Autograph letter signed in full to arts administrator Richard Sternfeld. Hugo WOLF.

Autograph letter signed in full to arts administrator Richard Sternfeld

3 pp. of a bifolium. 8vo (175 x 110 mm.). Dated Döbling [now part of Vienna], November 4, 1892. In black ink. In German (with translation).

Wolf asks Sternfeld (who is not named in the letter but may be identified by circumstantial evidence) about the "popular concerts" series in Berlin, which Sternfeld had suggested as a venue for showcasing Wolf's music. He doubts whether the setting of these concerts was suited to the purpose:

"Would you please, most esteemed [Sir], be so kind as to reveal to me the character of the so-called popular concerts in Berlin?... Are your popular concerts such at which [the audience] is eating, drinking, and smoking? Of course such concerts would prohibit the performance of vocal music, and when you proposed a popular concert to me, you intended to perform my instrumental works only. In such a case a popular concert would not serve me well because, as you know, my specialty is vocal music. However, should it be otherwise and should the said concerts also include vocal music then I would of course prefer such a popular concert to one at the Singakademie, if only to save money. It also would appear that these popular concerts are held in the hall of the Philharmonic, which should not be underestimated."

Creased at horizontal fold; short split to lower portion of central fold.

"[Wolf] intensified the expressive vocabulary of the lied by means of extended tonality and post-Wagnerian declamation while retaining the defining elements of the song tradition he had inherited from Schubert and Schumann. Profoundly responsive to poetry, he incorporated detailed readings of his chosen poems in the compositional decisions he made about every aspect of song: harmonic nuances, tonal form, melodic design, vocal declamation, pianistic texture, the relationship of voice to piano, etc. Seeking an art ‘written with blood’, he went below the surface of poetry – even where his musical purposes were inevitably distinct from the poet's – in order to recreate it in music of remarkable intensity, written, as he once proclaimed, for epicures, not amateurs." Eric Sams and Susan Youens in Grove Music Online.

Richard Sternfeld (1858-1924) was a prominent arts administrator in Berlin at the time. A board member of the Wagner-Verein, he organized several performances of Wolf's works.

The Berlin concert Wolf was planning at the time finally took place on January 8, 1894 - but not as a “popular” concert. Siegfried Ochs, director of the Philharmonischer Chor, conducted some of Wolf’s choral-orchestral works. Item #25312

Price: $3,200.00  other currencies

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