Carl Anton Philipp Braun (1788−1835)

Carl Philipp Anton Braun was born in Ludwigslust in the Mecklenburg region of northern Germany on 26 December 1788 and died in Rommehed, Dalarna in Sweden on 11 June 1835. Braun was an oboist, conductor and composer who worked mainly in Copenhagen and Stockholm. He studied with his father, Johann Friedrich Braun, and was employed by several royal court orchestras: in Ludwigslust in 1805, in Copenhagen during 1807−15 and in Stockholm from 1815 to 1835. He was the music director for Västmanland’s regiment during 1816−25 and for the Second lifeguards in 1818. He married Maria Helena Crælius on 1825 and became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1819.

Life

The path from Mecklenburg to Stockholm

Carl Anton Philipp Braun was born in 1788 to a well-known German musical family. His mother, Louise Friederika Ulrika Kunzen, was a singer in their hometown, at Ludwigslust’s royal theatre and his father, Johann Friedrich Braun, was an oboist and violinist with the court orchestra there. Carl Anton’s grandfather, Anton Braun as well as his brother Willhelm Braun also had successful careers as oboists.

Braun began his music studies with his father, following in his footsteps with his choice of instrument as well as in his career path – he worked as an oboist for several court orchestras during his entire working life. However, after his first job in Ludwigslust, and unlike his father and brother, he soon applied for positions abroad, first in Denmark and later in Sweden. In Copenhagen, with support from his uncle, Friedrich Ludwig Aemilius Kunzen, he was employed at only nineteen years of age as a member of the royal court orchestra in 1807. In 1815 he moved on to Stockholm and the Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra) there. In his book about the Danish wind tradition, Toke Lund Christiansen comments that the move to Stockholm was economically motivated – the musicians in Stockholm earned a better wage – but it was also important for his career. In Stockholm Braun earned the position of solo oboist under the orchestra’s conductor, Edouard Du Puy, advancing from the position of second oboe that he had in Copenhagen, and at the same time getting the chance to ‘develop the famous Swedish oboe tradition.’

Oboist, composer and military musician

Regarding Braun’s musical interpretations, Philip Bate states in The Oboe that Braun followed his father’s ‘peaceful and pastoral playing style,’ while a contemporary comment by Adolph Törneros after a concert in 1827 describes Braun as ‘the first and greatest oboist in the country.’ Braun had various composition collaborations with other wind soloists in the Hovkapellet. Together with Franz Preumayr on bassoon, Bernhard Crusell on clarinet and Johann Michael Friedrich Hirschfeld on French horn, Braun participated in what Christopher Larkin called a ‘quite exceptional wind quartet.’ Braun wrote the Adagio och Polonäs in 1829 for solo Royal Kent bugle, two Royal Kent bugles, four French horns, two trumpets, and three trombones together with Crusell. In addition he had close contact with the two leaders of the Hovkapellet, Du Puy and Johann Fredrik Berwald, both in terms of subscription concerts and compositional collaborations; Braun composed, for example, the last movement to Du Puy’s quintet for bassoon and strings.

Braun also contributed to Swedish military music. He was the music director for Västmanland’s regiment during 1816−25 and the Andra livgardet (the Second lifeguards) from 1818. In 1825 he married the twelve year younger Maria Helena Crælius, who also came from a musical family.

Works

Orchestral music and music for the stage

Braun left behind an extensive creative output that spans a number of genres and musical forms. According to musicologist Tobias Norlind, Brauns legacy comprises at least four symphonies and three overtures for orchestra as well as concertos for flute, French horn and oboe. His compositions also include a large number of works for different wind instruments with orchestra, which unfortunately are not available today in print or in manuscript, and in many instances may have disappeared shortly after his death. In his book, Den svenska symfonin (1983) Lennart Hedwall lists three symphonies in F major, E-flat major, respectively C major, as well as an expanded version of one of Braun’s overtures, Högtidsouvertyre i gamla stylen. Hedwall argues that Braun’s compositional style imitates Haydn to an excessive degree, especially in the F minor symphony, and he suggests that ‘while Braun in the quartets reaches a richly varied and both playable and passable character, in his orchestral works he comes across as a rather plane orchestrator, and neither is the contrapuntal facture in the overture particularly convincing.’ Even so, Hedwall adds: ‘the E-flat major symphony appears to be slightly more substantial through its more energetic thematic images.’

Braun seems to have been more successful as a composer of incidental music, overtures and other music for the theatre and stage. Most popular would have been the music to the plays, Adam Oehlenschläger’s Axel och Valborg (1829) and Friedrich Schiller’s Wallensteins död (1831). There seems, however, to have been a great deal of variation in how Braun’s compositions were received by the contemporary press. According to Tobias Norlind, Braun’s music for theatre and opera was popular with both the public and the critics, and he writes that ‘the latter became so popular that most of the audience, instead of visiting the foyer, remained in the salon during the intermission.’ On the other hand, like his symphonies, Braun’s overtures and other works, such as his oboe concerto, were sharply criticized for a lack of originality and Norlind points out: ‘although B's works enjoyed undeniable favour from the audience, and even long after his death were seen on concert programs, they were criticized very unkindly at the time.’

