‘This long and tedious work is one of the few in Gottschalk’s oeuvre to suffer from overly bland thematic material’ is the verdict of the composer’s biographer, S Frederick Starr. It is an opinion that is hard to dispute. With its imposing title and opening measures (‘grandioso largo maestoso’), Apothéose
is a succession of heroic gestures—martellato tutta la forza, trionfale, con passione delirando, tumultuoso and similar requests, its central F sharp major section scored on three staves—but is full of sound and fury signifying very little. With elements of Schumann, Chopin and other Gottschalk works (one passage was to be recycled in his Grand Fantasy on The Brazilian National Hymn
, 1869), Apothéose
seems to have originally been a fragment from his Concerto in F (or F minor) (1853) which is now lost. Gottschalk dedicated the piece to King Leopold I of Belgium.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2000