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The album is violinist Pine’s original concept, inspired by the birth of her first child in September 2011. She could find no existing collection of classical violin lullaby scores and or any compilation recordings. So, she set about gathering sheet music from libraries around the world, amassing a collection of 150 lullaby scores. She selected 25 of the best to include on Violin Lullabies.
The world’s first lullabies were simple songs sung or hummed by mothers cradling their infants and rocking them to sleep. The classically composed concert pieces on Violin Lullabies represent stellar examples a special genre of 19th and early 20th century Romantic music written to evoke fond childhood memories and feelings of familial love. These brief, beautiful pieces are equally suited to classical connoisseurs as well as to music novices of all ages.
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833–1897)
EUGÈNE YSAŸE (1858–1931)
VLADIMIR REBIKOV (1866–1920)
AMY BEACH (1867–1944)
LUDWIG SCHWAB (1880–1943)
OTTORINO RESPIGHI (1879–1936)
GEORGE GERSHWIN (1833–1897)
MANUEL DE FALLA (1876–1946)
GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845–1924)
JEAN SIBELIUS (1865–1957)
PAULINE VIARDOT-GARCÍA (1821–1910)
ALAN HOVHANESS (1911–2000)
IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882–1971)
MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)
REBECCA CLARKE (1886–1979)
FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
LUCIEN DUROSOIR (1878–1955)
EDVARD GRIEG (1843–1907)
MIKHAIL ANTSEV (1865–1945)
RICHARD STRAUSS (1864–1949)
CAMILLO SIVORI (1815–1894)
VICTOR BÉRAUD (1840–??)
William Grant Still (1895–1978)
MAX REGER (1873–1916)
ALEXANDER ILYINSKY (1859–1920)
XAVIER MONTSALVATGE (1912–2002)
BETTY JACKSON KING (1928–1994)
26: (digital-only bonus track)
27: (digital-only bonus track)
28: (digital-only bonus track)
What the Critics Are Saying
“What a beautiful recording this is!”… “Pine and Hagle play each [piece] idiomatically with great attention to detail and the ultimate in musical values. This is a truly beautiful disc and I think it will have great appeal to our readers.”
Program NotesDownload Album Booklet
Notes by Pamela Blevins
The lullaby, cradle song, or slumber song was born before language. From ancient times to the present, mothers have known instinctively that gently rocking their babies in their arms while humming or singing a soft melody is a soothing and comforting inducement to tranquility and sleep.
The lullaby is a natural form of music that music historians have called the “genesis of all song.” The cradle song, as we know it today, is rooted in the folk traditions of all nations and is known by as many names as there are languages in the modern world: Berceuse in French, Wiegenlied (cradle song) or Schlummerlied (slumber song) in German, Oror in Armenian, Vuggevise in Norwegian, and Nana in Spanish, among them.
The earliest of these songs were passed down through the generations by oral tradition long before the advent of musical notation. In ancient Egypt and Greece, mothers might have accompanied their cradle songs on the lyre or harp, forerunners of contemporary instruments such as the violin, the instrument many consider closest to the singing voice.
The birth of the lullaby and the origin of its name are unknown. One of the earliest possibilities dates back to an ancient Roman nurses’ song of which only this fragment remains: “Lalla, Lalla, Lalla,/Aut dormi, aut lacta” (“either sleep, or nurse”). In more recent times, “Lullay, Lullay, litel child” appeared in a 1372 English manuscript, while references to cradle songs (“cradyl songes”) appeared in print as early as 1398.
In its classical form, the Berceuse, or lullaby was pioneered by Frédéric Chopin in 1843, with his Berceuse for solo piano. The most famous example is, of course, Johannes Brahms‘s Wiegenlied or, as it is popularly known in English, “Brahms’s Lullaby.” Although he never married, Brahms (1833–1897) fell in love many times.
