Erwin Schulhoff (Prague 1894-Wrzburg 1942, a renowned pianist/composer during his lifetime, long forgotten in the years after his death, is beginning to win back the place he deserves on the international musical scene. His rediscovery is worthwhile in every sense. Schulhoff was a greatly talented and versatile musician and his music holds a fascinating mirror up to the time in which he lived; but no matter how much his music was a product of the times, his works rarely sound dated. He began as a follower of his idols, Grieg, Reger (with whom he studied in Leipzig), Strauss, and Debussy. He won the Mendelssohn prize twice, amply fulfilling the promise seen in the seven year old by Antonin Dvorak. But the real Erwin Schulhoff did not make an appearance until after the first World War, after time spent in Italian and Russian trenches. These horrifying experiences made his work less romantic, giving it a rawer, scornful quality (“inspired by the rubble and garbage of Europe”, to quote one of his diaries). Born in Prague, he settled in Germany, the cultural center of the western world, and explored and absorbed all the new developments in the arts which he encountered: expressionism, dadaism, atonality, quarter tone music ( which he only performed, but did not compose), surrendering to the newest American rage: jazz. He triumphed as pianist and composer throughout Europe. The rise of fascism around 1930 resulted in another radical change in his life. It meant a virtual end to his career, and he joined forces with the communists. He made his compositions into political manifestos (fiery protest songs, orchestral works dedicated to Spanish freedom fighters or the Soviet army, a cantata on the manifesto of Marx and Engels). In 1941, shortly before his projected emigration to Russia, he was arrested by the Nazis and deported to an internment camp in Bavaria, where he died in 1942.Download booklet
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