On 31 July 2022 the composer and music critic Walter Arlen will celebrate his 102nd birthday. In honor of this very special occasion we are happy to announce Ricordi’s new edition of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Ein Quartett-Satz on the name of Walter Arlen.
During Mario’s lifetime, Arlen, who had escaped from Vienna as a teenager in 1939, was the music critic of the Los Angeles Times and an outspoken advocate of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music. In 1981 he retired from journalism and turned his attention to his original love, composition. Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote the Greeting Card dedicated to his friend Arlen in 1960. Never previously published, Ein Quartett-Satz on the name of Walter Arlen is the only one of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s musical greeting cards composed for string quartet. From 1953 to 1967 Castelnuovo-Tedesco composed 52 Greeting Cards as gifts for interpreters, friends, and students whom he wished to delight with short musical portraits.
Arlen recounted the story behind this lyrical work in the program notes to a 2015 concert in his honor, “The Poet in Exile” at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California.
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, a refugee film composer, was born in Florence, Italy, in 1895. My friendship with him went back decades and ended only when he died in 1968. In 1960, at his request, I contributed a biographical summary to the new edition of David Ewen’s anthology American Composers. A few months later, I received in the mail what Tedesco called a “greeting card,” with the name “Quartett-Satz,” in reference to a fragment also called by that name by Franz Schubert. My new “Quartett-Satz” was based on the letters of my name and contained quotations of music by Schubert, since I am, like Schubert, Viennese.
Albeit in different ways, both Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Arlen experienced the trauma of exile and a lifelong existence “between two worlds”. Ein Quartett-Satz is, above all, an expression of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s esteem for Arlen. We hope that many quartets will choose to celebrate the friendship between these two composers by adding this newly available short work to their repertoires.
Ein Quartett-Satz on the name of Walter Arlen is now available from Music Shop Europe and other outlets.
Arlen, for his part, composed a work for piano in 1993 dedicated to his old friend. The first piece in his piano cycle Monotypes is entitled “Preludio Capriccioso: Omaggio a Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.” It includes quotations from Beethoven, Puccini, and Mario’s own Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra in D Major Op.99. This work was recorded by pianist Daniel Vnukowski in 2014 in collaboration with the Vienna-based ExilArte Center and is available on the major streaming platforms.