In 1858, he met the young Austrian singer Bertha Porubszky; she often sang folksongs to him, including a love song that stayed with him for many years. Later, after Bertha had married Arthur Faber and had her second child, Hans, Brahms dedicated his Wiegenlied, based on a variation of that song, to Bertha and her husband “…for cheery general purpose use.” In a letter to the Fabers, Brahms wrote, “Frau Bertha will immediately see that I composed the cradle song yesterday [August 17, 1868] specifically for your little one.” The American violinist Albert Spalding (1888–1953) is among many who have arranged Brahms’s Wiegenlied for violin and piano. When the theme is repeated, Spalding has the violin play harmony as well as melody, so it sounds like the single violinist is playing a duet.
By the time the fourth of his five children, Antoine, was born in April 1894, Belgian violinist, composer, and conductor, Eugène Ysaÿe (1858–1931) was known throughout Europe as the “King of the Fiddlers.” Although Ysaÿe enjoyed fame, fortune, and good future prospects, his home life was darkened by a cloud. His infidelity had driven a wedge between him and his wife Louise. Several months after Antoine’s birth, Ysaÿe was touring the United States. During a stop at Niagara Falls, he wrote to Louise, “Tears come to my eyes at the thought of Antoine … precious mite … how I am dying to take him in my arms….” Ysaÿe put that longing into his poetic Rève d’Enfant (“Child’s Dream”), which he dedicated “À mon p’tit Antoine.” Originally composed for violin with orchestra, Ysaÿe later transcribed it for violin and piano, a version he published in 1901.
Vladmir Rebikov (1866–1920) had his ear tuned to the future and developed musical innovations that were ahead of his time. He was one of the first composers to use the whole tone scale and tone clusters — a favorite technique of twentieth century modernists such as Henry Cowell and György Ligeti. Although Rebikov had been a leader in the Russian avant garde, he is best remembered today for pleasant piano pieces that recall the lyrical expression of Tchaikovsky and Grieg. Rebikov composed many short pieces for and about children with titles such as “Children Skating” and “The Little Girl Rocking her Doll.” The Berceuse heard here comes from his Trois Morceaux (“Three Pieces”), Op. 7, composed in 1895.
From the age of one, it was clear that music inhabited the soul of Amy (Cheney) Beach (1867–1944). Gifted with perfect pitch, she could hum 40 tunes accurately, and in key, after she first heard them. At age two, she astounded visitors to the family home when she suddenly sang Handel’s “See the Conquering Hero Comes” at the top of her child’s voice. Her mother, an amateur pianist and teacher, gave Amy her first lessons. When Amy was eight, her parents settled in Boston, enabling their only child to experience musical life and pursue piano studies. She made her concert debut as a pianist at 16. Composition was as natural to her as the piano. She had begun to compose at the age of five; her earliest extant piece is titled “Mamma’s Waltz.” Beach studied counterpoint for one year, but was otherwise a self-taught composer who spent many hours reading scores and learning orchestration on her own. She was highly regarded in Boston circles and soon gained the attention of Dr. H.H.A. Beach, a Boston surgeon and amateur musician whom she married in 1885. He was 42, Amy was 18. They had no children. Beach composed her most important works during the period of her marriage: a symphony, piano concerto, chamber music, solo piano pieces, and many songs. After Dr. Beach’s death in 1910, Amy resumed her performing career. Composed in 1898, her Berceuse is the second of her Three Pieces for Violin and Piano.
Ludwig Schwab (1880–1943) met the Czech violinist Jan Kubelik when both were students at the Prague Conservatory. A violinist, violist, pianist, and occasional composer, Schwab spent 14 years touring the world as Kubelik’s piano accompanist. In 1912, Schwab received the enormous sum of $8,000 from the wife of a wealthy New York broker to serve as the exclusive pianist for functions at her home. Schwab later became the violist with the New York String Quartet, founded in 1919. After his years in the United States, Schwab settled in Australia, where he married pianist Merle Robertson. In 1903, his friend Kubelik married a countess (and niece of a former Hungarian premier) who bore him eight children. Schwab dedicated his folk-influenced Berceuse écossaise (“Scottish Lullaby”) “À Madame Marianne Kubelik.” The opening melody has the sound of a traditional Scots tune, but its origin is not known.
Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936) was a composer, musicologist, conductor and violinist/violist who is best known today for his trilogy of orchestral tone poems: Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome, and Roman Festivals, composed between 1917 and 1928. He began his professional instrumental career as a violist in the Russian Imperial Theater in St. Petersburg. During his five months living there, he studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov. A scholar of 16th to 18th century music, Respighi drew upon those periods for his own compositions. In The Birds, he freely adapted the music of four 17th and 18th century composers. For his Ancient Airs and Dances, he drew upon Baroque guitar music and Renaissance lute pieces, including one by the father of Galileo. In addition to orchestral music, Respighi composed opera, ballet, chamber music, and vocal/choral works. He originally conceived his Berceuse for string ensemble. It became the first of his Sei Pezzi (“Six Pieces”) for violin and piano, all of which he adapted, between 1901 and 1904, from previous works. He completed the Six Pieces 15 years before he married his former pupil, mezzo-soprano and composer Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo (in 1919). Their union produced no children. Elsa Respighi survived her husband by 60 years, dying a week before her 102nd birthday, in 1996.
George Gershwin (1898–1937) was born in Brooklyn as the second child of Russian immigrants. He developed an interest in music when he was ten years old. By the time he was 15, he was working as a pianist plugging songs for a publisher on New York’s Tin Pan Alley. He made piano rolls and worked as an arranger before his first commercial success at 19 with the piano piece “Rialto Ripples.” Two years later, Al Jolson made Gershwin’s “Swanee” famous and the young composer was on his way to a career in both popular and classical music. He composed numerous Broadway musicals, often with his lyricist brother Ira, and later composed music for Hollywood films. In 1922, Gershwin composed the one-act jazz opera Blue Monday. It fell flat with critics but was a forerunner to Porgy and Bess. Two years later, Gershwin had his first classical success with Rhapsody in Blue, followed by his Concerto in F, and An American in Paris. He composed Porgy and Bess in 1933 and 1934. It premiered in Boston and opened in New York in 1935. The opera begins on Catfish Row, a poor tenement in Charleston, South Carolina. The sultry night is alive with activity — a dice game, dancing, a pianist playing a honky-tonk tune — but the mood shifts as Clara is heard singing the lullaby “Summertime” to her baby. Despite their poverty, Clara’s words attempt to soothe her baby with words of hope and the optimism that life is good: “the living is easy…you’ll spread your wings and take to the sky…nothing can harm you with Daddy and Mammy standing by.” But life is not good. Clara and her husband die, leaving the baby orphaned. After Clara’s death, Bess holds the baby and sings only the first verse of “Summertime,” up to the words “so hush, little baby, don’t you cry,” poignantly omitting “with Daddy and Mammy standing by.” Gershwin’s most popular song, “Summertime” has been recorded approximately 25,000 times. Although Gershwin never married, he had a long-term relationship with composer Kay Swift. Russian-born composer and violinist Igor Frolov arranged “Summertime” for violin and piano as part of his 1937 Concert Fantasia on Themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. To make “Summertime” work as a stand-alone piece outside the larger Fantasia, pianist Matthew Hagle has added a few bars of introduction based on the theme that leads into the song in the opera.
Although Manuel de Falla (1876–1946) is regarded as an important twentieth-century composer, he produced relatively little music compared with other composers of his generation. Greatly influenced by Spanish folk songs and dances, his music is alive with rhythms and sensuous in its evocation of night, gardens, and the spirit of Spain. Falla composed ballets, an opera, stage works, several orchestral works, songs, and instrumental music. He lived in Paris for seven years, then settled in Granada, Spain, living a reclusive life, refusing to publicize his music or seek fame. He became disillusioned with Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War and, despite illness, emigrated to Argentina for the last five years of his life. Falla never married. His Nana (“Lullaby”) is one of his Siete canciones populaires españolas (“Seven Spanish Folksongs”) for voice and piano, completed in Paris in 1914. He dedicated the work to Madame Ida Godebska (1872–1950), the Russian-born muse to many artists, musicians, and writers in Paris. Polish violinist Paul Kochanski (1887–1934) published his arrangement of Nana for violin and piano in 1925.
Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) was the youngest of six children born to a non-musical family. When he was a boy, he loved to play the harmonium in a chapel attached to his village school. An elderly blind woman who heard him play recognized his talent and told Fauré’s father, who had the wisdom to allow his son to study music. After completing his studies, Fauré embarked on a career as an organist, eventually securing a post at the famous Church of the Madeleine in Paris. He began to achieve recognition as a composer in his early 30s. Fauré was a leader in promoting contemporary French music while setting new standards with his songs, works for piano, and chamber music. Later, he taught composition at the Paris Conservatory and became its director in 1905. In 1877, he fell in love with Marianne Viardot, daughter of singer Pauline Viardot-García, but Marianne ended the relationship, plunging Fauré into depression. He married in 1883 and had two sons. One became an acclaimed biologist, the other a writer. Composed between 1878 and 1879, the Berceuse for violin and piano is among Fauré’s earliest works.
Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) studied violin as a child and dreamed of becoming a virtuoso. His instrumental talent was not equal to his dreams, however. Sibelius began studying law in 1885, but gave it up within a year to pursue music. He furthered that education in Berlin and Vienna. His early music reflects his affinity for Finnish sagas and his profound commitment to Finnish nationalism. In 1899, he composed the work that made him famous, his patriotic Finlandia. Sibelius was very attuned to nature, finding inspiration in the woods surrounding the rustic lakeshore home, “Ainola,” that he named for his wife. A powerful and original voice in twentieth century music, Sibelius composed seven symphonies, numerous tone poems, chamber music, incidental music and a major violin concerto. In 1892, Sibelius married Aino Järnefelt, whose siblings included two prominent painters, a composer/conductor, and a writer. The Sibeliuses had six daughters between 1893 and 1911. The Berceuse is the concluding work in Sibelius’s “Six Pieces” for violin and piano, dating from 1917.
Pauline Viardot-García (1821–1910) was a renaissance woman, born in Paris to a family of Spanish musicians. Her father, Manuel García, was a famous voice teacher; her mother Joaquina, a soprano, actress and teacher; and her elder sister, Maria Malibran (1808–1836), one of opera’s first superstars. Pauline showed remarkable intelligence and talent from an early age, exhibiting a facility for languages and a gift for painting as well as music. Her first love was the piano. She had some instruction from Liszt and began playing concerts at 14. When she was 15, however, her mother closed the piano and started giving her singing lessons. Viardot-García became one of the great singers of her day, prompting Brahms, Schumann, Fauré, and others to compose for her. After she retired from the stage at 41, her friend Clara Schumann encouraged her to embark on a career as a virtuoso pianist. Viardot-García focused instead on composition and teaching. She had married the French theater impresario Louis Viardot in 1840 and had four children with him. Her daughter Louise was a composer, singer, and teacher; her son Paul, a violinist, composer, conductor, and writer. Viardot-García composed instrumental music, more than 100 songs, operettas, and, at the age of 83, a grand opera. Her Berceuse is from her Six Morceaux pour Piano et Violon (“Six Pieces for Piano and Violin”), composed in 1868 and dedicated to her son Paul.
The music of American composer Alan Hovhaness (1911–2000) reflects his interest in Eastern and Near East cultures and his own mysticism and spirituality. Born in Somerville, Massachusetts, Hovhaness began composing seriously in his teens. He was only 14 when his first opera was performed. He studied at the New England Conservatory, but unlike the majority of composers of his generation, he was drawn not to Western ideas but to those found in the East: including India, Arab nations, Japan, Armenia, and Greece. He traveled to these lands, studying their music, philosophies, and societies, and created a body of distinctive and exotic compositions that “assimilates the music of many cultures.” Hovhaness was a prolific composer of 67 symphonies, numerous concertos, chamber music, orchestral works, and instrumental music that features instruments not commonly heard in the West. Hovhaness married six times but had only one daughter, Jean Christina (Nandi), a harpsichordist. His Oror (“Lullaby”) for violin and piano is a very early work, possibly begun when he was only 11 years old and revised when he was 15.
