GRAND FUGUE (Choral Fugue) ….. LOUIS SPOHR
prepared for 4 Cellos or Larger Cello Ensemble by David Johnstone
PDF 1 – General Score
PDF 2 – All Individual Cello Parts
EXAMPLES from the Cello 1 and Cello 4 parts:
This piece is probably copied or transcribed from part of one of Spohr’s oratoria or masses. Today it is known with undetermined instrumentation. However, Spohr also wrote a choral fugue in C Major, WoO85, titled ‘Lasst uns Dankgesang erheben’ and subtitled Choral Fugue (by Spohr or someone else?). It gets even more confusing; “Lasst uns Dankgesang erheben” is also the name of another Spohr fugal number according to his own autobiography. In whichever case, the present fugue, arranged for four cellos or larger cello ensemble by David Johnstone, is a wonderful example of the form and makes for an exhilarating concert piece!
Louis Spohr (1784 – 1859), was baptized as Ludewig Spohr, and later often given in the modern German form of the name: Ludwig. He was a German composer, violinist and conductor, very highly regarded during his own lifetime. He was certainly prolific, composing ten symphonies (the last he withdrew), ten operas, some eighteen violin concerti (there are two double-violin concertos as well), four clarinet concerti, four oratorios, and various works for smaller ensembles, chamber music, and art songs. In all Spohr produced more than 150 works with opus numbers, in addition to a number of nearly 140 works without such numbers. He wrote music in all genres. Among Spohr’s chamber music are no fewer than 36 string quartets, as well as four double quartets for two string quartets. He also wrote an assortment of other quartets, duos, trios, quintets and sextets, an octet and a nonet, works for solo violin and for solo harp, and works for violin and harp to be played by him and his wife together. Most of his operas were little known outside of Germany, but his oratorios, particularly ‘Die letzten Dinge’ (1825–1826) were greatly admired during the 19th century in England and America.
His output spans the transition between Classical and Romantic music, but fell into obscurity following his death, when his music was rarely heard. The late 20th century saw a revival of interest in his oeuvre, especially in Europe; the clarinet concerti, for example, are fairly frequent on orchestral programmes.
As useful anecdotes, Spohr invented the violin chinrest in about 1820, and also the orchestral rehearsal mark (which are placed periodically throughout a piece of sheet music so that a conductor may save time by asking the orchestra or singers to start playing “from letter C”, for example).
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