Symphony Saturday

Now a more obscure composer, and a symphony that’s not a traditional symphony! Hooray!

Karl Goldmark was a Hungarian composer whose music was quite popular in its day, but not as much since. He’s one of those composers who isn’t quite good enough to make the “standard repertoire”, but he’s also too good to deserve being heard as infrequently as he is today. He lived a long life (1830-1915), and he wrote a lot of music, and what little I’ve heard of it is genial music in the fine Germanic tradition of his day. I suspect that Goldmark’s obscurity today results from a usual source: he was a very skilled composer who nevertheless never seems to have really pushed the limits of the art of his day. That all sounds very unfair, to be honest, which is why I’m featuring Goldmark today. I myself only encountered him via the local classical radio station on the drive home one day, when the announcer said something like, “If you’re a casual fan of classical music, it’s possible you haven’t heard of this composer, who was very popular in his day!” I suppose Goldmark might be considered a latter-day Salieri.

Anyway, the Rustic Wedding Symphony consists of five movements, the first of which is a theme-and-variations rather than a traditional sonata-allegro movement. The five movements are titled March, Bridal Song, Serenade, In the Garden, and Dance. The structure is reminiscent of Berlioz’s approach to the symphony, but there are no supernatural demonic forces at play here, just good, jovial Hungarian music.

This particular recording is an older one, but it’s vibrant and fun to hear. So go check out some Goldmark! He’s waiting.

Next week…I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet!

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