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Theodor Kirchner

Digitization of the Estate of a Trusted Friend of Brahms

With the digitization of the estate of Brahms’ friend Theodor Kirchner, 36 musical manuscripts, several hundred sheets with sketches and musical ideas and the extensive collection of first and early editions of his works along with extensive writings and life documents are available free of charge on the website of the Brahms-Institut.

Theodor Kirchner (1823–1903) dedicated the major part of his extensive oeuvre to the piano. For the musical path of Theodor Kirchner, an encounter and friendship with Robert Schumann was defining. In 1843, Schumann gave a positive review of Kirchner’s opus 1 and considered him in 1853 in his famous Brahms essay Neue Bahnen one of the »highly promising artists of recent years«. The fifteen-year-old was already introduced to Schumann und Mendelssohn, who were positively impressed by the talent of the young musician. Mendelssohn suggested to Kirchner that he study piano, music theory, and organ in Leipzig. Even though he was already fully educated, in 1843, Kirchner began his studies as the very first student with registration number 1 at the newly founded Leipzig Conservatory

Beside several songs, a masterful string quartet, and several smaller chamber works, Kirchner wrote over 1000 individual pieces for ›his‹ instrument. For Johannes Brahms, several of these miniatures were the »tenderest of the tender.« An engagement with Schumann’s tonal language is reflected in work titles such as Neue Davidsbündlertänze op. 17, Neue Kinderscenen op. 55 or Florestan und Eusebius op. 53. But all the same, Kirchner retained an unmistakable sound of his own. The composer was soon forgotten after his death, in part due to the brevity and succinctness of his compositions, which almost all belonged to the genre of romantic character pieces.

Project Title:
Theodor Kirchner
Digitization of the Estate of a Trusted Friend of Brahms

Project Completion: 2016

Project Lead:
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandberger

Project Team Members:
Dr. Fabian Bergener

Funded by:
Ministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Wissenschaft und Gleichstellung des Landes Schleswig-Holstein