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) cut a path through music that ignited controversy, rage, even a near-riot, but his once-radical ideas became quickly absorbed into the fiber of twentieth century music. In 1913, his Rite of Spring ballet caused pandemonium at its premiere when the audience, unaccustomed to its pulsing rhythms, dissonances, and unexpected outbursts of sound, shouted and stamped their feet in anger. The scene was very different three years earlier at the premiere of The Firebird, a complete success that made Stravinsky famous overnight. The Firebird is based on a Russian folk tale about a magical bird with “plumage of fire.” In the ballet, the Firebird is half-woman and half-bird, and rescues a prince held captive by the evil Kashchei. The Firebird lulls Kashchei and his followers to sleep with her lullaby, allowing the prince to escape. Stravinsky created three different orchestral suites from the ballet. The second and most popular includes the hypnotic Berceuse. In 1906, Stravinsky had married his cousin Katerina with whom he had four children. He arranged the Berceuse for violin and piano in 1929 and dedicated it to Paul Kochanski.
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) studied composition with Fauré at the Paris Conservatory. Despite their age difference, the two became good friends. Born in the Basque region of France, Ravel’s parents encouraged him to pursue his musical talents as both pianist and composer. In the early 1900s, he joined the Society of Apaches, a group of composers, including Stravinsky and Manuel de Falla, who considered themselves outcasts because of their progressive tendencies. Ravel welcomed new ideas and was later influenced by American jazz. He never married and was not known to have had relationships other than his deep commitment to music. In 1922, a request to compose a piece to honor Fauré resulted in Ravel’s Berceuse, which he also dedicated to Claude Roland-Manuel, the newborn son of Ravel’s friend, the music critic Alexis Roland-Manuel, who later became Ravel’s biographer. The piece is called Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré (“Lullaby on the name Gabriel Fauré”) because the first 12 notes spell out Fauré’s name, using the system whereby after G, H=A, I=B . . . N=G, and again, O=A, P=B . . . U=G, to create the beginning: G-A-B-D-B-E-E F-A-G-D-E.<
Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979) was born in England to an American father and German mother. She studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music, composition at the Royal College of Music, and viola with Lionel Tertis. Clarke enjoyed a successful career as a violist, performing in ensembles and orchestras and touring as a soloist, often with cellist May Mukle, in England, Europe, and the United States. She was among the first six women to become full members of a professional London orchestra. Clarke’s earliest compositions date from 1907. She composed chamber music, songs, and choral works. Although she admitted being “influenced by many schools” of music, she developed her own distinctive voice, variously described as “ravishing,” “exotic,” and “emotionally intense.” Clarke visited the United States many times but always considered herself “British.” She eventually settled in New York, where she became reacquainted with James Friskin, a composer, pianist, and friend from the Royal College of Music. They married in 1944 when both were in their late 50s. Clarke composed many lullabies for violin or viola and piano. The one heard on this album dates from 1918.
Franz Schubert (1797–1828) and Richard Strauss, like Brahms, composed vocal versions of the lullaby that have been transcribed for violin and piano. Schubert was a prolific composer, whose output includes some 1,000 works, including over 600 songs, despite his early death at the age of 31. Schubert breathed new life into the art song and imbued it with a sensitivity and melody that make it ripe for violin transcription. His Wiegenlied, composed in November 1816, is the second of three songs, Op. 98. The origin of the text — (“Sleep, sleep, gracious, sweet boy,/softly rocked by your mother’s hand…”) — is uncertain, although it is sometimes attributed to German poet Matthias Claudius. The Russian-born violinist Mischa Elman (1891–1967) transcribed this piece for violin around 1910, when he first began arranging music. Elman, who was also a fine pianist, dedicated the transcription to Percy Kahn, his friend and accompanist for many years.
