Three Character Pieces for Clarinet & String Quartet
Busoni's father Fernando was a touring clarinet virtuoso. By the time Ferruccio he had already finished his initial composition lessons, he was helping to keep the family finances afloat by composing. His father, who was constantly on tour, requested Ferruccio to supply him for works with clarinet. During the years 1879-1881, the boy composed at least a dozen such works for different combinations. At least half a dozen of these were for clarinet and string quartet. At his father's suggestion, he took three of these pieces and labeled them "Suite" by which they are sometimes known. They have also been called clarinet quintet, but it is unlikely that any group of these works was intended to serve as a unified work. The three pieces, Andantino, Vivace e marcarto and Moderto are not virtuoso pieces for the clarinet, but rather highly emotive and full of contrasting moods. They are amazingly mature for a boy of 13 to 15 and one can see why Brahms was quite impressed when he met Ferruccio in Vienna.
Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) is remembered as a great pianist and was among the first rank of virtuosi during his lifetime, but what generally is no longer remembered is that he was an important composer. Cecil Gray, writing in Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music notes:
“The popular notion that his creative efforts were simply the outcome of a virtuoso’s ultimate ambition, when no further laurels remained to be conquered in his own sphere, is wholly erroneous. There can be little doubt that if he had been a less brilliant player, his music would have received greater attention. This is the great tragedy of Busoni’s career...Busoni’s significance as a composer has often been grievously under-estimated. In natural talents he was richly endowed, and in technical command and versatility of achievement possessed phenomenal powers.”
Born in Tuscany, Busoni’s parents were both musicians. Busoni’s musical talent showed itself early and by the age of 8 he was performing before the public. Eventually he studied composition Leipzig Conservatory Carl Reinecke. Besides an important career as a soloist he also taught at the Helsinki Conservatory as well as the New England Conservatory in Boston and the Berlin Academy of the Arts.
Parts & Score: $36.95