Musikalische Märchen, Op.31
ForViolin or Clarinet, Viola and Cello
Franz Neruda (1843-1915) was born in Brunn (today Brno) in what was then the Habsburg Austrian Empire. His father was a renowned organist and also a competent violinist and from his 11 children, he created a family quartet which toured throughout Europe. Franz first learned the violin from his father but when his brother, who was the cellist of the quartet, died, Franz was made to take up of the cello. Surprisingly, because he taught himself, he became quite good, and eventually had the opportunity to study with the famous virtuoso Adrien Servais. Neruda obtained a position in Copenhagen with the Royal Orchestra. Later, he was appointed Professor of Cello at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and then served as conductor of the Stockholm Music Society before returning to Copenhagen where he held the same position as well as serving a professor at the Royal Danish Conservatory. He wrote several cello concertos, but also a fair amount of chamber music of which he was quite fond.
The Musikalische Mārchen (Music Stories or Tales) were composed in the early 1870’s. It is quite likely that Neruda had Schumann’s Op.132 Märchenerzälungen for clarinet, viola and piano in mind when he wrote this work and though originally composed for clarinet, viola and cello, Neruda simultaneously wrote a violin part so that the standard string trio could perform it, hence making the possibility of concert performance more likely, not to mention that a wider audience would be available to purchase the music. There are nine movements, some quite short, others of medium length. Altogether, they make a substantial work, the length of a large scale string trio. Of course, any of the movements would make a fine encore and a program could be put together by simply including a selection of three or four. The movements are quite evocative, each which a different mood, but overall there is a wistful atmosphere to the music.
Unavailable for many years, we feel this makes a very attractive addition to the repertoire not only for the standard string trio but especially for clarinet, viola and cello.