64th Festival of German composers

Havergal Brian

Selected and annotated by Malcolm MacDonald

We have-yet to learn whether the sixty-fourth annual festival for German composers, held during the first week in June at Wiesbaden, brought forth a work of genius. The significant fact is that twenty-three comparatively unknown German composers obtained first performances of their works, which varied from those of large scale for choir and orchestra to small scale chamber music. Except for the main facts, there is not much in the details to interest English readers, though I was reminded at the orchestral concert of ancient German days by Dressel's Abendmusik for small orchestra1.

Another item of interest was from a young man who has studied with Professor Tovey at Edinburgh: it is a Requiem for a German Hero for mixed choir and orchestra. His name is Gottfried Müller2, and is young at twenty to write and secure performance of a large-scale work. The final concert was given over to the works of Richard Strauss, which is seemly and in order, but why they make no mention of their pious founder passes my understanding. Liszt the Hungarian did such for German music, and I often wonder whether the present neglect is the only possible form of gratitude.

  1. No current English music dictionary sheds light on this name, hut the Hungarian Zenei-Lexicon identifies an Erwin Dressel, born 1909, composer of operas and symphonies, with no date of death. ↩︎

  2. Müller (1914-?) had been a pupil of Tovey in 1931. The latter night even have mentioned him to Brian when they met. If the title of Müller’s Deutsches Heldenrequiem, to which Brian refers here, does not exactly fill one with faith in his political judgement, one is hardly reassured to find that he went on to write a cantata Führerworte in 1944. Yet Reimann’s Musiklexicon shows that he was still active as an organist and composer in Berlin in the 1950s. ↩︎

On the other hand, by La main gauche

Musical opinion, September 1934, p. 1023