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Ernst von Dohnányi/Ernő Dohnányi

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Published on May 24, 2010

ERNST VON DOHNÁNYI 1877-1960

Born in Bratislava, Dohnányi is one of Hungarys most important musical figures, renowned as one of the great concert pianists and also as a significant composer. His catalogue of works is modest (48 works), which is explained by the fact that he divided his career between composing, conducting, teaching and piano playing. More conservative than his contemporaries Bartók and Kodaly, Dohnányi wrote in a language rooted in the German tradition and achieved recognition before both. Stylistically, his works belong, therefore, partly to theprevious century and this lack of innovation (in contrast to Bartók and Kodaly, who constructed new languages from their extensive research into the traditional folk music of the Balkans), explains why he was later eclipsed as a composer by his illustrious compatriots.

His most famous work is the delightful Variations on a Nursery Song for piano and orchestra, but he also wrote the brilliant Suite for Orchestra , the Konzertstück for cello and orchestra recorded by Janos Starker and many important chamber and solo piano works, the most important of which are the Serenade for string trio, the Piano Quintet and the four Rhapsodies for piano. In all of his finest music, endlessly inventive melody is matched by a rich harmonic language firmly in the tradition of Brahms.

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