Three Fantasy Pieces for Viola & Piano, Op.58
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 genre of Fantasy Pieces (Fantasiestücke in German) was more or less pioneered by Robert Schumann in the 1830's. These were generally a set of shorter pieces meant to be performed together. Each, colorful and with a different mood or caracter. Sitt’s three lovely pieces were composed in 1894 and are in the Schumann tradition.