Werner Andreas Albert: Richard Wetz Symphony 3, Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic

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Richard Wetz Symphony 3 (1922)
Conducted by Werner Andreas Albert with the Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic.

Deutsch: Richard Wetz (Komponist, 1875-1935)
Deutsch: Richard Wetz (Komponist, 1875-1935) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I. Langsam - Kraftig Bewegt - 00:00
II. Sehr Langsam - Mit Klagendem Ausdruck - 17:46
III. Scherzo - Nicht Zu Schnell Und Mit Humor - 28:50
IV. Finale - Bewegt - 36:40

"My music is strange: where it rings out, it seizes upon the deepest; but it is rarely given the opportunity again." - Richard Wetz - 1932

During Wetz's lifetime, his works remained little known outside the circle of his devotees and music-lovers in his home region, to the point that he became nearly unknown after his death. Since that time, his compositions have continued to draw few fans despite the eagerness of his enthusiasts and his reputation as a great music pedagogue. Politically, Wetz made decisions towards the end of his life that may have had an effect on his standing after his death: after the end of the First World War, he became a confessed nationalist who saw the position of his vanquished Germany as a humiliation and longed for resurgence of national greatness, which seemed possible to him in 1933 with the seizure of power by the National Socialists (the Nazis). In May of that same year he enrolled into the Nazi Party and took over the leadership of the music department of the Erfurt branch of the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur, where he hoped he could thereby gain the goodwill and the support of the Nazi rulers. This, however, had little influence on his ability to spread his work, leaving him the role of composing primarily propaganda pieces.

His most significant interpreter was the conductor Peter Raabe, who performed for the first time all of the Wetz symphonies, and was appointed shortly after Wetz's death in 1935 to be the chairman of the imperial music hall. It was Raabe who founded a Richard Wetz society in 1943 in Gleiwitz. Raabe's work remained greatly hampered, however, by the Second World War. In the post-war period, Wetz's reputation suffered from his identification with National Socialist ideology, as well as the rapid developments of contemporary music at that time which had passed over the tradition-conscious late romantic.

The fact that Wetz had preferred the life in provincial Erfurt to that of the real music metropolises, and that he was never moved to create popular compositions which could have increased his reputation, did little to bring Wetz and his works to the broader general public. Indeed, some conductors questioned the quality of his compositions until the 1990s (especially during the arrangements for celebrations in his honour in Erfurt in 1955, 20th anniversary of his death and what would be his 80th birthday). Only recently have his creations been rediscovered. For example, the requiem of the composer was performed for the first time in sixty years in September 2003 at the Erfurt church's music festival, under the direction of George Alexander Albrecht.