Music in Exile: Chamber Works by Robert Müller-Hartmann
Robert Müller-Hartmann was born in Hamburg, in 1884, the son of the piano teacher and clarinettist Josef Müller and his wife, Jenny. He studied in Berlin for four years, but then returned to Hamburg where he pursued a successful career combining teaching, composing, and writing. His works were widely performed by conductors such as Karl Muck, Carl Schuricht, Richard Strauss, Otto Klemperer, and Fritz Busch, and regularly played on German Radio. With the advent of National Socialism, in 1933, Müller-Hartmann was forced to resign from his teaching posts at the University and Conservatory. He continued to teach at Hamburg’s Jewish girls’ school, and was an active contributor to the Jüdischer Kulturbund (Jewish Cultural Federation). In the mid 1930s, Eugenia and Jacob (Yanya) Hornstein, Hamburg friends of the Müller-Hartmanns, moved to the town of Dorking, some twenty-five miles south of London, and in 1937 the Müller-Hartmanns followed them. The thirteen years Robert spent in England saw the country scarred by the losses, destruction, and privations of war. There was very little time or opportunity for him to secure a place in his adoptive country’s musical life, and despite his considerable success in Germany during the 1920s and ’30s, his reputation had failed to cross the English Channel. A general antipathy to the inclusion of German musical exiles and his modest, rather retiring personality ensured that he would soon be forgotten.
This disc features his String Quartet No. 2, Three Intermezzos and Scherzo, Two Pieces for Cello and Piano, his Violin Sonata, and the Sonata for Two Violins.