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Contributor


Richard Fuchs

Composer

Born: 1887 Died: 1947

Biography

Richard Fuchs was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, the eldest son of a well established German Jewish family. Although he trained as an architect, he was a gifted pianist and composer. A disciple of Wagner and Mahler, he wrote symphonies, chamber works and many songs, but because he was Jewish, his music was suppressed by the Nazis and only performed to Jewish audiences or not at all. Ironically his music with its Brucknerian tones was the sort of music the Nazis might have approved of. After Kristallnacht he was imprisoned in Dachau Concentration Camp but was released after acquiring a visa to New Zealand.

He arrived in Wellington in 1939 and worked as an architect but within six months war had broken out and he was classified as an Enemy Alien. This was a cruel irony given the circumstances of his exit from Germany. His career as an architect was compromised but it allowed more time for composing music.

He struggled to become involved in the fledgling Wellington music scene but despite having recommendations from some of the greatest composers of the 20th century including Ralph Vaughn Williams and Gordon Jacobs, he did not have much luck in getting his music performed. According to Fuchs’s biographer Steven Sedley: “Fuchs was arguably the most experienced composer living in New Zealand between 1939 and 1947. In 1939 Douglas Lilburn, the one New Zealand composer of the next generation to attain international recognition, was still a 23 year old student at the Royal School of Music in London.” But as Fuchs’s daughter Eva wrote: “they wanted a New Zealand composer not a Jew from Germany.”

Richard Fuchs embraced his new country and one of his proudest moments was when he became a New Zealand citizen. He was a late Romantic composer and found this music a perfect expression of everything he loved about New Zealand: the rawness, grandeur and drama of the landscape. He wanted very much to be part of the Wellington arts scene of the 1940s. He played with other musicians such as Fredrick Page and met with painters and literary figures such as Alan Mulgan, Irene McIvor and Eileen Duggan, whose poems he put to music. He drew inspiration from his new home, the gorse covered hills and dramatic Rimutaka Ranges, and left a large body of work inspired by and created in this country.


Composed (27)

Auf Den Tod Eines Kindes (On a Death of A Child)

for mezzo soprano and piano, 1m 40s


Das Kaddish

for tenor and organ, 2m 51s


Die Nachtigall

for tenor and piano


Drei Lieder fur mittlere Stimme und orchester

for medium voice and orchestra


Erhorung (Granted Redemption)

for voice and piano, 2m 4s


Festtag

for tenor and piano, 2m 31s


Festtag

for mezzo soprano and piano, 2m 25s


Fruhling

fur koloratursopran und orchester


Fruhlingsaben

for high voice and piano


Heitere Musik (Cheerful Music)

fur acht Blasinstrumente (wind octet), 15m 30s


Hymnus an Gott

for tenor, organ and string orchestra


Hymnus Fur Gott

for tenor and string orchestra


Hymnus Fur Gott

for bass and piano


Im Mai Ein Kinderlied

for voice and piano


In der Fremde

for medium voice and piano, 2m 15s


Liebestraum

for voice and piano


Piano Quintet in D minor

for piano quintet


Quintet in D Major

for piano quintet, 39m


Sonnet an Ead

for soprano and orchestra


String Quartet in D minor

for string quartet, 19m 38s


String Quartet in E Major

for string quartet


Symphony in A minor

for orchestra


Symphony in C Minor

for orchestra


Traum

for medium voice and piano


Unterwegs

for mezzo-soprano and orchestra