Felix Draeseke. Der Lebens- und Leidensweg eines deutschen Meisters
by Erich Roeder.

Book Review from Music & Letters 14(1): 74-75 (January 1933)

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Felix Draeseke. Der Lebens- und Leidensweg eines deutschen Meisters.
By Erich Roeder. Wilhelm Limpert, Dresden. M. 6.30.

We know nothing in England about Felix Draeseke (1835-1913), a
fact of which this elaborate biography and glowing appreciation might
well make us ashamed. Still, we share the shame with his own compatriots
, who in fact appear to be much more to blame, since,
according to Dr. Roeder, they have never done honour to this 'German
master' in anything like an appropriate measure. Even after a perusal
of this volume we may be justified in feeling that it is for them to do
something about the revival of Draeseke's work, if the author has
succeeded in stinging them sufficiently, and then to convey to us such
newly-won enthusiasm as they may discover in themselves. After
reading Dr. Roeder we should by by no means disinclined to listen
to a German pianist who chose to play the apparently remarkable
'Sonata quasi una fantasia' at a London recital or to a singer who gave us a group of Draeseke's songs. The sample of the latter given
In the book, a setting of Morike's 'Das verlassene Magdlein,' which does not compare at all unfavourably with that of Hugo Wolf, is enticing enough.

Unfortunately there are no other musical quotations in the volume,
and the trouble is that biographies written with such fervour, but never
giving chapter and verse, cannot make their conviction contagious. At the most they can rouse our desire to judge for ourselves. But perhaps that is enough, even for the most ardent of authors.

Felix Draeseke. Der Lebens- und Leidensweg eines deutschen MeistersDr. Roeder makes us think of Draeseke as a strong, original and, for his time, very advanced composer, but also as an artist lacking in restraint and perhaps in taste. We are duly impressed by the fact that when he knew nothing later of Wagner's than 'Lohengrin,' he had already a music-drama on a Germanic Saga in hand himself; but at the same time we gain an impression that ' Konig Sigurd ' is an untamed, dishevelled and measureless creation. However, the fact remains dominant that we want to hear something of his, though we should hardly dare to hope for one of the operas. He wrote enough other music, to be sure - symphonies and symphonic poems, large choral works, chamber music, as well as numberless piano pieces and songs.

Draeseke's career was one of endless disappointments, and thus does not make a very interesting story. It is to Dr. Roeder's credit to have made his book quite readable all the same. The work, by the way, only takes us as far as 1876, though there is nothing on the title page to indicate this. A second volume is promised for 1935, the
composer's centenary year.

E. B.

 
 
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