Today I sing of Othmar Schoeck

Othmar Schoeck

Othmar Schoeck (1 September 1886 – 8 March 1957) was a Swiss composer and conductor.

He was known mainly for his considerable output of art songs and song cycles, though he also wrote a number of operas, notably his one-act Penthesilea, which was premiered in Dresden in 1927 and revived at the Lucerne Festival in 1999. He wrote a handful of instrumental compositions, including two string quartets and concertos for violin, cello and horn.

Two of his song cycles stand out, Elegie op. 36 for baritone and chamber orchestra was developed between 1921 and 1923 and was Schoeck’s first song cycle, summarizing 24 poems of Nikolaus Lenau and Joseph von Echiendorff.  Notturno, op. 47, his 45-minute work for low voice and string quartet or string orchestra.   Schoeck set to music poems of mourning, loneliness and despair by Nikolaus Lenau, as well as a fragment by Gottfried Keller. Schoeck chose the title Notturno for a reason: it matches the dark underlying character of the music which, with or without vocal parts (the first, extended movement has a long instrumental part), expresses the pain, the lamentation and the resignation of the narrator in a late-romantic style.

Both song cycles can be found in two recent excellent redcordings.  Elegie by Klaus Mertens on New Classical Adventure records:

schoeck_elegie

 

And Notturno by Christian Gerhaher on ECM New Series.

schoeck_notturno

 

 

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