Caspar Joseph Brambach
Caspar Joseph Brambach (14 July 1833, Oberdollendorf – 20 June 1902, Bonn) was a 19th-century German musician, pedagogue, composer whose reputation extended beyond Germany to America, and a renowned conductor of the leading choirs in Bonn.
He was the son of organ builder, piano tuner and music teacher Franz Jacob Brambach. Brambach's mother, born Lückerath, was the daughter of the free-roving puppet master builder Lückerath. His brother was German musicologist Wilhelm Brambach.
The young Caspar Joseph Brambach spent his first years in his native town Oberdollendorf, where he received his first music lessons from his father, which continued after he passed in Bonn elementary and high school and at the Conservatory of Music at the City of Cologne. After that, Brambach followed his musical career as first violinist of the Bonn Opera House between 1847 and 1850, and from 1851 to 1854 he studied at the Cologne Conservatory, which promoted young composers and where he was awarded with a string quartet and various songs for the Mozart scholarship at Frankfurt Liederkranz. Later he studied there as a private pupil of Ferdinand Hiller and Carl Reinecke before he himself became a teacher in 1858.
In 1861 he was appointed municipal music director in Bonn, where he led performances of classical oratorios of Bach, Haydn, Handel and other famous composers. He retired from this position in 1869 to devote himself entirely to his compositions and the musical life in Bonn.[n 1] From 1862 to 1877 he conducted the Men's Choir "Concordia" and from 1861 to 1869 the Municipal Choral Society, now known as the Bonn Philharmonic Choir.
On 20 June 1902 Brambach died in his home in Bonn. His funeral was accompanied by singers from all over Germany. With great sympathy of the German minstrelsy, two years after his death a memorial designed by the architect Karl Senff was built on his grave at the cemetery in Poppelsdorfer. The relief on his donated, well elaborate tomb is signed by the Bad Honnef sculptor Charles Menser (1872–1929) and bears the inscription "Dedicated to German singers."[n 2] It is now a grave of honor, located under the Cross Mountain Church and which obtained from the City of Bonn the number 278/279.
In the obituaries of his time,[n 3] the importance of Caspar Joseph Brambach as a musician and his work in the city of Bonn was highlighted. It was also added that he was one of the kindest and most unselfish people, no one will forget.
From 1861 until his death Brambach was no longer in evidence in the European musical scene as a performing musician always acclaimed by the masses, devoting himself entirely to music works and the training of young musicians in private lessons.[n 4] One of his most important pupils was Max von Schillings who, for some time during his high school years, was taught by him.[n 5]
Friedrich Nietzsche was asked by Brambach for advice someday whether he should become a musician or a scholar. Brambach, whose works are almost forgotten today, was known primarily as a composer of works for male choir, besides writing numerous songs among which the melody of the Bergische anthem resembles his best known song.[n 6] Almost all singers on festivals of the time, in Leipzig, Munich and Vienna, sung Brambach's compositions, sometimes even in the presence of the imperial family.
Brambach music style corresponds to the post-Mendelssohn era, with a very cantabile mood which stands out from the majority of his contemporaries. Many admirers among musicians, conductors, the general public and no less a figure than Hans von Bülow (1830–1894) himself, one of the most important musical personalities of the German music history in the 19th Century spoke highly not only of his most recognised work, but mainly of the Piano Concerto, Op. 39.
Brambach's best works are his cantatas The Eleusinian Festival, A Hymn to Spring, The Power of Prometheus, Lorelei and the choral work Columbus, which acquired recognition in the U.S. where he was awarded a prize. He also wrote the opera Ariadne and several minor pieces, which were very popular in his time. His best instrumental works date from the last third of the 19th century. Among them are:
- Sextet in C minor, Op. 5 (for 2 violins, 2 violas, cello and piano)
- Piano Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 14
- Piano Quartet in A minor, Op. 43
- Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 55
- Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 74
- Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 110
- Josef Niesen, Bonner Personenlexikon, 2nd Edition, Bouvier Verlag, Bonn 2008. (German)
- Karl J. Brambach, For TTBB Men's Choir a cappella. Published by Tonos Music (TO.234)
- Karl J. Brambach, Bergisches Heimatlied for Male voice choir (TTBB) Published by Tonos Musikverlags GmbH
Notes and references
- The same year Brambach got married to Magdalena Gohr.
- Even 25 years after his death, Brambach was honored by an American delegation headed by Mark P. Campbell on behalf of the "Music Industries Chamber of Commerce" at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn in 1927.
- His obituary is inscribed on the General Gazette of 21 June 1902, No. 4428
- His retreat was probably also a result of infighting that reduced its work force but not in any way.
- Schillings was taught by Brambach from 1879 on.
- The Bergisch home song is the anthem of the Bergisch land. The text was taken from Hartkopf Solinger Rudolf (1859–1944) and the melody from Caspar Joseph Brambach.
- Fellerer, Karl Gustav (1960), Rheinische Musiker, p. 17, A. Volk, OCLC 1625787 (German)
- Dr. Grupp, Rudolf. "Caspar Joseph Brambach". Caspar Joseph Brambach – Ein Musiker aus Oberdollendorf. Brückenhofmuseum. Retrieved 24 July 2011. (German)
- Champlin, John Denison & Apthorp, William Foster (2008), Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians: Abaco-Dyne, p. 225, C. Scribner's sons, OCLC 12902217
- Hubbard, W. L. (2005), The American History and Encyclopedia of Music: Musical Biographies Part One, p. 97, Kessinger Publishing, LLC, ISBN 1-4179-0712-6
- Americana, Encyclopedia. "Brambach, Casper Joseph". Text from the "Encyclopedia Americana" (1918). Magnum Archive. Retrieved 24 July 2011.