Franz Mittler: Viennese Wunderkind
Diana Mittler, piano
"Highly recommended" —Strings Magazine read review
World Premiere Recording of two sonatas by Vienna's Wunderkind, Franz Mittler performed by the composer's daughter, Diana Mittler on piano.
- Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Major (1910)
- 1. Allegro moderato
- 2. Andante
- 3. Allegro
- Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major (1909)
- 4. Andante-Allegro appassionato
- 5. Andante
- 6. Vivace molto
- 7. Vivace giocoso
Daughter of the Austrian genius Franz Mittler, Diana Mittler, pianist, has presented the first recording of his lush, post-Romantic sonatas for cello and violin. These newly discovered treasures are rendered with exceptional passion and magnificent beauty; surely a necessary masterpiece for any classical music collection.
Franz Mittler (1893-1970) was born in Vienna on April 14,1893. Displaying talent as a violinist at an early age, he first performed in concert at the age of nine accompanied by the seven year old pianist, Clara Haskil. By 1904, he was concentrating on the piano, studying with Theodor Leschetizsky; his cousin, Leonie Gombrich, mother of the renowned art historian, Sir Ernst Gombrich, who was Leschetizsky's assistant, and later with Carl Friedberg. He also studied composition with Richard Heuberger, an associate of Brahms, and Karl Prohaska, and theory with the noted contrapuntist, Joseph Labor.
In 1919, after serving in the Austrian Army during World War I, Franz Mittler was appointed conductor at the Opera Theater in Gera-Reuss, Germany where his ballet, "The Golden Goose" was performed. During the 1920's and 1930's, he returned to Vienna as a leading "lieder" accompanist, touring with Franz Steiner, and Leo Slezak and serving as musical collaborator with the famed satirist, Karl Kraus, in his revival of Offenbach operettas. In 1938, Mittler emigrated to America where he became a pianist-arranger for the First Piano Quartet, well-known to radio, record, television, and concert audiences of the 1940's and 1950's. He also made many educational arrangements and composed original teaching pieces for Musicord Publications. From 1965 to 1967 he served as a vocal coach at the International Summer Academy of the Mozarteum in Salzburg which honored him with a Memorial Concert in 1995. He passed away in Bavaria in December,1970.
Mittler's compositions include more than 65 songs and many chamber works, piano pieces, choral compositions, and the opera, "Raffaela". His musical works have been published by Simrock, Universal Edition, Doblinger, Bongiovanni, Theodore Presser, and Associated Music. He also gained international fame as a published and recorded master writer of very humorous and ingenious spoonerisms and limericks in German and English. A partial listing of his works can be found in his biography titled, "Franz Mittler: Austro-American Composer, Musician, and Humorous Poet" written by his daughter, Diana Mittler-Battipaglia, which was released in 1994 by Peter Lang Publishing as part of its Modern Austrian Culture Series (ISBN 0-8204-2063-8).
A collection of 400 of his compositions including the Violin Sonata in D major, composed in 1909, and two early piano trios was discovered by his daughter in the Austrian National Library in Vienna in June 2000, expanding the archive sent by to her by the Mozarteum in 1974. Unfortunately a number of major compositions by Franz Mittler including a violin and a cello concerto were lost during the Nazi annexation of Austria while he was on a concert tour in Holland. Because of his association with Karl Kraus and his Jewish ancestry, he couldn't return to Vienna and only a portion of his music could be sent to him after he emigrated to America in December 1938.
The professional debut of Mittler as a composer was auspicious. His "First String Quartet in F Major" (1909) was premiered by the Prill Quartet in 1910. Richard Specht, a close associate of Brahms, writing in "Die Musik" noted, "Two quartets…and one that points to future personal recognition. Beautifully realized, full of warmth and sensitive expression was the premiere work of this still very young composer (sixteen years old) of such unquestionable talent."
The Sonata in G Major for Cello and Piano was composed in 1910 and performed on tour by Paul Grümmer, solo cellist of the Vienna Konzertverein and later the Busch Quartet, with Mittler at the piano. The first performance took place in Berlin. Emil Thilo, writing in the November 1911 issue of "Die Musik" said, "It contains good music in solid construction".
Even greater acclaim followed in 1911 when Universal Edition published two opuses of his songs and N. Simrock in Berlin published his "Trio in G Major Opus 3, for Violin, Cello, and Piano" A review in the September 1912 edition in "Die Musik" by Hugo Schlemüller states," A strong talent for melody, a genuine joy in making music seems to speak to me from this very effective trio… …It is beautifully developed, free from prolixity…"
During the past decade, Mittler's songs have been recorded by the renowned Austrian baritone, Wolfgang Holzmair, and soprano, Judith Kopecky; his piano trio by the Con Brio Ensemble; and his string quartets by the noted Viennese ensembles, the Hugo Wolf Quartett and the Artis Quartett, and released by Preiser, Extraplatte, and CPO Records.
