Ph.D. candidate Dietmar Friesenegger reports on recent performances drawing on his archival research in the Ukraine:
During my archival research in Chernivtsi (Ukraine) in the Fall of 2016 I unearthed six manuscript scores by the composer, musicologist, and lifelong friend of Brahms, Eusebius Mandyczewski (1857–1929), including cantatas, a mass, and a set of piano miniatures. This music had never appeared in print, and most of the pieces had lain unperformed for more than a century. I initiated a project to publish and perform these pieces, and in June and September 2017, Chernivtsi’s Philharmonic Society hosted the first three of a series of concerts to present this music for the first time since the composer’s death. The first four scores have recently been published in my critical editions with introductory essays in Ukrainian, Romanian, English and German.
Three of the pieces were expressly composed for the city of Czernowitz (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine). Before World War I, Czernowitz / Чepнiвцi (Chernivtsi) / Cernăuți / Czerniowce / טשערנאָוויץ (Tschernowitz) – to give it its German, Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish, and Yiddish names – was one of the most diverse cities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and home to a fascinating literary and musical culture. In my dissertation, entitled “Music and Civic Identity in Multicultural Habsburg Czernowitz (1862-1918),” I assess the contribution of music culture to the city’s famed interethnic and interdenominational tolerance.
In response to a commission by Chernivtsi’s Symphony Orchestra, I devised a two-day festival center on Mandyczewski’s music: a concert on September 1st combined Mandyczewski’s early cantata “Der Harmonie Gewalt” (The Power of Harmony) with the First Piano Concerto by his mentor Johannes Brahms. The following day, the audience explored Mandyczewski’s music in a walking tour that led from the Musikverein (the city’s Symphony Hall) where Christian Lambour and Lylia Kholomenuk played piano miniatures that Mandyczewski wrote for his twelve-year-old daughter, to the Orthodox Paraskewa Church where two choirs performed excerpts in six different languages from Mandyczewski’s Orthodox liturgies, and ended at the Catholic Church, where we granted the composer his wish, expressed in a letter in 1887, to have his Tattendorfer Messe performed in his hometown.