George Templeton Strong
String Trio in G Major for 2 Violins and Viola
George Templeton Strong (1856-1948) was born in New York City, the son of a famous lawyer of the same name, who was a friend of Abraham Lincoln. In New York, Strong studied piano, viola and oboe. In 1879 he traveled to Germany and attended the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied with Salomon Jadassohn and privately with Richard Hoffmann and Joachim Raff. He stayed in Germany for 10 years, for a time playing viola in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. During this time he met and became friendly with both Liszt and Wagner by whom he was influenced. In 1891, he returned to the States and for a while taught composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. For health reasons, a few years later, he moved to Switzerland where he remained for the rest of his life. He was equally interested in painting and as a result was not a prolific composer. His music shows the influence mostly of Raff and Liszt. His String Trio for Two Violins and Viola, which he titled The Village Music Director, was composed in 1904 and dedicated to the members of the famous Flonzayley String Quartet. It is clearly program music and Strong provided some notes to describe each of the three movements.
In the first movement, Allegro pastorale, we are told that blue skies and rolling meadows, country yokels and murmuring brooks are all the director has for his concert hall and orchestra. Still, it is a happy, carefree movement. The the motto of the second movement, Andante sostenuto, is "he only loved once, he only suffered once." Yet, this is not a particularly sad movement, rather it is calm and resigned. In the humorous finale, Allegro scherzando, we are present at a music lesson with two naughty students at which everything eventually goes horribly wrong. It starts out well enough, but then the director tries to teach his pupils about fugues. They will have none of it and mock him. He becomes angry but then tires and finally falls asleep. As in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, the students create mischief and finally he awakes and pandemonium results.
Superbly written for all three voices, and clearly intended as a work for the concert hall, here is a "must have" from the late Romantic era for the those interested in the repertoire for 2 Violins and Viola. Out of print for many years, we are pleased to make it available once again.