Johann Rufinatscha is coming!!!

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Febnyc
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Johann Rufinatscha is coming!!!

Post by Febnyc » Fri Oct 26, 2007 5:17 pm

The great Johannes Brahms may well have been glancing over his shoulder - looking back thirty years - when he began to compose his First Symphony. For, looming behind him - in all his musical renown - was Johann Rufinatscha (1812-1893).

Unlike Johannes, (undergoing constant nagging by Clara Schumann as to why he couldn't write even one measly symphony while this other guy was hogging the orchestral scene) who was for years well aware of Rufinatscha's footsteps on the cobblestones of Karlsruhe and other places, I just became acquainted with "schoene Rufi" - as he then was known - today during a rather clandestine luncheon at an upscale Chinese eatery on the East Side of Manhattan. The following sensitive information reached my ears, imparted by a local classical music enthusiast who inhabits only the highest echelons of insiderness:

Johann Rufinatscha wrote at least five symphonies, around the years 1834-1846 or so. These are purported to be the equal of any written by Brahms and possibly could stand next to those of....well, who else but...yes, HIM!

Problem is that the manuscripts lie with the Tyrolean Land Museum and the works may or may not become available on disc. It is possible, I am informed by those cognoscenti who follow the lofty career (he was a Tyrolean, remember) of Rufinatscha that some enterprising label (could it be cpo? or [gasp!] Naxos?) - may be negotiating for the recording rights. I've been told that, since Naxos decided not to sign Alex Rodriguez for 2008, they have some cash left in the till.

So, stay tuned in for more. It is entirely conceivable that, once these symphonies see the light of day, we soon might be ready to relegate the three Bs, the Big M and those other guys to the second shelf - after we hear the music of Johann Rufinatscha.

Modernistfan
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Post by Modernistfan » Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:57 pm

My first reaction was that this was a gag. A few minutes of Google told me it was not and that this guy existed as claimed. I'd bet on CPO for recordings (perhaps with the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra), and I would like to hear the works. An awful lot of previously unrecorded repertoire has made it to disc in the last couple of years; just ask my wife or my credit card company.

How many more composers are there of whom we haven't heard?

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:37 pm

Doubt thee not...

http://www.raff.org/forums/?board=unsun ... 50;start=0

A quote from that discussion: have just listened to Rufinatscha's 5th (1846) following Lachner 8, Onslow 4, Kalliwoda 5 and Netzer 4. My conviction remains the same: Rufinatscha's is a wholly individual voice head and shoulders above almost all other unsung symphonists of the Schumann/Mendelssohn/Berwald generation. His music is memorable, melodically rich and quite unique in its high solemnity. If No.5 is this good, then No.6 should be an absolute revelation when the orchestral version promised for the end of the year is finally on the market. I do urge all friends who haven't yet heard any Rufinatscha to get hold of his music.

Actually, seriously - I went to the website of the Tiroler Landes-Museum and, using my rusty German, managed to order a disc of Rufi's 1st and 5th Symphonies. I immediately received an email which told me they'd send the disc once my payment reaches their bank. However, there was no ability on the site, nor via the email (which is not too safe, anyway), to enter my credit card info.

I guess I'd be forced to send it to them by email - but I am a bit concerned about that. It's tempting, though.

Bösendorfer
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Post by Bösendorfer » Fri Oct 26, 2007 10:18 pm

Febnyc:

I think they want a bank transfer actually. It sounds like they'll be sending you a letter with the invoice (incl. shipping cost), then you make the transfer, and finally they ship the cd to you.

http://www.tiroler-landesmuseum.at/shop/index.html (for bank info)

I also couldn't find an orchestral version of any of his symphonies on their page, just for piano/4 hands. I might have overlooked it.

Florian

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:14 am

Boesendorfer:

I assumed they were seeking a bank transfer - we'll see what develops.

The orchestral CD of the Rufinatscha Symphonies 1&5 appears on the page 1/14 of their "Internetshop." It is titled Klingende Kostbarkeiten aus Tirol Nr.43.

If you succeed in purchasing this disc, please let me know how you managed it. Thanks.

Bösendorfer
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Post by Bösendorfer » Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:03 am

Although I'm curious, not enough so to try to buy the cd myself right now. I indeed overlooked the cd you mention, I was only looking out for Rufinatscha's name in the title.

I hope you'll manage to work out the payment! Another idea, as the transfer fees may be high, would be to try to call them to give them your credit card information. I would think that there should be someone there who speaks English well.

Florian

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:01 pm

Thanks for the suggestion - I did telephone the Museum and, in my best German (no one available there to speak English), got my point across and learned (I think) that they will be sending me bank details.

Ken
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Post by Ken » Sat Oct 27, 2007 3:20 pm

"I've been told that, since Naxos decided not to sign Alex Rodriguez for 2008, they have some cash left in the till."

Ah, the quote of the day! :lol:
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:25 am

Well, it looks like the Yankees neither will get to sign A-Rod for 2008. So, Naxos is in good company.

Speaking of good company, I've been informed by the folks at the Tiroler Landesmuseum that if I fax my credit card info they will be happy to send me a Rufinatscha CD for the price of 28.75 euros (over $41.00 US). I guess, after purchasing this disc, I won't be negotiating with Alex, either.

