Einleitung und Romanze
Konzertstück Op. 27
SERIES ROMANTIC HORN
für Horn (oder Violoncello)
Albert Hermann Dietrich was born at Forsthaus Golk near Meissen on August 28, 1829. His first studies were with Julius Otto at Dresden's famous Kreuzschule. In autumn of 1847 he moved to Leipzig with the lofty aim of studying with Felix Mendelssohn. Following Mendelssohn's death just weeks after Dietrich's arrival the young man spent several years attending lectures at the university and studying with Ignaz Moscheles and Julius Rietz of the Leipzig Conservatory. By 1851 he had formulated a new goal: he moved to Düsseldorf and appealed to Robert Schumann for composition lessons. According to scholar Ute Bär, Dietrich's next four years would prove to be "the shortest but undoubtedly most important chapter of his life.” He became Schumann's star pupil, and was among twelve "significant talents” that Schumann mentioned alongside Johannes Brahms in the influential article "New Paths” in 1853. As Schumann's mental state deteriorated, Dietrich became a steady source of support to the older composer's family. After Schumann entered the sanatorium at Endenich in 1854, Dietrich began his professional career as a conductor, becoming Bonn's municipal Music Director in 1859, and Court Kapellmeister in Oldenburg from 1861 until 1890. His talented circle of friends guaranteed a stream of stellar soloists for Oldenburg concerts, and Clara Schumann, Joseph Joachim and Johannes Brahms were often guests. After retirement Dietrich lived in Berlin, where he was a member of the Prussian Academy of the Arts and named a Royal Professor in 1899. He died on November 20, 1908.
Dietrich published a large number of compositions in diverse genres, which Alfred Remy maintained "rank high among contemporary productions.” Later commentators agreed: "his works enjoyed a considerable reputation during his lifetime” wrote R. J. Pascall, and Antonio Baldassarre noted that Dietrich's creations "earned great popularity as well as the attention of the musical press.” These works included a Symphony in D minor (dedicated to Brahms), two operas, several pieces for chorus and orchestra, concerti for violin and for cello, chamber music, Lieder, and piano works.
Still, the name of Albert Dietrich may have been ignored by succeeding generations if not for two rather peripheral accomplishments. In 1853 he contributed the first movement Allegro for the well known F-A-E Sonata written collectively with Schumann and Brahms for Joseph Joachim (FAE being short for "Frei aber einsam,” Joachim's independent but solitary motto). And after retirement Dietrich published important reminiscences of Johannes Brahms (Erinnerungen an Johannes Brahms, Leipzig/1898, issued a year later in English as Recollections of Johannes Brahms). Thus his name lives on in the literature on Schumann and Brahms, though his many compositions go unplayed.
The Einleitung und Romanze: Concertstück für Horn, Op. 27 was published by Hugo Pohle of Hamburg in 1874 in versions with both orchestral and piano accompaniments (plate nos. 156 and 158, respectively). It is one of a handful of works for solo horn that emerged from the Schumann/Brahms circles. The choice of the solo instrument had both personal and professional roots. Dietrich spent his childhood in the Hunting Lodge at Golk, where his father was Royal Chief Forester and the sound of the hunting horn was omnipresent. Later, each of his teachers had authored solo or chamber music for horn, and his occupation as a conductor had introduced him to a number of fine hornists, particularly the Grand-Ducal Oldenburg Court Orchestra's Ferdinand Westerhausen, the dedicatee of the work.
The Einleitung und Romanze makes its impression with lyrical drama, avoiding virtuosic effect, with slow tempi that invite expression, a limited range of just over two octaves, and an absence of brilliant high notes or thundering pedals. The work's formal model is the Romantic opera aria, with the horn treated much like a vocal soloist (not incidentally, the successful Frankfurt premiere of the composer's first opera Robin Hood would come a t the end of the decade). The Andante con moto of the Introduction sets out the somber F minor mood in hesitant, recitative-like lines. The Romanze (Andante molto sostenuto, quasi Adagio) presents the lamenting piano main theme, which is offset by a forte secondary theme in F major (Più mosso). This secondary material provides the modulatory interest of the work, alternating with short reminders of the Introduction before the return of the main theme, again in F minor (Andante sostenuto, quasi Adagio). A short coda based on the Introduction locks the work firmly into F major, in which it closes on a last pianissimo chord. Albert Dietrich's only solo work for horn aptly demonstrates what the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik called his "gift of noble and poetic understanding in addition to solid technical expertise.”