Robert Schumann (1810–1856) composed his Albumblätter (“Album Leaves”) for solo piano over a period of 13 years, from 1832 to 1845, and dedicated it to his young daughters Marie, Elise and Julie. Album Leaves contains 20 pieces of which Schlummerlied (“Slumber Song”) is the 16th. Schumann married pianist and composer Clara Wieck in 1840, after a contentious legal battle with her father, Schumann’s former piano teacher Friederich Wieck. He did not want his daughter to “throw herself away on a penniless composer.” Within months of the marriage, Schumann composed more than 160 songs. The next year, 1841, he produced the first two of his four symphonies. Although Schumann continued to compose prodigiously, he was not earning enough money to support Clara and their seven children. So Clara’s fees as a touring concert pianist constituted the family’s principle source of income. Schumann’s career as a composer was cut short by the mental illness that claimed his life in 1856, at the age of 46. The Hungarian violinist and composer Hans Sitt (1850–1922) arranged Schlummerlied for violin and piano.
The music of Lucien Durosoir (1878–1955) might have vanished had his manuscripts not been found and brought to light by his son. Prior to World War I, Durosoir was a successful violinist whose playing “mesmerized” audiences with its nobility and beauty. Like many men of his generation, Durosoir fought in the war, witnessing “the ultimate in horror,” as he described it to his mother. It was during this time that he began his first attempts at composition, convinced that his efforts would become “fruitful.” Although he survived 55 months as a soldier, he was never the same. An accident in 1921 marked the end of his concert career. He turned his attention to composition, retreating from Paris to relative isolation in a French village where he composed mainly for orchestra and chamber ensembles. His Berceuse from Cinq Aquarelles (“Five Watercolors”) for violin and piano is an early work dating from 1920.
Edvard Grieg (1843–1907) received his first musical instruction at the age of six from his mother, an amateur pianist. He composed his first piece, “Variations on a German Melody,” at nine. By the time he was 15, music was pouring from him. The violinist and composer Ole Bull immediately recognized the teenager’s gifts. According to Grieg, Bull “commanded” his parents to send him to the Leipzig Conservatory. Most of Grieg’s early compositions were for piano or voice and piano. His first major orchestral work, the beloved Piano Concerto in A minor, dates from 1868, the year after he married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup, a lyric soprano. Neither set of parents approved. The Griegs often performed together to great acclaim. They had only one child, a daughter, Alexandra, who died from meningitis a year after her birth. Grieg’s Vuggevise is the first of eight works for piano in his “Lyric Pieces, Book II,” dating from 1883. It was arranged for violin and piano by Hans Sitt.
Mikhail Antsev (1865–1945) was a composer, choral conductor, teacher, author, and editor born in Smolensk, Russia. He studied composition with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1894. Antsev settled in Vitebsk, Belarus in 1896. There he taught choral singing. He also served as editor of the local newspaper from 1905 to 1912. He was a co-founder of the Vitebsk People’s Conservatory in 1918, where he lectured on music history and conducted the choir. Antsev authored textbooks and a music dictionary. In addition to his own compositions, he collected Belarusian folk songs. His Berceuse dates from 1899.
Richard Strauss (1864–1949) com-posed his Wiegenlied for voice and piano on August 22, 1899, during a family holiday in Bavaria. In 1894, Strauss married soprano Pauline de Ahna, with whom he had one child, a son Franz. The song, however, was a gift of love and gratitude to Frau Marie Rösch, the daughter of Strauss’s friend Alexander Ritter, a violinist to whom Strauss owed much of his success. When Strauss was 21, Ritter convinced him to drop the conservative style that had marked his music up to that time. As a result, Strauss went on to light the musical world with his incandescent brilliance, bringing music into the 20th century. Wiegenlied became one of Strauss’s most popular songs; he orchestrated it in 1916. The uncredited arranger of the violin version likely is Strauss himself: the violin arrangement and original song were both published in 1899, and it was common practice at the time for song composers to write instrumental versions themselves.
A violin prodigy, Camillo Sivori (1815–1895) was the only pupil of the great Paganini. The master was so impressed by the child that he composed a concertino and six sonatas for Sivori. Although Paganini wanted Sivori to accompany him on his travels, Sivori’s parents refused because they felt the boy was too young. He had a highly successful career as a touring artist, with travels throughout Europe, the United States, and South America. Sivori eventually married and had one known son, Federico, who died in 1916. Sivori’s compositional output, largely forgotten today, includes two violin concertos and numerous pieces for violin. A late work, the Berceuse remains his best-known composition.