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Sat Nov 03, 2007 4:33 pm

I figured I'd find a new third baseman for next year and so opted out of A-Rod's competition and instead used the funds to purchase the Rufinatscha disc from Innsbruck.

Amazingly, it arrived in three days - I guess, since they charged about $14.00 to ship the thing, someone flew it across the Atlantic personally! Whatever, I soon will be able to report on the music of this unheard-of Tyrolean composer - something I know you all are losing sleep over. Trust me - it won't be long before you can rest easy once again...

Bösendorfer
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Post by Bösendorfer » Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:09 pm

Febnyc wrote:I figured I'd find a new third baseman for next year and so opted out of A-Rod's competition and instead used the funds to purchase the Rufinatscha disc from Innsbruck.

Amazingly, it arrived in three days - I guess, since they charged about $14.00 to ship the thing, someone flew it across the Atlantic personally! Whatever, I soon will be able to report on the music of this unheard-of Tyrolean composer - something I know you all are losing sleep over. Trust me - it won't be long before you can rest easy once again...
Just found your posts now, and I'm glad to hear it worked out so well!

I'll await your comments on the music!
Florian

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Mon Nov 05, 2007 1:50 pm

The two symphonies are quite different - the First is reminiscent of Beethoven, while the Fifth is a precursor of Brahms. However, neither work is without its own individual voice - and, well, the Fifth is a masterpiece, in my opinion.

Rufinatscha wrote his First Symphony, "Mein erstes Studium," as he designated it, in 1834, at the age of 22.

The first movement opens dramatically with two chords - these eventually develop into the opening theme, a motif which returns with strength while in between there are lyrical sections. These "outbursts" of individual chords which speed up into a theme are very much in the manner of the opening bars of Beethoven's Fourth. The entire movement is serious and extremely powerful - especially for a student work.

The second movement, adagio, is a lush, plaintive melody which Rufinatscha winds out beautifully over 9 minutes. This is followed by a bumptious scherzo - my closest description would be "Bruckner light."

The finale is fleeting and full of singing tunes which, via individual phrases, build gradually to a magnificent crescendo.


This symphony is a forgotten gem, but the Fifth (1846), which follows on the CD, is in another world altogether:

The opening movement, an allegro, enters more delicately than does the beginning of the First Symphony - with the main theme stated right away. The scoring builds to a fullness of broad hymn-like passages, perhaps descriptive of the composer's Tyrolean mountain scenes.

The scherzo, second in this work, is more mature than that of the First Symphony and contains a glorious trio section in glowing contrast to the folk-dance rhythms of the movement proper.

The third movement, adagio, is the emotional pinnacle of the work. It's replete with flowing, gorgeous melodies and could have held my interest for twice its seven-minute length.

Finally, Rufinatscha treats us to a taste of Austria - with a finale second theme that takes the shape of a ländler - sandwiched between overwhelming music which, if nothing else, previews the mighty symphonies of Brahms.


My introduction to this work, I think, is one of the most startling and astonishing experiences I've had discovering new pieces. While the First itself is a magnificent symphony, the Fifth seals the deal and, of course, raises the question of why Rufinatscha so quickly was eclipsed by the likes of Bruckner and Brahms.

And, speaking of Brahms, with whom Rufinatscha was friendly, there can be no dismissing the fact that his (Brahms') symphonies were influenced by Rufinatscha's. The whole feel of the Rufinatscha Fifth, for instance, leads one straight to the Brahms First.

So, perhaps Rufinatscha is the missing link (I never knew one was missing!) between Beethoven and Brahms. The evidence on this CD is strong enough to make such a connection.

Incidentally, the CD from the Tiroler Landesmuseum is of the highest quality - excellent notes (all in German - no translations) - and absolutely superb sound reproduction. The Capella Istropolitana gives two championship performances under their conductor Edgar Seipenbusch.

All in all - christening these two works by Rufinatscha proved to be one of the most exhilarating and exciting discoveries for me in my years of delving into these sort of things.

And, I understand that the Sixth Symphony, which exists on CD only in a piano version will be recorded sometime later this year or early next.

Bösendorfer
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Post by Bösendorfer » Sat Nov 17, 2007 1:22 pm

Thanks a lot for your detailed comments, Febnyc! Sounds tantalizing!

Florian

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:21 pm

Florian - you're welcome. I hope you'll have the chance to hear these symphonies.

Frank

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:19 pm

For those who are interested in this composer - the Tiroler Landesmuseum now has recorded and is offering for sale Rufinatscha's Second and Sixth symphonies.

I have read the reviews of the Sixth - from the very astute and informed people on the Joachim Raff discussion site. I invite you to read the last few pages of the following thread:

http://www.raff.org/forums/?board=unsun ... 50;start=0

And from an in-person luncheon today with a friend whose musical opinions I value highly - the Sixth is in the mode of the Schubert Ninth, and perhaps just a notch below this "great" work. Rufinatscha truly is a composer of masterworks - the only problem is that hardly anyone knows it!

I'll post my own impressions once I've had a chance to listen to the CDs.

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