Serenata for Cello and Piano, Op.34 / BV 196
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.
The Serenata for Cello and Piano dates from 1882 and is a youthful work. Although it is in one substantial movement, there are actually three sections. It is a lovely work which makes a fine shorter recital choice. Our soundbite presents portions of the first two sections.
This work certainly deserves to be heard in concert and will also be of great interest to amateurs.