The piano music of Carl Goldmark (1830–1915)

Hlavacsek, T. (2024) The piano music of Carl Goldmark (1830–1915). Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Music.


Carl Goldmark (1830–1915) was a prominent figure in Vienna’s cultural life from the 1870s, alongside Johannes Brahms and Eduard Hanslick. Goldmark’s opera Die Königin von Saba earned him international fame, while many of his operas and symphonic works were performed in major cities across Europe and America. In Hungary at the turn of the century Goldmark was celebrated as a national hero, the most famous, internationally acclaimed Hungarian-born composer alongside Franz Liszt. However, whilst Goldmark’s most popular works were still performed for decades after his death, it is striking that his piano music, a considerable number of works, remained almost completely unacknowledged. Following the ban of Goldmark’s works in 1936 in Austria, they largely disappeared from concert halls and remained underrepresented after WWII. The aim of my research is to introduce and contextualise Goldmark’s piano works within Romantic piano literature. I approach this from two perspectives: firstly, through an examination of performance history and reception of this repertoire and secondly, by exploring stylistic features in the music which reflect broader musical trends in his day. My research facilitates an understanding of how Goldmark’s piano music relates to other contemporary figures’, and is thus essential in positioning his music within piano literature. Research findings also inform performance of the works; I offer considerations for interpretational questions, articulated in this thesis. My research fills a gap in existing literature regarding Goldmark’s piano music, but it also contributes to a fuller picture of 19th-century Austro-German piano repertoires. It enables a more comprehensive understanding of a significant personality of 19th-century Vienna and a deeper knowledge of 19th-century Vienna’s cultural identities and musical landscape. Through this, the concept of national identities in the context of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Vienna are also explored.

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