Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817–1890) 3 Pieces Op. 22
edited by Klaus Uwe Ludwig [org]
Although the Danish composer Gade worked for many years as an organist in Copenhagen, he wrote only few works for the organ. His undisputed major opus for this instrument is Drei Tonstücke op. 22.
20 pages | 30,5 x 23 cm | 106 g | ISMN: 979-0-004-18483-7 | Softcover
Although the Danish composer worked for many years as an organist in Copenhagen, he wrote only few works for the organ. His undisputed major opus for this instrument is Drei Tonstücke op. 22, three pieces that were originally (in 1851) components of a four-movement sonata. Gade then rejected one movement, chose a looser, less cyclical title and had the little collection published the following year by Breitkopf & Härtel. The new edition is based on this first printing, whereby Gades authors copy as well as the autograph engravers copy were also consulted.
|Piece No. 1: Moderato|
|Piece No. 2: Allegretto|
|Piece No. 3: Allegro|
Niels Wilhelm Gade was already displaying his extraordinary talent as a violinist at the age of 19, when he became a member of Copenhagen’s Royal Orchestra in 1836. He studied composition on the side and won the first prize for his overture Echoes of Ossian at a competition held by the Copenhagen Music Society in 1840.
Upon receiving a royal fellowship, Gade traveled to Leipzig in 1843, where he met Mendelssohn, who amicably encouraged and sponsored him. Gade was able to conduct his First Symphony in C minor of 1842 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus; Schumann was exceptionally fond of this work. Gade then led the world premiere of his Second Symphony in E-flat major of 1843. During a stay in Rome the following year, Gade received an invitation to head the Gewandhaus concerts alongside Mendelssohn. He took over the directorate on his own after Mendelssohn’s sudden death in 1847.
One year later, however, the Schleswig-Holstein War broke out and Gade returned to Copenhagen. There he became the director of the Music Society and was appointed Professor; in 1861 he was named Court Kapellmeister. Four years later he founded the Copenhagen Conservatory together with his father-in-law, the composer and organist Johann Peter Emilius Hartmann. It is to him that Gade dedicated his Tre Tonestykker.
Gade’s first works reflect a pronounced Danish nationalist style, which later shifted towards a more general romanticism. Danish audiences and critics did not take well to this. Especially Edvard Grieg disapproved of the change, all the more so as he felt he owed the use of fruitful stimuli and nationalist folkloric themes to Gade. Among the eight symphonies, the latter works stand out for their amazingly dramatic atmosphere, uncommon scorings and original, creative, ingenious characters.
Little is known when it comes to evaluating Gade as an organist. He was already proficient at the organ at the age of 20, and substituting for the organist of the Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady) in Copenhagen. In 1851 Gade was appointed organist of the Garnison Church, where he was in command of an impressively large organ (III/41) built by L. D. Karstens in 1724. The instrument was modified by H. F. Oppenhagen in 1825, and renovated by Marcussen & Reuter in 1835/36.
In 1858 Gade transferred his organ work to the Holmenkirk, whose instrument was replaced under his auspices in 1865 by an organ built by Daniel Köhne, a pupil of Cavaillé-Coll. It then became considerably more in keeping with the romantic style. Preface This organ was heard for the first time in 1870; Gade kept his post there until his death in 1890. However, a comprehensive renovation of the church took place over a period of many years, which hindered the access to the organ. It is probable that this construction work kept Gade from unfolding his talents as organist and organ composer to the fullest.
Next to smaller works which Gade did not consider suitable for publication, he wrote the Tre Tonestykker op. 22, a few chorale preludes (published in the collections In Ewigkeit dich loben and Hier preisen auf der Erd – Breitkopf EB 8571–8574, 8628–8629) and an arrangement of Bach’s Partita Sey gegrüsset Jesu gütig for four hands and four feet (Breitkopf EB 8630), which he also dedicated to his father-in-law.
Composition, conducting and violin playing made such demands on Gade during his Leipzig period as well as in the subsequent Copenhagen years that it was nearly impossible for him to envision taking on more tasks, such as dedicating himself to the organ, for example. It was not until 1851 that he began to devote himself to the composition of organ music, when he obtained his first post as organist.
In a letter to Clara Schumann of 6 September 1851, Gade mentions that he had written an organ sonata and was now working on a larger “Concertstück.” Indeed, we know of a four-movement work in the form of a sonata which, however, Gade did not designate as such. It is not known why Gade eliminated one movement of this cycle and transposed two others in order to ultimately have the remaining three movements published as Tre Tonestykker (Three Pieces). Did he fear the comparison with Mendelssohn’s Six Organ Sonatas Op. 65 published in 1845 or was he counting on a greater dissemination through the selected grouping into a trio of pieces without a specific cyclical concept? In any event, the Tre Tonestykker soon aroused great interest not only in Denmark, but on an international level as well. They still belong to the canon of frequently played organ works to this day.
The present edition is based on the first printing published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1852. Also consulted were Gade’s personal copy and the autograph engraver’s copy (Breitkopf & Härtel Archives). Next to the Tre Tonestykker, Gade’s other organ works also deserve to be known more widely, for they show that these gems are of the same high quality as the large orchestral works of this brilliant composer.
Wiesbaden, Fall 2012