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Kurt Thomas conducts J.S. Bach: Mass in B minor BWV 232
04.04.2010, 16:32

Kurt Thomas

Born: May 25, 1904 - Tönning, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Died: March 31, 1973 - Bad Oeynhausen, Germany

The prominent German choral conductor, pedagogue, and composer, (Georg Hugo) Kurt Thomas, passed his school years at Lennep in Rhineland and received some musical instruction from Hermann Inderan at Barmen. He entered the Leipzig Konservatorium in 1922, where he studied the piano with Robert Teichmüller, theory with Max Ludwig and composition with Hermann Grabner. Whilst in Leipzig, Thomas came into contact with Karl Straube, who was Thomaskantor at the time and who became the young student’s mentor and gave him constant help and advice. After Leipzig, he went on to study composition with Arnold Mendelssohn in Darmstadt. Kurt Thomas' first significant successes were as a composer: in 1927 he came first in a competition and was awarded the newly-created Prussian ‘Beethoven Prize’ for his Mass and St Mark Passion. Rapidly he became one of the leading figures in the church-music revival movement in progress during the 1920’s. He was a composer of quite exceptional promise and has already written several notable works. His a cappella Mass in A minor for solo voices and two choirs, composed when he was 19, is a work of singular beauty and of remarkable maturity and sureness of touch. While intensely modern and individual in technique and idiom, it was by no means extravagant or revolutionary. It was performed twice at the Leipzig Thomaskirche and in other towns, and has always produced a profound impression, notably at the 55th Festival of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein held in 1925 at Kiel, when the critics from all over Germany showed a rare unanimity in declaring it to be the outstanding feature of the Festival. His pianoforte trio, performed in 1925 at a concert of the International Society for Contemporary Music, is also a fine and admirably written work, sometimes a little ruthless in its dissonances but full of real substance and vigorous life. Kurt Thomas taught theory and composition at the Leipzig Konservatorium from 1925 to 1934, and was conductor of the choir at the Institute of Church Music in Leipzig from 1928 to 1934. In 1934 he became professor for choral conducting in Berlin, a post he held until 1939. The first of three volumes of his handbook of choral conducting was published in 1935; reprinted several times, it has remained a standard work to this day. From 1939 to 1945 he headed the newly-founded ‘Musisches Gymnasium’ in Frankfurt am Main. In Frankfurt he was also Kantor of the Dreikönigskirche from 1945 to 1956. In 1947 Kurt Thomas began lecturing in choral conducting at the North German Music Academy in Detmold (what is today the Detmold Musikhochschule), a post he held until 1955. His numerous concert tours with various choirs in the ensuing years enhanced his reputation as a choir director of outstanding ability. It was therefore not surprising that he was offered the post of Thomaskantor following Günther Ramin’s sudden death in 1956. Thomas represented a return to the old tradition – interrupted by Karl Straube and Günther Ramin - of Thomaskantors who were also composers. The first concerts conducted by the new Thomaskantor were enough to make the differences between him and his predecessor clear. Unlike Günther Ramin, whose interpretations frequently had an improvisatory quality, Thomas set great store by comprehensive and accurate rehearsals. In contrasts to Günther Ramin’s somewhat Romantic approach to Bach, he pursued a style characterised more by historical authencity, which demanded a good deal of rethinking from his Thomaskirche choristers and consequently required a period of adjustment. Once they had found their bearings, they and their new conductor were hugely successful, both in Leipzig and on tour. But Kurt Thomas fell soon with the GDR cultural approach, who were hampering and even refusing permission for concert tours in the West. At the same time, socialist arts policies were aimed at gaining more control over the church and Thomas was forced to waste ever more time on frustrating (and frequently futile) negotiations with functionaries of the ruling Socialist Unity Party, Finally, at the end of 1960, he provocatively made his remaining in office contingent upon obtaining approval for a concert tour to East Germany. This not being forthcoming, he decided to remain in the Federal Republic of Germany (where he happened to be at the time). In West Germany, he first resumed his post with the Frankfurt am Main Dreikönigskirche, and also took over the direction of the Cologne Bachverein and the Frankfurt Kantorei. In 1966 (or 1969) began teaching choral conducting at what is today the Lübeck Musikhochschule.

