Heinrich von Herzogenberg had a hard life both as a human being and an artist. The early death of his young, highly gifted wife Elisabet and an incredibly painful rheumatic illness that practically rendered him immobile at the end of his life made him a broken man. Artistically, he never was able to emerge from the shadow of the idolized Brahms, at least in the eyes of his contemporaries. This picture is in need of correction, at least in part. Already in 1891 Herzogenberg's close friend Philipp Spitta summed things up: »Mastery, noblesse, spirit, invention, musical intelligence – everything is there, but the one little drop that makes the cup overflow, this cruel Nature has denied the richly gifted man.« If we add to this a quotation by Philipp's brother Friedrich Spitta, we have sufficient justification for renewed occupation with the musical oeuvre of this very important voice of the Brahms era: »The pearls offered by Herzogenberg's music rest in the depths. But the talk that Herzogenberg is an erudite but dry contrapuntist without soul and originality only proves that it proceeds from such people who have no inclination to explore this man, whose works become more and more magnificent the longer one listens to them.«
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