New Ernst Discs

Two excellent Ernst discs have recently been released.

The first is the fifth volume in Toccata Classics’ complete works, featuring Serban Lupu and Ian Hobson:

vol5

The second, is Robert Waechter’s recording of the Six Polyphonic Studies:

six_poly

 

 

A Pilgrimage to Ernst Sites in Nice

In May 2016, Pierre Bensaid, professor of the violin at the Nice conservatoire, invited the Californian violinist and collector, Joe Gold, to give a recital, and afterwards they were joined by four more Ernstians to tour the most important Ernst sites in Nice. The following photographs record their pilgrimage:

Joe Gold brings the tribute of a (last) rose and reunites Ernst with his violin case.

Joe Gold brings the tribute of a (last) rose and reunites Ernst with his violin case.

On the seafront. Left to right: Pierre Allain (violinmaker and violin historian), Pascale Ernst (Parisian Lawyer and descendant of Alfred Ernst), Pierre Bensaid, Joe Gold, and Volkmar Holz (violin historian and leader of the second violins in the Nice Philharmonic/Opera).

On the seafront. Left to right: Pierre Allain (violinmaker and violin historian), Pascale Ernst (Parisian Lawyer and descendant of Alfred Ernst), Pierre Bensaid, Joe Gold, and Volkmar Holz (violin historian and leader of the second violins in the Nice Philharmonic/Opera).

Joe Gold at the Nice Conservatoire

Joe Gold at the Nice Conservatoire

Robert Waechter (leader of the Nice Philharmonic/Opera) telling the manageress of the Hotel Cresp that part of her Hotel was once the apartment in which Ernst lived during his last year; some holday reading is also recommended.

Robert Waechter (leader of the Nice Philharmonic/Opera) telling the manageress of the Hotel Cresp that part of her Hotel was once the apartment in which Ernst lived during his last year; some holday reading is also recommended.

Significant New Book on Ernst Published

Christine Hoppe’s Der Schatten Paganinis. Virtuosität in Kompositionen von Violinvirtuosen am Beispiel Heinrich Wilhelm Ernsts (1814 – 1865) [Paganini’s shadow: Virtuosity in the compositions of Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1814 – 1865)], whose publication by Olms-Verlag Hildesheim was signaled below, has now actually appeared in print, and can be purchased either from Amazon or directly from the publishers. The book’s appearance is an important scholarly event, and it significantly advances our understanding of Ernst as a virtuoso and composer. Amongst other achievements, Hoppe gives the most detailed and accurate catalogue so far of Ernst’s compositions (including album leaves and entries in autograph books), and has discovered several new pieces (including two early and charming songs).

Ernst scholar Jan Pecka dies

I’m sorry to report the death of Jan Pecka in February 2013. He did some of the first serious scholarship on Ernst in the mid-1950s (at a time when no one was interested in this kind of virtuoso) and his 1958 MA Thesis  – ‘Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst’ from the Philosophy Faculty of the J.E.Purkyne University, Brno – records a number of important discoveries, including the family documents in the Brno archives which show that Ernst was a child of his father’s second wife.

After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Pecka was forced to work as a maintenance man for 20 years – he told me that working on a Jewish musician was unpopular with the Soviet-influenced authorities – but after the fall of Communism he was able to resume his studies once again, and these culminated in his book Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst: Paganini z Brna (Brno: Archiv Mesta Brna, 2007). I found the volume difficult to get hold of, but it’s well worth the effort since, in addition to a fine text, it contains a CD with the world premiere recordings of Ernst’s Nocturne Op.8, No.1 and the Bolero op.16 (played by Vaclav Dvorak and Michal Rezek), a folder of facsimile documents in German about Ernst’s family, and a very full family tree that extends into the C20th. Fortunately, the Chicago film-maker Peter Grosz was able to interview Pecka a couple of years before his death, and his footage gives a good impression of Pecka’s character and passion for his compatriot.

I hope this footage will shortly be made available online

Ernst works found

Jon Frohnen [see People] has located copies of the following pieces classified as ‘no copy found’ in HWE’s list of works:

Souvenir de l’Opera La Juive de F.Halvéy by Ernst and Osborne. (No.1, [HWE:287])This has now been recorded on Ernst: Complete Works by Sherban Lupu and Ian Hobson, Toccata Classics, Vol.3

Souvenir du Pré aux Clercs: Duo brillant by Ernst and Schunke. (No.4, [HWE:287])This has now been recorded on Ernst: Complete Works by Sherban Lupu and Ian Hobson, Toccata Classics, Vol.2

Rondo über Motiven aus Oberon by Ernst and Schunke. (No.5, [HWE:287]) This has now been recorded on Ernst: Complete Works by Sherban Lupu and Ian Hobson, Toccata Classics, Vol.1

These finds mean that the only work known to have been published of which no copy has been found is the song Si tu ne viens (No.2, [HWE:287]). Please contact me if anyone knows a collector or museum which has a copy.

Ernst’s published and unpublished works: some corrections

Some aspects of Ernst’s published works have become clearer since 2008:

I originally speculated that No.10, [HWE:288] (the song Lebet wohl) and No.13 (the song Lewewohl) were one and the same work which should be called Lebewohl. I was right to say they are the same work but wrong to say that its correct title was Lebewohl; the published edition shows that Lebet wohl is the right title.

I have not yet managed to see a copy of No.12, [HWE:288], but this Valse sentimentale is more than likely to be one of the two posthumously published waltzes listed as No.16, p.289, probably the one in Db.

An unpublished Ernst letter, found in the Janacek Institute in Brno, makes clear that the three collaborations with Schunke were commissioned as a set by Maurice Schlesinger in 1834, and were written just before the Thème Allemand Varié op.9. In the same letter, Ernst reveals something about his own compositional processes by saying that, although his op.9 is nearly finished, he has not yet written out the solo (‘my own’) part.

