Four Short Works for Piano Trio
Kirchner (1823-1903) was widely considered to be the undisputed master of the character piece, a short kind of free form work. Kirchner literally wrote hundreds of such pieces which can rightly be considered little gems, little masterpieces.
He was born in the town of Neukirchen near Chemnitz in the German province of Saxony. He showed a prodigious musical talent at an early age, however, his father was reluctant to let him study music. It was only after hearing both Schumann and Mendelssohn highly praise his sonís talent that he permitted Theodor to attend the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied with Mendelssohn, among others. It was upon Mendelssohnís recommendation that Kirchner in 1843 obtained his first position as organist of the main church in Winterthur in Switzerland. He was a friend of both Robert and Clara Schumann as well as Brahms.
Kirchnerís compositional talent was widely respected and held in the highest regard by Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Wagner and many others. But Kirchner, found himself unable to write large scale works. Rather, he excelled at writing miniatures. He would often write several at a time and then publish them together, each with a different mood and feel and each perfect in its own way.
Though primarily known, during his lifetime, as an organist, pianist and teacher, he wrote more than 1,000 works, most are short and for the piano, although he did write a small amount of very appealing chamber music, primarily for piano trio.
The Four Short Works were originally published in Berlin in 1881 as his Op.59, a set of 12 pieces he titled "Novellettes" as a tribute to Schumann who had pioneered the form. The first two, Moderato, ma agitato and Allegretto, alla marcia are Hungarian in flavor. The third is a lyrical piece, while the fourth is short and quiet, but very lovely morsel. Certainly these charming works deserve to be heard again in concert and rediscovered by amateurs.