|ORCHESTRA : Two Sketches; Symphonic Rhapsody (for violin and orchestra) ; Eklog; The Hour of Prayer (for chorus and orchestra).|
|CHAMBER Music : Elegy in C-sharp Minor; Humoresque; Toward Evening; Two Preludes for Woodwind Quintet.|
|An entire library of songs for solo voices and chorus; pieces for piano, violin, organ, etc; transcriptions for orchestra of famous masterpieces.|
About A. Walter Kramer:
Howard, J. T. Studies of Contemporary American Composers: A. Walter Kramer.
Important recordings of music by A. Walter Kramer:
VICTOR: The Last Hour ( McCormack) 3023; Swans ( McCormack) 1081; The Great Awakening (Harrold) 668; Entr'acte ( Kreisler) 966; Chant Nægre (Zimbalist) 884.
" Křenek is a typical post-war feature of a disillusioned civilization. . . . After the war, the art became unromantic, harsh, sterile of emotion. Composers appear, in greater number, to be enfeebled, cerebral, bitterly dégagé. They are less interested in the expression of feeling, they say, than in abstract tonal design. . . . Křenek is one of the by-products of this movement." -- OLIN DOWNES
ERNEST KŘENEK, the modernist who startled the musical world with his jazz-opera Jonny Spielt Auf!, was born in Vienna on August 23, 1900. He stems from Czechoslovakian ancestors. After studying composition with Franz Schreker in Vienna and Berlin, Křenek composed a few string quartets in which his atonal style was already apparent. His talent was sufficient to attract the interest of Paul Bekker, who engaged Křenek as chorus-master of the Royal Theatre at Cassel. Here, Křenek grew intimately familiar with the theatre. It was this intimacy with the stage that led him to compose operas.
In 1923, Křenek left German and for two years lived in Austria and Switzerland, while visiting France and Italy for brief periods. This travel widened his outlook and gave him a new intellectual attitude which became apparent in all the compositions he was now writing. This new attitude was first visible in his first opera, Der Sprung iiber den Schatten, composed in 1924 and produced that year at Frankfurt; here Křenek reveals himself to be the free, cosmopolitan spirit, with a far broader outlook on life and art than the composer who penned the early string quartets. Concerning the merits of this first opera, Adolf Weissmann writes: "The poetic and musical conceptions were none too harmonious, but had certain elements in common. Even if parts of the score were inferior, the spirit of the grotesque in music . . . found an impressive and moving expression here."
In 1925, Křenek returned from his travels to accept a position as conductor of the Prussian State Theatre in Cassel. It was while holding this position that Křenek sketched and completed the opera which was to make him a celebrated and provocative figure in modern music. On June 19, 1926 Jonny Spielt Auf! was given its first performance at Cassel. Since that première, Jonny has aroused much fierce discussion wherever it has been performed. On the one side there were those who felt that Křenek, by introducing jazz and "blues" into opera, had converted a dignified art-form into a street-woman. Others loudly voiced the fact that Křenek had produced a new type of art.
Let us listen to Hugo R. Fleischmann: " Křenek here proclaims a new art. Whether it will make its way and prove capable of opening up a new epoch in music will depend on whether there are a sufficient number of talented and above all unprejudiced composers who have really grasped the spirit of our time, and possess enough strength to take their share in this gigantic subversion. Everything that appeals to our generation finds its place in Jonny--the cinema, broad-____________________