Rose and Ottilie Sutro and Nathan Twining music manuscripts of Max Bruch's Concerto for two pianos and orchestra, op. 88a
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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German composer and conductor Max Bruch was born in Cologne, Germany in 1838. He held the post of music director at the courts of Koblenz and Sondershausen as well as conducting positions in Berlin, Liverpool, and Breslau. Toward the end of his life, he taught composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He was much influenced by the music of Schumann and Mendelssohn and was a critic of the New German School of Wagner and Liszt. He is best known for his first violin concerto in G minor, op. 26, which has become a staple in the repertory. He died in Berlin in 1920.
Rose and Ottilie Sutro were born in Baltimore, MD (1870 and 1872, respectively), the daughters of Otto Sutro, an organist, composer and conductor, and Arianna Handy, a pianist and singer, who gave the girls their first piano lessons. Together they studied piano under Karl Heinrich Barth at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. They made their debut as duo pianists in London in 1894 followed by their American debut in Brooklyn the same year. They toured the United States and Europe and played for the likes of Queen Victoria. In 1904, Ottilie injured her hand, and did not play for six years. They premiered Amy Beach's Suite for two pianos, op. 104 in 1924, a piece which is dedicated to them. They were one of the first to be considered a duo piano team. Rose died in 1959 and Ottilie in 1970.
Born in 1933, pianist Nathan Alexander Twining, is the son of Nathan Farragut Twining, US Air Force General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1957-1960), and Maude McKeever Twining. Because of his father's military career, Nathan, Jr.'s childhood was spent in many parts of the United States and he did not learn to play piano until he was 17 years old. He graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1959 where he studied under Joseph Hungate and made his debut with the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Vladimir Golschmann in 1959. However, his career as a concert pianist was short lived and he turned to land development south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which brought him a considerable fortune. He was president of the Twining Corporation, the Twining Drilling Corporation, and the Twining Energy Corporation.
The history of Max Bruch's Concerto for two pianos and orchestra, op. 88a, is unusual and somewhat complicated. It was written by Bruch in 1915 and based on his Suite no. 3 for orchestra with organ. That work was inspired by the sounds of a Corpus Christi procession heard by Bruch while he was visiting the Isle of Capri in 1904. The arrangement into a two-piano concerto seems to have been inspired by his acquaintance with Rose and Ottilie Sutro, a duo piano team of sisters from Baltimore who had performed his Fantasy in D minor for two pianos, op. 11, in 1911. According to program notes from the concerto's premiere, Bruch had the idea for the piece on February 6, 1915, began composing the work on February 10, 1915, and completed it on March 27, 1915, dedicating it to the Sutro sisters, "whom I love and value." The sisters, with Bruch playing at a third piano, read through the piece for the first time on April 2, 1915. On April 20, 1915, Bruch told American music critic Arthur Abell that the piece was meant "only for America," and that "I will neither permit the work to be performed nor printed here in its form as a piano concerto," presumably because he intended to promote its progenitor, the orchestral suite, in Europe. On April 24, 1915, the Sutro sisters participated in a private performance of the piece by the Berlin Philharmonic, under the direction of the composer. On December 29 and 30, 1916, the concerto received its world premiere performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Leopold Stokowski, with the Sutro sisters as soloists. In reviewing the performance, the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger wrote "It is not the sort of thing most pianists would choose for a display of their mettle. Their part in it was submerged often, and so it was not easy to tell just what the artistic calibre of the Misses Sutro is. They would appear to be finished and accurate, without a great deal of passionate intensity or vigour of phrasing." On the afternoon of November 30, 1917 the sisters gave another performance with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Josef Stransky. The New York Sun stated that "The Misses Sutro, to whom the concerto is dedicated, played it with apparent devotion, but through an insufficient sympathy between them and the orchestra there was some lack, especially in the last movement, of unanimity and precision." In each of these performances it is believed that what the sisters performed was not the concerto precisely as written by Bruch, but a version heavily arranged by the sisters, as evidenced in the scores and parts that survive and are part of this collection. Apparently, Bruch gave them the sole performing rights to the concerto and they rewrote the work themselves to suit their pianistic abilities. On this issue, Bruch biographer Christopher Fifield states, "Ottilie and Rose Sutro were either not particularly good pianists or perhaps not very powerful ones... for it appears that they proceeded to tear the Concerto to pieces, reorchestrate it, simplify the piano parts and generally restructure the work." In 1916, the sisters copyrighted their version of the score and submitted it to the Library of Congress; subsequently and mysteriously, the submission was withdrawn. The concerto was not heard again and its music not seen again for over 50 years.
