In this release, the prominent conductor Adriano with help from the world renowned Bratislava and Moscow Symphony Orchestras, among others, draws together the first complete series of orchestral works by Swiss composer Fritz Brun (1878 –1959). This set sheds light on the little-known composer’s repertoire, from the rhapsodies, the concertos, to ten sweeping symphonies.
Brun grew up in Lucerne and his time active as a composer coincided with a period of high creative output of Swiss music. Brun’s repertoire sits alongside other native composers such as Honegger, Schoeck and Bloch. The crowded market, combined with the struggle to find a publisher (only three out of his ten symphonies were published in his lifetime) offers one indication as to why Brun’s works failed to reach the mainstream public. While not a household name, Brun is often touted as the Swiss answer to Vaughan Williams and Edward Elgar. Brun’s works have a nostalgic touch; they draw on the Romantic and Classical eras in their emotional sincerity and defined forms, but always with a modern flavour.
The first CD opens with the bold staccato chords of Symphony No.1, reminiscent of late Beethoven, while Symphony No.2 has a lighter feel, as the composer paints an image of youth, love, heartbreak and the beauty of nature with rich harmonies inspired by Brahms and expressive Schumann-inspired fanfares. This set showcases Brun’s works as a fascinating collage of cross-historical and cross-cultural encounters.
After graduating from the Cologne conservatoire, Brun worked in Berlin, London and Dortmund where he took up various music posts. His music reflects his European travels and unites diverse inspirations from different countries and eras as equals on his musical plane. Modernist influences are skilfully interwoven into his compositions, the scherzo movements for example, draw on Stravinsky in their timbre and rhythms and Symphony No.5 liberally experiments with tonality. However, similar to his English counterparts, his music remains rooted in his homeland. Symphony No.3 is inspired by the Alps and it is his best known work, made particularly famous for its use of Italian-Swiss folk melodies. In his later life, Brun returned to Switzerland, where he served as director of the Berne Music Society until his retirement in 1941. The final bonus disc features historical recordings, in particular, the celebrated Paul Sacher (1906–1999) brings his interpretation of Variations for string orchestra and piano, and Brun conducts his own Symphony No.8.
This unique set of recordings is the result of over a decade of perseverance by Adriano to share these hidden gems with a 21st-century audience and bring Fritz Brun the recognition he so rightly deserves.
Fritz Brun (1878-1959) was one of the most important Swiss composers of the 20th century. He studied in Köln, Germany, and one of his most influential teachers was Willem Mengelberg. He held various jobs in Germany and London, but settled in his native Switzerland to become a conductor and teacher.
Brun’s musical style has its foundation in Beethoven and Brahms, but also Richard Strauss and Wagner. His orchestral works, based on solid Classicism, abound in long and sweeping melodies, rich harmonies and brilliant orchestrations. Included are his 10 symphonies, the piano concerto and cello concerto, overture and symphonic poems.
This set brings together the recordings that conductor Adriano made with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, and which were previously issued on several labels.
A worthy tribute to a great Swiss Symphonist!