Victor Béraud was the pseudonym of Englishman G. Frank Blackbourne, whose Petite Reine, Op. 24, for piano was arranged for violin and piano by Edward Elgar in 1886. Blackbourne is an obscure figure today; not even the exact year of his death is known, although it appears he was born in 1840 in Worcestershire, where Elgar also lived. An 1886 newspaper review of Petite Reine (“Little Queen”) called Elgar’s arrangement, “a remarkably meritorious one.” Another report, a year later, praised it as “unconventional.… The ordinary character of the berceuse, with its sentimental theme above a rushing script, had been departed from almost entirely, and we have an elegant piece.” Perhaps Blackbourne/Béraud is so little known for his music because his main career appears to have been as an actor in various English touring companies, performing mainly in comedies. Elgar, an acquaintance of Blackbourne, wrote to him on March 23, 1886: “Please consider the arrangement of your Berceuse entirely your own property; I, of course, always intended that.” Little of Blackbourne’s music is available today: the song “Primroses and Violets” and several piano pieces published under his Victor Béraud pseudonym, a name perhaps adopted in an effort to keep his two careers separate. His last known composition was published in 1911. Elgar was a little known composer of increasing promise when he arranged Petite Reine. The arrangement was not published until 1907, when Elgar was famous.
William Grant Still (1895–1978) began his musical education in Little Rock, Arkansas, where his teacher-mother moved from Mississippi after the death of her husband. Still’s mother subsequently remarried, to a man who encouraged his stepson’s interest in music, taking him to live performances and buying him recordings. A versatile musician, Still taught himself to play six instruments in addition to his formal violin studies. Still began composing at Wilberforce University, a Black college in Ohio. His original plan to become a doctor soon faded. After studying at Oberlin Conservatory, he played in orchestras and arranged popular music, working for W.C. Handy, Sophie Tucker, Paul Whiteman, and Artie Shaw, among others. He composed eight operas, five symphonies, ballets, chamber music, and instrumental works. A pioneer among African-Americans, Still was the first to have an opera produced by a major company (New York City Opera, 1949); the first to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra (his Afro-American Symphony, New York Philharmonic, 1935); the first to conduct a major orchestra (Los Angeles Philharmonic, 1936); and the first to conduct an orchestra in the Deep South (New Orleans Philharmonic, 1955). Still settled in Los Angeles, where he arranged music for films, including Pennies from Heaven and Lost Horizon. Still married twice. He had four children with his first wife, whom he married in 1915, and two with pianist and writer Verna Arvey, whom he married in 1939. Still’s “Mother and Child,” from his 1943 Suite for Violin and Piano, was inspired by a lithograph by African-American artist Sargent Claude Johnson (1888–1967).
Max Reger (1873–1916) was a younger contemporary of Strauss whose music moved between the abstract and academic. A pianist, organist, conductor, and teacher, he was a prolific composer whom scholars and musicians credit with “emancipating dissonance” to a level that enabled Arnold Schoenberg to develop serialism. His gentle, lyrical Wiegenlied gives no hint of the abstract qualities that later influenced Bartók, Berg, Hindemith, Prokofiev, and Schoenberg. Although Reger’s music is heard relatively rarely today, the theologian and physician Albert Schweitzer declared, “The significance of Reger’s work will only be appreciated in the future.” After Reger married in 1902, he and his wife Elsa adopted their daughters Christa in 1907 and Lotti in 1908. The Wiegenlied is the first piece in Reger’s three-movement Suite for Violin and Piano, composed between 1902 and 1904, published posthumously in 1917 as his Op. 79d.
The following descriptions are of lullabies that are not on the CD but are available as digital-only tracks on iTunes.
