Recently a CD of turn of the century symphonic works was released on the Naxos label. Entitled American Romantics III, the CD includes works by Carl Busch, Edward MacDowell, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Cecil Burleigh, Ludwig Bonvin, David Stanley Smith and Gena Branscombe. The music is performed by the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Reuben Blundell.
All the music on the CD was provided by the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Edwin Fleisher (1877-1959) did not intend to have an orchestral library but rather a Symphony Club that trained students interested in playing orchestral music. One of the first employees of the Symphony Club was William Happich (1884-1959), a teacher and conductor. For his students, Happich would arrange works from the collection. Miss Branscombe’s violin and piano work, “A Memory” was arranged for harp and strings. The work is beautifully played on the CD.
Two months after the CD was released in late April, Miss Branscombe’s original 1911 violin/piano sheet music for “A Memory” came up for sale on E-bay.Several days later her “An Old Love Tale” also composed for violin and piano came up for sale. Both works were published by Arthur P. Schmidt of Boston and are inscribed to Ilse Niemack with good wishes to her from Gena Branscombe. Ilse was an American violinist and composer who concertized across the United States. She was known for having a warm tone and a sincerity of expression.
Gena Branscombe dedicated “An Old Love Tale” to Kathleen Parlow, a Canadian born violinist nicknamed “The lady of the golden bow”.
Congratulations to the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra for releasing these lesser known American works. What a gift to the music world at large.