Erich Itor Kahn
Ciaccona dei tempi di guerra Op. 10 (1943)
8 Inventions Op. 7, #1,2,3,5,6 (1937-38)
Short Piano Piece from Op. 2 (1951)
Erich Itor Kahn, piano
Recorded from a Hessischer Rundfunk Broadcast, 1955
String Quartet #4 (1957)
Oxford String Quartet of Miami University
ELIZABETH WALKER and ADON FOSTER, violins
JOSEPH BEIN viola, ELIZABETH POTTEIGER, ’cello
ERICH ITOR KAHN (b. 1905, Rimbach, Germany — d. 1956, New
York City) was cut down by fatal illness in the midstream of a career as
composer and performer that commanded a devoted and intense following both in
Europe and in his adopted country. Among the listening public at large, Erich
Itor Kahn was best known as a chamber ensemble pianist of surpassing power and
sensitivity. Few who heard his collaborations in concert and on recordings with
the Albeneri Trio and with mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel will allow them to fade
from affectionate memory.
Kahn’s childhood in the picturesque German town of Koenigstein was spent in an atmosphere of the arts, science, and humanist politics, since his father was a teacher and cantor and his mother a fine amateur singer. It was as in his early ’teens that he discovered the music of Arnold Schoenberg, whose aesthetic was to play a major role in his subsequent creative work; and by his sixteenth year, despite parental objection, he entered the Conservatory of Music at Frankfurt.
Luck was with Kahn when, upon graduating from the Conservatory in 1928, he joined the staff of Radio Frankfurt as a musical director, and there had as collaborators, colleagues, and guest artists such figures as Hans Rosbaud (then staff conductor), Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Webern, Bartók, Roussel, Berg, Albert Schweitzer, Vladimir Horowitz, and Erica Morini.
All this came to an end, however, with the coming of the Nazis; and Kahn and his pianist-wife, Frida, fled to Paris, there to begin a new life. By dint of constant playing and teaching, he became established once more. Again there came catastrophe, this time with the Nazi invasion of France; and after a harrowing series of internments in French refugee camps and desperate pleading with consular authorities, the Kahns finally made their way by boat to New York, again to begin a new career. That Erich Itor Kahn’s work as performer and composer is still very much alive in the memories of his pupils, colleagues, and those who heard him in the concert hall and on records speaks sufficiently for his achievements as an adoptive American.
As composer, Erich Itor Kahn produced a catalog of acknowledged compositions numbering about two-score works, extending over a period from 1930 (the
Notes René Leibowitz,
EDMUND HAINES (b. 1914,
Ottumwa, Iowa) has composed a sizable catalog of works in which virtually every
musical performance medium is represented, save opera. In the course of teaching,
writing, and lecturing over a nearly 25-year period, he has voiced
unhesitatingly his views regarding the propriety — indeed, need—of today’s
composer to take full advantage of the stylistic and technical resources offered
in twentieth century music, this in accordance with the composer’s own special
needs and goals. Mr. Haines’s own works exemplify this point of view in that
they exhibit a wide variety of styles, some elements of which can be traced to
Bartók and Stravinsky, while other aspects bespeak American regionalism and
jazz, as well as cosmopolitan neo-classicism and atonality.
“In music, as well as in the worlds of painting and poetry,” notes Mr. Haines, “one discerns in this century few common stylistic practices, but rather an explosion in all directions. I believe there are outlets and reasons for the coexistence of many idioms on the scene today. The accessibility of this variety of material frees the composer and at the same time inhibits his production. Each new composition represents to me, of course, a totally new problem in trying to weld style to content, a union perhaps more necessary during the past few decades than at any other moment in music history.
I have tried to identify and accept my own spiritual and technical ancestors and I recognize that my idiom can shift unpredictably, but I am fairly certain that I shall stay in touch with some traditional information in my work. In this procedure, then, I have not been avant garde.”
The first major milestone in Edmund Haines’s professional career came in 1941 when he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his First Symphony, as well as a Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music. His composition teachers there were Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. Among his mentors in subsequent composition study have been Roy Harris, Aaron Copland, and Otto Luening.>
Since 1948, Mr. Haines has been on the music faculty of Sarah Lawrence College. In 1957-58 he held successively two Guggenheim Fellowships and the post of composer-in-residence at the La Napoule Art Foundation in France, following which he fulfilled major composition commissions from the Ford Foundation and from Miami University of Ohio on the occasion of its sesquicentennial.
Among the works of Edmund Haines recorded heretofore have been the Promenade, Air and Toccata for organ (Kendall), the Toccata for Brass Quartet (Golden Crest), and the Concertino for Seven Solo Instruments and Orchestra (CRI 153). Other major works in Mr. Haines’s catalog include the Symphony in Miniature, Variations for Orchestra, Informal Overture, Three Dances for Orchestra, Coronach for Brass, Timpani, and Strings. four string quartets, a violin sonata, two piano sonatas, Prelude, Blues, and Boogie, Suite for Two Pianos, and three works for women’s chorus Mary Saw her Son, Invocation for Women’s Chorus, and Dialogue from Job. The latter was commissioned by Harold Aks and the Sarah Lawrence Chorus on the occasion of their 1964 European tour.
Concerning the String Quartet No. 4, Mr. Haines tells us: “The Quartet No. 4 was composed in 1957 while holding the post of composer-inresidence at the La Napoule Art Foundation, La Napoule, France. It was composed on commission from the Oxford String Quartet for the sesquicentennial celebration of the Founding of Miami University, Ohio. The Oxford Quartet, which is the University’s quartet-in- Residence, first performed it during the season following its composition, and has played it many times since on tour. In 1963, the Quartet No. 4 served as the music for a ballet by the choreographer Josephine Schwarz and has been presented in that form by the Dayton Civic Ballet and by the Pennsylvania Ballet Company.
“Essentially, the Quartet No. 4 is a set of variations on three short ideas presented in the opening slow theme, freely treated and arranged to form groups that simulate ‘movements’ rather than to stand in sharply alternating contrast. As originally composed, the nine sections are: Theme, Pastoral, Air (omitted in this recorded performance), Dance, Second Dance, Scherzo, Soliloquy, Toccata, Finale and Epilogue.
“The first three sections represent a slow opening movement; the dances and scherzo a unit; the soliloquy and Toccata a movement-unit of contrasting moods and tempos; and the finale and epilogue a coda to the entire structure. The Air is an optional variation, and it is not performed on this recording.” During the period of the Quartet’s composition, the composer became involved with variation form in a number of works, including the Rondino and Variations for Orchestra. In the Quartet he uses harmonic materials of a more or less tonal nature, and occupies himself with matters of form and with the essential texture of the string quartet medium.
NOTES PREPARED BY D. H.
(Original liner notes from CRI LP jacket)