Ungarische Tanzweisen (Hungarian Dance Tunes)
An Original Composition For Violin and Piano
Hans Koessler (1853-1926) is a master composer who wrote some of the most outstanding music that you have never heard. Koessler was born in the town of Waldbeck in upper Bavaria. He studied organ and composition with Joseph Rheinberger in Munich, holding a number of positions in Germany before moving to Hungary to become Professor of Organ, Composition and Choral direction at the Music Academy of Budapest in the early 1880's. He stayed there until his retirement in 1908. Bartok, Kodaly, Dohnanyi, Leo Weiner and Imre Kalman were all among his many students and he was widely regarded as the finest teacher of composition in Austria-Hungary during the 1890's and the first part of the 20th century.
Ungarische Tanzweisen are not, like so many other Hungarian Dances, a periphrase but an original composition--something Koessler insisted putting on the title page so there was no mistaking it. They were published in 1902, but like others of Koessler's few published works, they most likely were composed a decade or more before they were published. Koessler, who was from Bavaria, spent his entire working life, nearly half his life, in Budapest. Although he loved Bavaria and retired there, he also was fond of Hungary and returned there even after retiring. This reflected in the fact that so many of his works are spiced with Hungarian melodies. But here, Koessler has not borrowed Hungarian tunes for his thematic material. Rather, it is his original material to which he has added a Hungarian flavor by using some of the more better known and typical Hungarian rhythms and melodic progressions. The set is made up of three separate dances, all three begin in brisk fashion but have highly contrasting middle sections which are slower, sometimes sad and always emotive. They are a tribute to what was for long years his adopted homeland.
Out of print for well for the better part of a century, we feel these pieces make a fine recital choice and warmly recommend them to professionals and amateurs alike.