“Concert Waltzes” and More

(Listen to Podcast Episode 59)

Why isn’t Fitzenhagen’s music known to cellists? I may be completely out of the loop, but I don’t know of anyone who knows about his music either. His set of “Concert Waltzes” for cello quartet are definitely worthy of an occasional performance.

I suppose it could be his infamous act of “artistic license” when he operated on Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Roccoco Theme” dedicated to Fitzenhagen himself!

Compare the original version Tchaikovsky handed over to the star virtuoso cellist and the version that made a surprise premiere in its stead. They are wildly different pieces of music.

Despite his rearranging and even recomposing large sections of the elegant Rococo styled music it is still a fine piece. In fact, it is the one all cellists learn (at least as of the end of the 20th century).

Could it be that his “improvements” were so successful that his own compositions never came to mind. Musings that may never be known the answers to unless some letter of Fitzenhagen’s is found to contain his story.

Fitzenhagen’s Forgotten Cello Music

And what about his set of Salon Pieces? Or of his novel-not-so-novel Tuning for cello and piano? He wrote a number of character pieces that could be used as pedagogical studies at least.

Not more than a week ago I posted a short video of me playing a very small excerpt from his chord scale studies. These are something that, if nothing else of his was included into the repertory, these most definitely should be. Look at the following few scales:

From Technical Studies

He also composed Salon Pieces, many character pieces, two pieces for cello quartet, among others. And it is not just some cellist thinking ‘I’m writing my own music to show off’. It is the work of someone who has assiduously assimilated the technique of composition to a rather finer degree. It is certainly more melodically interesting not to mention harmony.

Podcast Episode 59

You are invited to listen to episode 59 to hear a short biographical highlight about Fitzenhagen. There is plenty of background music including all of the pieces mentioned (but not Variations on a Rococo Theme despite much of it being Fitzenhagen’s rearrangments—it’s famous so I skipped it).


Join me on this exploration through Forgotten Cello Music.

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Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@TravelingCello

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