To the extent that Alexander Ilyinsky (1859–1920) is remembered at all today, it is for his Berceuse, which is the seventh movement of his orchestral Suite Noure et Anitra, composed between 1893 and 1894. Ilyinsky studied at the Berlin and St. Petersburg Conservatories. He taught at the Moscow Philharmonic Society School of Music and Drama until 1899, when he resigned to concentrate on private teaching. Ilyinsky also wrote and edited several books. While his music has found little appeal among audiences today, an excerpt from his opera, The Fountain of Bakhchisaray was used in the 1938 film, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars. His Berceuse must have been very popular in its day because it is found in numerous collections. The Scottish composer and music collector Alfred Edward Moffat (1863–1950) arranged Ilyinsky’s Berceuse for violin and piano.
Xavier Montsalvatge (1912–2002) represents the rich, colorful, and evocative tradition of twentieth century Spanish music, enhanced by his own innovative ideas, including the use of West Indian idioms, Cuban habaneras, and jazz. Born into a family of businessmen, artists, and writers in the Catalonia region of Spain, Monsalvatge studied music in Barcelona. Although he initially planned a career as a violinist, composition soon absorbed him and continued to do so from his early 20s until his death at the age of 90. Montsalvatge was also a music journalist and teacher. In 1945, he composed the song Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito (“Cradle song for a little black boy”) as part of his “Five Black Songs” for voice and piano. He later orchestrated the song and produced other arrangements, including Nana for violin and piano in 1957. Montsalvatge also wrote music for and about children, such as his “magic opera” based on the Puss in Boots fairy tale and his “Songs for Children” settings of children’s poems by Federico García Lorca. Montsalvatge married Elena Pérez de Olaguer in 1947 and had two children with her, Xavier and Yvette.
Betty Jackson King (1928–1994) was an American composer, pianist, arranger, educator, and advocate for Black musicians. Her mother, Gertrude Jackson, taught music at the Southern Christian Institute in Mississippi, where King first heard the spirituals that influenced her compositions. After the family returned to Gertrude’s native Chicago, Betty studied at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in piano. She went on to earn her master’s degree in composition with her sacred opera Saul of Tarsus, set to a libretto by her father Frederick, a minister. The Jackson family was active in the Chicago community, forming a center for the welfare and education of young people in music, dance, and spiritual endeavors. Betty combined with her string playing mother and sister Catherine to form the Jacksonian Trio, which toured the nation. Betty pursued a teaching career, first in the Chicago public schools and later as a professor at Dillard University in New Orleans. She married in the 1950s and had a daughter. She eventually settled in Wildwood, New Jersey, where she returned to teaching in the public schools while continuing to compose, perform, and play an active role in the community. In an effort to further improve opportunities for Black musicians, she became President of the National Association of Negro Musicians in 1982. In addition to spirituals and arrangements, Betty Jackson King composed instrumental works, songs, three operas, a cantata, and a requiem. Her Lullaby is scored for flute and piano. Rachel Barton Pine adapted it for violin.
Pamela Blevins is the co-founder (with Karen Shaffer) and editor of the free online magazine, Signature, Women in Music, a publication of the Maud Powell Society for Music and Education.
A collection of the scores featured on Violin Lullabies will be published by Carl Fischer Music. The book is edited by Rachel Barton Pine and comes with an accompanying disc of piano-only tracks recorded by Matthew Hagle. Please visit CarlFischer.com for more information.
Total Time: 79:15
Producer: James Ginsburg
Engineer: Bill Maylone
Editing: Jeanne Velonis
Technical Editing: Bill Maylone
Recorded: October 26, 28 & 29 in the Fay and Daniel Levin Performance Studio at 98.7 WFMT, Chicago, Illinois
Violin: “ex-Soldat” Guarneri del Gesu, Cremona, 1742
Strings: Vision Titanium Solo by Thomastik-Infeld
Bow: Dominique Peccatte
Technician: Ken Orgel
Front Cover Design: Marc Whittacre
Inside Booklet & Inlay Card: Nancy Bieschke
Cover and Inlay Photography: Sylvia Pine, age two weeks © 2011 Wendy Benner Photography
© 2013 Cedille Records/Cedille Chicago