This Sterling World Premiere recording of orchestral music by Heinrich Hofmann was released some time ago, but had been unavailable for a period of time while Sterling Records had no U.S. distributor. Thankfully, the label is back in circulation, and this CD is being recommended here on E.A. immediately following the only other full program of Hofmann’s music available, an excellent MD&G; recording of his chamber music. The orchestral works on this album receive first-rate performances by the Philharmonische Orchester Altenburg-Gera under the direction of Eric Solén.
Heinrich Hofmann (1842-1902) published about 130 works. The majority of these are choral pieces, songs and music for piano or piano duet. His output of orchestral and chamber music was quite limited. He first gained international recognition in 1873 with his Hungarian Suite, Op. 16, dedicated to Johannes Brahms. His next big success was his “Frithjof” Symphony, which for a time was the most frequently performed symphony in the German repertoire (both of these works are on this CD). His next big ‘hit’ was the dramatic cantata Das Märchen von der schönen Melusine which was performed more than 1,500 times during the twenty year period following its publication!
Viewing Hofmann’s music in the context of his time, he was part of a conservative classicist approach that viewed middle-period Beethoven and Weber as the models to be emulated. Hence, he was criticized by some of his contemporaries for not enriching the genres in which he worked. Nevertheless, from our viewpoint of a century later, this music that harkens back to an earlier time should now be listened to and enjoyed for what it is, not condemned to obscurity for what the composer didn’t do. In the sidebar, the sample of Hofmann’s music for you to listen to comes from his Hungarian Suite, Op. 16.
If you would be happy to find something fresh in the mode of Mendelssohn and Schumann, you should give Hofmann’s music a hearing. While it doesn’t bear the masterly craftsmanship of those great composers, it is very easy to enjoy.
Heinrich Karl Johann Hofmann started of as a boy soparano, continued as a concert pianist and made his debut as a opera composer at the age of 27. Being a mixed success it enabled him to concentrate on composing and managed to write quite a large production in the following 30 years. The bulk part is vocal music, cantatas, lieder and choral works and a few chamber works and orchestral pieces.
Heinrich Karl Johann Hofmann (13 January 1842, Berlin – 16 July 1902, Groß-Tabarz, present-day Thuringia) was a German composer and pianist. He was a pupil of Theodor Kullak, Eduard Grell, Siegfried Dehn and Richard Wüerst. His Frithjof Symphony (1874)… was one of the most frequently performed orchestral works in Germany during the late 19th century. In addition to orchestral music, he also wrote several operas, somelieder, choral music, and works for solo piano. After his death, his music fell largely into obscurity.
Philharmonische Orchester Altenburg-Gera
Theater & Philharmonie Thüringen, a five-genre theater in the Free State of Thuringia, the result of the merger of the State Theatre Altenburg with the city’s stages Gera was created in 1995. The original name after the merger was Altenburg-Gera Theater GmbH. In 2006 it was renamed the Theater & Philharmonie Thüringen (TPT) GmbH. The TPT is now home of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Altenburg-Gera.
The 80 musicians feel the rich centuries-old musical tradition in both cities deeply connected. The orchestra regularly performs with internationally renowned soloists such as Bernd Glemser, Anna and Ines Walachowski or Ivan Zenati. The focus of extensive concert offered are the nine Philharmonic concerts in which the repertoire of the 18th to 21 Century composers is maintained.
In 1996 Eric Solén won the conductor competition organised by the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, and after graduating from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm he conducted a considerable number of opera productions and performed with large and small orchestras in Sweden and internationally.
In 2001 he took up the post of principal conductor at the state-run theatre in Oldenburg, Germany, and he has held the position of general director of music at Theater & Philharmonie Thüringen since 2005/2006. Eric thus became the principal conductor and director of music at the largest theatre in Thüringen with an orchestra comprising more than 80 musicians, which serves as both an opera orchestra and an independent concert orchestra.