Henry Holden Huss
Piano Trio in d minor, Op.23 World Premiere Edition
Henry Holden Huss (1862-1953) grew up in New York City, the son of German immigrant parents. His father was an organist who engaged a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory to teach his son piano and organ, and then when the boy was old enough, sent him to the Royal Conservatory in Munich where he studied with Josef Rheinberger, among others. Upon his return to the States, Huss embarked on a moderately successful career as a touring piano virtuoso. As a composer, he was regarded as one of the best of his generation by those who counted, but unfortunately, it was at a time when American composers could rarely get a hearing for their works.
Writing of this work, the Editor of The Chamber Music Journal comments:
Huss' Piano Trio in d minor, Op.23, subtitled, The Munich, was composed in 1886 and dedicated to his teacher, Rheinberger. Although it was given perhaps a dozen performances, all on the East Coast, and all off manuscript copy, some by quite well-known performers such as Franz Kneisel, sadly, the trio was never published. Its last recorded public performance was said to have occurred 1892—truly incredible because it is an extraordinarily good work, in my opinion, a masterpiece which would certainly have seen the light of day had Huss been living in Europe. It might even have entered the front rank of the romantic trio literature.
In four movements, the massive opening Allegro molto appassionata has for its main subject a theme of destiny which carries everything before it in a dramatic and tempestuous fashion. The beautiful second theme is quite lyrical, while the passionate coda is one of the most thrilling you will find anywhere.
The second movement, Intermezzo, romance, has an exceptionally beautiful melody for its first subject, originally presented by the cello. Full of calm tranquility, there seems to me to be an undeniable American quality to this melody, having as it does, a sense of optimism and bounty. It is harmonized wonderfully. In the middle section, the opening theme to the first movement returns in the guise of a dramatically toned-down march. It lends an aura of yearning and tension which is dissipated by the peaceful ending.
The third movement, marked Scherzo, is more of a cross between an upbeat march and an intermezzo. Only of moderate tempo, the trio section is a bit slower and creates a valedictory mood. The huge last movement, simply marked Finale, opens with an introduction in which the main theme from the second movement reappears. It gives way to a buoyant allegro, full of the spirit of 19th century American “can do” sentiment. But gradually we hear many of the other themes from the earlier movements, The finale, in fact, is a very fine example of cyclicism which was then popular, especially among composers such as Wagner and Cesar Franck and their followers. The exciting and grandiose conclusion to the trio is entirely fitting for a work of this magnitude.
We are indebted to the Rawlins Piano Trio, who made the world premiere recording (Albany Troy CD#692) for presenting us with a copy of the manuscript. Creation of the edition was entrusted to the experienced editor Skyler Silvertrust, who has several world premiere editions to his credit. The Rawlins Piano Trio also contributed to this edition by playing the draft edition and making further corrections and suggestions.
We are very proud to introduce this extraordinary work and hope that professionals and amateurs alike, after hearing the sound-bites from the Rawlins Trio recording, will be encouraged to make its acquaintance.