Joseph Joachim and the Aesthetic of Inwardness: Two Intimate Performances by Joseph Joachim Reconsidered


Location: Crowley 115


Katharina Uhde, violin

R. Larry Todd, piano

This lecture and performance demonstration explores Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) in relation to two cipher compositions, the F-A-E Sonata (1853), a joint composition by Albert Dietrich, Brahms, and Schumann and “Abendglocken” Op. 5 (1853) by Joachim. We ask how these cipher pieces express an aesthetic of inwardness. We investigate the intimate setting of the salon for which these pieces were composed. The joint work was first performed in Schumann’s house in Düsseldorf, the latter in Hannover. Although no performance of these pieces is documented in Berlin, Bettine von Arnim’s salon “In den Zelten” was one of Joachim’s most cherished performance venues. Here he regularly saw Gisela von Arnim, with whom he had fallen in love in 1852. Concerning the FAE Sonata’s premier the story goes that Gisela von Arnim, dressed as a flower girl, presented Joachim with the score, who then sight-read the work, guessing the composers of each movement. Regarding “Abendglocken” the composer noted the piece was “created in such a special mood that I would rather not play it to anyone other than my truly dear friends.” Both works use ciphers: the F-A-E cipher (“frei aber einsam”) and G#-E-A (“Gis-E-[la]”), standing for Gisela von Arnim. This lecture recital investigates the chronology and the meaning behind the ciphers of these two pieces.


Free and open to the public.