FRANZ REIZENSTEIN (1911 - 1968)

'When Franz Reizenstein died the British musical scene lost one of its best-loved and most respected personalities...' (RECORDS AND RECORDING)

This warm tribute sums up the esteem which this gifted musician earned during a life sadly cut short at the height of his powers. He was renowned as a composer of many fine works in all genres, as a superb concert pianist with a large repertoire, and as an inspiring teacher. He enjoyed the company of eminent musical colleagues with whom he played Chamber music, and for whom he frequently wrote works. His music is completely twentieth-century in harmony and melodic invention and shows a mastery of technique and form with an innate lyrical core. Alongside his seriousness of purpose he had a keen sense of humour, which led him to being inveigled by Gerard Hoffnung to write two works for the Hoffnung concerts.

Born in Nuremberg and prodigiously gifted as a child, Franz Reizenstein began to compose at the age of 5, and by 17 had written several works, including a string quartet. Much encouraged by his artistic family, he played a great deal of Chamber music at home and gave public performances on the piano. At 18 he entered the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik, where he studied compositon with Paul Hindemith and piano with Leonid Kreutzer.

Paul Hindemith was one of the many distinguished non-Jews who loathed the nazi ideology and chose to flee from Germany. In 1934, at the age of 23, Reizenstein decided to flee as well and came to London to study at the Royal College of Music with Vaughan Williams. The seeds of his basic style were now sown - a basic contrapuntal skill from Hindemith with its austerity mellowed by the warm expansive idiom of Vaughan Williams.

Franz Reizenstein remained in England for the rest of his life, adopting British nationality. He became a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, Royal Manchester (now the Royal Northern) College of Music, and visiting Professor of Composition at Boston University in 1966. His devoted students, many of whom have themselves achieved distinction, and his fine works are testimony to his vast knowledge of music and his ability to inspire.

SOME WORKS
Chamber: Piano trio, string quartet, piano quintet, violin/viola/'cello sonatas, wind duo/trio, clarinet & string quartet, trio for flute/oboe/piano, oboe sonatina

PIANO: 2 sonatas, 12 Preludes and Fugues, Scherzo, Arnold's English Dances for piano duo.

Choral: Genesis ( '...cause for congratulation is Mr. Reizenstein's effective understanding of English verse, which he loves...')

Orchestral: Concerto for String Orchestra, Overture 'Cyrano de Bergerac', Piano Concertos 1 & 2, Violin Concerto ('one of the finest Violin Concertos of recent years'), Cello Concerto ('one of the finest examples of virtuoso cello writing in contemporary music' William Pleeth)

  ..