Rediscovering a lost treasure
Pianist and piano teacher at the Vienna Music Academy, the Viennese composer Ferdinand Rebay (1880-1953) wrote more than a hundred works of chamber music where the piano is replaced by the guitar : sonatas and characteristic pieces for various instruments, trios, quartets, quintets and even a septet for wind quintet and two guitars. Unique case in the history of music!
In reviewing the Rebay Fund at the National Library of Austria, it occurred to me that we were dealing with a meticulous and talented composer whose music combines the Viennese elegance with the solid technique of the great German masters he admires and often quotes, but also with a man not interested by public recognition of his art.
Robert Fusch, his composition teacher who will have students like Mahler, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Wolf, Korngold, Zemlinsky and Schreker will considere Rebay as one of his most gifted students. Contemporary of Schoenberg, Ferdinand Rebay is not comfortable in the aesthetics of the Second Viennese School and prefers the language of late Romanticism. He starts composing for guitar in 1925, and in 1938 he stops teaching piano at the Vienna Music Academy. Was Rebay another victim of Nazi power and the Anschluss or else? What is certain is that he will not regain his status after the war and will die in relative obscurity. New research allow us to explain what happened in the 1930' to this talented composer who, in our opinion has been neglected for too long .
Through serendipity and a few daring performers and publishers, we can finally rediscover his works after a purgatory of half a century.
Audio excerpt :
Sonatine in B dür
beginning of the second movement
In concert with Xavier Robichaud