Moritz Moszkowski is one of these composers I’d never heard of, and upon learning about him, am surprised he isn’t well-known and part of the standard repertoire today. It makes me think how even when the best does rise to the top, it doesn’t necessarily remain there in terms of present-day programming. While active, he earned celebrity status as a composer, pianist, and teacher. He was a great performer, and performed his own concerto on two pianos with none other than Franz Liszt. As a composer, he wrote mainly for piano and violin.
At the peak of his career, Moszkowski lived in Paris and was in demand as a teacher. He was also given memberships to the Royal Philharmonic Society (honorary) and the Berlin Academy. He was also invited by piano manufacturers in the US to demonstrate and highlight the pianos’ finer points. At this point a wealthy man, he always refused the fees. He suffered poor health in his mid-fifties, and became stuck in his ways, turning away composition students because they wanted to compose like “artistic madmen” (a la Scriabin, Schoenberg, Debussy, and Satie).
The outbreak of the war wreaked havoc on Moszkowski’s finances – he had previously sold all his copyrights and invested in bonds rendered worthless during the war. Such was the devotion of his students, they rallied around him, re-arranged his works to collect new royalties, and arranged a huge benefit concert, along with personal donations. The total was approximately $250,000 in today’s Canadian dollars, but Moszkowski died of stomach cancer soon after the concert. The money paid for funeral expenses and was transferred to his wife and son.
Have listen to his Violin Concerto in C Major, Op. 30. Let it run as you go about answering emails, tidying up the living room, etc. I think it’s lovely. I let the YouTube link continue as I wrote this, and the Piano Concerto Op. 3 popped up afterwards, and it’s good, too.
Moritz Moszkowski was born August 23, 1854 in what is now Wroclaw, Poland, and died March 4, 1925, in Paris, France.