkalendárium 2014/2015)
Theater Freiburg, Conductor Fabrice Bollon, Stage Direction Kirsten Harms: Premiere April 18,2015 (cf. Playing Schedule 2014/2015)
Gerd Schaller: Your commitment for the composer Carl Goldmark gives to me great pleasure. Carl Goldmark has composed wonderful music providing a substantial part of my repertoire. Since years I’m strongly committed to his works performing his music repeatedly as well as recording CD’s.
Already when I was musical director of the state capital theater of Magdeburg I realized his opera Queen of Sheba performing this formidable opus several times. After several years of preparation I realized a concert performance of the original version of his second opera “Merlin” reconstructing and newly editing the score and entire material for the orchestra. It was recorded in cooperation with Radio Bavaria und published by the renowned Haenssler cd label profile edition, which received international acclaim and an ECHO award for classical music in the category “19th century opera recording”. I performed and recorded Goldmark’s 1. symphony “rustic wedding” with Henssler profile edition as well. Time and again I arranged programmes of my concerts with his magnificent violin concert. It goes without saying that Goldmark will play a role at the anniversary 2015.
Daniel Seroussi, Galil Trio: I’m happy to introduce the conductor, maestro Yonatan Cohen from Israel, who will arrange the first Trio of Goldmark for clarinet. Most likely we will perform two movements of the Trio at the court of the Jewish Museum, Berlin, already this summer 2014.
Concerts and events in Deutschkreutz, Burgenland/Austria, organized by the Carl Goldmark Association and the Municipality of Deutschkreutz
1) June 9, 2014 – Goldmark Concert, programme: songs of opus 18, 21, 34 and 46.
2) Nov. 27, 28, 29 2014 – expert conference in Deutschkreutz – kick-off event to the Goldmark jubilee (planning).
3) Jan. 2, 2015 – commemoration ceremony and concert with piano works of Carl Goldmark played by Paul Gulda (planning).
4) March/April 2015 – Vernissage with Dvora Barzilai, music: Jewish hymns and psalms vocalized by Shmuel Barzilai, cantor of Vienna Synagogue. (planning)
5) May-June 2015 – concert by CarlGoldmarkMusicSchool, Deutschkreutz (planning)
6) Whitsmonday 2015 – traditional Carl Goldmark concert – Gyoer Phliharmonic Orchestra, programme: Symphony No 1 (Rustic Wedding), Overtures: Sakuntala, Prometheus Bound and In Italy.