I have already written about Hans Gál, the Austrian Jewish composer who left Nazi occupation to live in Edinburgh and got an OBE. He died aged 97, but his music has not had the same longevity so conductor, cellist, author and guitarist Kenneth Woods has been resurrecting his symphonies in a series of CDs.
I received an email from Kenneth saying,
“As many of you will know, for the last several years, I’ve been working with my colleagues at the Orchestra of the Swan to record the complete symphonies of Hans Gál and Robert Schumann for the Avie Records label. To date, we’ve released three of the projected four discs, and all have been hugely critically successful. You can learn a lot more about the project and read the many reviews we’ve had by visiting the project homepage here.
We have just one more volume to record this year, but we need your help to do it, and so I’m turning to my friends and asking you to consider supporting the final chapter of this huge project by making a donation to our Indiegogo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gal-schumann-symphonies/
Hans Gál (1890-1987) was one of a generation of gifted and important Central European Jewish composers who rose to fame in the generation that followed Gustav Mahler, but whose lives and careers were shaped and in many cases shattered by the events of Holocaust and World War II. Gál had been one of the most popular composers in Austria and Germany in the 1920’s, but he and his family had to flee in the 1930’s when the Nazis took power, and although he continued to compose prolifically into his 90’s, he never regained the reputation and popular success he’d enjoyed throughout his career. In the course of this multi-year project, we’ve not only been recording his symphonic works, but also giving them their first professional concert performances in many decades.
Not so long ago, the neglect of this music was painful to contemplate. On the occasion of Gál’s 95th birthday, the BBC had planned to give a special celebratory broadcast of his music in celebration of his long life and career. Tragically, the broadcast was cancelled when it was determined there were not enough recordings of his music to carry even a single hour of broadcasting time.
The Schumann side of this project has also been important to us. Schumann’s orchestral music is often misunderstood and under-appreciated. We’ve used the latest critical editions, gone back to the autograph manuscripts and turned to a wealth of research about orchestral playing in Schumann’s lifetime to try to bring these hugely important but often underrated works to life using an orchestra of the size and character he would have recognized.
Recording is an expensive process, especially recording such large scale works, and although the series has been extremely successful thus far, it can take several years for even popular recordings to break even or turn a profit. We’ve never seen this project as a business venture– the purpose of these recordings has always been to bring this long-forgotten music back into the public consciousness. Happily, I can say that this has worked– our recordings of the last three of Gál’s symphonies have been broadcast in their entirety countless times, reviewed and discussed in outlets as significant as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, American Public Media’s Performance Today, BBC Radio 3’s CD Review, the Sunday New York Times, the Sunday Washington Post, the Guardian, the Saturday Telegraph and all the major musical journals, review magazines and websites. For the first time in generations, Gál’s symphonies have been reaching a broad international audience. We now urgently your help to finish the project.
This campaign runs until the 19th of August, but it’s important to get it off to a good start so that new friends and sponsors feel it’s viable and worth their support. I know we all get asked to support so many worthy causes these days, and crowd-funding requests have become ever more frequent. I wouldn’t be coming to you now if I didn’t think this was the best and only way we could finish this project and that it is a project we have to finish. Gál’s symphonies have waited far, far, far too long for their first complete recording. On December 2nd and 3rd, the Orchestra of the Swan and I look forward to returning to the studio to finish our journey, but we can only do it with your help.
Please donate what you can, today. Every donation of any amount is hugely important and deeply appreciated. Even the smallest donation helps build momentum and enthusiasm, and you’ll get great thank-you gifts, too- from a copy of the new CD to a free concert in your home (or the venue of your choice) by me and my colleagues in the orchestra.”
So there it is – donate and you could have a string quartet in your living room! I think it is a worthwhile project.