Ignaz Brüll

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Ignaz Brüll

Ignaz Brüll (7 November 1846 17 September 1907) was a Moravian-born pianist and composer who lived and worked in Vienna.

Moravia Historical land in Czech Republic

Moravia is a historical region in the Czech Republic and one of the historical Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The medieval and early modern Margraviate of Moravia was a crown land of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, an imperial state of the Holy Roman Empire, later a crown land of the Austrian Empire and briefly also one of 17 former crown lands of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 to 1918. During the early 20th century, Moravia was one of the five lands of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1928; it was then merged with Czech Silesia, and eventually dissolved by abolition of the land system in 1949.

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.


His operatic compositions included Das goldene Kreuz (The Golden Cross), which became a repertory work for several decades after its first production in 1875, but eventually fell into neglect after being banned by the Nazis because of Brüll's Jewish origins. He also wrote a small corpus of finely crafted works for the concert hall and recitals. Brüll's compositional style was lively but unabashedly conservative, in the vein of Mendelssohn and Schumann.

<i>Das goldene Kreuz</i> opera by Ignaz Brüll

Das goldene Kreuz is a German-language opera by Ignaz Brüll in two acts, with a libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal. It premiered in Berlin in 1875 and was a huge success, later playing on many stages around the world including London and New York City, where it was equally well-received.

Felix Mendelssohn 19th-century German composer, pianist and organist

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music. His best-known works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is also his. Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.

Robert Schumann German composer

Robert Schumann was a German composer, pianist, and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. His teacher, Friedrich Wieck, a German pianist, had assured him that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Brüll was also highly regarded as a sensitive concert pianist. Johannes Brahms regularly wanted Brüll to be his partner in private performances of four-hand piano duet arrangements of his latest works. Indeed, Brüll was a prominent member of Brahms's circle of musical and literary friends, many of whom he and his wife frequently entertained.

Johannes Brahms German composer and pianist

Johannes Brahms was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. His reputation and status as a composer are such that he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs" of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.

Piano duet musical work for two pianists, sometimes with accompanying instruments

According to the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, there are two kinds of piano duet: "those for two players at one instrument, and those in which each of the two pianists has an instrument to him- or herself." In American usage the former is often referred to as "piano four hands". Grove notes that the one-piano duet has the larger repertory, but has come to be regarded as a modest, domestic form of music-making by comparison with "the more glamorous two-piano duet". The latter is more often referred to as a piano duo.

In recent years, Brüll's concert music has been revived on CD, and well-received recordings are available of his piano concertos, among other non-vocal works.

In 1872 he was appointed professor at the Horak Institute in Vienna. [1]


Early years

Brüll was born in Prostějov (Proßnitz) in Moravia, the eldest son of Katharina Schreiber and Siegmund Brüll. [2] His parents were prosperous Jewish merchants and keen social musicians; his mother played piano and his father (who was closely related to the Talmudic scholar Nehemiah Brüll) sang baritone. [3] In 1848 the family relocated their business to Vienna, where Brüll lived and worked for the rest of his life. [1] [4]

Prostějov Town in Czech Republic

Prostějov is a city in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic, in the historical region of Moravia. Today the city is known for its fashion industry and AČR special forces unit 601. skss based there. The historical core of the town has been declared for historical preservation.

Nehemiah Brüll Moravian rabbi

Nehemiah Brüll was a rabbi and versatile scholar.

Brüll started learning piano from his mother around the age of eight and he quickly showed talent. [2] Despite being the heir to the family business, his promise at the keyboard encouraged his parents to provide him with a serious musical training. [5] By the age of ten, he was taking piano lessons from Julius Epstein, a professor at the Vienna Conservatory and friend of Brahms. [2] A year later, in 1857, he began studying composition with Johann Rufinatscha; instrument instruction followed with Felix Otto Dessoff. [2] [1]

Julius Epstein (pianist) Croatian-Austrian pianist

Julius Epstein was a Croatian Jewish pianist.

Johann Rufinatscha was an Austrian composer, theorist and music teacher.

Felix Otto Dessoff German conductor and composer

Felix Otto Dessoff was a German conductor and composer.

