Stimmen der Nacht
Piano music of Heinrich von Sahr (1829-98)
John Kersey, piano
Audio sample: In Nordischer Weise, op 1 no 1
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Total time: 69 mins 17 secs
Acht Clavierstücke, op 1
1. In Nordischer Weise (In Nordic Style) (2’08”) 2. Allegretto (2’31”) 3. Andante (5’53”) 4. Allegro (2’19”) 5.Andante (1’42”) 6.Jagdlied (Hunting Song) (3’07”) 7. Allegretto (3’08”) 8. Andante con moto (2’04”)
Stimmen der Nacht (Voices of the Night), op 3
1. Allegro vivace e appassionato (5’25”) 2. Larghetto, ma non troppo (3’33) 3. Allegro molto vivace e appassionato (3’53”) 4. Andante tranquillo (3’10”) 5. Andante sostenuto (4’03”)
Variationen über ein eigenes Thema (Variations on an original theme), op 10 (25’24”)
We are grateful to Dr. Klaus Tischendorf for supplying copies of scores for use in this recording. The CD includes programme notes in German by Dr. Tischendorf.
The composer Heinrich von Sahr (actually Heinrich Ernst Sahrer of Sahr) was the son of a wealthy aristocratic family born on 2 November 1829 in Dresden. After graduating high school (as a colleague of Hans von Bülow), Sahr in 1848 went to the Leipzig Conservatory and was soon initiated into the circles of musicians influenced by Mendelssohn and Schumann. He was friendly with Woldemar Bargiel, Julius Otto Grimm and Albert Dietrich. The latter took him to Dusseldorf in 1852 to Robert Schumann, who already had noted Sahr in Dresden in 1847 in his Projektenbuch under Younger Composers of my choice. In 1854 the circle of friends expanded to Johannes Brahms, whom Sahr introduced to Leipzig’s artistic circles. The friendship with Brahms existed until the early 1880s: 1878 saw Sahr, Brahms, Billroth and Goldmark make a trip to Italy. After deputising for his sick friend Albert Dietrich as Hofkapellmeister in Oldenburg in 1863, he went in 1868, probably courtesy of his friend Bülow, to become teacher of harmony at the Royal School of Music in Munich. Yet in 1870, however, he had already retired from the faculty. He took up no other position, but withdrew more and more into private life. His last published works were printed in 1886. On 6 December 1898, Heinrich von Sahr died in Munich. His small worklist (16 opus numbers) includes, in addition to the piano pieces, 3 orchestral works, and 11 collections of songs.
Sahr was at once severely depressive and a visionary creator, keen to share his gifts and inspiring love in his friends. He is one of those composers from the radius of Johannes Brahms (such as Joseph Joachim, Gustav Nottebohm or Eusebius Mandyczewski), whose remarkable work disappeared in the towering shadow of their famous friend. The personal tragedy of this gifted musician resonates today. Hedwig von Holstein, the widow of the composer Franz von Holstein, with both of whom Sahr was very friendly, wrote in 1892 to Heinrich von Herzogenberg (whom Sahr wanted to visit in Munich): “But the poor Sahr shrank from the reputation of the giant [Brahms] and, in a fit of desperation, burned all of his manuscripts – those which were already printed, he could not destroy. Finally, he continued with his piano because he considered his playing was not good enough and made him unhappy.”