(Partially adapted from the article on Thuille in Grove 5.)
Ludwig Thuille was born in Bozen on 30 November, 1861. He had his first music lessons from his father, and developed early a remarkable talent for music. On his father's death he was sent to the Benedictine Abbey in Kremsmuenster as a chorister, where he received thorough education in church music and an excellent elementary education.
At the age of fifteen, he returned to his home and became the pupil of Joseph Pembaur, the principal of the Innsbruck School of Music. After three years, in which he completed his courses there, he moved to Munich and joined the school of music there, where his teachers were Karl Barmen, a Liszt pupil, for piano and Joseph Rheinberger for organ, counterpoint and composition. From around this time come some early works which have been recently published by Wollenweber-Verlag (Grafeling/Munich,) including two string quartets, a piano trio, and a piano quintet (one of two that he was to compose in his life.) He was to return to the genre of chamber music often in his career.
He left Munich in 1881, obtaining a scholarship on the Frankfort Mozart Foundation. The following year brought a meeting, with Alexander Ritter, poet, composer, friend of Richard Strauss (as was Thuille himself,) which affected his career substantially and materially. He returned to Munich in 1883, obtaining a professorship, as did Ritter; and in 1885, when Strauss was appointed successor to von Bulow in Meiningen, Ritter and Thuille followed.
Under Ritter's influence Thuille turned his attentions to opera. His first attempt used a libretto by Ritter himself, based on Herman Schmid's comedy "Theuerdank." The music was completed in 1894, but the opera was not premiered until 1897. It was favorably received, but did not hold the stage. It remained unpublished, except for the prelude to Act I, which was given the title "Romantic Overture." The second opera, "Lobetanz," libretto by O.J. Bierbaum, was written in 1896. Some spoke of it as being superior to Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel," and as being in the same style. (It received its US premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in November of 1911. A selection from Lobetanz can be heard on a still-available Marston CD, performed by Johanna Gadski and the Victor Orchestra.)
His third opera, "Gugeline," libretto also by Bierbaum, was finished in 1900, and was considered, particularly in its third act, superior to the other two.
Other important works by Thuille include a still occasionally performed (even today) four-movement sextet for piano and winds (his op. 6; there are recordings of this on Erasmus CD WVH201 from 1997, Summit DCD 198 also from 1997, a recording possibly nla on Ars Musici AM 1163 *also* from 1997 (!!), a 1996 CD from Caprice (CAP 21497, nla)), two violin sonatas (op. 1 in d minor and op. 30, the former recorded on Telos 020 in 1999, the latter also recorded on Telos 030 apparently in the same year, though www.jpc.de lists 2001 as its release date) a violoncello sonata (op. 22 in d minor, recorded on ASV CD DCA 913 in 1995,) an organ sonata (op. 2 in a minor, which has been recorded, ) and a piano quintet in E-flat op. 20 (also recorded, I believe,) among chamber works. For orchestra there is the op. 16 Romantic overture aforementioned and an op. 38 Symphonic march. For choral groups there are works such as the Rosenlied, op. 29, for three-part women's chorus with piano, the Traumsommernacht, op. 25, for women's chorus with harp and violin, and Weihnacht im Walde, op. 14 for men's chorus. At least three sets of lieder (opp. 4, 5 and 7) might be mentioned, the last a song-cycle "Von lieb und leid." One ought not to forget the womens' choruses op. 5 (available at New York Public Library) or the piano pieces op. 3.
Thuille's pupils included Richard Wetz, Henry Hadley, Walter Spalding (who became Leroy Anderson's teacher) and Paul von Klenau. His published works include a Harmonielehre coauthored with Rudolf Louis (himself infamous as the target of Max Reger's chamber-criticism!) Thuille's own relations with Reger might be worth looking into, since it was a Thuille violin sonata that shared the program with the C major (4th, op. 72) violin sonata of that composer at the latter's premiere- a work which, one may not remember now, was something of a critical scandal. Thuille might have felt that his own work was lost in the screaming ...
Ludwig Wilhelm Andreas Maria Thuille died on 5 February, 1907.
