Heinrich Herzogenberg

Heinrich Herzogenberg (1843-1900)

Nationality: Austrian
Born: June 10, 1843, Graz Died: October 9, 1900, Wiesbaden (age 57)

String Trio in A major, Op. 27, No. 1

(for violin, viola and cello)
9:50 I. Allegro
6:07 II. Andante
6:17 III. Allegretto
7:19 IV. Allegro
Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)
Published: 1879, Leipzig: J. Rieter-Biedermann (age 35-36)
Dedication: Engelbert Röntgen
From Edition Silvertrust

Heinrich von Herzogenberg The Austrian composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) was often written-off as nothing more than a pale imitation of Brahms, of whom he was a great admirer. There is no denying that his music often strongly shows the influence of Brahms, however, listeners and players alike, who have revisited the music, have discovered that it is original and fresh, notwithstanding the influence of Brahms. Many compositions, especially his chamber music, are first rate and Brahms might well have wished he had written some of them. Toward the of his life, Brahms, who was not in the habit of praising other composers publicly, wrote of Herzogenberg, whom he had often harshly criticized in the past, “Herzogenberg is able to do more than any of the others."

Herzogenberg’s two string trios were written one after another and completed in 1877. They are both big works and among the few which Brahms publicly praised. No major composer (including Brahms) had, since Beethoven, published string trios. (Schubert’s remained in manuscript awaiting publication) So, it is not surprising that Beethoven was to serve as Herzogenberg’s structural model.

The opening subject to the first movement of String Trio No.1, Op.27 No.1 in A Major, Allegro, is bright, graceful and syncopated. The second theme, is equally cheerful, but somewhat broader and is sounds especially well in the viola and cello.

The Andante which follows begins with a beautiful folk melody, slow and lyrical, while the middle section is quicker and somewhat turbulent.

Next comes an Allegretto, which for its main theme has a kind of “Shepherd’s Lament” which quickly morphs into a rustic peasant’s dance.

The mood of the finale, Allegro, is similar to that of the 1st movement, mostly bright and graceful. Toward the end, the writing becomes almost orchestral which is quite an accomplishment for just three voices.

It is truly a shame that it is not better known.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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