In 1970, Ottilie Sutro died in Baltimore, outliving her sister Rose by 13 years. Her effects were auctioned in January 1971, and pianist Nathan Twining purchased a box of unknown music manuscripts for the sum of $11, which included the autograph score of the Concerto (its whereabouts presently unknown, it is not a part of this collection). Twining subsequently contacted other auction goers and was able to piece together additional scores, parts and miscellaneous related sketches found in the collection today. Twining is said to have reconstructed the piece in such as way as to have reclaimed Bruch's original version. He was assisted in this effort by fellow pianist Martin Berkofsky and West Chester State College professor Jacques Voois, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Gramma Fisher Foundation in Marshalltown, Iowa. In preparation for performance and recording and to assist in notating the parts, the Concerto was read by the orchestra of West Chester State College under the direction of Jacques Voois in 1971. It was later played by the orchestra at the Peabody Institute of Music, also under Voois, in 1972. In 1973, Twining and Berkofsky recorded the work with the London Symphony Orchestra, Antal Doráti conducting. In 1975, after Berkofsky prepared to perform the work again with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Twining brought suit against Berkofsky in the Circuit Court for Baltimore for violation of copyright (Twining v. Berkofsky, Civil. No. HM75-869). Contacting Bruch's heirs in Germany, Berkofsky obtained power of attorney for them, and registered the work in Bruch's name in the United States. The court dismissed Twining's case and the work has gone on to receive several other performances and recordings. It has been published in three-piano form by Simrock, Bruch's original publisher, and is available for full orchestra as a rental from Boosey & Hawkes.
Formally, the piece is in four movements, though the program from the New York performance arranges it into just three: The first movement in E-flat minor is marked Andante sostenuto and is followed without pause by the second movement, Andante con moto--Allegro, in E major. The third movement, Adagio ma non troppo begins in B major and is followed by the final movement, Andante--Allegro, in A-flat major.
Sources: "Bruch, Max (Christian Friedrich)" in Oxford Music Online; liner notes for Bruch: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra on E.M.I. Records, 1974; correspondence with John Lubrano of Lubrano Music Antiquarians; correspondence and interview with Jacques Voois; Christopher Fifield, Max Bruch: His Life and Works (New York: George Braziller, 1988); Martin Berkofsky papers at Georgetown University Library Special Collections Research Center; Jacques Voois, "The Case of the Disappearing Double Piano Concerto: A Tale of Intrigue in which a College Orchestra becomes Involved in Rescuing Max Bruch's Opus 88 from Undeserved Oblivion," Symphony News (June 1974): 10-13.
The collection consists primarily of full orchestral scores, duo piano parts, orchestral parts, and supplementary material for the Concerto for two pianos and orchestra, op. 88a, by Max Bruch. Also some unrelated transcriptions and arrangements. All materials are in manuscript. These are materials heavily altered by the duo pianists Rose and Ottilie Sutro and used in their performances of 1915-1917. Subsequently, they were collected by Nathan Twining from the auction of the effects of pianist Ottilie Sutro in Baltimore, MD, in 1971. Also included are orchestral parts of Bruch's original version as reconstructed by Twining for his recording of the Concerto with pianist Martin Berkofsky and the London Symphony Orchestra released in 1974. Further notes about the contents may be found within the collection inventory.
Purchase, J. & J. Lubrano Music Antiquarians, LLC, 2014. Supplementary research material, gift of Jacques Voois, 2015.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- John F. Anderies
- Finding Aid Date
- 2015 August 3
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.