The Raphael Project
“The Raphael Project,” is a solo endeavor that will feature all three of Günter Raphael’s unaccompanied sonatas for viola. This is my first full-length solo recording, and I am thrilled to be able to share these works with you and the world. But this album will only be possible with your help and support!
You are probably wondering who Günter Raphael was and why his work is worth recording. Günter Raphael (1903-1960) was a German composer of Jewish ancestry, who rose to prominence in the 1920s and early 1930s, celebrated by contemporaries such as Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Busch String Quartet. His career was marred by the Nazi regime, where he was fired from his position at the Leipzig Hochschule, and his works blacklisted, simply for being half-Jewish. Raphael made courageous attempts to resist such efforts, teaching privately under his wife’s name, and defiantly having his works performed anyway. He also faced adversity because of a diagnosis of tuberculosis, from which he suffered for over 25 years. At the height of World War II, his doctors were able to protect him by hiding him in sanitariums and morgues, shielding him from SS police.
When I first came across the viola music of Günter Raphael in a used bookshop in Dresden in 2012, I quickly fell in love with the richness in the texture of his compositions and his unique styles of writing. His first sonata (written when he was only 21 in 1924) reminded me of the styles of Max Reger, Gustav Mahler welded into one, with added inspirations from Bach. I was further intrigued by the transformations of style in his two later sonatas. His second sonata was completed in 1940, and is playful and optimistic despite the hardships he faced at the time. The whimsical style reminds me of Milhaud and Telemann, and shows Raphael’s evolving voice.
The third sonata, completed in 1946, shows the effects of war and tuberculosis on Raphael in a musical setting. The sonata literally shows the ruins around him– he wrote the piece without barlines or an organized meter, and he abandoned conventional tonality.
I have been recording the Raphael’s sonatas beginning over several sessions between October 2018 and Summer 2020, at Oktaven Studios with the wonderful audio engineer Ryan Streber. Over the next several months I will be working to edit the album. I am hoping for the album to be released during the summer of 2021. What I need from you is your financial support and your assistance in sharing this campaign. Proceeds from recent performances of these works will go to help fund the project, but this alone will not cover the costs. No donation is too small, and all assistance will be graciously appreciated!
- Schoharie County Music Educators Association
(Cancelled due to Pandemic)
- Schenectady County Music Educators Association
- Saratoga-Warren County Music Educators Association
- Queens College String Ensemble
- String Orchestra Director
Saint Francis Preparatory School
- LIU Post Chamber Music Festival