Eugen Jochum - Central Website (Revised)

Eugen Jochum and the 20th Century composers


A very interesting chapter about this special topic is presented as a chapter in a thorough study by Mrs. Stephanie Mauder titled: "Eugen Jochum als Chefdirigent beim Bayerischen Rundfunk". This book documents the important time Jochum conducted in München in what may have been his most creative period, it is obligatory reading for anyone interested in Eugen Jochum. So far, it is the best study about him that has been published: strictly scientific and containing a wealth of information, all presented in a consise format. Recommended!

Concerning modern music, Mrs. Mauder concludes (p. 83-84) that Eugen Jochum preferred the so-called "gemäßigten Moderne" ("moderate modernists"). He was rather skeptical concerning experimental and dodecaphonic music (but he conducted Schönbergs early late-romantic styled "Verklärte Nacht" in 1955 in München). In an interview given in 1972 (Fono Forum, also quoted by Mrs. Mauder), Eugen Jochum comments on Karl-Heinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel as follows: "Das widerspricht allen meinen Vorstellungen von Musik. Nein, da komme ich nicht mehr mit, das hat für mich nichts mehr mit Musik zu tun. es tut mir leid!" (could be translated as: "That is against all my ideas about music. No, I can't keep up with this, for me that has nothing to do alt all with music. I am sorry!"). It should be added that he did not object to the experiments itself, but to the instant declaration that such music was "great". However, he closed the interview with the explicit remark to remain open to the new ways of making music.
Some of the more important parts of the interview are quoted in the study of Mrs. Mauder (in the same interview, Eugen Jochum also comments on Max Reger, this is cited on the Eugen Jochum page dedictated to Max Reger).

In München, Eugen Jochum conducted a series of concerts: Musica Viva, in which many composers of all nationalities were performed. But also outside this series (which has been continued until the present day) he conducted programs in which he presented contempory music: Bela Bartok, Boris Blacher, Theodor Berger, Walter Braunsfels, Benjamin Britten, Paul Creston, Werner Egk, Gottfried von Einem, Joseph Haas, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Paul Hindemith, Karl Höller, Arthur Honegger, Leos Janacek, Aram Khatschaturian, Jan Koetsier, Frank Martin, Bohuslav Martinu, Rudolf Mengelberg, Carl Orff, Goffredo Petrassi , Ildebrando Pizzetti, Marcel Poot, Hermann Reutter, Albert Roussel, Carl Ruggles, Arnold Schönberg, Igor Stravinsky, Heinrich Sutermeister and Michael Tippett. This impressive list (compiled from the book by Stephanie Mauder) is hardly the list of composers one would presently associate with the Beethoven and Bruckner-giant Eugen Jochum. However, after 1960, this Eugen Jochum conducted no more modern music with the Sinfonie Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks with one notable exception: in 1976 he conducted Egk and Bartok (the Bartok performance has been recorded, see below).

In Amsterdam, the known list of composers of modern music is also impressive, the focus albeith more on the Franco-Dutch style: Hendrik Andriessen, Henk Badings, Bela Bartok, Benjamin Britten, Ernest Chausson, Lex van Delden, Werner Egk, Marius Flothuis, Jaap Geraedts, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Oscar van Hemel, Hans Henkemans, Hans Werner Henze, Robert Heppener, Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Leos Janacek, Jan Koetsier, Hans Kox, Guillaume Landre, Frank Martin, Rudolf Mengelberg (the nephew of the famous conductor Willem Mengelberg and Werner Thärichen.

What a repertoire! It is a pity that so few recordings have been published yet. The live-recordings with the Concertgebouw Orchestra are mostly preserved in the archives of the Dutch Broadcasting Company.

Modern German Composers

In a special series ("Musica Nova") of LP's published by DG , two recordings of works of Karl Hoeller became commerciallally available at the end of the 50s. The series seems to have received financial support from the German government. The Hoeller recordings (and also other items from the series) have fortunately been released on CD in 2005. It is interesting music: any organ-music conaisseur will immediately recognize the theme of the Sweelinck-variations ("Mein junges Leben hat ein End").

