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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

PTB Classic: Victor Herbert (1859 – 1924)

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This week's musing, another installment in our "Classic" series leveraging mash-up playlists as we did in the early days of the Tuesday Blog, was intended as an early St-Patrick's day present, featuring a composer of Irish descendance.

As it turns out, I was wrong - and so was the composer for the longest time, apparently.

According to my research, Victor Herbert's mother told him that he had been born in Dublin, and he believed this all his life, listing Ireland as his birthplace on his 1902 American naturalization petition and on his 1914 American passport application. It turns out that his mother's romantic life was, well, very complicated and that was born on the English channel island of Guernsey and baptized Freiburg, Baden, Germany. From 1853, Fanny was separated from her first husband, Frederic Muspratt, who divorced her in 1861 when he found out that she had conceived Herbert by another man.

Whether Herbert was Irish, English, French or German[ he certainly was a man of the world. Herbert and his mother lived with his maternal grandfather, the Irish novelist, playwright, poet and composer, Samuel Lover, from 1862 to 1866 in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. Herbert joined his mother in Stuttgart, Germany in 1867, a year after she had married a German physician, Carl Theodor Schmid of Langenargen. In Stuttgart he received a strong liberal education at the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium, which included musical training. He studied the piano, flute and piccolo but ultimately settled on the cello. He then attended the Stuttgart Conservatory, studying cello, music theory and composition under Max Seifritz, Herbert graduated with a diploma in 1879.

Upon graduation, he worked steadily, joining the court orchestra in Stuttgart and in 1885 Herbert became romantically involved with Therese Förster (1861–1927), a soprano who had recently joined the court opera. After a year of courtship, the couple married on August 14, 1886. On October 24, 1886, they moved to the United States, as they both had been hired by Walter Damrosch and Anton Seidl to join the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Herbert was engaged as the opera orchestra's principal cellist, and Förster was engaged to sing principal roles with the Met.

Herbert had a long and successful career in the US as a cellist, composer for the stage and concert hall, and conductor, notably with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

The works featured to day span his orchestral and chamber repertoire, with a prominent place to the cello, his instrument of predilection.

Happy Listening!

Victor August HERBERT (1859 – 1924)

Serenade for string orchestra, Op.12
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Gerard Schwarz, conducting

Arrangement from Sam Dennison and Orchestrations by Lynn Harrell:
  • Yesterthoughts, Op.37
  • Puchinello, Op.38
  • La Ghazel: Improvisation (1900)
  • The Mountainbrook: Imitative (1900)

Lynn Harrell, cello
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Sir Neville Marriner, conducting

Three pieces (1900–1906)
Légende (1893)
The Little Red Lark (an arrangement of an old Irish melody)
Jerry Grossman, cello
William Hicks, piano

Three pieces for string orchestra (1912–1922)
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Gerard Schwarz, conducting

YouTube -
Classical Music , Composers