Paul Graener’s Piano Concerto
Paul Graener was the musical director at the Haymarket Theatre in London, the director of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, a professor of composition at the Leipzig Conservatory, the director of the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, and a diligent composer who enjoyed a fair measure of success. Beginning in 1933, however, he was also a member of the National Socialist Party and the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur, and later he served as the head of the composers’ section within the Reichsmusikkammer. His early years in London, happy ones both personally and professionally, occasioned him to become a British subject, and he retained this status for the rest of his life. A curious fact: a British subject who held Nazi posts! It is thus also not surprising that until recently musicians and musicologists steered rather clear of Graener. Nevertheless, his music merits attention. It is anything but martial and nationalistic. Graener represented the latest of late romanticism and strongly tended toward French impressionism, which makes him unique among the composers from Germany during the first half of the twentieth century. This month cpo is releasing its third Graener CD, which contains an impressive selection from his symphonic oeuvre. His Piano Concerto of neoclassical character and popular flair from 1926 and his Symphonietta of 1906 occupy the focus. Like Graener’s great Symphony in D minor (1150232) the Symphonietta lends moving expression to the insurmountable grief felt by the composer when his son died in boyhood. Once again we see that this music more than merits rediscovery.