MDA010 — Fritz HART, In Memoriam Claude Achille Debussy — For solo piano (1918)
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series
ISBN 978-0-9923956-9-8 / ISMN 979-0-9009642-9-8
Fritz Hart was part of the extraordinary diaspora of British composers who, attracted to the various Dominions and colonies of the then British Empire, disseminated the influence of their British musical tradition and the fashionable Celtic revival to many parts of the world. Hart’s contribution to music in Australia, and later Hawaii, is remarkable, and he distinguished himself as a composer, teacher and mentor as well as a conductor and writer. With the exception of Charles Edward Horsley, he was the finest orchestrator to work in Australia before 1930, and his musical influence in this country lasted for a considerable time, especially through his students, including Margaret Sutherland and Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Both as teacher and mentor, he was especially encouraging to female composers.
Hart’s output included twenty-two operas, two large-scale symphonies, two string quartets, several concertos and a Symphonic Rhapsody for violin and orchestra, three sonatas for violin and piano, and choral, organ, and other keyboard music. He is remarkable for his 500-odd songs, set to diverse texts, including poems of the Celtic revival and those of many Australian poets. These songs have not been forgotten: Stephen Banfield, for example, gives them serious consideration in his 1985 study of twentieth-century British song. Details of Hart’s life and career, and a full catalogue of his works are found in Peter Tregear’s excellent ‘Fritz Bennicke Hart-An Introduction to his Life and Music’, M.Mus. Thesis University of Melbourne 1993.
This short work, written at the end of March, 1918 on the news of the death of Claude Debussy is in two versions – one for violin and pianoforte and the other for solo pianoforte. Both appear in this series as numbers nine and ten. The composer’s manuscript of the piano version of the ‘In Memoriam Claude Achille Debussy’ is held in the State Library of Victoria, Latrobe Library, LaTL 9528/11-12. There are no editorial notes for either version.