Thomas de Hartmann

A composer with an interesting, peregrinating life-story! He was born in 1884 on his family estate near Khoruzhivka in north-eastern Ukraine, about 60 kilometers (~40 miles) west of Sumy and 100km (60 miles) north-west of Kharkiv. In 1884, all of that region was part of the Russian Empire, so technically I guess he should be considered a Russian composer. Certainly, his first musical mentors were Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev, both most definitely Russians. He also studied composition with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, before marrying in 1906 in St. Petersburg.

In 1908, he moved to Munich, Germany to continue his musical studies. When World War I broke out, he served in the Russian Imperial forces, before being invalided out in 1917. He then moved to Georgia (the country, not the US State!) to become Professor of Music at the Conservatory there. He wasn't there long, however, before moving variously to Constantinople, Berlin and, by 1922, Paris. He remained living in and around Paris until 1950 -at which point, he moved to the United States and eventually died there (in New York) in 1956.

His full name was Thomas Alexandrovich de Hartmann, and the New Groves puts both the "Alexandrovich" and "de" in brackets, indicating both are equally optional. However, whilst the Alexandrovich patronymic is usually dropped, the convention on most CD covers these days is to give him his "de", so Thomas de Hartmann it is! The New Groves also roundly declares him to have been a 'Ukrainian composer', but I think that is quite anachronistic, given his service in the Russian Imperial army and his free movement between the Ukrainian, Georgian and Russian parts of the empire of the time. I guess in 2023, given modern Russia's invasion of modern Ukraine, this can be a more sensitive topic than the editors of the 1980 edition of New Groves I'm using may have realised. His musical education was soundly Russian, however, and though he was clearly not a Soviet composer, in the mould of Shostakovich, Rachmaninov or Prokofiev (say), he was definitely Russian in outlook.

His musical output was modest -some 90 'classical' compositions in all, along with 53 film scores and hundreds of sacred choral works. His orchestral music was initially heavily Romantic in nature, but acquired impressionistic and adventurous harmonic characteristics as time went on. In advanced old age, he freely introduced jazz, Eastern/Jewish and even bi-tonal elements, too. That said, his music in its entirety became mostly forgotten or ignored until relatively recently: a Thomas de Hartmann Project was founded in 2006 which has sought to record and promote practically all his music.

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Music Plays from my collection
(since January 9th 2021)

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Date of PlayTime of PlayGenreCompositionLengthPlay Count