Author Topic: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)  (Read 2708 times)

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Offline Rinaldo

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Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« on: November 03, 2015, 07:09:10 AM »

ERWIN SCHULHOFF

Born in Prague, died in the Wülzburg concentration camp. Studied under Debussy, Reger and others. An avid nightclub dancer. Served in the First World War. Wrote a piece composed entirely of rests, 30 years before Cage had the same idea. I found out about Schulhoff recently and it looks he's kind of flying under the radar, undeservedly so!

My favourite piece so far are the 5 Jazz Etudes:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/nm-0XONJUTw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/nm-0XONJUTw</a>

Looking forward to the violin sonatas and his three SQ's. Currently listening to Schulhoff's only opera, Flammen, which is a surrealist take on Don Juan. You can check it out via the fabulous Wellesz Theatre channel.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2015, 07:42:24 AM »
Schulhoff really was going places until he was captured by the Nazis. If I'm not mistaken, the Soviet Union accepted his request for citizenship, but it was not to be. Anyway, like Shostakovich and many of these composers around this time, it's hard not to look at Schulhoff's music without some kind of political context as that history is so intertwined with the music. One work of I really enjoy is the Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra. A really top-drawer work IMHO. The Violin Sonatas are also quite engaging. I haven't warmed up to any of his symphonies yet. I don't find them to be that compelling. The ballets Ogelala and Die Mondsüchtige are also very good and worth checking out.
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Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 08:25:13 AM »
Schulhoff really was going places until he was captured by the Nazis. If I'm not mistaken, the Soviet Union accepted his request for citizenship, but it was not to be.

From what I've read, he was waiting for the visa but didn't get them on time.

Quote
I really enjoy is the Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra. A really top-drawer work IMHO.

Noted! I just finished the first act of Flammen and really loved the mysterious orchestral passages so I can't wait to hear more of his orchestral writing. Can't believe he's absent from Czech textbooks, especially given his communist leanings - the previous regime usually rushed to get even lesser artists on a pedestal just because they were avid communists.. I presume his Jewishness was what 'saved' him from this dubious appraisal.

Offline Todd

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 08:31:11 AM »
Schulhoff is at his best in chamber music.  His orchestral music is entertaining, but I don't really listen to it much at all.  It's been years since I listened to Flammen, so I may have to revisit it soon-ish.  I remember the Decca sonics really flattering the music.  I also sort of keep meaning to listen to his setting of The Communist Manifesto, but I've yet to get around to it.

As to chamber works, the violin sonatas are excellent, and the Hot Sonata for Saxophone and Piano is great good fun, and one his better chamber music pieces I've heard.  The string quartets, though, are where it's at.  I've heard three complete sets, and a couple other recordings of the first, and the Petersen Quartet is the way to go if you want but one recording.  I believe they are OOP, but they are top flight.   






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Offline The new erato

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2015, 09:04:10 AM »
The string quartets, though, are where it's at. 
I agree, and remember enjoying (in particular) the Ysaye in no 1 on Philips, as well as the Naxos set. Would love to hear the Petersen.

Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2015, 09:19:45 AM »
The string quartets, though, are where it's at.  I've heard three complete sets, and a couple other recordings of the first, and the Petersen Quartet is the way to go if you want but one recording.  I believe they are OOP, but they are top flight.

Thank you! I love SQ's so I'll definitely keep an eye out for these recordings.

Gosh, those moments when you discover a composer that immediately clicks with you are the best.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2015, 09:31:54 AM »
Symphony 5 is relentlessly powerful and doom-laden work which I find very moving given the circumstances of its composition. It would probably appeal to admirers of Shostakovich or Honegger:

« Last Edit: November 03, 2015, 09:33:58 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2015, 09:41:37 AM »
I have the first Petersen disc, very good. Also the Sextet (Raphael on hyperion). His music is quite varied, some pieces are more neo-classicist, or even with traces of romanticism, others more modernist. That Ogalala ballett reminded me of "Le Sacre light". I have also a disc with two symphonies (Conlon on Capriccio) but would have to re-listen to those.

