Heinrich Molbe


Fête des Dryades for Bassoon, Horn and Piano, Op.68

Fête des Dryades most likely came in to being as a contribution to the then well-known Donnerstagabend Konzerte (Thursday Evening Concerts) held in late 19th century Vienna at his famous brother's spacious Vienna mansion. The Dryades in Greek Mythology were the beautiful Nymphs of the trees, groves, woods and mountain forests. It was said that upon their births, trees sprung up from the earth to which their lives were closely tied. While the tree flourished, so did its resident nymph, but when it died she passed away with it. The impetus for such a composition no doubt came from the Viennese fascination for the exotic. It is interesting to note that while there is the ever present sense of forward motion, it is rather gentle like the flow of a languid river, the so-called celebration is rather sedate and peaceful The part-writing for the insturments is superb and reveals Molbe to be a master.


Heinrich Molbe (1835-1915) was the pseudonym of Heinrich von Bach, a prominent Viennese lawyer whose three brothers—–Alexander, Eduard and Otto—–were nonetheless all better known than him. He was born in the village of Unterwaltersdorf in lower Austria outside of Vienna. His father, an important jurist, sent him, as he had the other brothers, to the University of Vienna to study law. Alexander, the eldest (b. 1813) and most famous of the four, served as Imperial Chancellor to the Emperor Franz Joseph from 1848-1850. Eduard entered the imperial civil service and was a governor of several Habsburg provinces while Otto became a composer and eventually director of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Heinrich, while at the University of Vienna, studied composition privately, as did his brother Otto, with Simon Sechter, the famous professor of composition and theory at the Vienna Conservatory. Heinrich also entered the imperial civil service and briefly served as the Governor of the Fiume and Trieste Province, then in Austrian possession. Though he could claim to be a professionally trained musician, he apparently felt that being known as a composer would be detrimental to his legal and imperial civil service careers and hence composed under a pseudonym. He was a fairly prolific composer, writing nearly 400 works, including some 200 art songs and 140 chamber works.

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