First chance in 100 years to hear Joseph Joachim’s Irish Fantasy

First chance in 100 years to hear Joseph Joachim’s Irish Fantasy


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2018

Katharina Uhde and her father Michael Uhde have just posted the first modern performance of a lost score by the legendary violinist Joseph Joachim, who died in 1907.

The manuscript of this charming piece was found by Katharina in a Polish archive.

Robert Eschbach, the Joachim expert, thinks she may be the first since Joachim to play it.

The Fantasy makes its first appearance on social media via Slipped Disc.

And it’s as much Scottish as it is Irish.



  • Simon Scott says:

    A great find!
    Congratulations to Katharina and Michael!
    Now,how about resurrecting Wieniawski’s 3rd violin concerto in a minor? Also languishing in a polish archive……

  • ro says:

    ==Wieniawski’s 3rd violin concerto in a minor?

    Interesting. Is it known to have been played ever ?

    • Simon Scott says:

      Yes. Wieniawski wrote it and performed it towards the end of his life.
      At last count it is languishing in a library
      in Krakov.High time that something is done about it

      • Robert Holmén says:

        Is this library item publicly accessible to someone in some manner?

        Via Craigslist or some similar venue you hire a relevant someone for “library research” and pay them $1 per page or whatever to go in and spycam it for you on their iphone.

        Problem solved!

        I have done that for a concerto of which the only known available copy was in a PhD dissertation gathering dust on a university library back shelf.

    • Katharina Uhde says:

      Good evening,
      the Irish Fantasy had its first performance at the London Philharmonic Society on 31 May 1852, after which it was performed two more times, on 2 and 11 June. Best regards, Katharina


  • buxtehude says:

    Lovers of the romantic repertoire might dig this from Joachim, much praised by his friend Johannes Brahms:

    Joachim subsequently chose a performer’s life, much to Brahm’s chagrin, he having hoped that competition from his colleague would spur him on.

    Joachim had been the first to recognize the twenty-year-old Brahms and had arranged for him to meet the Schumanns. This last encounter opened his path to the big-time in music; without it Brahms would quite possibly have languished in Hamburg obscurity. He never forgot this debt to Joachim.

  • Robert Eshbach says:

    A marvelous achievement by Katharina. See also: Katharina Uhde, “Rediscovering Joseph Joachim’s ‘Hungarian’ and ‘Irish’ [‘Scottish’] fantasias,” The Musical Times, Winter, 2017.

    I suppose I should say Katharina’s performances of the piece are the first since the 1850s. And what performances!


    A Wieniawski 3rd? We have to get it! Which library?

  • Rodney Friend says:

    Am afraid that says

    “…….Violin Concerto in A minor (the only surviving traces of which are the programme-note and various reviews)”

    Surely if it were in a library it could be got hold of. I’d be there in a shot. It’s more probably lost.

    • Simon Scott says:

      Rodney,I have this nasty feeling that you may well be right. As you say;why hasn’t come to light previously? I am sure that some wizard of a Polish violinist would gladly give the first modern perfornance.
      Like many things,it is shrouded in mystery… However,evidence does suggest strongly that this 3rd concerto does or did exist.
      Be there in a flash? Well,first come first served I suppose….!

      • Simon Scott says:

        PS. Besides,if they do find it somebody somewhere could make a bob or two out of it.
        Look at the loot that Henryk Szeryng and Paganini’s great great granddaughters,Andreina(violinist)and Giuseppina Paganini(pianist)out of their ancestor’s 3rd concerto.

        • Rodney Friend says:

          ==Look at the loot that Henryk Szeryng and Paganini’s great great granddaughters made out of their ancestor’s 3rd concerto.

          OMG, what an event that was. I was at RFH that night (mid 70s I guess) when Henryk and Alexander Gibson did the first performance in recent times.

          • Simon Scott says:

            Nobody will ever play Pag 3 like Henryk Szeryng. On the tube there’s a performance from the 1973 Prague spring festival. It is unbelievable. Also it is obvious that HS had imbibed a little beforehand…. Szeryng was Szeryng…
            Back to Herr Joachim. How many violinists play his music? His Hungarian concerto is fantastic,and SO wonderfully written for the instrument.
            But no,we are instead inundated with assembly line Tchaikovskys…..

  • Sue says:

    I’ve just finished Swafford’s excellent Brahms bio and Joachim is all over it. A wonderful man. So I’m thrilled to read this piece today on SD.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Re: Wieniawski 3rd concerto what other compositions are known to exist but have never been found. Maybe Bach cantatas ? With Stravinsky Funeral Song turning up recently, we should never give up

    Sorry to hijack this thread, but it’s a very interesting subject.

    • Simon Scott says:

      How many symphonies did Brahms write? Yes,he kindly allowed us to play and listen to four. However,he wrote others. Did he throw them away? I ask myself…….

      • Sue says:

        From my reading of Swafford, the composer wrote 4 symphonies – the last one within a decade of his death. He may have composed fragments for another but, as we all know, these went into the furnace. Brahms was rigorous about his reputation in perpetuity.

        Swafford does make some errors in his otherwise excellent biography; one of these is that Liszt met Brahms in Vienna at the Musikverein and had ‘decided that the music of Brahms was not worth (him) performing’ – a decision he adhered to. Well, by the time Liszt met Brahms the great piano prodigy had 3 years to live and had decades beforehand ceased performing at all!!! Doah.

        • buxtehude says:

          Liszt first met Brahms in 1853. Brahms played some of his compositions for him, can’t recall which; Liszt as a special treat for the kid played his brand-new B minor piano sonata; Brahms fell swiftly and unmistakably asleep. The ramifications of this would prove career-changing.

          • Sue says:

            Yes, I thought that was rude – especially when Liszt had been so kind to Clara Schumann and played Robert’s music. According to the Liszt biographical trilogy by Walker, Liszt was an extraordinarily generous man – and completely without malice.

  • Herbert Gussett says:

    How can a Scottish fantasy be Oirish? Joachim never visited the auld sod how would he know anything about things Oirish? That’s left to Yanks and plastic Paddies in Walt Disney.

  • PJ O'Hara says:

    There is nothing Irish about this music, it is what we call Oirish pure schmaltz from Walt Disney. Here is real Irish music.