He not only anticipated  Cage with that silent piece. There is also a "sonata erotica" that anticipates a notorious scene from "When Harry met Sally"...
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline kyjo

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2019, 04:54:06 PM »
It's a shame to see this remarkable composer has only one page to his thread! Well, just now I discovered a work of great genius and wit: Schulhoff's Piano Concerto no. 2 (alternatively titled Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra, but the orchestra employed sounds anything but small, with a colorfully augmented percussion section!). It's very much a work of its time (1923), and though one can hear the occasional influences of Ravel and Prokofiev, Schulhoff's style is quite personal. The Amazon blurb very accurately describes it as "a wild blend of Impressionist, late-Romantic and jazz-inspired sounds and rhythms." The first movement opens mysteriously and builds to a frenzied climax right before the end. The second movement returns to the mysterious, impressionistic mood of the opening and there's some truly magical writing towards the end. And then comes the madcap romp of the finale, where the aforementioned augmented percussion section (including one exotic-sounding instrument which I can't identify) really comes into play! In the center of the movement, there's a tender duet between a solo violin and the piano to offer some respite. Highly recommended to anyone who loves 20th century piano concerti:



(one of multiple recordings)

https://youtu.be/10F3IxZkoCs
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 04:55:57 PM by kyjo »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2021, 10:48:04 AM »
Thought I would revive this thread. One would do well to move beyond the orchestral works and concerti from Schulhoff --- the songs, chamber works and solo piano music are absolutely first-rate, IMHO. Of course, I’m not saying his orchestral music isn’t worth exploring (because it most certainly is), but when there are works like the SQs, Violin Sonatas, the Piano Sonatas, all of those jazz-influenced solo piano works et. al., it gives the listener a broader scope of the composer.

I would like to talk about the Schulhoff discography --- it’s disappointing and this mainly due to two things: 1. many of the great recordings that have been available are now long gone and difficult to find and 2. the newer releases (and many of the older ones as well) recycle the same works --- when you start looking deeper into his discography, you may soon feel that “Okay, well that’s enough of this or that work” or “Why is this work being recorded so many times when it already has eight recordings?”, etc. I do hope that one day Supraphon will make their series available again as I do think many of their recordings are incredibly fine and definitely worth one’s time if they’re into the composer’s music already.
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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2021, 11:03:11 AM »
Yes, Schulhoff is a quite substantial, but too overlooked composer, who had a lot to say, and who was influenced by a lot of important trends in contemporary Europe. And it's strange how limited the number of recordings is in some cases; I'd actually choose his music before a good deal of other contemporary works, say by French or American composers.

Jezek is another good one from that environment, yet with a smaller output.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2021, 11:56:46 AM »
Yes, Schulhoff is a quite substantial, but too overlooked composer, who had a lot to say, and who was influenced by a lot of important trends in contemporary Europe. And it's strange how limited the number of recordings is in some cases; I'd actually choose his music before a good deal of other contemporary works, say by French or American composers.

Jezek is another good one from that environment, yet with a smaller output.

I love many French and American composers around this particular time (mainly French, though). Anyway, I think what’s interesting is how many of his works, especially those jazz-influenced works were contemporaneous with what Gershwin was doing at the time. Of course, I also hear traces of Hindemith and Martinů in his music as well, but Schulhoff had his own compositional voice and it was a compelling one.
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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2021, 12:13:27 PM »
Yes, it's a sign of his sensitive, investigative nature, that for example there are some Dada/surrealist-inspired works too (such as Bassnachtigall, Die Wolkenpumpe), whereas the Menschheit- and Landschaften symphonies with a vocal soloist show a more late-romantic vein.

I'll be listening to some of his music now ...

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2021, 03:49:00 PM »
Looking at the recommendations here, I definitely need to explore more of his music. The chamber works and concertos would be my next step.
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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2021, 04:03:15 PM »
It's a shame to see this remarkable composer has only one page to his thread! Well, just now I discovered a work of great genius and wit: Schulhoff's Piano Concerto no. 2 (alternatively titled Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra, but the orchestra employed sounds anything but small, with a colorfully augmented percussion section!). It's very much a work of its time (1923), and though one can hear the occasional influences of Ravel and Prokofiev, Schulhoff's style is quite personal. The Amazon blurb very accurately describes it as "a wild blend of Impressionist, late-Romantic and jazz-inspired sounds and rhythms." The first movement opens mysteriously and builds to a frenzied climax right before the end. The second movement returns to the mysterious, impressionistic mood of the opening and there's some truly magical writing towards the end. And then comes the madcap romp of the finale, where the aforementioned augmented percussion section (including one exotic-sounding instrument which I can't identify) really comes into play! In the center of the movement, there's a tender duet between a solo violin and the piano to offer some respite. Highly recommended to anyone who loves 20th century piano concerti:



(one of multiple recordings)

https://youtu.be/10F3IxZkoCs

Thanks for this enticing description, Kyle. Sounds right up my alley.
Give us something else; give us something new; for Heaven's sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2021, 04:59:37 PM »
Thanks for this enticing description, Kyle. Sounds right up my alley.