One or two corrections to the list of Ernst’s unpublished works ([HWE:289]) are also in order.

Nos. 5 and 6, the Valse non dansante and the Moderato from Fanny Hürenwadel’s album also turn out to be versions of the posthumously published Db waltz (published works No.16, [HWE:289])

No. 7, the song Glücklicher Wahn, I’ve discovered is not a song by Ernst at all (although the library catalogue makes it look as if it’s one of his works).

 

Unknown Ernst pieces discovered

Three new Ernst pieces have been discovered since 2008. I found a photocopied manuscript copy of three waltzes for solo piano in the Janacek Institute in Brno. Numbers two and three are the two posthumously published waltzes in Ab and Db, but the first is a previously unknown and unpublished short waltz in A major. All three are dedicated to ‘Maurice’ – Maurice Schlesinger, one of Ernst’s regular Parisian publishers, and the recipient of several Ernst letters, seems the most likely candidate.

Jon Fronen, however, has excelled himself by discovering two much more significant works, both for violin. First, in the autograph book of Ernst’s friend Heinrich Panofka, Fronen found a fiery little D major Capriccio for solo violin by Ernst, signed and dated 16th July 1828. This makes it the earliest of Ernst’s compositions to survive.

http://www.mayersche.de/Heinrich-Panofka-Ein-musikalisches-Stammbuch-Koenigliche-Biblithek-Kopenhagen-leder-einband.html

Second, Fronen discovered another Ernst arrangement for violin and piano of a piano piece by Stephen Heller. This particular example is entitled Etude Melodique, and is an A major piece in ¾ time marked Allegro Scherzoso. The piece is arranged from Heller’s solo piano etude op.45, no.13. The arrangement probably dates from around the same time as the Feuillet D’Album (Ernst’s arrangement for violin and piano of Heller’s solo piano etude op.16, no.15), i.e., about 1842, although it would be useful to discover when Heller’s op.45 was published.

 

All three new pieces will be recorded as part of the Lupu/Hobson/Toccata edition of Ernst’s complete works.

Ernst photograph?

The Brahms Institute in Lübeck has a photograph which it catalogues as being of Ernst (NO. 30750). In some ways it resembles Ernst (the hair-style and slim figure) but I don’t think it’s actually of him, and the hunting whip and posture are most uncharacteristic. Decide for yourself here:

www.brahms-institut.de

Click on the home page, then go to ‘Digitale Bestände’ followed by ‘Fotographien’.

Ernst’s living descendants

In the final paragraph of HWE I said I thought it unlikely that, after the Holocaust, Ernst had any living relatives. I’ve discovered I was wrong twice over. First, Jan Pecka traced a descendant called Henriette Shattuck, whom he heard was living in Rue L’Andrône des Remparts, Boulbon, France. Madam Shattuck said she knew only that she was a descendant of one of Ernst’s brothers, and had no further information about the violinist.

Second, I was contacted in September 2012 by Kinga Bisits (see People) from Australia who wrote as follows:

I believe I am a descendant of Moritz Ernst the brother of Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (the subject of your book). My great great grandfather was also called Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst. I have many photos of him dressed in opera costumes. His mother my great great great grandmother was Joszefa Kaiser Ernst.  My grandmother Countess Erica Zichy nee Yull said that Moritz Ernst was her great grandfather, however other family members dispute that Moritz E is the father of Heinrich (the opera singer). They claim Heinrich the opera singer is the result of an affair between Joszefa Kaiser Ernst and a member of the aristocracy.

Stories that famous musicians are the illegitimate children of aristocrats rather than their official parents are common enough, but in the case of the pianist Sigismond Thalberg the story appears to be correct, and the same may be true in this case.

Two of Kinga’s pictures – of Josephine Ernst-Kayser and Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (II), the tenor – are shown below. They are Ernst’s sister-in-law and nephew respectively: 

Josephine Ernst-Kayser Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (II)

Ernst’s nieces?

While on the topic of Ernst’s descendants, the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 6th June 1895, p.10, contains an interesting article about two musicians described as Ernst’s nieces – the violinist and harpist Marianne and Clara Eissler (born in 1865 and 1868 respectively). Their father, Hermann Eissler, was a professor of science at the university in Brno, but when he died, his wife moved to Vienna so her daughters could study at the Conservatory which both entered aged 7. Marianne studied with Professor Karl Hessler, and acquired, by the age of 9, a reputation as a local prodigy; while Clara studied with the Harpist Zamara before moving to Paris to complete her education with Hasselmanns. By the age of 17, the elder sister Marianne was playing at the Philharmonic concerts in London, and both sisters eventually secured official positions at the court of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and played several times for the British royal family.

The sisters enjoyed a considerable reputation. Joachim considered Marianne second only to Madame Neruda (Lady Hallé) amongst lady violinists; she appeared regularly at Amelie Joachim’s concerts; and was a friend and collaborator of Adelina Patti’s. It is now thought that Marianne (rather than Wilhelmj) is the violinist on Patti’s recording of Gounod’s Ave Maria (which can be found on YouTube).  Saint-Saëns dedicated his Fantasy for Violin and Harp in A major op.124 to the Eissler sisters, and Marianne was the dedicatee of Sarasate’s Le Rêve op.53.

The connection with Ernst is only mentioned in the Manchester Courier article mentioned above and I have my doubts as to whether they were Ernst’s nieces, although it is quite likely they were more distantly related to the violinist. Ernst’s sisters seem to have been born between 1806 and 1809, while his half-sister was born in 1788. This clearly makes them too old to be having children in 1865-8.

More information about all the Eissler sisters (there were at least three) can be found here.