Violin Sonata No.1 in c minor, Op.19
Franck composed his First Violin Sonata in 1853. It is a signal and important work in the literature because after Beethoven and Schubert, only Schumann had composed any violin sonatas of note. Franck apparently was aware of this situation and meant to remedy it. He intended it as a recital vehicle for the violinist Theodore Pixis. He succeeded in writing one of the finest mid romantic works for violin and piano which surely belongs in the repertoire.
Eduard Franck (1817-1893) was born in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. He was the fourth child of a wealthy and cultivated banker who exposed his children to the best and brightest that Germany had to offer. Frequenters to the Franck home included such luminaries as Heine, Humboldt, Heller, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. His family’s financial position allowed Franck to study with Mendelssohn as a private student in Dusseldorf and later in Leipzig. As a talented pianist, he embarked upon a dual career as a concert artist and teacher for more than four decades during the course of which he held many positions. Although he was highly regarded as both a teacher and performer, he never achieved the public recognition of his better known contemporaries such as Mendelssohn, Schumann or Liszt. As fine a pianist as the first two and perhaps even a better teacher, the fact that he failed to publish very many of his compositions until toward the end of his life, in part, explains why he was not better known. Said to be a perfectionist, he continually delayed releasing his works until they were polished to his demanding standards. Schumann, among others, thought quite highly of the few works he did publish during the first part of his life.
The opening movement, Allegro moderato con espressione quasi fantasia, is written in very free form. A dark introduction in the piano is followed by a stunning unaccompanied quadruple stopped response by the violin. The lovely main theme flows along effortlessly and lends itself to the free form development Franck intended. The second movement, Andante con espressione, features a gorgeous very long-lined melody in the violin. Its very vocal quality gives it the quality of an aria. The exciting finale, Allegro appassionato, begins with a rhythmically restless motif which eventually builds to a riveting climax before the appearance of a calmer and more lyrical second theme.
Unavailable for well over 100 years, we are pleased to reprint it and are grateful to Dr. Paul Feuchte and Dr. Andreas Feuchte, the composer's great grandson and great-great grandson, for supplying us with a copy of the parts. This is a recital piece par excellence. We hope that amateurs and professionals will take the time to make the acquaintance of this wonderful sonata.