The most widely known Eugen Jochum recordings of 20th century "modern" composers are those of Carl Orff. These recordings, made available over and over again, have reached a sort of reference status, in itself classical. The photography of Eugen Jochum together with Carl Orff on the cover of the 1967 DG recording and the authorization by Orff no doubt attributed to this status. This recording has been in the DG program more or less continuously ever since its first release.

The remaining Eugen Jochum recordings are works of Paul Hindemith, Karl Amadeus Hartmann and Boris Blacher. All these are recordings of live performances. Due to not so fortunate circumstances, only one of the recordings of Eugen Jochum of symphonies of Karl Amadeus Hartmann has been preserved (and then in a private collection), not by the Bayerische Rundfunk. The recordings of all other performances (among them world-premiere performances!) have been erased from tape.....
In München Eugen Jochum over and again put Hartmann on the program as well as works of Werner Egk (of which no recordings of works conducted by Eugen Jochum have been preserved). With the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Jochum promoted Hartmann also: he conducted there the 3rd Symphony 6 times and the 8th Symphony 4times.

Hans Pfitzner and Richard Strauß of course were also 20th century composers, works of which were conducted by Eugen Jochum. However, they traditionally are not considered to not belong in a "modern" environment.

Modern Composers of other nationalities

The only known recording of a modern French composition conducted by Eugen Jochum is a recording of the "Serenade a 12 Instruments" by Jean Francaix. The recording was made in Hamburg in 1939 (!) by Telefunken and has been attributed to Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. However, in my collection I have a Capitol Telefunken pressing that clearly lists Eugen Jochum as conductor. One should remember that a parallel situation occurred with the attribution of the recording of Elektra to Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt which turned out to be conducted by Eugen Jochum after all (one of the singers recalled the occasion during an interview).
In my opinion, there is no reason as to why this recording should not be accepted as being conducted by Eugen Jochum.

The recordings of Bartok, Honegger, Martin and Martinu are all from live-performances. The recordings of works of Bartok stand out by their sheer beauty, especially the 1976 recording of the 3rd pianoconcerto with the Sinfonie Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. This is probably caused by the fact that he works together here with his daugther Veronica, who plays the piano part. The performance offers a remarkable clear and crystal view on this music. Fortunately, this recording has been made available by Tahra.

Modern Dutch Composers

The preserved recordings of the modern Dutch repertoire conducted by Eugen Jochum mainly reflect the dominant post - war francophile trade. In the Netherlands, we liked (and still like) to indulge ourselves in the imagination of having several world - famous composers of Dutch nativity.

The truth is probably, that only some of the pre-war born generation of Dutch composers indeed wrote music which will last longer than the euphoria surrounding the premiere. The preserved recordings of the modern Dutch repertoire are probably circumstantial results, but it is hard to imagine that a conductor like Eugen Jochum would conduct music not worth working on. Therefore, we can confidently listen to the composers of his choice. Recordings of Voormolen, Landre, Heppener and Van Delden have survived. None of them were studio-recordings, however: only live-material from concerts in Amsterdam has been published.

Of those preserved scraps of the repertoire, my personal favorite is the "Concerto per due orchestre d'archi", written in 1961 by Lex van Delden (1919 - 1988). The first performance ever of this work was conducted by Eugen Jochum on March 2, 1968 in Scheveningen (near The Hague), while two performances subsequently went in Amsterdam on 6 and 7 March (Samenklank XXII, no.7, p.223, April 1968) and apparently also on March 4, 1968 (Concert Program Amsterdam, NTC, ser. MC nr.6, 1968). The preserved recording is of the March 7 performance, and was released by Etcera in 1993.

This original piece, sometimes reminicent of Bartok, probably appealed to Jochum because of the highly emotional content and its (in double sense) sound construction. The introduction of the piece is dramatic, while the fast pieces which follow are somewhat easier to listen to.
In the Gramophone of March 1994, MS heralds this piece as "to my mind a masterpiece awaiting discovery" and "a work that should be more widely known and performed than it is at present".
The structure of this Concert (concert in the sense of concentus, i.e. "sounding together") is as follows:
Introduction - Allegro - Interludio - Scherzo (Pizzicato) - Interludio - Dance (in15/8) - Postludio

This piece will not fail in effecting its emotional appeal to the listener. Recommended also for foreign (i.e. non-Dutch) music lovers.

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