FERDINAND REBAY
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

 

Lecture

Why did Ferdinand Rebay compose the largest body of chamber works with guitar in music history while he was not playing guitar himself? Why have these been forgotten for fifty years? How did we rediscover this composer? Rebay, was he a genius forgotten because of particular historical circumstances genius, or a "forgettable" composer?

In concert

Original works with guitar by Rebay, and works from the nineteenth century by Monsieur Henry, Müller, Pleyel and Neumann. This program try to demonstrate the original personnality of F. Rebay

Repertoire

Most important works by Rebay featuring the clarinet

  • Sonaten in D-moll, in A-moll

  • Sonatine in B dür

  • Variationen über Schubert's Lied «An die Laute»

  • Kleine Variationen über ein Thema von Friedrich Chopin

  • Drei kleine Vortrags-Stücke

  • Trio in A major with flute

  • Quintet in D major with flute,oboeandt 2 guitars

  • Septet in A minor with 2 guitars and wind quintet 

Articles

The magazine The Clarinet has published 2 articles on this composer

  • Rediscovering Ferdinand Rebay, part 1 - Vol 42, no 4, septembre 2015

  • Rediscovering Ferdinand Rebay, part 2, - Vol 43, no 3, juin 2016

The first one describes Rebay's life and try to answer his passion for the guitar, while the second one describes the works in duet with clarinet. A third article will present his chamber music. 

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