Albumblätter for Viola & Piano, Op.39
Hans Sitt (1850-1922) was, during his lifetime, regarded as one of the foremost teachers of violin. Most of the orchestras and conservatories of Europe and North America then sported personnel who numbered among his students. He held the august position of Professor of Violin at the Leipzig Conservatory from 1883 on and authored several important studies for that instrument, some of which are still used. Born in Prague, Sitt’s father was a prominent violin maker there. Hans’ musical talent manifested itself early and from all accounts, he could easily have enjoyed the typical career of a “wunderkind” had his parents chosen to exploit him, but they wisely refused this course. Instead, he was allowed to have a normal life and received a regular education at a gymnasium (high school) before being sent to the Prague Conservatory where he studied violin and composition. Subsequently, he pursued a successful solo career for a short time before being appointed concertmaster of the Breslau Opera Orchestra at age 17, the first of many such appointments. In addition, he was a conductor of repute holding positions with orchestras in France, Austria and Germany.
The Albumblätter, or album leaves, six short, charming pieces for viola and piano, were composed in 1891. Each piece has its own mood and shows a different facet of the viola. Any of these pieces would make a fine encore or the entire set could be used to great advantage in a recital.