Saturday, December 28, 2013

Franz Reizenstein: Prologue, Variations and Finale

Franz Reizenstein
Franz who? - I hear you say.  And I can't say I would blame you.  My only prior awareness of the Nuremberg-born Franz Reizenstein (1911-1968) was of his participation in the 1956 Hoffnung Music Festival, to which he contributed a highly amusing Concerto Popolare ("A Piano Concerto to End All Piano Concertos").  But the Jewish Reizenstein, who fled Germany for England in 1934, had a much more serious side.  He had studied with Paul Hindemith while still in Germany, and continued studies with Vaughan Williams after his emigration.  (A very useful online biography of the composer can be found here.)  For the brilliant violinist Max Rostal (1905-1991), a fellow emigré, he wrote this set of Hindemith-like variations in 1938:

Reizenstein: Prologue, Variations and Finale, Op. 12
Two Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 7 (Lullaby, Marcia Barbara)
Max Rostal, violin; Franz Reizenstein, piano
Recorded March 12 and July 30, 1945
London set LA-155, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 72.80 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 52.24 MB)

I hope I did the side joins in this set correctly; there has never been another recording of the piece, and I had no score to guide me, for it is long out-of-print.  I even tried contacting the erstwhile publishers, Boosey and Hawkes, who were unable to find a copy in their archives, but did offer to send a score of the orchestrated version! (I declined.)

For those wishing to hear Max Rostal in more mainstream repertoire, the CHARM database has his recordings of two Beethoven sonatas with Franz Osborn - Op. 12, No. 2, and Op. 96.

My best wishes to everyone for a happy and prosperous 2014!


  1. Happy New Year - JOYEUSE ANNEE 2014 to you too !!!

  2. Very interesting! A happy & healthy 2014 for you!

  3. I would like to thank you for your wonderful blog, which i follow since some time. Which has prompted me to start my own blog with my own digital transfers of some of my records.I welcome you to visit my blog and if you like it please add it to your blog roll.

  4. What you're doing here is nothing short of God's work for good music. Thank you very much!