P0349. FRIEDRICH GULDA: Eroica Variations, Op.35 – recorded 1951, Genève; Sonata #28 in A, Op.101, recorded 1950, London (both Beethoven); w.Volkmar Andreae Cond. Vienna Phil.: Konzertstück in f (Weber), recorded 1955, Vienna. (Germany) Archipel 0336. Final copies. - 4035122403367
“Friedrich Gulda, an iconoclastic Austrian pianist and composer who was as renowned for his jazz performances as for the intellectual clarity of his Bach, Mozart and Beethoven interpretations, rebelled against the formalities of the classical music world in grand and often comical ways. In the 1950s, he began sitting in with jazz bands - sometimes celebrated ones, like Dizzy Gillespie's - while he was touring as a recitalist and concerto soloist. By the mid-1950s he was including jazz improvisations on his recital programs, and by the early 1970s he was refusing to announce his recital programs in advance. He reportedly once performed a concert in the nude.
His eccentricities had a marked effect on the classical side of Mr. Gulda's career: he went from being a pianist once described by Harold C. Schonberg in THE NEW YORK TIMES as ‘a continuation of the great German traditions of piano playing exemplified by Schnabel and Backhaus’ to one with a small but devoted following.
Although it often seemed that he had torpedoed the classical side of his career with misguided antics, Mr. Gulda usually gave the impression that his rebellion was rooted in deeply held principles. Having accepted the Beethoven Bicentennial Ring from the Vienna Academy of Music in 1970, he quickly reconsidered and returned it, citing his objections to the conservativism of classical music education.
Still, listeners who kept tabs on Mr. Gulda through his recordings were rewarded by illuminating performances in which the elucidation of musical structure was prized over virtuosic flashiness. His recording of both books of Bach's ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’ on the Philips label is highly regarded among collectors and he was represented by two volumes in the Philips Records ‘Great Pianists of the 20th Century’ compendium. Typically, his installments included George Shearing's ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ alongside the Chopin Ballades and a Beethoven concerto.
His interest in jazz blossomed in the 1950s as well. Although he had performed improvisatory jazz informally during his earlier American tours, in 1956 he made a celebrated debut at Birdland in New York. He also performed at the Newport Jazz Festival. He started several groups of his own, from small combos to a big band, the Eurojazz Orchestra. In 1968 he established the International Musikforum, a school for students who wanted to learn improvisation, in Ossiach, Austria.
He never abandoned classical music, but he insisted that his jazz and classical performing be regarded as equal aspects of his musical personality, with composition often bridging the two. His discography frequently drove home that point.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 29 Jan., 2000
“Volkmar Andreae was one of the most important proponents of Bruckner’s music. Andreae was born in Berne, and as a young musician he often played piano for Brahms, a friend of Andreae’s parents. After studies in Cologne (1897–1900) and a two-year stint as a répétiteur at the Munich Opera, Andreae returned to Switzerland and worked as a choral conductor in Winterthur and Zürich. Andreae then attended a concert that completely altered the focus of his career. As he explained in 1951: ‘It all started when I heard Richard Strauss conducting Bruckner’s Third Symphony with the Berlin Tonkuenstler Orchestra at Zürich in 1902.... Deeply impressed by the music of Bruckner, I decided to dedicate my life to the service of the Austrian composer, who had died a few years before, virtually unknown outside of his native country.
There are perhaps two main reasons why Andreae is not better known today: his aversion to making studio recordings (‘I hate canned music’) and an apparent lack of interest in developing an international career. However, this was not due to lack of demand for his talents or unwillingness to travel. Again, as he wrote in 1951: ‘I regret deeply that I have not yet had a chance to present Anton Bruckner to musical audiences in the United States. When Gustav Mahler, who had heard one of my concerts, invited me to be his successor as conductor of the New York Philharmonic, I was unable to obtain a leave of absence from the Swiss Army, of which I was an officer’.
Andreae’s Bruckner style can be described as very direct, urgently swift, uncommonly lyrical, and expressive, with climaxes that are incredibly dramatic. All of these attributes exude a profound grasp of the music’s structure and a total familiarity with every musical nuance in the scores.”
- Jeffrey J. Lipscomb, FANFARE