Lore Fischer

Born: May 27, 1911 - Stuttgart, Germany

The German contralto, Lore Fischer, studied singing and violin playing at the Musikhochschule of Stuttgart. She studied singing at the Musikhochschule of Köln by Maria Philippi. In 1934 Lore Fischer gave her first concerts and became known now as soloist in oratorios and as Lieder interpreter. She appeared in the music centres in Germany (numerous concerts in Berlin, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne and in more cities) and abroad. Thus she gave concerts in Paris (1938 and 1941), in Warsaw (1933), in Brussels (1938 and 1939), Amsterdam (1939 and 1941), in Graz (1938), and undertook in 1956 an expanded USA tour. In 1942 Lore Fischer got married with the violist Rudolf Nel. With him and the composer Hermann Reutter she created the Lore-Fischer-Trio, which brought above all compositions of the Baroque period to the public. She lived in München-Gräfelfing, from where she went out to her expanded concert activity. Later she was appointed as a Professor at the Musikhochschule of Stuttgart. Lore Fischer's recordings appeared on the labels Polydor, Christschall, Concert Hall and Philips. She sang the alto solo in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on the French label RC; also on Odeon, Eterna, Oiseau Lyre and Decca (Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) of J.S. Bach).

Helmut Kretschmar

Born: February 3, 1928 - Kleve (Niederrhein), Germany

The German tenor, Helmut Kretschmar, studied first in Frankfurt a.M. with Kurt Thomas and Hans Emge, then at the Musikhochschule of Detmold with Fred Husler. In 1953 he received the 1st Prize with the singing competition of the Deutschen Musikhochschulen (German Colleges of Music), and in 1958 the Big Art Prize of the Country North-Westphalia. In 1954 Helmut Kretschmar worked in Hamburg Broadcast in the premiere of Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron. In 1960 he became lecturer at the Musikhochschule Detmold, since 1961 served there as a Professor. In 1953 he began his career as concert and oratorio singer, which led soon to beautiful successes. At the Berlin Festival Weeks and at the Bach Festivals of Lüneburg and Heidelberg of the years 1960-1962 he showed himself as a great Bach interpreter. He participated in the Göttingen Händel Festival and undertook concert tours all over the world. Thus he could be heard in concert halls in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Köln, Paris, Madrid, London, Bombay, in cities of India, Korea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Helmut Kretschmar concentrated his artistic work primarily on the work of J.S. Bach, but was successful in oratorios of Georg Frideric Handel, Felix Mendelssohn, J. Haydn and in works of modern masters. He became a Lieder singer by his wife, the pianist Renate Fischer, who likewise was a Professor at the Musikhochschule Detmold, and accompanied him in Lieder recitals. They performed, among other things, Lieder of Schubert, R. Schumann, Hugo Wolf and Debussy. Helmut Kretschmar was admired for his rich tenor voice, the artistic expression and the fine intimate style. He can be heard on numerous records of Marken Columbia, Decca, DGG, L'Oiseau Lyre, Vox, Philips, Discophiles Français and Edition Schwann. Among them are also some opera recordings (Fidelio, Moses und Aron by A. Schoenberg), although he did not make an operatic career. In the first place however stand works stand like Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244), Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) and the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) by J.S. Bach, Missa Solemnis by Beethoven, Die Jahreszeiten by Haydn and the Mass in A flat major by Schubert.

Биографии остальных солистов, как оказалось, найти крайне проблематично.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Mass in B minor BWV 232

Lisa Schwarzweller, soprano

Lore Fischer, alto

Helmut Kretschmar, tenor

Bruno Müller, Bass

Kantorei der Dreikönigskirche Frankfurt 

Collegium Musicum Wilhelm Isselmann

Kurt Thomas

1954 or 1955

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