Martin, Ernst 
für Waldhorn und Orchester
Piano score and parts
ISMN M 700196-53-0
Sondershausen is a town in Thuringia that for centuries was distinguished by the residence of the Princes of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. Despite the town’s modest size (pop. 7,759 in 1910), a court orchestra had existed since 1637. In the early 19th century the group’s public “Loh Concerts” originated on the princely estate (near the Loh, a local term for the forest park). The orchestra attracted some formidable musical talent: Max Bruch was Court Kapellmeister until 1870, and Franz Liszt would write the following year,
The ensemble, conducted by [Max von] Erdmannsdörfer, belongs to the most famous in Germany, and quite rightly. Nowhere else is the orchestral literature performed with more understanding, precision and verve. It is a wonder that it is hidden away in such a tiny place.
In 1883 a music conservatory was established in Sondershausen. It quickly became known as a bucolic alternative to the massive Leipzig Conservatory. The faculty would include musicologists Hugo Riemann and Philipp Spitta, and the young Max Reger attended classes for a time. Kammermusiker Ernst Martin, a first desk violinist in the orchestra, was engaged as professor of violin and viola and schooled a generation of pupils, including a certain Oscar G. Sonneck of New Jersey.* His facility as a composer led Martin to produce a tidy catalog of compositions that encompassed orchestral, piano and chamber works. Of interest to hornists, he composed a woodwind quintet and horn duets and trios, as well as that exceedingly rare creation — a high Romantic concerto for horn and orchestra.
Martin’s “Concert in F Dur für Waldhorn mit Orchester- oder Pianofortebegleitung” was published in Dresden by J. C. Seeling about 1887 (Plate Number 1085) and “Dedicated to Herr Kammermusikus [Gustav] Bauer in Sondershausen.” A fellow teacher at the conservatory, Bauer was a gifted hornist who had left a more prominent post in order to play in the smaller city. He presided over a fine section: the young Xaver Reiter, later a celebrated virtuoso in the U.S., played under Bauer in Sondershausen for three seasons. The piece that Bauer inspired is lengthy and through-composed like the first concerto of Richard Strauss that debuted in nearby Meiningen in 1885, and features an ambitious, if conventional, Allegro moderato, a sweetly lyrical Adagio, and an Allegretto finale that delivers the kind of pyrotechnics that audiences crave (featuring both top and bottom concert Fs). The work was a fixture on Professor Bauer’s horn studio syllabus before the turn of the century — while Richard Strauss’ concerto was omitted.
*Sonneck (1873-1928) was to become an eminent American musicologist; director of the music division of the Library of Congress (within his fifteen year tenure he more than doubled its holdings) as well as G. Schirmer publications, and founding editor of The Musical Quarterly.