Press Room

ASO unearths “The Remains of Romanticism”, Nov 15

With “The Remains of Romanticism”, their second Lincoln Center concert of the season (Sunday, November 15 at Avery Fisher Hall), Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra present proof positive that the alleged death of Romanticism through the advent of modernism around the turn of the 20th century was a myth – at least musically speaking.  If Romanticism seemed in danger of becoming obsolete, music of this persuasion by many serious and successful composers saved it from extinction.  Some of the greatest composers of the age tried to revive Romanticism through formal innovation, others by connecting it to a narrative or programmatic scheme.  Unexpected examples by composers Robert Fuchs, Hermann Goetz, Friedrich von Hausegger, Ludwig Thuille, and Richard Strauss – at least one of which has never been heard before in the United States – are to be performed at the afternoon concert.

All tickets to the ASO’s Lincoln Center concerts are just $25 and are available by calling (212) 868-9276 (9ASO) or visiting

Leon Botstein’s program note for “The Remains of Romanticism” discusses the term “Romanticism” and its history in music:

“When we try to identify the features of the romantic in music beyond neat chronological boundaries, we find that though romantic elements make their appearance most famously in middle-period Beethoven, they may also be found in Mozart. Romanticism also did not lose its hold after its “era” had supposedly ended; well into the twentieth century, “conservative” composers continued to write in the Romantic tradition, and the familiar conventions of late nineteenth-century Romanticism inspire film music well into our own time.  Since the mid-1970s, a more conscious revival of Romanticism in musical composition has flourished. 

“Having said that, a set of interconnecting characteristics stand out in the music on today’s program, all of which was composed in the twilight years of the romantic tradition.” 


Hermann Goetz, the earliest of the five contemporaneous composers on the program, was born in 1840 and died young, a few days before his 36th birthday, from a long-existing case of tuberculosis. He originally studied mathematics and physics, but switched full-time to music, studying at Berlin’s Stern Conservatory. Despite his short composing career, he managed to write operas, choral and chamber music, two piano concertos, and a violin concerto (to be performed by soloist Mira Wang, who made her US debut with the American Symphony Orchestra in 2001 playing Roberto Gerhard’s concerto). 

Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) was a relatively obscure composer in Vienna, but his Symphony No. 1 in C won him the 1886 Beethoven prize in composition given by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Fuchs was a highly influential teacher of composition, with Mahler, Sibelius, Schreker, Wolf and Zemlinsky among his pupils. His Serenade No. 1, Op. 9 (1874) – according to Grove, a “decisive success” at its first performance – is receiving its United States premiere at this concert. Byron Adams writes in his program note for this concert:

“Fuchs’ Serenade no. 1 in D major for strings, op.9, evinces the many virtues of his technical mastery while enlivening them with a winsome freshness. … After a lyrical opening prelude, the second movement is a graceful minuet that recalls the antiquarian spirit of the third movement of Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony. During the playful third movement, Fuchs directs the players to make extensive use of tricky style of bowing known as spiccato; this little scherzo is replete with piquant modulations to distant keys.  The slow fourth movement is the heart of this enchanting score, a contemplative adagio in which Fuchs’ innate romanticism is allowed to come to the fore. Fuchs unexpectedly begins his finale in D minor; his formal mastery is much in evidence throughout this high-spirited sonata that ends with a coruscating flash of D major.”

Siegmund von Hausegger (1872-1948), born in Graz, Austria, was the son of Friedrich von Hausegger, a lawyer and writer on music and a passionate early advocate of Richard Wagner. Siegmund was influenced by the German master from an early age.  Although better known in later life as a conductor and scholar than as a composer, Hausegger wrote music for the church as well as choruses, songs, operas and symphonic poems. Hausegger conducted in Graz, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, and Hamburg, and after World War I he served as conductor of the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Wieland der Schmied, a 1904 symphonic poem, was inspired by a Wagner libretto for which he never composed a score. Byron Adams’s program note for this concert points out:

“Hausegger’s refulgent music is poised between that of Wagner and Strauss, and the dramatic opening – a storm that distinctly recalls passages from the first act of Die Walküre – as well as the chromatic harmony and lavish orchestration attest to its composer’s fervent and Teutonic romanticism.”

Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907) began studying music seriously in Innsbruck, just over the Brenner Pass from his birthplace of Bolzano.  Further education in Munich followed, and he eventually earned a professorship there. Among his students at Munich’s Akademie der Tonkunst were Ernst Bloch, Paul von Klenau, and Walter Braunfels.  Thuille rescued the sparkling overture from his failed opera, Theurdank, turning it into the Romantic Overture, in which, according to Byron Adams’s program note, he “casts an affectionate backward glance towards the more innocent pre-Wagnerian romanticism of his beloved Schumann.”

While Richard Strauss (1864-1949) needs no introduction, his earliest works have received little or no exposure, including his Symphony, Op. 12, which is being performed in the place of honor at this ASO concert: at the end of the program. The young composer thought it a bit daring for the time, and a possible affront to his well-connected and conservative horn-soloist father. Fred Kirshnit writes in the program notes:

“The work showed great promise and was generally received favorably, however in retrospect its composition was a significant turning point for the young composer. He began to think of the symphonic form as ‘giant’s clothes…in which a thin tailor is trying to comport himself elegantly’ and abandoned the genre to plunge into a decade of febrile tone poetry.”

Last season Maestro Leon Botstein began delivering pre-concert talks, starting 75 minutes before each concert; this policy continues this season. Don’t miss this illuminating talk, at 1:45 pm, in Avery Fisher Hall.

All tickets to the ASO’s Lincoln Center concerts are just $25 and are available by calling (212) 868-9276 (9ASO) or visiting All ticket sales are final.

The American Symphony Orchestra’s 2009-10 season and programs are sponsored by GG Group, and are made possible, in part, through support from National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additional support is provided by The Winston Foundation, Faith Golding Foundation, The Fan Fox and Leslie Samuels Foundation, Open Society Institute, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, HBO, Carroll, Guido, & Groffman, LLP, DuBose & Dorothy Heyward Memorial Trust, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundation, and Solon E. Summerfield Foundation.   


Sunday, November 15, 3:00 pm
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center

The Remains of Romanticism   
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927)
            Serenade for Strings, No. 1, Op. 9 (1874) US premiere  
Siegmund von Hausegger  (1872-1948)
            Wieland der Schmied, symphonic poem (1904)  
Hermann Goetz (1840-1876)
            *Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 22 (1868/80)  
Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907)
            Romantische Ouverture, Op.16 (1899)  
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
            Symphony in f minor, Op.12 (1884)

American Symphony Orchestra
*Mira Wang, violin
Leon Botstein, conductor

 © 21C Media Group, October 2009


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