Rhapsodie Russe for Viola & Piano
Leopold Wallner's Rhapsodie Russe came into being through his friendship with Eugene Ysaye and the members of the Ysaye String Quartet. His friendship with the quartet’s violist Leon van Hout led to his composing several works for that instrument among them his Cinq Morceaux for Viola and Piano which date from 1909. The Rhapsodie, highly lyrical, intersperses dark, moody episodes with brighter quick sections providing fine contrast.
Leopold Wallner (1847-1913) was born in the then Russian city of Kiev (now the capital of Ukraine). His father was a music publisher. In Kiev, Wallner received a few piano lessons from Franz Liszt who was a family friend. Liszt recommended that he study in a conservatory in the West and in 1866 his family moved to Brussels where he entered the Brussels Conservatory and began studies with Fetis. However, his father died the next year and he was forced to drop out and earn a living, which he did by teaching. As a composer, he was largely self taught, yet he reach such a high level of accomplishment and his compositions such recognition that he was subsequently able to obtain a position as a professor at the Brussels Conservatory.
Although the Cinq Morceaux were originally published for viola and piano, his friendship with a well-known Belgian harpist, led to his making a harp part as a substitute for the piano. We only publish the original piano version.