Robert Hausmann

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The Joachim Quartet. From left to right: Robert Hausmann (cello), Joseph Joachim (1st violin), Emanuel Wirth (viola) and Karel Halíř (2nd violin)

Robert Hausmann (13 August 1852 – 18 January 1909) was a notable 19th-century German cellist who premiered important works by Johannes Brahms (including the Double Concerto) and Max Bruch (including Kol Nidrei). He was also a teacher and a minor composer.

Biography[edit]

Robert Hausmann was born in Rottleberode, Harz, in present-day Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. He entered the Gymnasium in Brunswick at age eight in 1861, where his cello studies proceeded under Theodor Müller. In 1869 he was one of the first pupils[1] of the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, where he studied under Müller's nephew Wilhelm Müller, under the general guidance of the violinist Joseph Joachim. Joachim introduced him to the great Italian cellist and teacher Carlo Alfredo Piatti, who taught him in London and also at his estate at Cadenabbia on Lake Como, Italy.[1]

He then entered the string quartet of Count Hochberg in Silesia[1] from 1872 to 1876, when he was appointed a professor of cello at the Berlin Hochschule. He became principal professor on the retirement of Wilhelm Müller. From 1878 until Joseph Joachim's death in 1907 he was the cellist of the Joachim Quartet,[1] alongside Joachim himself (1st violin), Karel Halíř (2nd violin) and Emanuel Wirth (viola). He was always a very active chamber music player, renowned in Germany, in Europe more generally, and in London.

In 1879-80, Charles Villiers Stanford wrote a Cello Concerto in D minor for Robert Hausmann. This followed Hausmann's championing in England and Europe of Stanford's Cello Sonata, Op. 9, which he had introduced with the composer on piano on 1 May 1877 and which was dedicated to him. It was the first significant British cello sonata.[2] The Concerto in D minor is the only existing cello concerto from the late 19th century by an important British composer. But the work was never published, and only the slow movement was ever performed (in a cello and piano arrangement in 1884).[2] It was revived in the 21st century by Dr George Burrows from the University of Portsmouth, who compiled an edition from the only two surviving manuscript sources - an early draft (1879) for cello and piano, containing some solo cello markings by Robert Hausmann, and an autograph full score (1880).[3]

In 1881 Hausmann premiered Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, Op. 47, which was dedicated to him.[1] Bruch wrote this in response to a longstanding request from Hausmann to write a piece for cello and orchestra to match those he had written for violin and orchestra.[4][5] Bruch also consulted Hausmann about bowings and other technical aspects.[6] Bruch's Canzone in B-flat, Op. 55,[7] and Vier Stücke, Op. 70, are also dedicated to Hausmann.

He had a significant association with Johannes Brahms. The Cello Sonata No. 2 in F minor, Op. 99, was both dedicated to and premiered by him, with the composer at the piano (14 November 1886). He also popularised the Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38.[1][8] In November 1891 he participated in the first private performance, in Meiningen, of the Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114, with Richard Mühlfeld on clarinet and Brahms on piano. The following month they had a triumph with the public premiere in Berlin.[1] In March 1892 he introduced the work to London, with Mühlfeld and Fanny Davies. He also premiered the Double Concerto in A minor, along with Joseph Joachim, on 18 October 1887. It was dedicated to both performers, and the critic Eduard Hanslick wrote that Hausmann was "in no way inferior to Joachim".[8]

In 1894 Hausmann married Helene von Maybach, daughter of the Prussian Minister of Commerce Albert von Maybach.

It was Robert Hausmann's playing of Antonín Dvořák's Cello Concerto in B minor to Brahms's piano accompaniment in 1896, that caused Brahms to retort: "If I had known that it was possible to compose such a concerto for the cello, I would have tried it myself". Brahms had earlier told Hausmann that he was considering writing a cello concerto. One of the themes from that discarded work was later used as the opening melody of the Clarinet Quintet in B minor.[1]

Hausmann's own compositions are now completely forgotten, but they included at least 41 opus numbers. One piece was dedicated to Karl Davydov, who held Hausmann in great esteem.[1]

He published editions of the Bach Cello Suites and the Mendelssohn Cello Sonatas and Variations Concertantes in D major, Op. 17; and made cello and piano arrangement of Schumann's Märchenbilder, Op. 113 (originally for viola and piano).[1]

His students included Friedrich Koch (teacher of Boris Blacher and Paul Kletzki), Wallingford Riegger,[9] Philipp Roth, Percy Such, Hugo Dechert, Otto Lüdemann[1] and others.[10] See: List of music students by teacher: G to J#Robert Hausmann.

He played a fine Stradivarius cello from 1724, which is still known as the "Hausmann" Strad. He acquired it from his uncle George Haussmann (1814-1861).[8] It was later owned by the Russian master Edmund Kurtz (principal cello of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra).[1][8]

Robert Hausmann died in Vienna in January 1909, aged 56. Donald Tovey had often played alongside Hausmann, and his Elegiac Variations for cello and piano were inspired by Hausmann's death.[1]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed., 1954, Eric Blom ed.