In 1860, while aged fourteen, Brüll started writing his Piano Concerto No. 1, which received its first public performance the following year in Vienna with Epstein as soloist. [n 1] [5] Further encouragement to pursue a musical career came with endorsement from the distinguished pianist-composer Anton Rubinstein. [2] [5]

Success and Das goldene Kreuz

Brüll scored another success with his Serenade No. 1 for Orchestra, which was premiered in Stuttgart in 1864. [1] By now, Brüll was 18 years old and had just finished composing his first opera score, Die Bettler von Samarkand (The Beggars of Samarkand). [n 2] Unfortunately, plans for a production at the Court Theatre in Stuttgart in 1866 failed to materialize, and the work was apparently never played. [1] [5]

By contrast, Brüll's second opera, Das goldene Kreuz (The Golden Cross), was by far his most successful: it held a place in the repertory for several decades and brought its composer into the public eye almost overnight. [5] At its premiere in Berlin in December 1875, Brüll was personally complimented by the emperor, Wilhelm I. [1] The opera, with a libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal based on a story by Mélesville, involves an emotional drama of mistaken identities during the Napoleonic wars. [9] [10]

In parallel, Brüll had also been pursuing a career as a concert pianist, playing as a popular soloist and recitalist throughout the German speaking countries. The London premiere of Das goldene Kreuz, in an 1878 production by the Carl Rosa Opera Company, coincided with the first of two extensive concert tours of England, [n 3] during which he was able to play his Piano Concerto No. 2 (another youthful work, written in 1868) and arrange performances of some of his other pieces. [5] Brüll also toured with George Henschel. [13]

The Brahms circle and later years

In 1882, Brüll married Marie Schosberg, a banker's daughter who became a popular hostess to Viennese musical and artistic society. [5] Brüll now shifted his attention towards composition, reduced the number of concert engagements, and permanently gave up touring. He also found himself playing host to Johannes Brahms's circle of friends, including the powerful music critic Eduard Hanslick, the musically minded eminent surgeon Theodor Billroth, and composers such as Carl Goldmark, Robert Fuchs, and even Gustav Mahler. [n 4] [5] When Brahms wanted to audition his latest orchestral compositions, as was his habit, to a select group of connoisseurs in four-handed versions for two pianos, Brüll regularly played alongside the senior composer. [5] From 1890, Brüll's new holiday home (the Berghof) in Unterach am Attersee also became a social venue. [5]

Unlike Brahms, Brüll was a man of the theatre, and he went on to compose at least seven more operas, which however did not approach the same level of popular success as Das goldene Kreuz. [n 5] [13] His final opera, the two-act comedy Der Hussar, was well received when it was staged in Vienna in 1898. [1] [13] [15]

Brüll was an honorary British consul at Budapest and was appointed an Honorary Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 1902 Coronation Honours list on 26 June 1902. [16] [17]


Brüll's other operas include: Der Landfriede (Vienna, 1877), Bianca (Dresden, 1879), Königin Mariette (Munich, 1883), Das Steinerne Herz (Prague, 1888), Gringoire (one act, Munich, 1892), and Schach dem König (Munich, 1893). For the ballet, he wrote the orchestral dance-suite Ein Märchen aus der Champagne (1896).

Orchestral concert works by Brüll include the Im Walde and Macbeth overtures, a symphony and three serenades, a violin concerto, and the two piano concertos, as well as three other piano concertante pieces. His chamber and instrumental music includes a suite and three sonatas for piano and violin, a trio, a cello sonata, a sonata for two pianos and various other piano pieces. He also wrote songs and part-songs. [1]


While a selection of Brüll's concert and recital works is now available on CD, the vocal output has been largely passed by: the few known commercial recordings, by Brüll's Moravian compatriot Leo Slezak and by Emanuel List among others, remain confined to vinyl. [n 6] The second piano concerto was set down twice on elusive LPs, and in 1999, Hyperion Records released a well-received recording of the two piano concertos and a Konzertstück played by Martin Roscoe with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins. [5] [18] Brüll's piano sonata has been recorded by Alexandra Oehler for CPO along with some other shorter keyboard pieces. [19]

For the centenary of Brüll's death in 2007, the Cameo Classics record label and the Brüll Rediscovery Project began a recording programme intended to make Brüll's orchestral works known to a wider audience. His Symphony op. 31 and the Serenade No. 1, op. 29 were recorded by the Belarusian State Symphony Orchestra under Marius Stravinsky. [20] Janet Olney recorded a selection of solo piano works by Brüll (CC9030CD). His Piano Sonata No. 3 was recorded in 2010 by Valentina Seferinova, as was his Serenade No. 2, op. 36 for Orchestra (CC9031CD). In 2011 the Musical Director of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Laus, corrected and completed the score of Brüll's Violin Concerto and recorded the complete work with Ilya Hoffman as soloist (due to multiple errors and gaps in both the score and Brüll's original manuscript, only the slow movement had been previously released). The Macbeth overture was also recorded. All the Cameo Classics recording sessions were filmed, and a documentary on the music of Brüll and his fellow German Jewish Romantic era composers is reported to be in preparation.