This early string quartet in A major ohne Opuszahl, one of two at least that the composer wrote and published from manuscript in 2000 by Walter Wollenweber-Verlag, is a work of the composer's youth. (The other quartet, in G, dates from 1880-1.) It is in four movements: a common-time allegro moderato with exposition repeat, in A; a 3/4 adagio molto, in a, which encloses a maggiore; a 3/4 scherzo, in E, with trio in e; and a quasi presto common-time sonata-finale, in A. It is an uncharacteristic, one might say anachronistic for its time, withal enjoyable and interesting piece.
The quartet with its somewhat Schubertian-Haydnesque (Mendelssohnian? it can be hard to place this piece stylistically at times...) melodies is perhaps not what one first expects of a work from the last quarter of the 19th century, though this does not surprise in a prentice work; in this it reminds one of early works by Strauss and (_not_ prentice works) late works by Ignaz Lachner. All the same it works well. The first movement (A major, common time, 167 bars) follows a fairly standard design in its exposition, with repeat; a basically two-theme first subject group in A - both themes led by first violin, though the transition between them is initiated by the cello - leads to a varied (here dolce, here scherzando) second main theme, in which the first violin is initially tacet; to a more active section in which no one instrument has prominence (bar 43-7); and then codetta.
The development begins typically enough, with a minor-mode version of the closing bars of the codetta, then reinterpreted/modulated to bring us from e minor to C major; the music then becomes contrapuntally and tonally more involved as we move through F, Bb, after a pause and a change of texture, a number of keys beginning in b-flat minor, and rather memorably so; then landing on A major's dominant in time for the recapitulation at bar 107, which is not -quite- regular (it starts diverging as soon as 16 bars later, and the diverging section lasts all the way until the second theme group (which had been in E) reappears.) The second group is recapitulated substantially exactly, until the end; there is a brief coda, beginning with the main theme in F, then modulating via diminished chord and codetta theme to A. This movement, though like the rest uncharacteristic of his mature style, already shows fine capabilities of lyricism, and for effective and memorable development within and without the middle section of a sonata-form.
The slow movement (a minor, 3/4 time, 80 bars) tells a tale quietly, then more loudly then more loudly still before a brief transition introduces a second major theme (bar 17) in F. At bar 37 we have a varied return of the main material of the movement, briefly, before a maggiore section (pickup to bar 45) provides a more telling contrast. This lasts until bar 68, at which the main material (now accompanied by triplet sixteenths) returns, ending the material in a brief coda.
The scherzo (E major, 3/4 time, 60 bars) has much of Haydn about it.
The finale (A major, common time, 167 bars) opens with a well-pleased seven-bar theme, the same somewhat changed followed by a secondary theme (still in A major.) The transition to E uses mainly the quieter second theme. The E major theme group begins with a dolce theme on which is rung several changes; at one point its accompaniment- initially all minims and crotchets - begins to include triplet quavers as well, with the theme converted from minims and crotchets to quavers and rests (bar 48.) The exposition ends at bar 71. The thematically-strict development immediately modulates rapidly on the flat side of the spectrum, landing on F in bar 87, and g minor in bar 91, for instance; and edging its way back to E through E-flat in the ensuing bars after that, to spend some time on E as a sort of tonal organ point... and after a dominant 7th in bar 109, the - scarcely strict - recapitulation begins on the pickup to bar 111.
The second theme group, now in A major instead of E, begins at bar 127 this time, and the recapitulation from this point on is practically exact. The work as a whole, like the first movement, is imaginative, formally thought-through but not uninventive- certainly a student work but that, I think, of a student with clear ideas, ambition, and the goal, even while copying earlier models, of surprising his audience.
Unlike such an early work as this, the overall style of such a mature work as the piano sextet op. 6 or the cello sonata op. 22 might better be described as conservative (but not reactionary) late-Romantic, and inventive; I think it is likely not for nothing that the sextet is often revived...
Although I would give higher priority to revival of such as-yet-unrecorded works of Thuille's maturity such as the three operas, the works for chorus, the songs (an arrangement of one from op. 4 is on the CD with the op. 1 violin sonata) among other things; and to record and perform more often such works as the violin sonatas, E-flat piano quintet and the cello sonata; nonetheless, this effort to publish Thuille's early works on Wollenweber-Verlag's part has uncovered works of considerable interest, reflecting on and suggestive of the influences and skills of an interesting 19th-century minor master.
A book was published in Munich in 1923 by Friedrich Munter,
entitled "Ludwig Thuille" which might be worth the perusal of the interested.