Recently a number of his chamber works have been reprinted or published for the first time by Edition Silvertrust. It is hoped that these two youthful sonatas will provide a further glimpse into late Romantic Viennese compositions which were eclipsed after World War I by revolutionary atonal and ethnic styles and have only in recent years been rediscovered and appreciated.
—program notes by Diana Mittler-Battipaglia
André Emelianoff is widely known as a cello soloist, chamber artist and teacher. He studied at the Juilliard School with Luigi Silva, Channing Robbins, Claus Adam and Leonard Rose. Mr. Emelianoff has been principal cellist of the New York Chamber Symphony under Gerard Schwartz and a member of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell and Pierre Boulez. As cellist of the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players in residence at Bard College, he has participated in over 70 premieres and recorded "Pierrot Lunaire". He is also a member of the Aeolian Chamber Players in residence at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival. Mr. Emelianoff is on the cello and chamber music faculty of the Juilliard School and has recorded for RCA, Nonesuch, CRI, and Bridge Records. During 2008-2009 he presented a series of three solo concerts at Merkin Hall titled "Musical Journeys with the Archetypical Cello."
Alexander Meshibovsky has appeared as soloist with major European orchestras including the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, the Hamburg Philharmonic, the RIAS Symphony in Berlin, North German Radio Orchestra in Hannover, and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra in Munich with prominent conductors such as Ricardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Edo de Waart, Klaus Tennstedt, Thomas Sanderling, and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Mr. Meshibovsky was born in Kharkov, USSR where he studied with Ilya Dobrshinetz, a student of Leopold Auer, and Adolph Lestshinsky who studied with Karl Flesch. In 1972 he became a soloist with the Moscow Concert Agency performing throughout the USSR and studying with Boris Goldstein. After leaving Russia in 1975, he gave recitals and master classes throughout Austria, Gemany, and western Europe. In 1979, he emigrated to America and coached for a number of years with Jascha Heifetz before serving as Professor of Violin at East Tennessee State University and the University of West Virginia. He is currently on the faculty of Lehman College-CUNY.
Diana Mittler-Battipaglia received both Bachelor of Science, and Master of Science Degrees from the Juilliard School, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Eastman. Her piano teachers have included her parents Regina and Franz Mittler, Edward Steuermann, Eugene List, and Jane Carlson. Further studies in chamber music were with Artur Balsam, Louis Persinger, John Wummer, Carroll Glenn, and at Tanglewood's Berkshire Music Center. She has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the New Haven Symphony, the National Orchestral Association, and made a successful New York solo recital debut in 1977. As cofounder of the Con Brio Ensemble, she has presented an annual series of chamber music concerts in the greater New York area since 1978 and recorded for Preiser Records.
Dr. Mittler-Battipaglia has been Professor of Music and Choral Director at Lehman College of the City University of New York since 1986 where she performs regularly with the Lehman Chamber Players and has received major awards for "Excellence in Teaching", and the "Prism Award for Pluralism and Diversity". She was recently was featured in CUNY TV's "Study with the Best" series, and in the PBS documentary, "Last Stop, Kew Gardens". In 2009, she received a lifetime achievement award in music from the New York State Assembly.
Con Brio Ensemble can be found on the internet at: www.my space.com/conbriomusic
A multi-talented musical polyglot, Franz Mittler (1893-1970) studied piano and composition in his native Vienna. His successful European career as pianist, accompanist, vocal coach, and composer was cut short when the Nazis annexed Austria. In 1938, he emigrated to America, where he became known for writing and arranging educational material.
These world-premiere recordings were discovered at the Austrian National Library in Vienna in 2000 by Mottler's daughter, a tireless advocate of his works on stage and disc. Written when the composer was still a teenager–the Violin Sonata in 1909, the Cello Sonata in 1910–the sonatas are full of contrasts, from genial, sprightly, and humorous to dreamy, dark, and solemn, and they are pervaded by an unabashed, youthful romanticism.
These works never sound derivative, but naturally display outside influences, most noticeably Richard Strauss in the Violin Sonata. The harmonies are tonal and the melodies sing and soar, sending the cellist and especially the violinist into the stratosphere for long stretches.
As in much Viennese music, a waltz is always just below the surface, as is a Gypsy dance, Hungary still being part of Austria at that time.
The playing is most excellent: technically brilliant and secure, tonally intense and expressive in all registers and combinations, musically involved and communicative, exemplary in ensemble and balance. Highly recommended.
—E.E. —Strings Magazine
These performances are musically excellent…
American Record Guide