GÁL Hans, Sonata Op.28
Hans Gál studied with Brahms’s close friend Eusebius Mandyczewski and they later went on to edit the first complete edition of Brahms’s works. Gál’s opera, Die heilige Ente (‘The Sacred Duck’) was first performed in 1923 and enjoyed considerable success in Germany, and the Piano Sonata, Op.28, was composed four years later, during one of the happiest and most productive periods in Gál’s career, at a time when he was also Director of the Mainz Conservatoire. This success was cut short with the advent of the Nazis, when Gál was immediately dismissed from his post in March 1933 and his music banned. He returned to Vienna but was forced to flee after the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938. It was the British musicologist Donald Tovey who invited Gál to Edinburgh, the city which he then made his home.
In 1962, Gál himself wrote that Piano Sonata was ‘a concentrated, tightly-knit structure; the form of the four movements is completely clear. It will amuse you to hear me confess that I have only just noticed this on looking at the score: when you write in one go, you invent organically, whether you want to or not.’
(C) Nigel Simeone