Monday Musical Moment: Böhme Part 2 – The Early Years

Justin Langham   -  
Happy Monday to all!
If you didn’t catch last week’s column, we are beginning a series on the subject on my dissertation, Oskar Böhme! He was a German-born composer and cornetist living at a time of great change in music and culture in Europe, which eventually led to a tragic end. Today we’ll talk about his early life and look at some of his earliest music.
Oskar Wilhelm Böhme (roughly pronounced “Buh-meh”) was born on February 24, 1870, to a musical family in the small mining town of Pottschappel near Dresden in southeastern Germany. His father, Heinrich, was a music teacher in Dresden who was also wind player in a miners’ band, and two of his three brothers –Max William and Georg– were also cornetists and made careers as musicians of varying success. Their other brother Benno went on to become a wood sculptor! Oskar went on to the most acclaim out of his brothers, gaining fame as a soloist around Europe from the early age of 15.
While he was touring, Oskar would often compose pieces for himself to play. They would often involve beautiful melodies and virtuosic writing for the cornet, and this week’s piece is a great example of both! Ballet Scene, Op. 31 is a fun and dramatic work with various sections of dance-like character. Imagine that the cornet is written in the role of a ballerina, dancing around in different styles and speeds. It was first published in 1907, but most likely was composed much earlier.
Like many of Oskar Böhme’s works, there are unfortunately very few recordings. However, German trumpeter Max Sommerhalder can be credited with bringing the first recordings of Böhme’s music to life with two LP recordings in the early 1980s. This recording of Op.31 was the first of its kind.
I hope this lively piece gives you a small boost on a rainy Monday!