Price: $650.00


The trusted confidant of Felix Mendelssohn autographs and inscribes a Constantin Schwendler of Dresden carte de visite photograph with friendly memories to Georg Neuman who replaced him in 1874 as the Hofkirchemusikdirektor in Dresden, Dresden, 5 July, 1865.

Rietz (1812 - 1877) began his musical career in a musical family in Berlin.  His father was a violinist and a member of the Königliche Kapelle and his older brother Eduard also a violinist was a member of the Königliche Kapelle, the violin teacher and close friend of Felix Mendelssohn, who thought highly of his musicianship.  The idea of writing a violin concerto originally was for Eduard Rietz, for whom Mendelssohn dedicated his Violin Sonata in F minor and his Octet.

Julius (August Wilhelm Ritz) studied cello with a cellist named Schmidt, a member of the orchestra and then with Bernhard Romberg and Moritz Ganz.  He was also a member of the Königliche Kapelle from the age of sixteen. At the same time, Rietz studied with Carl Friedrich Zelter, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer and Nicolai’s teacher.  He wrote his first work, incidental music for the play, “Lorbeerbaum und Bettelstaub” for the Kapelle to perform.    In 1834 he was appointed 2nd conductor at the Düsseldorf Oper under Mendelssohn. When Mendelssohn resigned his post in 1835, he recommended Rietz succeed him as first conductor of the opera house.  His success led Rietz to be appointed Städtischer Musik Direktor of the City of Düsseldorf.  He held this position for twelve years. One of the reasons he accepted the position was it allowed him some freedom to compose and then order the first performances of the work with his orchestra and choirs. During his time in Düsseldorf he remained close with Mendelssohn who had moved to Leipzig where he led the Conservatory and the Gewandhaus Orchestra.  When Mendelssohn passed away in 1847, Rietz resigned his position in Düsseldorf and was hired in Leipzig at Mendelssohn’s request as the first conductor of the Leipzig Oper and the Singakademie, a year later, Musikdirektor of the Gewandhaus Leipzig and Professor of counterpoint at the Conservatory. It was only at the point of his hiring in Leipzig that he retired as a cellist. Tough to juggle, he initially gave up the Gewandhaus position to David and Gade as he felt overburdened, only to take it back, giving up the opera a few years later.  He held those positions for the next thirteen years, heading to Dresden in 1860, as the Generalmusikdirektor of the Hofoper and the Hofkirche. In 1874 he was made the Hofkapellemeister of Dresden in control of all musical activity in Dresden including the world famous Hofkapelle which he led until his death.  The photograph is dedicated to the man who followed him as the music master of the King of Saxony’s church in Dresden, George Neumann, a pianist, organist and conductor whose fame has waned.  We did learn however, he did wrote and published a piano method in several volumes.  His son of the same name was a violinist of some note.

As a conductor, Rietz was a traditionalist and Mendelssohn and Weber were his two gods of symphonic form. He was not predisposed to the Romantics of his day and apparently it was reflected in some cases when he led new works.  He also with David, Hauptmann, Hiller and Plaidy, the leaders of the Leipzig Conservatory, lambasted Wagner’s originally anonymous book, “The Jews in Music” prior to Wagner’s name being discovered as the author of the book.  That said, Rietz led several important world premieres and second performances including: Robert Schumann’s Concert Piece for Four Horns and Large Orchestra, as well as his “Das Glück von Edenhall” and his Cello Concerto in A minor, Anton Rubinstein’s “Ocean Symphony”, the 2nd performance of the Brahms 1st Piano Concerto with the composer at the keyboard (controversial) all at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.  In Dresden he conducted the controversial 2nd performance of Richard Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nüremberg” among pother premieres.

As a composer, Rietz was surprisingly prolific despite the many positions he held.  His most fertile years as a composer were the 1840’s, though he composed and published works through the 1870’s.  He wrote three symphonies, the first in 1843, they follow Mendelssohn in form, though one can hear Beethoven on his shoulder.  He wrote four operas, amusingly one entitled, “Georg Neumann und die Gambe” in 1859, which actually could have been influenced by the son of the dedicatee of this autographed photograph who was in fact a violinist and carried his father’s name.  His most famous work is his 1844 Cello Concerto, though he also wrote concertos for violin and orchestra and clarinet and orchestra in the 1850’s.  Further, he wrote Konzertstüke for oboe and orchestra and wind quintet and orchestra, as well as a Fantasie for cello and orchestra, the first in the 1850’s, the second in the 1870’s, the third in the 1840’s.  Additionally he composed one string quartet in 1833, concert overtures and incidental music for overture for symphony and also for brass band.  Rietz also composed solo piano music, solo flute music, songs, song cycles for mixed solo voices, choral music both secular and religious.  He is also well remembered for editing all of Mendelssohn’s works, as well as Beethoven’s works which are still available.

A scarce 19th Century autographed photograph of one of the most powerful German musicians after the death of Felix Mendelssohn.   


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