Notes and references


  1. Epstein volunteered to premiere the work despite his usual reluctance to perform concertos. [6] This youthful work became a staple of Brüll's own pianistic repertoire: he played it in Vienna (1869), Berlin (1871) and England (Liverpool, Manchester and London, 1881). In America, the concerto was popularized by Richard Hoffman, who gave the U.S. premiere in 1880. [5]
  2. Whereas the Brüll Rediscovery Project lists the year of composition as 1867, [2] Brüll's biographer, Hartmut Wecker, states that the opera was written in 1864, when Brüll first submitted it to the Court Theater in Stuttgart, before going there two years later in an abortive attempt to supervise the planned production. [5] (Some tertiary sources claim that the opera was produced in Vienna in 1864.) [7] [8]
  3. His other English tour was in 1881, when he played at eight concerts. The 1878 tour comprised at least 20 concerts. The Carl Rosa production of Das goldene Kreuz, in which Lilli Lehmann played the leading role, was not a remarkable success. [11] [12]
  4. Other composer friends included Eusebius Mandyczewski, Richard Heuberger and Ludwig Rottenberg. Another member of the circle was Brüll's old piano teacher, Julius Epstein (who had accepted Mahler as a pupil in the same year that he started teaching Brüll). Both Brüll's composition teachers were also friends of Brahms. The friendship with Goldmark dated back to his student days. [2]
  5. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Music, he composed a total of ten operas. [14]
  6. The Brüll Rediscovery Project has compiled a list of known recordings of the composer's music. [2]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Ignaz Brüll". The Jewish Encyclopedia . New York: Funk & Wagnalls. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Gorse, Philip S; Olney, Janet (2008–2009). "Brüll Rediscovery Project". www.ignazbrull.com. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  3. Bollert, Werner (1955). "Ignaz Brüll". Neue Deutsche Biographie 2 (in German). www.deutsche-biographie.de. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  4. Pascall, Robert. "Ignaz Brüll". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online . Oxford University Press.(subscription required)
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Wecker, Hartmut (1998). "The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 20  Brüll". Hyperion Records . Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  6. Greene, David Mason (1 October 1985). Greene's Biographical Encyclopedia of Composers. Reproducing Piano Roll Fnd. pp. 798–799. ISBN   978-0-385-14278-6 . Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  7. Hubbard, W. L.; Krehbiel, H. E. (30 July 2004). The American History Encyclopedia Of Music: Operas. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 336–. ISBN   978-1-4179-3492-8 . Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  8. "Ignaz Brüll". GrandeMusica. grandemusica.net. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  9. von Mosenthal; Hermann Salomon (1875). "Das goldene Kreuz". Boosey & Hawkes . Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  10. Upton, George (2005) [First published 1885]. The Standard Operas: Their Plots, Their Music And Their Composers. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 56–58. ISBN   978-1-4179-6970-8 . Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  11. Parkinson, John A. "Goldene Kreuz, Das". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online . Oxford University Press.(subscription required)
  12. Maitland, John Alexander Fuller (1900). "Ignaz Brüll". In Grove, George. A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (A.D. 1450-1889), Volume 4. London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd. p. 566. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  13. 1 2 3 Elson, Arthur (1904). Modern Composers of Europe. Boston: L. C. Page & Co. pp. 85–86. ISBN   978-0-89341-419-1 . Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  14. Kennedy, Michael, ed. (2007–2012). "Ignaz Brüll". The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed. rev . Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  15. Bollert, Werner (16 April 1899). "In the world of music  what the managers, players, singers and composers are doing in various places". New York Times. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  16. "The Coronation Honours". The Times (36804). London. 26 June 1902. p. 5.
  17. "No. 27456". The London Gazette . 22 July 1902. p. 4669.
  18. Fenech, Gerald (May 1999). "[CD review]". musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  19. Hurwitz, David (8 March 2009). "Brüll: piano works". classicstoday.com. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  20. Barnett, Rob (December 2009). "[CD review]". musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 8 May 2012.

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