CARL REINECKE (1824-1910)
German Pianist and Composer

Although today he is better known as a composer, Carl Reinecke was a formidable pianist, and was conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1860 to 1895. He was born in 1824 and is the earliest born pianist to have made recordings of any kind. To put this in perspective, 189 years ago, in 1824, Beethoven and Schubert were still alive, Chopin, Schumann and Liszt were just barely teenagers, Brahms and Tchaikovsky were not yet born, and his first concert tour took place in the year of Grieg's birth (1843).

Unfortunately the only examples of Carl Reinecke's playing I am aware of at this time are recordings in the form of piano rolls he made around 1905-7, but these nonetheless give us a glimpse of his style of playing.

Although he was 13 years Liszt's junior, he was a classicist, belonging more to the the end of the Mozart/Clementi era than to the beginning of the modern romantic style of piano playing of Liszt. As a result, it may be possible that we hear hear in his playing a hint of the way Mozart himself might have played.

Having said this, Reinecke's playing of the Mozart examples may well come as a shock. Do not confuse our idea of the Classical style with today's even, and often unemotional, style of playing the classics. And do not forget that in Mozart's time improvisation was king and it was considered in very poor taste to play even a piece that was written out the same way twice.

Reinecke's seemingly odd rhythmic variation and his tendency not to play notes that are written as being struck simultaneously, well, simultaneously, may well be the kind of improv-like effects that were in vogue at the time. If so, it comes as no surprise that this type of playing was considered old fashioned during his lifetime and that composers like Beethoven went to great lengths to write out ornaments, give metronome markings, and insist that their compositions be played as written.

Reinecke Ballade Opus 20
1907 Hupfeld piano roll

Reinecke Notturno, Op 157 ~1
1907 Hupfeld piano roll

Reinecke Nutcracker and Mouse King March for piano four hands
with his wife Margarethe
c1908 Hupfeld piano roll

Schumann Kreisleriana, Op 16 ~6
1905 piano roll

Schumann "Warum?"
1905 Welte Mignon piano roll

Beethoven Ecossaise in E♭ major

Field Nocturne 4

Mozart Piano Concerto 23 in A major K 488 ii Adagio
Mozart Piano Concerto 26 in D major, K 537 ii Larghetto
1905 piano roll

I don't know if it is likely that Reinecke made two piano rolls of the Larghetto for Hupfeld in 1905, and the one that follows is considerably slower and more satisfying to my modern ear. But on the chance that one of these is a more accurate representation of the way he actually played this movement, I include them both.

Mozart Piano Concerto in D major, K 537
ii Larghetto
1905 piano roll

Mozart Fantasie in C minor, K 475
1905 Hupfeld piano roll

Mozart Rondo alla Turca
1907 Hupfeld piano roll

Haydn Piano Sonata in E♭ major, Hob XVI:52 iii Presto
1905 Hupfeld piano roll

Here is my new book, a murder mystery with a musical polemic

and the audiobook version

Click to return to the Great Composers Play page

Click to go to the Great Classical Pianists page

Click to go to the Interpretation page

Click to go to the Piano Concerto page

Click here to go to the Great Women Pianists page