(1895 - 1956)
Klarinette in A und Streichquartett
Score and parts
ISMN M 700196-12-7
Walter Gieseking (1895-1956) was one of the great German pianists, his international fame spanning the years before and after the Second World War. He was raised on the French Mediterranean coast before his family moved to Lahde in Westphalia. From 1912 to 1917 he studied with Karl Leimer in Hanover, to whom he gave credit for his ”entire education as a pianist.” Gieseking is still regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of Debussy and Mozart. His astonishing career began with a debut in Berlin in 1920. Not long afterwards his concerts took him throughout the world.
His compositions were few, but characteristic (like the charming childrens’ songs written for his daughters to texts by Paula and Richard Dehmel). Done chiefly for amusement, they were products of long sea voyages, or train journeys across America. During his study years in Hanover, Gieseking often gave concerts with the solo wind players from the city opera, from whence his marked preference for woodwind instruments developed. He produced an extended Quintet for Piano and Winds, and a number of works for flute and piano.
I learned about his Clarinet Quintet by reading an article by Rudolf Bauer about the noted clarinetist Heinrich Geuser (in the anthology ”Musikstadt Berlin zwischen Krieg und Frieden” [Berlin: Bote & Bock, 1956]). There Bauer mentions a Quintet by Gieseking that was premiered by Geuser and the well-known Strub Quartet. By fortunate happenstance, Gieseking’s daughter Jutta Hajmássy, who now resides in Wiesbaden, enabled me to look upon the composition in question, titled Divertimento. So though I had previously believed the work to be lost, it was my great pleasure to revive it together with the Vlach Quartet of Prague at the International May Music Festival in Wiesbaden in spring of 2002.
The work, which probably first originates from the end of the 1930s, is dated in Gieseking’s hand: ”Second revision, finished May 14, 1942.” The last movement would be revised yet again in 1951/52. This then is the edition of the work, transcribed by Philipp Zehm from the manuscript score, that is published here for the first time.
The Divertimento, which in addition to Mediterranean influences also shows signs of familiarity with Paul Hindemith and Richard Strauss, exudes its own particular charm, and will doubtless take a place alongside the great works of its genre.