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Hanns Schimmerling: Sinfonietta parisienne, for orchestra and voice (1925)

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Author Topic: Hanns Schimmerling: Sinfonietta parisienne, for orchestra and voice (1925)  (Read 81 times)
« on: September 23, 2018, 04:27:05 pm »

Hanns Schimmerling was born in 1900 in Brno and studied music under Franz Schreker, Frantisek Neumann and Alexander Zemlinsky. In 1925 he became conductor at the German Opera in Prague and toured as piano accompanist with Michael Bohnen, the then leading Metropolitan Opera bass and was a promising composer in the 1920s and 30s. For example his "Sechs Miniaturen, for chamber orchestra" was premiered by Alexander Zemlinsky. But the career of Hanns Schimmerling stopped with the rise of the Nazi regime, he and his wife had to flee from Europe and finally settled in the US. There he could not reestablish his career as a composer and taught at elementary music schools and developed music programs. He died in 1967.
The music of Hanns Schimmerling fell into oblivion after World War II and so most of his compositions remain unpublished and even worse got lost over the years. That is a pity because Hanns Schimmerling was described as a "contemporary, multifaceted talent". So it is no surprise that there is some recent interest in his compositions by those who want to look beside the beaten path. The Klangforum Wien just performed a concert titled "epicenter" (referring to the groundbreaking musical activities in Vienna in the 1920s) which contained Schimmerling's "Sechs Miniaturen" (together with works by Schoenberg, Berg, Wladimir Vogel and Leopold Spinner)!

I recently bought the autograph manuscript of another composition by Hanns Schimmerling which remained unpublished so far. The manuscript is the "Sinfonietta parisienne, for orchestra and voice op.18". The work was composed during and afterwards Schimmerling's visit in Paris in 1925. The composition consists of five movements which all imitate and describe specific places in Paris and so create a symphonic poem about the city. Most interesting is that Schimmerling pictures both human and technical aspects of Paris. The parts describe the traffic at the opera junction, the contemplation at Notre Dame, the jazzy, lively goings-on at Montmartre, the joy and relaxation in the Louvre and the sound of the propellers when leaving Paris via airplane.

I now have typeset the full score and created a computer realisation of the beginning of the first movement "Le Carrefour de l'Opera" (the opera junction). Both can be found on my website for free. Hanns Schimmerling wrote a detailed preface where he explains his composition and each movement (in German). In addition to the sound file I translated the text for the first movement, it says:

"The noise and uproar an the opera junction creates a chaos of wild voices. To identify a straight-line theme for the 1. movement of my Parisian Sinfonietta is just the sign of a musical nursery and I only dared to compose a fugue (albeit with almost only sixteenth notes) because I wanted to find the most obvious musical form for the opera junction (Le Carrefour de l'Opera) for which I should not be ashamed to have ever studied at a conservatory. However I would like to beg automobile industrialist's and instrument maker's pardon, when I mistook horns in F for Ford and Fiat and trumpets in C for Citroen and Cadillac. But that is the only liberty I took in a strict four-part movement with car horn accompaniment. The traffic at the Boulevard de Capucines is the subject and the vertical Rue de l'Opera is the secondary theme. Fortunately the traffic controlling constable in the junction. What an embarassing incident, the collision of the subject with the secondary theme, a harmonical mess which cannot even be justified according to the laws of a post-Schoenbergian harmonics."

You can find a more detailed biography, the full score and the sound file here:

Enjoy and spread the word!

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