Andreas Grün

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Alfred Heinrich Loreti


German version

Segoviana and other solo works

Little is known about Alfred Heinrich (or Alfredo Enrico) Loreti. The sparse information in Josef Zuth’s Handbuch der Laute und Gitarre, published in 1926, is almost all we know about this musician’s life. Since he is named in the list of subscribers to the Handbuch, the data surely came from himself:

LORETI, A l f r e d  H e i n r i c h, born 22 March 1870 in Rome, studied music theory at the royal "Academia di S. Cecilia" and at present works as a teacher for mandolin and guitar playing in Zurich. His compositions reach the op. number 263 […]

Loreti must have moved from Rome to Zurich at a young age, at the latest in 1889, because at the end of 1929 the magazine Der Gitarrefreund published the following report:

L o r e t i  E v e n i n g. The concert organized by the Zurich Mandolinists and Guitarists Club "Orfeo" on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its leader A. H. Loreti in the Conservatory Hall turned out to be a joyful and warm rally for Loreti as a composer and conductor. The program featured only compositions by Loreti and showed the tireless promoter and creator of good mandolin and guitar music. Loreti created more than 250 works, and the pieces chosen for the evening of honor showed the master at the height of his creativity. The participation of the Loreti Quintet, which is very favorably known in Zurich for its extremely sterling performances, and the appearance of the still youthful, very likeable guitar soloist Luise Walker from Vienna gave the concert a particularly attractive note. Today Miss Walker is regarded as the most outstanding representative of the new German guitar art. The performances of the artist, who also played compositions by Loreti, were also recognized here for their merit. The occasion turned out to be a real evening of honor for Loreti, for whom the rapturous applause should have shown that his art is appreciated here.

Loreti died in Zurich in 1944.
One can assume that his total oeuvre may have included well over 300 works in the end. Today, however, only a few of these can still be found in some libraries, not a single one is available in the trade. Obviously, most of Loreti’s compositions were not published at all during his lifetime.
The beginning of the publications that can still be traced today is made by Albumblätter (Album Leaves) for mandolin and guitar published in 1917, five pieces with the titles Süßes Erinnern (Sweet Memory), Traumgesicht (Vision), Die Zigeunerin (The Gypsy Woman), Liebesleid (Love’s Sorrow) und Liebesfreud (Love’s Joy). This is followed in 1918 by his four-volume Neue Schule für Gitarre oder Laute (New Method for Guitar or Lute), from which also comes the little etude that had already been printed in the magazine Der Gitarrefreund in 1914 and thus found some circulation. The Method too contains numerous duos for mandolin and guitar.
In 1923 the pieces Hoffnung – Heimweh (Hope – Homesickness) op. 252, Bolero op. 241 and Filigrana op. 167 were published in one volume entitled Kompositionen. The ever-strict Hans Tempel reviewed this anthology in Der Gitarrefreund in 1926:

For a composer whose output numbers well into the third hundred, the first of the four pieces is a respectable achievement. With a harmony trained in modest Wagnerian succession, Loreti has created an expressive mood picture in this "Hoffnung". […] Loreti shows players and "composers" alike, who still believe that only the harmonies of 150 years ago are appropriate for guitar music, that even a progressive harmonic writing (which is still far from the "modern" one) does not have to exceed the limits of what is easy to play. The hopes that one would be entitled to place in Loreti on the basis of this "Hope" are nipped in the bud by the two dance pieces contained in the same volume. The Bolero is constructed music, and the Mazurka would do credit to any collection of salon pieces.

