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Featured works

Robert Kahn recording session 2019 © Norbert Meyn
In this section of the online resource we feature works by émigré composers that have been part of our research. Engaging with their compositions in performance offers a unique perspective on their musicianship, experience and contribution to cultural life in Britain and beyond.

We have produced critical editions of many of these works for RCM EDITIONS. These are available here for free download in PDF format. We are also proud to present recordings of works made by members of the RCM community and RCM Studios. Many of them are first recordings of works. 

Hans Gál: What a Life!

Music from the Internment Camp Revue:

  • Douglas, Isle of Man, 1940
  • Instrumentation: 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, Clarinet, Flute, Piano,
  • 2 Singers: medium high and low voice

Includes songs and instrumental numbers from the bilingual revue, the melodrama Ballade vom Armen Jakob by Norbert Elias and the Suite from What a Life! for piano.

Hans Gál 'What A Life!'

Hans Gal "What a Life!" - Einzugsmarsch

View a playlist of What a Life! on YouTube

Peter Gellhorn: Mooragh for male chorus and strings

Written at Mooragh internment camp in Ramsey, Isle of Man in 1940

Instrumentation: Violin 1/2, Viola, Cello, Double Bass,

4-part male choir or ensemble: Tenor 1/2, Bass 1/2

Duration: 6 min

Read more about Peter Gellhorn’s legacy here.

Peter Gellhorn 'Mooragh'

Mooragh by Peter Gellhorn

Peter Gellhorn: String Quartet Nr. 1, Andante and The Cats

Peter Gellhorn’s String Quartet No. 1 was written in Berlin in 1933, the year Hitler came to power. The work is full of emotional and textural contrast and reflects the upheavals of this difficult time for the composer.

The String Quartet No. 2 stems from the time immediately before and shortly after Gellhorn’s emigration to Britain in 1935. This bold and arresting work with a more positive feel is a significant contribution to the repertoire.

Read more about Peter Gellhorn’s legacy here

Peter Gellhorn 'String Quartet No.1'

String Quartet No. 1 (1933) by Peter Gellhorn

Performed by the Alke Quartet. Recorded 2016 at RCM Studios London, Producer: Raphael Mouterde

Peter Gellhorn: Capriccio and Intermezzo for violin and piano

These two works for violin and piano were written for two fellow émigré performers Max Rostal and Maria Lidka during Gellhorn’s first years in Britain, while he was director of music at Toynbee Hall in East London.

Duration: Capriccio - 2.40 min, Intermezzo - 5 min

Read more about Peter Gellhorn's legacy here.

Peter Gellhorn 'Capriccio'

Peter Gellhorn 'Intermezzo'

Capriccio (1936) by Peter Gellhorn, written for Max Rostal.

Eunsley Park, violin, Maksim Stsura, piano. Recorded at the RCM Studios in 2016

Intermezzo (1937) by Peter Gellhorn. Written for Maria Lidka.

Eunsley Park, violin, Maksim Stsura, piano. Recorded at the RCM Studios in 2016.

Peter Gellhorn: Kleine Suite for oboe and piano

Dated April 1932, this attractive compositions was written when Gellhorn was 20, in the year he received the Gold Medal of the Prussian Academy of the Arts in Berlin for his achievements.

Duration: 14 mins

Peter Gellhorn 'Kleine Suite'

Kleine Suite for Oboe and Piano (1932) by Peter Gellhorn

Rebecca Watt, oboe, Lucy Colquhoun, piano. Recorded at RCM Studios in 2016.

Peter Gellhorn: Sonata for two pianos

This sonata was written for John Tobin and Tilly Connely, a well known piano duo in London in the 1930s. John Tobin was also Director of Music at Toynbee Hall, where Peter Gellhorn worked as a ‘resident volunteer’ from 1935 to 1939.

Duration: 15 min

Peter Gellhorn 'Sonata for two pianos'

Sonata for Two Pianos by Peter Gellhorn

Eleanor Hodgkinson, piano and Jakob Fichert, piano. Recorded at the Royal College of Music London in 2016.

Peter Gellhorn: Songs

Autumn (text by Walter de la Mare) is a moving song about loss, closely connected to Gellhorn’s experience of leaving loved ones behind when he emigrated to Britain.
Duration: 2.40 min, for medium voice

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven (text by Yeats) was written for the composer’s daughter Barbara in 1995.
Duration: 1.30 min, for high voice

Ah, Par Quel, a setting of a short text by Racine (1639-1699), is the only vocal duet written by Peter Gellhorn. It was written in Woodbury (near Exeter in Devon) in November 1939 and is dedicated to Nigel Abercrombie, a distinguished academic and writer, whose wife Elizabeth was a singer at Glyndebourne before the Second World War.
Duration: 3 min, for soprano, mezzo-soprano and piano

Peter Gellhorn 'Autumn'

Peter Gellhorn 'Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven'

Peter Gellhorn 'Ah! Par Quel...'

Autumn, by Peter Gellhorn, words by Walter de la Mare

Katie Coventry, mezzo soprano, Lucy Colquhoun, piano. Recorded at RCM Studios in 2016

Ferdinand Rauter: Engel Lund's Book of Folk Songs

Engel Lund’s Book of Folk Songs, published in two parts by Oxford University Press in the 1930s, presents folk songs in 14 different languages (with English translations), with beautifully crafted piano accompaniments by Ferdinand Rauter. Rauter gave hundreds of performances of these songs with the polyglot Danish/Icelandic singer Engel Lund all over Europe and the United States in the 1930s.

The songs from both collections were recorded by native speakers (including many international students at the RCM) at the RCM Studios, with pianists James Southall and Ouri Bronchti. The resulting double CD, produced by RCM professor Norbert Meyn, is available from Nimbus Records and at the RCM Box Office.

Egon Wellesz: Stadler-Lieder Op. 24

Written in 1917, these songs are settings of poems by the expressionist poet Ernst Stadler (1883-1914) who studied in Oxford in the early years of the 20th century and died in the First World War.

This edition was prepared in 2020 in collaboration with Dr. Hannes Heher of the Egon Wellesz Fonds in Vienna and makes the songs available for the first time.

Duration: 7 min

Egon Wellesz 'Drei Lieder'

Mátyás Seiber: To Poetry

Written in 1952 for the British tenor Peter Pears, this song cycle by the Hungarian-born migrant composer Mátyás Seiber was featured in the Symposium ‘Music, Migration and Mobility’ in December 2020. The composer sets texts associated with British cultural heritage such as a Shakespeare Sonnet (Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day), the anonymous poem ‘Tears’ known through a setting by John Dowland, and an old scots poem by William Dunbar, Timor Mortis, but frames the cycle with an invocation of a poem by the German poet Goethe in English translation.

  1. Invocation (Goethe, trans. Louis MacNeice)
  2. Sonnet, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day (Shakespeare)
  3. Tears (anon.)
  4. Timor mortis (Williams Dunbar)
  5. Invocation (Goethe, trans. Louis MacNeice)

Performed by Norbert Meyn, tenor; Christopher Gould, piano.

Disclaimer: All images used on this site in connection with the 'Singing a Song in a Foreign Land' project are used in good faith. We have made every effort to ascertain copyright permissions for historical images and this information has been included where known. Please contact Norbert Meyn: norbert.meyn@rcm.ac.uk if you believe an image has been used incorrectly.