Heinrich Reuß


Among operetta fans, “Reuss-Schleiz-Greiz” is inextricably linked with a philandering tenor and a jolly minister in “Viennese Blood” by Johann Strauss the Younger, first performed posthumously in 1899. The Thuringian states governed by the old House of Reuss were
considered prime examples of the bizarre German particularism. And to boot, the minister constantly founders in perfect comedy style because of the difficulties of the Vienna dialect. Henry XXIV Prince Reuss lived and worked
in one of his ancestral seats, Ernstbrunn Castle in Lower Austria, with his wife and children at the time. He came from a non-governing branch of the family, in which all men of the family have been called Henry since the 13th century, because the ancestor had been a loyal liegeman of Emperor Henry VI.  

He knew Brahms’ friend Strauss and held him in high regard. He apparently did not care about the satirical stage life of the diplomats of his dynasty. While this
princely Henry, the son of a father dabbling in the art of composing, had also studied law, he was a passionate musician from an early age. His teacher was Heinrich von Herzogenberg, the Brahms apostle, and sometimes even the master himself, from whom he learned “more in ten minutes” than from Herzogenberg in
months, as he said himself.


During his life, he was considered one of the recognized members of the Brahms circle – even Max Reger admired the technically perfect compositions by the prince. Yet who today knows his 6 symphonies and 4 string quartets? TheViola Sonata G Major op. 22 from 1904 throughout large parts seems like a perfect style copy, because of the “Brahmsian” and interwoven motifs. However, this says nothing about the objective value of the music that is in its every measure honest, cleverly designed and emotionally rich.


The charming work is moreover thankful for both instruments, yet restrained in its virtuosity, making it interesting also for pleasant performances at home. The introductory Allegro paints a sentimental atmosphere of basically cheerful character. The composer spins along in such a fresh manner that another of Brahms’ friends, the Bohemian master Antonín Dvořák, peeks around the corner in some of the phrases. The middle movement, Andante sostenuto e maestoso, strikes up a more serious tone; it is obvious here that Prince Henry had eagerly studied the moderate strictness of his idol, as well.


Adagio parts lead to a final movement in composed melancholy. The final
movement, Allegro con brio, with its bubbling joie de vivre takes up where the first movement left off. A cheerful dancing theme leads to a through and through classical finale full of light.





TYXart - the musicART  label