Erwin Schulhoff

Ervin Schulhoff came from a Prague Jewish-German family. Even though his parents were not musical themselves, they wholeheartedly supported and encouraged their son s talent. He commenced his musical studies at the Prague Conservatory of Music, coninued them in Vienna and Leipzig (where his composition teacher was Max Reger) and completed them successfully in Colognc. In the early days of his career, Schulhoff s most favourite composers included Reger, Strauss, Debussy and to same extent Skriabin. But the promising start of his career as a composer and pianist was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, a period which Schulhoff spent as a soldier mostly on the eastern front. His wartime experiences completely changed his vision of the world and of art. During his stay in postwar Germany (1919-1923), Schulhoff joincd the ranks of the left-wing avant-garde, while helping to shape its views as a composer. He was particularly attracted by the Berlin Dadaism of painters Grosz and Dix, to whose art Schulhoff responded by utilizing jazz as an instrument for increasing that provocative distance that divided the avant-garde on the one hand and the power elite and its culture on the other. Picturesques for Piano (1919), dedicated to Grosz, was his first jazz cycle, which was eventually followed by a number of other compositions for various instruments up to the jazz oratorio H. M. S. R o y a l O a k ( 1930 ) . The antithesis of those interests of Schulhoff may be found in the Schonberg school. The opening atonal movement of his string S e x t e t (1920-24) demonstrates Schulhoff s complete, albeit temporary identification with the radicalism of that school. But Schulhoff did not remain indifferent to the challenge of Stravinsky either, as is shown - for instance - in the three other movements of the same Sexted composed four years later. Such an oscillation between expressionism and neoclassicisin is typical of not only this particular work but also nf many other compositions which Schulhoff wrofe between the time of his arrival in Prague (in November 1923) up to about the early 1930s. In fact, this was the composer s most prolific period during which he managed to fuse stimuli of West European modernism, in particular German and French modernism, with the uncontrolled folklorism of Slavonic origin. Schulhoff's style acquired some specific traits then, while a number of his works attracted justified attention (eg. String Quartet No 1 - 1924, Piano S o n a t a s from the years 1924-27, Symphony No.l-1925, Double Concerto for Flute, Piano and Orchestra -1927,ballet The Sleen-walker -1925 and many others). A special position is occupied in Schulhoff s works by his Concerto fnr String Ouartet and W i n d O r c h e s t r a (1930), which - owing to its austerity of exuression and consistent constructivism - paved the way for a new phase in Schulhoff s crea- tivity. But the composer decided nnt to follow that line. Influenced hv the aesthetics of proletarian art, he as- sumed a totally critical, indeed negative, view of his nrPvinus workc, rejecting out of hand everything that belonged to "the arsenal of the degenerated bourgeois art" accorainq to this aesthetic, eventuatly beginninq to write flat and unimaginative transparent music. In his cantata M a n i f e s t o (1932-331 Schulhoff still considered usinq a non-traditional form but in his subsequent symphonies (from the Third to the Sixth between 1935 and 1942) he completely espoused and adopted the conservative doctrine of socialist art, which eventually brouqht him into conflict with his own talent. After that, Schulhoff never found his way out of his artistic predicament. Following the tragic events of the 1938-39 period he was thinking of set- tling down in the Soviet Union, even obtaining Soviet citizenship but he could not make up his mind quickly enough. After Germany s attack on the Soviet Union in World War II, he was arrested and imprisoned first in Prague and later in the Wulzburg camp, where he died of tuberculosis after about a one-year of inprisonment. At the time his death Schulhoff was sketching his Eighth Symphony.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1922 Rag-Music 4.0 stars CD
Schulhoff Comments:

Tempo di Foxtrot
Jazz-Like
Tango-Rag
Tempo di Foxtrot a la Hawaii

Milos Mikula - Piano

1922 Sonata for Solo Violin 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Daniel Hope - Violin

1922 Bassnachtigal Incl. Dada Prolog 4.0 stars CD
Schulhoff Comments:

Ensemble Aventure

1922 Die Wolkenpumpe Incl. Dada Prolog 4.0 stars CD
Schulhoff Comments:

Ensemble Aventure

1923 Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Michael Rische - Piano
WDR Sinoniieorchester Koeln cond. Gunther Schuller

1923 Piano Concerto 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Alexander Matzar - Piano
Deutsche Kammerfilharmonie cond. Andreas Delfs

1923 Five Pieces for String Quartet 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Aviv Quartet

1924 String Quartet No 1 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Aviv Quartet

1924 Sextet 4.0 stars CD
Comments:
The Raphael Ensemble
1925 String Quartet No 2 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Aviv Quartet

1925 Die Mondsuechtige 4.0 stars CD
Comments:
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig cond. Lothar Zagrosek

ENTARTETE MUSIK

1925 Symphony No 1 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Philharmonia Hungarica cond. George Albracht

1925 Duo for Violin and Violoncello 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Daniel Hope - Violin
Paul Watkins - Cello

1925 Ogelala Ballettmysterium Opus 53 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Beate Bilandzija - Soprano
Rhineland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Michael Jurowski

1925 Duo for Violin and Violoncello 4.0 stars 3 CD
Comments:

Gernot Sussmuth - Violin
Hans-Jacob Eschenburg - Cello

1927 Double Concerto for Flute and Piano 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

René le Roy - Flute
Alexander Matzar - Piano
Deutsche Kammerfilharmonie cond. Andreas Delfs

1927 Esquisses de Jazz 4.0 stars CD
Schulhoff Comments:

Rag
Boston
Tango
Blues
Charleston
Black-Bottom

Tiny Wirtz - Piano

1927 Esquisses de Jazz 4.0 stars CD
Schulhoff Comments:

Rag
Boston
Tango
Blues
Charleston
Black-Bottom

Michael Rische - Piano

1927 Esquisses de Jazz 4.0 stars CD
Schulhoff Comments:

Rag
Boston
Tango
Blues
Charleston
Black-Bottom

Milos Mikula - Piano

1927 Divertissement 4.0 stars CD
Schulhoff Comments:

For Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon

Ensemble Aventure

1930 Concerto for String Quartet and Winds 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Hawthotne Quartet
Deutsche Kammerfilharmonie cond. Andreas Delfs

1930 Hot Sonata 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Wardy Hamburg - Saxophone
Nageen Gardizi - Piano

1931
Suite dansante en jazz, for piano, WV 98
4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Marcel Worms - Piano

1932 Symphony No 2 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Philharmonia Hungarica cond. George Albracht

1935 Symphony No 3 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Philharmonia Hungarica cond. George Albracht

Compilation Jazz Piano 4.0 stars CD
Comments:

Historical recordings by Erwin Schulhoff (1928)