Thursday, August 15, 2013

5 days left to help a musical hero

UPDATE, TUESDAY 20 AUG, 9.45am: THEY DID IT! THEY'VE MADE TARGET! A huge thank-you to all the doughty JDCMB readers who contributed both financially and by helping to spread the word.

The Orchestra of the Swan and conductor Kenneth Woods have over recent years set about recording four volumes of Hans Gál's symphonies, paired with Schumann's. The performances are terrific, with huge spirit and passion, and have been heartily well reviewed around the place. But while we were on holiday, conductor and orchestra launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £8,500 that they need to complete the cycle. So far, they have amassed slightly over a quarter of it. They have just five days to find the rest. Please visit their Indigogo page and help them!

Hans Gál is one of music's most scandalously undersung, underplayed, under-recognised good guys. I first saw his name as a child, as my dad had his admirable books on Schubert and Brahms - yet scarcely heard a note of his music until Leon McCawley recorded the piano works about ten years ago. Gál was a 20th-century individualist, working in a tonal idiom with a delightful quirkiness of soul that is often compared - with good reason - to that of Haydn.

He was enormously respected in Europe before the Second World War, but, being Jewish, was forced to flee with his young family, going first in 1933 from Mainz back to his native Vienna and later managing to move to the UK with the help of his friend Donald Francis Tovey, then professor of music at Edinburgh University; Tovey enlisted him to help catalogue the institution's new music library. Eventually Gál became professor at Edinburgh himself and lived in the city for the rest of his life.

More details about Gál, the project and what you get in return for becoming a donor, here.