In the three-part series “Franz Schreker’s master classes in Vienna and Berlin,” pianist, violinist, and tireless treasure hunter Kolja Lessing takes an in-depth look at the outstanding and multifaceted talents who emanated from the talent factory of Franz Schreker – the German-speaking world’s most important composition teacher of the 1910s and ’20s alongside Busoni and Schoenberg. In 1912, the year of the spectacular world premiere of his opera Der Ferne Klang in Frankfurt, Schreker became the successor to his mentor Robert Fuchs at the Vienna Academy of Music. He soon gained recognition as an authority on progressive pedagogy. His circle of students in Vienna included such figures as Ernst Krenek, Alois Hába, Artur Rodziński, Joseph Rosenstock, Felix Petyrek, Karol Rathaus, Wilhelm Grosz, and Max Brand. In 1920, at the pinnacle of his fame, Schreker was appointed director of the Berlin Musikhochschule. Along with him went Krenek and Hába, followed by the likes of Wunderkind Ignace Strasfogel, Berthold Goldschmidt, Jerzy Fitelberg, and many others, as well as – rather exceptional for the time – the female students Grete von Zieritz and Zdenka Ticharich.
The three piano sonatas presented as world premiere recordings on Vol. 2 are fascinating documents of the liberal spirit of Schreker’s class; a spirit that gave birth to such sharply contrasting works as the monumental Sonata in C Minor op. 2 by Karol Rathaus (still associated with late romanticism), the Stravinskyesque 1st Sonata by Jerzy Fitelberg (accentuated in its linear transparency), and the highly dramatic Sonata by Grete von Zieritz, which was conceived as a virtual tightrope walk between tradition and experiment. The music by Rathaus and Fitelberg, both of Polish-Jewish origins, led to eda’s subsequent exploration of a chapter in music history that had hardly received any attention before, namely the development of a Polish music culture outside the borders of a country fettered by partition and political suppression. The “Poland Abroad” series started in 2006 presents first recordings of other key works by Rathaus and Fitelberg, who both survived the war and the Shoah in exile in the US (eda 26, 35, 39).
Jerzy Fitelberg: Sonata no. 1 (1926)
Grete von Zieritz: Sonata (1928)