Check out the Concertos alla Jazz recording on Decca instead, Cesar. I prefer these performances to those on Capriccio. But my favorite recording of the Concerto for piano and small orchestra comes from this recording:

« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 06:44:56 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2021, 07:47:31 PM »
Check out the Concertos alla Jazz recording on Decca instead, Cesar. I prefer these performances to those on Capriccio. But my favorite recording of the Concerto for piano and small orchestra comes from this recording:



Thanks, John. I must check out what I have by Schulhoff besides the symphonies.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2021, 08:04:32 PM »
Thanks, John. I must check out what I have by Schulhoff besides the symphonies.

You’re welcome. Looking forward to reading more feedback on Schulhoff’s music from you.
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Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2021, 02:26:38 AM »
Thanks for keeping the Schulhoff flame alive, John!

Getting back on the Erwin train, what a wonderful, full-blooded performance of the 1st SQ:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/1ifemktTa3o" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/1ifemktTa3o</a>

Offline pjme

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Re: Schulhoff's Shuffle (1894–1942)
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2021, 04:02:31 AM »
[quote;
It's a shame to see this remarkable composer has only one page to his thread! Well, just now I discovered a work of great genius and wit: Schulhoff's Piano Concerto no. 2 (alternatively titled Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra, but the orchestra employed sounds anything but small, with a colorfully augmented percussion section!). It's very much a work of its time (1923), and though one can hear the occasional influences of Ravel and Prokofiev, Schulhoff's style is quite personal. The Amazon blurb very accurately describes it as "a wild blend of Impressionist, late-Romantic and jazz-inspired sounds and rhythms." The first movement opens mysteriously and builds to a frenzied climax right before the end. The second movement returns to the mysterious, impressionistic mood of the opening and there's some truly magical writing towards the end. And then comes the madcap romp of the finale, where the aforementioned augmented percussion section (including one exotic-sounding instrument which I can't identify) really comes into play! In the center of the movement, there's a tender duet between a solo violin and the piano to offer some respite. Highly recommended to anyone who loves 20th century piano concerti:
[/quote]

From october 2019:

A couple of months ago, I was intrigued by the scoring of Erwin Schulhoff's Concerto for piano and small orchestra (1923).

Schott music gives a detailed list:

Picc. · 1 · 1 · Engl. Hr. · 1 · Bassklar. · 1 · Kfg. (Kontrafagott)- 2 · 1 · 0 · 0 -
P. S. (Trgl. · Gl. · Kuhgl. · Beck. · Tamb. · jap. Tr. · Mil. Tr. · Rührtr. · gr. Tr. · Ratsche · Sir. (Torpedo) · Lachteufel · Amboss · Glsp. · Xyl.) (9 Spieler) - Hfe. - Str.

Most of the percussion instruments do not pose a problem; triangle, bells, cow bell, cymbals, tamburine, Japanese drum, military drum, snare drum, bass drum, rattle, torpedo whistle, Lachteufel = probably a Waldteufel,, anvil, Glockenspiel , xylophone.

And, what I thought what was a 'flûte à coulisse" ( a slide whistle) is a torpedo siren.
See: http://thewhistlegallery.com/spotlight/096-torpedo-sirens

However, it took me some time and effort to figure out what a "Lachteufel" could be.
Schott translates this "thing" as a Laughing bag / sac à rire. However, Wikipedia tells me that the laughing bag was invented in  1968. Schulhoff wrote his concerto in 1923...

I contacted the Staatskapelle in Halle / Germany, as its chamber formation will perform the concerto in November.

"Zwei unserer Schlagzeuger, die ich jetzt gefragt habe, vermuten, dass der „Waldteufel“ gemeint ist, den es schon seit Haydns Zeiten gibt und der sowohl lange Geräusche als auch kurze, abgehackte in der Art eines Lachens erzeugen kann. "

So the Lachteufel could be a "frog buzzer". Enjoy!

https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Buzzer-Forest-Wooden-Percussion-Instrument/dp/B077XX2RZ1

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/WQdxFOUt0rs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/WQdxFOUt0rs</a>

Peter
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 11:43:05 AM by pjme »