String Quintet "Une Fête de Village en Suisse"
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
Une Fête de Village en Suisse (a festival in a Swiss village) was composed during Neukomm's sojourn in Brazil between 1816 and 1821, when he was attached to the royal court of Joao VI. It was there that he met the famous Brazilian surgeon Manoel Alvares de Carvalho who was a royal counselor and personal doctor to the queen. A friendship was struck up between the two men, perhaps because Alvares had been educated in Portugal and Neukomm had spent some time there as well. In any event, he dedicated the work to Alvares. It is program music, much in the way that Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony was. Neukomm himself provided program notes.
"FIRST MOVEMENT The music begins by giving a picture of the sunrise. All of nature awakes. The stag gathers its brood, the birds sing and the echoes of their songs reverberate, proclaiming in a thousand voices a beautiful day and the wonder of nature. As the sun rises one and all are brought to life by its rays SECOND MOVEMENT Now all of the villagers head to the church to celebrate the Festival of the patron saint. THIRD MOVEMENT Now it’s noon time, the sky is brighter and the heat is becoming oppressive. Soon clouds gather in the sky, darkening the air, and a terrible thunder storm follows. And then it passes, the clouds scatter, and the sun in its magnificence shines again. FOURTH MOVEMENT The towns people gather together on the village green, joking and playing. With the rising din, joy and happiness spread throughout the crowd. At last, the people begin dancing but they are interrupted by cowherds' songs and shepherds blowing their horns to bring their herds home. Then, the dancing begins anew but soon the vesper bells ring out, clanging three times, calling the pious villagers to evening prayers. The dancing and frolicking comes to an end as the towns people return to their homes, their hearts filled with the happy memories of the celebration."
Sigismund Neukomm (1778-1858) was born in Salzburg. He studied composition with Michael Haydn. There were further studies in Vienna with Joseph Haydn. He held a number of positions including music director at St. Petersburg's German theatre. He traveled widely throughout Europe and even visited Brazil, South America, where he popularized the works of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Mozart. Neukomm's compositional output is large. He wrote several operas, masses, oratorios, songs, works for piano solo as well as chamber music works. During his lifetime, he and his music were widely respected and he was regarded as being in the front rank of those composers from the Classical era after Haydn and Mozart. Despite the fame he achieved during the first half of the 19th century, his name and works fell into obscurity because he outlived the classical era by 50 years. This is a fate which might well have happened to Mozart had he lived so long. Certainly had Neukomm died before 1815, his reputation would have remained intact.
Neukomm wrote six string quintets—three for 2 violins, viola and 2 cellos and three for 2 violins, viola and 2 violas. The latter are remarkable in that he attempted to write program music long before this practice became commonplace.
Only printed once, we have taken the original edition, cleaned it, corrected mistakes and have added rehearsal numbers. This is a work which should interest both amateurs and professionals.