Ignatz Waghalter | Ignace Strasfogel | Karol Ratha
Catalog: EDA 43
Format: COMPACT DISC
Polish String Quartet Berlin
The string quartet genre has already once before been in the spotlight in the “Poland Abroad” series. With works by Joachim Mendelson, Roman Padlewski, and Simon Laks (eda 34), the focus was on the fate of three Polish composers who became victims of the National Socialists’ policy of persecution and annihilation because their life circumstances did not provide a lifeline for flight and exile. With the present recording, we turn our attention to the works and biographies of three Polish-Jewish musicians who were spared ghetto, concentration camp and violent death thanks to timely emigration, and who are linked by decisive biographical details. All three were born in Poland at a time in which the Polish state had not yet been re-established. All three built careers in Berlin. All three managed to reach a safe harbor in the USA after Hitler’s seizure of power, and were active in New York until the end of their lives. Ignatz Waghalter, first music director of the Stadtische Oper Charlottenburg (today Deutsche Oper Berlin), studied with Friedrich Gernsheim at the Prussian Academy of the Arts. A protege of Joseph Joachim and Arthur Nikisch, he developed an international career as a composer and conductor in the early years of the 20th century. Composed 25 years after Waghalter’s first and only string quartet, Ignace Strasfogel’s 1st String Quartet is also an early work of the highest perfection. Strasfogel, who studied in the master classes of Franz Schreker and Leonid Kreutzer, was the youngest ever student of the Berliner Hochschule and the youngest winner of the renowned Mendelssohn Prize during the Weimar Republic. After his emigration in 1934, he made a career as a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. Karol Rathaus, also a master student of Schreker, ended his odyssey from Berlin via Paris and London in 1942 in New York, where he received a composition professorship at Queens College. His 5th String Quartet is his last completed opus, a work of great concentration and maturity.