Goldmark – Rustic Wedding Symphony (Ländliche Hochzeit), Op. 26 (2/5)

Ländliche Hochzeit, Op. 26 (1875)

I. Hochzeitsmarsch (Wedding March): Variations
(conclusion)

This is an extended symphonic poem by Hungarian composer Karl Goldmark (1830-1915). His music, though in the tradition of Mendelssohn, incorporated various influence over his lengthy career, including the brass-heavy progressive idiom of Liszt and Wagner. Goldmark was raised in a large and rather poor Jewish family with twenty children. His father worked as a hazzan (a Jewish cantor) in a synagogue in the Hungarian town of Keszthely. Trained as a violinist, Goldmark began to study composing in Vienna, but his conservatory closed down after the 1848 Revolutions. Lacking sufficient funds to continue his studies, Goldmark was mostly self-taught as a composer and he supported himself via music journalism and playing the violin in various ensembles in Ödenburg and Vienna.

Goldmark’s debut concert (as a composer) in 1858 was a flop, so he moved to Budapest, where he spent some time as a violin instructor and continued to refine his compositional technique by studying traditional textbooks. He returned to Vienna two years later, and his Op. 8 string quartet and Sakuntala Overture were received much more warmly. As a critic, Goldmark was an ardent supporter of Richard Wagner and he ever played a role in founding the Vienna Wagner Society. His grand opera Die Königin von Saba (The Queen of Sheba) was a great popular success, and it led to numerous honours, awards and honorary doctorates. Goldmark’s later operas include Merlin, Das Heimchen am Herd (The Cricket on the Hearth), Die Kriegsgefangene (The Prisoner of War), Götz von Berlichingen, and Ein Wintermärchen (A Winter’s Tale). In orchestral works include two symphonies, two symphonic poems, several concert overtures and a famous violin concerto in A minor.

Goldmark’s Ländliche Hochzeit is a programmatic symphonic poem, structured in a manner reminiscent of the traditional symphony. The opening movement consists of the “Wedding March Variations” on a simple, plodding rustic theme, which, following lyrical, melancholy and scherzando manifestations, develops into a lively, joyous celebration and eventually marches off into the distance. The second movement is a gentle Intermezzo representing a bridal song. It is followed by a simple scherzo-serenade full of attractive, lilting dance rhythms over a droning bass. The slow fourth movement, Im Garten (In the Garden), is a strikingly tender meditation on love. The work closes with a highly contrapuntal and merry dance celebrating the union of the happy couple.

Conductor: Stephen Gunzenhauser
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland