Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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with K. Ameln and W. Lipphardt: Das deutsche Kirchenlied: kritische Gesamtausgabe der Melodien: Verzeichnis der Drucke von den Anfängen bis 1800, RISM, B/VIII/1, i/5 (1976)

Luthers geistliche Lieder und Kirchengesänge: vollständige Neuedition (Cologne, 1985)


Jensen, Adolf

(b Königsberg [now Kaliningrad], 12 Jan 1837; d Baden-Baden, 23 Jan 1879). German composer. He came from a musical family and first studied music with the Königsberg Kapellmeister Eduard Sobolewski; between 1849 and 1852 he was a pupil of Louis Ehlert, Louis Köhler and Friedrich Marpurg. An early volume of songs op.1 was published by his father in 1849; it was later withdrawn, and his actual op.1 (6 songs) did not appear until 1859. Early in 1856 he went to Brest Litovsk as music teacher to the family of the Russian governor Rejch; there he composed, among other works, a piano trio which he dedicated to Liszt. In 1857–8 he worked as a Kapellmeister at theatres in Posen, Bromberg and in Copenhagen, where he remained as a piano teacher and came into close contact with Gade and J.P.E. Hartmann. He made a number of concert tours in Scandinavia with the cellist Christian Kellermann. Owing to a throat infection he was unable to accept an invitation to become Kapellmeister of the private orchestra of Prince Nicholas Yusupov in St Petersburg. In February 1861 he became second director of the music academy in Königsberg, which gave him the opportunity to conduct several important concerts; after his resignation in February 1862 he continued to make frequent appearances as a pianist. His marriage in October 1863 to Friederike Bornträger, a publisher's daughter, helped him towards financial independence.

In October 1866 Jensen went to Berlin at the invitation of Carl Tausig to teach at his piano school, but two years later he left to settle in Dresden in order to devote himself to composing. Having already become an enthusiastic admirer of Wagner, in Dresden he campaigned wholeheartedly in private lectures for the success of Die Meistersinger, on the occasion of the rehearsals of that work under Julius Rietz. In 1869 he sought a cure for his throat and lung affliction in visits to Ems, Reichenhall and Meran, but his condition gradually worsened over the following years and was not alleviated by his removals to Graz (1870–75) and Baden-Baden (1875–9). During these last years he led a very retiring existence and was only sporadically able to produce creative work. His friendly relations with well-known artists of his time are conspicuously revealed by the dedication of his compositions to Bülow (opp.4, 20 no.4, 36), Brahms (opp.7, 25), Gade (opp.10 no.1, 23), Franz (op.14), Paul Heyse (op.22), Berlioz (op.27), Emanuel Geibel (op.29) and Raff (op.31).

Jensen possessed one of the most delicate sensibilities of all late Romantic composers. The model for his early works was Schumann, and he succeeded in his mature piano music and songs in assimilating the stylistic influences of Chopin and Liszt into a thoroughly personal style. His professed aspiration in his later works was ‘to translate Wagner's ideas of beauty and truth into music in the smaller forms’. His best piano compositions are distinguished by their melodic richness, rhythmic impetus, sonorous textures and by their colourful, at times almost impressionistic, harmonies. His songs, though uneven, include individual pieces belonging to the finest of their time; in these, Jensen showed himself a born lyricist, with a gift for translating poetic moods into music with assurance and imagination. A distinctly dramatic range of utterance is especially evident in the late English and Scottish songs and ballads; throughout these works his careful word-setting is notably impressive. He was less successful in handling larger forms, and his choral works and compositions with orchestra, despite some arresting features and distinguished scoring, were destined to failure. His only opera remained unperformed.

Jensen's grandfather, Wilhelm Gottlieb Martin (d 1842), was an organist, university music teacher and composer of chorales, songs and other vocal works; his father, Julius, was a piano teacher, piano tuner and music copyist. His uncle Eduard was a singer and singing teacher, also active in Königsberg, and Eduard's son, Paul (1850–1931), was a court opera singer and a teacher at the conservatory in Dresden. Jensen's brother Gustav (1843–1895) was a violinist, the composer of a Symphony op.35, a Sinfonietta op.22, songs, polyphonic vocal works, and chamber and piano works, and was also an editor of old music. From 1872 he was a teacher at the Cologne Conservatory.


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