Schroeder Premieres

Karl Davidoff               

Cello Concerto No. 4 in E minor, Op. 31 (1880) 

Alwin Schroeder performed Karl Davidoff's fourth concerto for his solo debut with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig on Thursday, November 25, 1880. Then a new member of the orchestra, Schroeder "was deservedly received very positively. As a cellist he proved to have a beautiful though not significant tone and great technical skill, and gave a musically insightful, sensitive, and tasteful performance. The Davidoff concerto (the composer’s fourth)... is on the whole rewarding and has some attractive moments..." (E. Bernsdorf in SMW 1880, No. 69, pp. 1020-1) This concerto had been published just a few months earlier, so it is very likely that Schroeder's performance was the local, if not national, premiere of the work. Davidoff himself played this same concerto in Leipzig seven years later; during this visit Davidoff, Klengel, Schroeder, and Schulz also performed together, before an audience that included about sixty local cellists. (Harold E. Gorst, "Masters of the 'Cello" in The Cremona, vol. 1, issue 3, p. 25 (1907))

         After arriving in the US, Schroeder was perhaps the only cello soloist in the country who continued to perform Davidoff's concertos, including the Boston premiere of Davidoff's third concerto in A minor (with the BSO, Nov. 1893). His 1907 New York performance of Davidoff's second concerto in D Major (with the Russian SO under fellow cellist Modest Altschuler) was also advertised as "first time," at least in New York. Of this performance, W. J. Henderson wrote, “Mr. Schroeder played the Davidoff music with the mellowness, repose and depth of style which come to an artist in the period of his maturity, when he no longer regards the cosmos as a field for his triumphs, but effaces himself and ministers as a devout priest before the altar of high art. The audience was moved by the performance, and the applause which followed it had the unmistakable sincerity of an assemblage aroused by a beautiful message.” (New York Sun, March 15, 1907)