Feature

Hidden Gems- rediscovering great symphonies by Paul Klektzi and Czeslaw Marek

This summer Thomas Rösner has recorded two symphonies by  Polish-Swiss composers Paul Kletzki and Czeslaw Marek. It is Thomas’ second recording for the label Musiques Suisses which continues his effort to rediscover Paul Kletzki’s music. After Thomas’ highly acclaimed CD of Kletzki’s 3rd Symphony  with Bamberg Symphony in 2012 this new CD with the Polish National Radio Orchestra  includes  the world premiere recording of Paul Kletzki’s 2nd symphony and Czeslaw Marek’s Sinfonia.

Paul Kletzki, born in Poland, was one of the most successful young composers in Germany before the Second World War. During the 1920s his compositions were championed by Arturo Toscanini and Wilhelm Furtwängler. All his compositions were published, but were then proscribed by the National Socialist Party when it came to power in 1933, and as a result Kletzki’s publishers destroyed all his printed music and melted down their printing plates.

Kletzki fled to Italy, taking printed and manuscript copies of his music with him in a metal trunk and teaching in Milan at the Scuola Superiore di Musica. In 1939 Kletzki was forced to flee once again. Unable to take his trunk of music with him, he hid it in a basement near Milan’s opera house, La Scala, and settled in Switzerland.

For the rest of Kletzki’s life his conducting career flourished. He appeared regularly throughout Europe as a guest conductor, becoming a Swiss citizen in 1949 and chief conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Bern Symphony Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

In 1965 a construction crew working near La Scala in Milan found the metal trunk in which he had placed his music before World War II, but Kletzki was never to open it, afraid that, having lost his music once, it might have been destroyed a second time by nature. It’s only after Kletzki’s death in 1973 that his music has been rediscovered.

Czeslaw Marek was born in in Eastern Galicia,  studied composition with Hans Pfitzner. He was appointed to a Piano professorship in Lwów in 1914 but three months later the German invasion of Galicia and their battles with the Russian armies forced Marek and his parents to flee to Prague, where he was assisted by  Zemlinsky. In January 1915 he travelled to Switzerland and settled in Zürich, where he became friendly with Busoni. He died in Zurich aged 94.

Among his most significant compositions are the fugal Triptychon, op. 8 for piano and the one-movement Sinfonia, op. 28, for large orchestra, which won first prize in the Polish section of the International Columbia Graphophone Competition  celebrating the centenary of Schubert’s death.

Musiques Suisses MGB 6289