It has been a dream of mine for some years to bring out the orchestral music of Thomas de Hartmann. In 2010 I attended a lecture-recital about the composer’s classical music by pianist and de Hartmann specialist Elan Sicroff. My interest steadily grew as I learned more about the composer’s remarkable life story and heard more of the music, at that time still unavailable on recordings. I became part of the Thomas de Hartmann Project team, a small informal group of dedicated individuals and musicians attempting to recover the work of this important but forgotten master. As a first step, with support from the team, Elan Sicroff collaborated in NL with the excellent producer Gert-Jan Blom on a five year recording project encompassing the major portion of the solo piano, chamber, and vocal works. These recordings have recently been released by Nimbus Alliance on 5 discs, to excellent reviews.
My personal motivation
In 2013-2014 I faced two major illnesses, and while convalescing I listened a great deal to a few unpublished radio broadcasts from the 1950’s and 1960’s of the cello, violin, and flute concertos. These had an unusual impact on me, and I could not believe this fantastic and powerful music was unavailable to the music world at large and had not yet been properly recorded. So, a desire grew in me to hear more of the orchestral works, and more importantly to see if this music could be brought alive for the benefit of all. Some years ago I took on this initiative, knowing nothing about how to proceed. Thanks to a fortunate introduction to Maestro Theodore Kuchar this dream is now becoming a reality, and the Lviv festival is a major step forward- bringing the orchestral music to live concert audiences and providing a recording opportunity for three CDs of music to be recorded and heard for the first time. And, because Thomas de Hartmann was born and grew up in Ukraine, and his homeland was quite important to him, it is most fitting that this occur first in Ukraine. Mr Kuchar immediately recognized the quality and value of the composer and the project, both as a legacy of Ukraine, but also for the music world at large. This was also recognized and embraced by Volodymyr Syvokhip, General Director of the Lviv National Philharmonic, and the collaboration between all parties has been remarkable, resulting in the expeditious organization of this festival of three concerts and recordings.
It is fitting that the first of the three programs opens with the Ukrainian themed Koliadky (Christmas songs) and concludes with the suite Une Fête en Ukraine (from 1940), a work that celebrates the composer’s homeland, culture, traditions and countryside. The second work is the first movement of the composer’s incomplete (due to death) 4th Symphonie- Poeme (1956), followed by his haunting Concerto Andaluz (1949) for flute, strings, and percussion.
The second program opens with a short work of ironic social commentary, Musique pour la Fête de la Patronne (1949), followed by the lovely Fantasie Concerto for Contrabass (1942), and it concludes with de Hartmann’s first Symphonie Poeme (1935), his largest and longest orchestral statement.
The third program opens with a short spirited piece, Scherzo Fantastique (1929), written for film, which is the earliest composition presented in the festival. This is followed by de Hartmann’s last fully completed orchestral work, his 3rd Symphonie Poeme (1953), which evidences his most modern exploration of orchestral sound clusters. The program concludes with de Hartmann’s thrilling Piano Concerto (1939) which is a good example of his characteristic use of multiple styles even (and especially) within a single composition.
All in all, the three programs include works that demonstrate the composer’s range and progression from romantic drama found in the concertos, serious complex and colorful symphonies, suites with delightful tuneful melodies, ironic social commentary, and musical explorations utilizing dissonance and modern idioms.
Visiting artists: We are very grateful for the generous contributions of our renowned soloists- flutist Bulent Evcil, contrabassist Leon Bosch, pianist Elan Sicroff, and of course our primary conductor Theodore Kuchar, and our guest conductor, Tian Hui Ng.
Without Elan Sicroff’s lifetime dedication to the music of de Hartmann, the inspiration for this festival would not have developed. Since 2006, with encouragement and direction from guitarist Robert Fripp, Elan has worked to bring attention to the music and life story of de Hartmann. In addition, for many years Elan has been preparing de Hartmann’s piano concerto, a most important and technically demanding work.
Significant appreciation goes to Tom Daly, the inheritor/owner of the de Hartmann legacy materials. He took on the major task of getting the orchestral scores and parts re-engraved, proofread, and prepared for performance. Without his substantial cooperation, personal investment and effort, the music would not be available.
Special thanks go to Syd Cushman who has contributed significant financial support to the Thomas de Hartmann Project in recent years. We are grateful to Professor Evan MacCarthy for taking on the task of writing the festival program notes on short notice.
Conductor and educator Tian Hui Ng (third concert) has been an invaluable and generous advisor on orchestral matters generally, and an enthusiast about de Hartmann, and is the first orchestra director in recent times to program one of the works, unfortunately postponed in 2020 due to the Pandemic.
Theodore Kuchar has spent countless hours arranging all aspects to make this festival a reality and a success. We are fortunate to have the services of the excellent sound producer/engineer Andriy Mokrytsky. Volodymyr Syvokhip and the administration of the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra deserve meaningful recognition as well.
Efrem Marder, Orchestral Project Sponsor/Producer
За вагомий особистий внесок у розвиток та збереження мистецьких традицій…8 листопада відбулася церемонія нагородження Почесною відзнакою Львівської обласної ради «100-річчя від ...