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Two Miniatures

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The Heritage Series series

The history of the double bass features many player-composers who created a wealth of music for bassists of all abilities. Recital Music publish a wide and eclectic range of music by these important figures from the history of the instrument, particularly from the 19th and early 20th-centuries, and more works are in preparation. Some names are well known today, others almost forgotten, but each made a valuable contribution to the repertoire of the double bass and helped create a unqiue repertoire which deserves to be performed.

Eduard Madenski is a name known to some bassists today, although I doubt many have ever played or heard a note of his music. Born on 20 September 1877 in Vienna, Madenski began his musical studies at the age of fourteen, studying violin at the Vienna Conservatoire with Josef Maxincsaz and theory with Adolf Prosniz and Stephan Stocker. In 1892 he began to study double bass with Frantisek Simandl, graduating in 1898 with the highest honours. The following year he was appointed a member of the Vienna Court Opera and in 1909 became Principal Bass of the Vienna State Opera.

In 1910 his 'Orchesterstudien aus Richard Strauss' symphonischen Werken' was published by Edition Peters (Leipzig), still in print today, which includes excerpts from many of the challenging orchestral works by Richard Strauss which were new to players and audiences during the early years of the 20th-century, and many thought to be unplayable. Madenski and Strauss worked together in Vienna and the bassist was greatly respected and valued by the composer who commented "So gespielt, braucht der Kontrabass die Rivalität mit dem Violoncell nicht zu scheuen, im Gegenteil, sein Ton hat eine edle Männlichkeit, die dem Violoncell fehlt." ["When so played the bass has no rivalry with the violoncello, on the contrary, his tone has a nobility that is missing from the cello."]

Alongside his orchestral duties Madenski also played as a soloist, writing and transcribing a number of works for the instrument. He was described as a 'Kontrabass-Virtuose' at his debut solo recital in the Grosser Musikvereinssaal in Vienna on 26 November 1903, receiving top billing above Betty Schubert, a singer with the Court Opera, alongside pianist Rudolf Heidinger. He performed a varied and eclectic programme of works by Frantisek Simandl, R.M. Mayrhofer, L. Roth, A. Simonetti, three of his own works (Pastorale, Souvenier, Reverie), ending with Bottesini's virtuosic Tarantella, which may have been the inspiration for Madenski to compose his own tarantella a few years later. He subsequently performed in Nuremburg, Brixen and Innsbruck and composed and transcribed works for double bass, and was probably the first to adapt and perform Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen for double bass, popular today in new editions of this most iconic of works for violin.

The following years saw Madenski become a member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and also succeed Simandl as Professor of Double Bass at the Vienna Conservatoire on the latter's retirement. Two of his most successful and famous students were Joseph Prunner (1886-1969) and Hans Fryba (1899-1986), and it is likely that Madenski wrote his 'Instruktive Tonleiter- und Akkordstudien' for his students at this time, advocating the use of the fourth finger in thumb position.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra made its first trip to South America in 1922, performing 34 concerts in Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and according to the orchestra's website "...was greatly admired with true southern fervour wherever it appeared..." The success of the tour was followed by a further invitation to tour South America in the summer of 1923, and this time the orchestra played 42 concerts in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Montevideo, La Plata, Buenos Aires and Bahia. The website continues "...this trip, however turned into a nightmare: first violinist Karl Knoll, suffering with depression, committed suicide by throwing himself out of his hotel window; clarinettist Franz Behrends died in Buenos Aires of pneumonia; and on the return trip plague brok out aboard ship, killing several passengers including contrbassist Eduard Madenski. In the presence of deeply grieving colleagues, his corpse was committed to the deep at latitude 22, longitude 20 near the African coastline."

Polish bassist-composer Michal Bylina writes: "...Madenski made a sizeable contribution to the revival of solo playing on the double bass in Vienna, becoming one of the greatest bassists after Simandl. His premature death was a big blow for the double bass school in Vienna..." Barely 46 years old when he died, Eduard Madenski had been a successful solo and orchestral bassist, teacher and double bass composer, and almost a century after his death, his name is still remembered by many double bass historians and activists. The intriguing question is what else he would achieved had he lived longer...

Madenski's works for double bass, written in a late-romantic and tonal style, include these two miniatures which are ideal for bassists confident in the solo register and who are able to project a strong and lyrical tone.

Traumerei (Dreaming), also known as Marzenie, has a lilting and supportive accompaniment contrasting a more dramatic and singing melody throughout the solo register of the double bass.

Souvenir begins simply, developing into a passionate and animated middle section, exploring the sonorous and lyrical capabilities of the double bass. A driving accompaniment creates a feeling of drama and great expressive feeling.

The accompaniments are effective and supportive, and these would be useful for any post-Grade 8 bassist looking for something new and accessible.

Two Miniatures are part of Recital Music's ongoing 'Heritage Music' series. This edition includes piano accompaniments for both solo and orchestral tunings.

Performance Level: Advanced


  • 1. Träumerei (Dreaming)
  • 2. Souvenir

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Cat No. RM147
Price £9.50
ComposerEduard Madenski
EditorDavid Heyes
CategoryDouble Bass & Piano
PublisherRecital Music
SeriesHeritage Series
Difficulty level8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-147-0
EAN-13 9790570451470
Weight 98 grams
Published 19th July 2009
Availability 3 in stock
See also...
RM005  Baroque Transcriptions