Hans Rott (1858 - 1884)

Symphony No.1 E major (56')

In the history of music there were a number of composers whose lives ended prematurely. Some enjoyed a high reputation before they passed away, but the others never had an opportunity to make their names known despite their tremendous talent. Hans Rott was one of those gifted-but-unknown composers who lost their lives at a young age. He was just twenty-five years old when he died of tuberculosis. Rott was not even fully active as a composer in the final years of his short life. He encountered a series of devastating events and suffered from severe mental problems.

Rott received his formal education in music at the Vienna Conservatory between 1874 and 1878. One of his teachers there included Anton Bruckner, who gave organ lessons to Rott. He also studied composition at the conservatory -- his composition teacher was the same as that of Gustav Mahler’s. In the final stage of his studies at the conservatory Rott entered a composition competition, submitting the first movement of Symphony No. 1 in E major. Unfortunate to Rott, the jury members did not see any potential in it. After completing the symphony in 1880, Rott showed the work to Johannes Brahms. The latter, however, wholly disregarded it. This was a sad event for Rott, for he must have had great respect for Brahms -- the final movement of Rott’s Symphony No. 1 contains melodic materials similar to those in the finale of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 as well as his Academic Festival Overture. In the end, Rott’s Symphony No. 1 never received a public performance during the composer’s lifetime. Nevertheless, there were some musicians who recognized the ingenuity of Rott’s music. This included Mahler, whose Symphony No. 1 in D major consists of themes that resemble those in the third movement of Rott’s symphony.

[Akira Ishii]