12:11, 21st May 2021
Thomas de Hartmann specialist Elan Sicroff unlocks the secrets of two nocturnes by the Russian master
The Nocturnes Op 7 No 5 and Op 84 No 1 by Thomas de Hartmann provide a good introduction to his music, bookending his creative work. Before going into detailed discussion about them, however, some information about this largely unknown composer is in order.
De Hartmann (1885-1956) was born into the Russian aristocracy in Ukraine. He studied composition with Anton Arensky (teacher of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Scriabin) and later with Sergei Tanaieff, a master of counterpoint trusted by Tchaikovsky for his critical advice. De Hartmann was also a student of the virtuoso pianist Annette Essipova — another of Prokofiev’s teachers — at the St Petersburg Conservatory.
In 1906 de Hartmann was catapulted to fame by the performance of his ballet La Fleurette Rouge (The Red Flower) starring Nijinsky, Fokine, Pavlova and Karsavina. It was staged for six consecutive seasons in St Petersburg and another in Moscow before the advent of the First World War.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Elan Sicroff shines a light on an unfairly neglected composer as a new series of recordings is released on the Nimbus label
Jeaneane Dowis, assistant to the famous piano teacher Rosina Lhevinne at the Juilliard School, once said to me that in modern times ‘real talent tends to get lost in a sea of mediocrity,’ to which her husband replied: ‘Yes, but eventually talent will out!’
It may be that Thomas de Hartmann’s time has now come, when his music can once again be appreciated by the wider listening audience. Due to unusual circumstances, his life followed a trajectory that began with great success and recognition but ended in near obscurity. Paradoxically, these same circumstances helped him to produce a unique catalogue, where beauty, colour, variety, and meaning come together.