Carl Reinecke (1824–1910)

Carl Reinecke, 1893 (Photography by Alfred Naumann))

In Carl Reinecke, Robert Schumann found a pianist who, in a particular manner, understood him musically and interpreted and comprehended his works in the way Schumann had probably conceived them. In 1848, when Carl Reinecke transcribed some of Schumann’s songs for piano solo, the composer was really pleased: “[But under your hands, dear Mr Reinecke, I felt quite all right and this is because you understand me, like few others.]” (quoted after Schumann-Briefedition [Schumann Letter Edition], p. 687). Schumann also appreciated Reinecke’s own compositions and in 1847 counted him amongst the “[younger composers the way I see it.]” (quoted after Seibold, p. 219).

Carl Reinecke had been taught piano and violin and also composition and music theory by his father, the music teacher Rudolf Reinecke (1795-1883), in his childhood and youth in Altona. In 1838, when he was presented an edition of Schumann’s “Kreisleriana”, it just happened: “[It threw a spark into my musical soul right away …]” (quoted after ibid., p. 219). Not later than the 1840s, Reinecke promoted the distribution of Schumann’s works through his concerts and chamber music ensembles and later in his position as Conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and had also tried to make contact with Schumann in 1841 by sending him a composition of his own which, however, was not considered by Schumann at the music magazine Neue Zeitschrift für Musik [New Journal of Music].

In 1843, Reinecke travelled to Leipzig where he stayed until 1846, which was a long-cherished wish and financed by several smaller concert tours and a scholarship from the Danish King Christian VIII. Thanks to the support of Felix Mendelssohn, Reinecke appeared for the first time at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert hall on 16th November 1843, presenting Mendelssohn’s Serenade and Allegro gioioso, Op. 43, with the twelve-year-old Joseph Joachim performing in the same concert. In Leipzig, Reinecke also attended the premiere of Schumann’s oratorio Paradise and the Peri, Op. 50, he went to the music gatherings of Livia Frege, Raymund Härtel and Carl Voigt, and finally met Robert Schumann in person who, at their first meeting at a soirée of the Leipzig music publisher Friedrich Hofmeister, “[was very kind and even talkative]” (quoted after ibid., p. 219).

In 1846, Reinecke went on a few concert tours and was appointed Royal Court Pianist in Copenhagen between 1846 and 1848. He briefly returned to Leipzig as early as 1848/49 at the invitation of the Conductor Julius Rietz and gave a few concerts at the Gewandhaus concert hall; in Weimar, he also met Franz Liszt. From 1849, further career stations were Bremen, where in 1850 he performed Schumann’s Variations for two pianos, Op. 46, four hands with Clara Schumann, and also appeared together with the singer Jenny Lind; at the beginning of 1851, he stayed in Paris for a few months and then was a piano and composition teacher at the Cologne Conservatoire between 1851 and 1854. Due to the geographical proximity to Düsseldorf, Reinecke was now able to meet Schumann in person more often. On 18th May 1851, Reinecke appeared in the 10th subscription concert of the Düsseldorf General Music Society, directed by Schumann, where he performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concert No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40, as the soloist, and conducted the premiere of his Overture in D minor. Reinecke was Director of Music and a teacher in Barmen between 1854 and 1859, and University Director of Music and Head of the Singakademie choral society in Breslau [now Wrocław] in 1859/60; in 1860, Reinecke finally returned to Leipzig where he was the Conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra until 1895. It was under his direction that, inter alia, the premieres of Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, and the German Requiem, Op. 45, took place at the Gewandhaus concert hall, and many works by Schumann saw their premieres under Reinecke in Leipzig, such as the Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, or the Requiem, Op. 148. Furthermore, Clara Schumann’s 50th anniversary as an artist was celebrated at the Gewandhaus in 1878, with compositions by Robert Schumann, and in 1881 the 100th anniversary of the Gewandhaus concert hall, and in 1884 the new concert house was inaugurated. Reinecke taught piano, composition, solo and ensemble playing, and choral singing at the Leipzig Conservatoire between 1860 and 1902. From the 1880s, Reinecke was also a music writer.

Robert Schumann dedicated his Four Fugues for piano, Op. 72, published in 1850, to Carl Reinecke: “[Please kindly accept the enclosed booklet [Op. 72] as a token of my deepest appreciation!]” (quoted after ibid., p. 221). Both musicians shared a close friendship which was characterised by a lively interest and appreciation of each other’s work. In 1853, Reinecke dedicated his Piano Trio in D major, Op. 38, to Schumann.

After Schumann’s death, Reinecke produced arrangements for four hands of Schumann’s Piano Sonata in G minor, Op. 22, and Piano Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 47, and also an orchestration of the Pictures from the East, Op. 66, along with other arrangements and transcription. In 1907, Reinecke recorded two piano works by Robert Schumann on piano rolls: No. 3 from the Fantasia Pieces, Op. 12, and No. 6 from Kreisleriana, Op. 16. In 1892, Wilhelm von Wasielewski, a friend and chamber music partner of Reinecke, published the biography “Carl Reinecke. Sein Leben, Wirken und Schaffen. Ein Künstlerbild [Carl Reinecke. His Life, Achievements and Works. An Image of the Artist]”.

Cf. Carl Reinecke. Erlebnisse und Bekenntnisse. Autobiographie eines Gewandhauskapellmeisters, edited by Doris Mundus, Leipzig, 2005.

Cf. Ludwig Finscher and Katrin Seidel: Article “Reinecke, Carl Heinrich Carsten”, in: Ludwig Finscher (ed.), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Persons, Vol. 13, Kassel et al., 2005, cols. 1513–1517.

Cf. Schumann-Briefedition, Series II, Vol. 20: Briefwechsel mit Freunden und Künstlerkollegen (Briefwechsel Robert und Clara Schumanns mit Korrespondenten in Leipzig 1830 bis 1894), editorial direction: Thomas Synofzik and Michael Heinemann; editors: Annegret Rosenmüller and Ekaterina Smyka, Cologne, 2019, pp. 655–662, 733, note 2.

Cf. Wolfgang Seibold: Familie, Freunde, Zeitgenossen. Die Widmungsträger der Schumannschen Werke (= Schumann-Studien 5), Sinzig, 2008, pp. 217–222.

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Thomas Henninger, 2020)

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