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Joseph Marx

born: 11 May 1882
died: 3 September 1964
country: Austria

Born in 1882 in Graz, Joseph Marx (1882–1964) was always interested in music but he does not appear to have studied seriously until he went to university. As a composer, he is virtually unknown today and none of his works has gained a foothold in the repertoire. Along with three fine string quartets, three piano quartets, two violin sonatas and much other chamber music, there are numerous piano works, over two hundred songs and several large-scale choral works. Marx also composed a symphony and other orchestral works including the fascinating Nature Trilogie—a kind of large-scale symphonic poem in three movements—and what is effectively a second piano concerto, Castelli Romani. None of these works has been performed in fifty years or more, nor have they been recorded.

Stylistically, Marx was influenced by Schumann, Brahms and Reger (the latter in his extended use of polyphonic development, very evident in this piano concerto) and he was seen by one contemporary critic (Heinrich Kralik) as a bridge between Brahms, Wolf and Schoenberg. Above all else Marx was an absolute master of harmony, as anyone who knows his exquisite lieder will attest. In the piano concerto, his harmonic palette is so rich that at times one might almost believe one was listening to Scriabin. These widely different composers are mentioned, not to imply that Marx was merely derivative but to show how his complex personal voice was fused from so many disparate sources and influences.

from notes by Brendan Carroll © 1998


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