A review that is quite understandable in its encouragement of Hoffnung and Heimweh on the one hand, but its disappointment with the Bolero and Filigrana on the other.
Loreti’s Reverie op. 164 is one of the many untraceable pieces, although it appears to have been published. All we have is another review in Der Gitarrefreund, this time by Fritz Buek from 1928:

[…] The largest part of the more than 200 works by this composer seems to be unprinted or self-published so far, and only a few, such as Op. 252, have been published by Hofmeister. What has hitherto reached the public shows throughout respectable achievements and does not move along well-trodden paths, but demonstrates a progressive harmonic setting. The new composition before us, a Reverie Op. 164 […] confirms anew the qualities already emphasized here. A well-invented melody has been worked out here in an interesting harmonic way […]. It is to be wished that the modest and gifted artist and composer would be offered more opportunities to work in this field for the guitar.

The opus magnum among Loreti’s guitar works is probably his four-movement Suite pour guitare concertante entitled Segoviana op. 261, composeed in 1925.
After the young Andrés Segovia had already performed successfully for several years, especially in Spain and Latin America, his legendary concert in Paris on 7 April 1924 was the breakthrough to an unprecedented international career. From that year until 1935 Segovia lived in Switzerland, first in Lausanne, then in Geneva. He made his debut in Zurich on 19 and 20 November 1924, and although there is no evidence of this, it is safe to assume that Loreti did not miss this opportunity to hear and meet the Spanish shooting star. His Segoviana, which was composed as a result, is part of the ever more extensive collection of compositions dedicated to the famous guitarist in the following years, and it seems that Loreti really did his best here to impress the auratic virtuoso, certainly hoping that the latter would play his work.
In December 1925, the editor Josef Zuth presumably wrote in the magazine Zeitschrift für die Gitarre:

[…] This suite, like the pieces recently discussed, makes quite significant demands on playing skill, but is rewarding in its rich, bold harmonies, which are, however, always well comprehensible. In connection with the movement of the pieces, in which the southern pulse is throbbing, they are the characteristic of the composer, who can certainly be counted among the best of today. Let us hope that his struggle for formal perfection will also be granted the success it deserves.

At the beginning of 1928, Segoviana was also reviewed in the magazine Österreichischen Gitarre Zeitung:

[…] As the title suggests, the present suite is dedicated to the Spanish master Segovia. It comprises four movements (1st Prélude, 2nd Danse, 3rd Berceuse, 4th Finale), of which the two slow movements (Nos. 1 and 3) are particularly well done. Our concert artists will gladly reach for this work, which represents a valuable enrichment of our guitar literature, since it presents them with very rewarding tasks.

Unfortunately, despite this recommendation, they have apparently not done so. It is true that Luise Walker probably played the piece, or at least movements from it, in the Loreti evening mentioned above and perhaps again later. The dedicatee himself, however, like many other works written for him, never performed it. The suite cannot be found in his estate. It is therefore uncertain whether he ever received it, although it can be assumed that the composer sent him a dedication copy or, also quite possibly, even played the piece for him and presented it to him personally. – When Anton Stingl was planning a concert in Zurich, the local zither player and guitarist Emil Holz wrote in a letter to his German colleague at the end of 1934:

[…] If I am right, L. Walker played something from Segoviana and Heimweh about 2 years ago. These were sentimental things, as she likes to do […]. – Personally, Loreti is a somewhat dry and taciturn Italian, who of course is not familiar with the German, deeply serious music. As a teacher and technician on the instrument, he is said to be great, even according toSegovia. I know him too little personally and have only heard him play the guitar years ago. I liked him then with his clean playing. […]

Since Segoviana never found its way into Segovia’s repertoire, after Loreti’s death it fell into oblivion together with him and never entered the general guitar repertoire.

Andreas Grün

Christoph Jäggin was able to find out the year of Loreti’s death as part of his research project CH-Guitar – What can be discovered in Swiss collections at the Zurich City Archives. In his catalogue he offers a list of Loreti’s known works.
Four of the five texts from the historical guitar magazines, as well as Holz’s letter to Stingl, were kindly passed on to me by Andreas Stevens, whose eagerness to research and warm collegiality are simply amazing.

PLAYHoffnung – Heimweh  (YouTube)
PLAYSegoviana  (YouTube)

Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media within the framework of NEUSTART KULTUR.


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