Chamber music

Among Braun’s considerable amount of chamber music, the dominating works were composed for various combinations of wind instruments, generally well-written from the instrumental point of view, but musically sometimes somewhat simple. Braun's two quartets for flute, oboe, French horn/basset horn and bassoon have garnered some interest, in part because of the unusual instrumentation using the French horn instead of clarinet on the third harmony part. The Quartet in E-flat major, a simple piece, thoroughly in the style of Viennese Classicism and with varied character, was re-printed in 2004 by Robert Ostermeyer Edition, and in one comment Ostermeyer justifiably identifies a clear influence from Anton Reichas wind quintets, which were very popular during Braun's lifetime. The edition goes on to describe – in a summary of clarinet works by Albert R. Rice – Braun’s Duet for two clarinets, alternatively basset horns, as a light work with beautiful sections in the minor key, and an example of works that ‘are not musically important but useful for study or entertainment.’

Braun wrote several works for oboe and piano including a sonata and Potpurri, op. 5, as well as eighteen caprices (studies) for solo oboe. Potpurri consists of six shorter movements with wide-ranging counter themes in the oboe, where the piano part carries the melody, as well as a larghetto with a beautifully adapted harmony that includes diminished chords and chromaticism. The oboe sonata, a work in a larger form, offers both a more advanced harmonic structure and dramatic sections reminiscent of Beethoven, with sequences in the piano’s left hand that are set in octaves and an intensive sostenuto leading to the end of the piece. Working in the larger form, however, Braun is somewhat repetitive, especially in the first movement where the main theme is often repeated without much variation.

Other genres

Braun also wrote choral works, solo songs, piano pieces and works for groups of string instruments, which include the larger piece, Fader vår, for soloist, choir and orchestra from 1821 and Diverses Bagatelles pour le piano forte.

Despite Braun's large number of compositions in the major genres and his work as an oboist throughout his life, it was his work as a conductor and composer in the Andra livgardet of the Västmanland regiment that has given him the most lasting recognition. This is primarily due to Arméns paradmarsch which today is one of the Swedish army's most played marches. Braun became a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) in 1819, was dismissed from the Andra livgardet in 1825 and then worked as a music director at the Dalregementet (the Dalarna regiment) during his last years. Braun passed away 11 June 1835 in Rommehed, Dalarna.

Gabrielle Kaufman © 2015
Trans.
Jill Ann Johnson

Bibliography

Lund Christiansen, Toke: Kender du Pan, fløjtespil i Danmark fra 1800–1930, 2011. Electronic resource.
Bate, Philip: The Oboe: An Outline of its History, Development and Construction, New York: Philosophical library, 1956, p. 166.
Dalregementets personhistoria, vol. 3, 1800−1899, Falun, 1993.
Hedwall, Lennart: Den svenska symfonin, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1983, pp. 99−101.
Larkin, Christopher: Antique Brasses, [Work commentary with the CD], Antique Brasses, Hyperion, CDA67119, 2000.
Norlind, Tobias: ‘Carl Philipp Anton Braun’, in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1926, p. 100.
Rice, Albert R.: From the Clarinet D’Amor to The Contra Bass: A history of large size clarinets 1740–1860, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 211.
Söderlund, Per-Ola & Franzén, Lennart: Kungl Dalregementets musikkår 1776−1971, Falun: Kungl. Dalregementets Kamratförening, 2013.
Törneros, Adolph: Bref och dagbokshandlingar, new edition, Stockholm, 1891.

Summary list of works

Incidental music (Axel och Valborg, Wallensteins död etc.), orchestral works (4 symphonies, 3 overtures, works for solo instrument and orchestra and a two works for choir and orchestra), military marches, chamber music (works for smaller wind ensembles, oboe and piano, string ensembles, etc.), piano works and solo songs and other vocal music.

Collected works

Incidental music
Hytten i Schwarzwald (N. T. Bruun), 1814.
Overture for Jenny Mortimer (opera by E. Du Puy), 1817.
Axel och Valborg (A. Oehlenschläger), 1829.
Skulden (A. Müllner), 1830.
Wallensteins död (F. Schiller), 1831.

Orchestral works
Symphony no. 1 F major, Copenhagen, 1810.
Symphony no. 2 E-flat major.
Symphony D minor.
Symphony C major. [Dedicated to Edouard Du Puy.]
Overture, ca 1812.
Overture in the old style, G major.
Högtidsooverturee i gamla stylen, C major (expanded to a four movement symphony). [Dedicated to Harmoniska sällskapet.]

Wind orchestra
Arméns paradmarsch [arr. by Åke Edenstrand].

Choir and orchestra
Fader vår for solo, choir and orchestra, 1821 (paraphrased by Johann Gleim).
Hymn 8 January 1830 (O gud vi love dig).

Concert pieces for soloist and orchestra
Adagio & rondo for bassoon and orchestra, 1818.
Adagio & rondo for oboe and orchestra, 1827.
Andante & polonaise for trumpet, 1830.
Andante & Rondo for French horn and orchestra, 1812.
Double concerto for oboe, bassoon and orchestra, 1816.
Concerto for oboe and orchestra, 1816.
Capriccio for oboe and orchestra, 1822.
Concertino for oboe and orchestra, 1822.
Concertino for viola, tenor, tenor trombone and orchestra, 1838.
Divertimento for oboe and orchestra, 1822.
Concerto for flute and orchestra, op. 2, F major, 1818.
Concerto for French horn and orchestra, 1817.
Potpourri for obbligato oboe and orchestra on ‘Friskytten’, 1825.
Potpourri for obbligato oboe and orchestra on ‘Oberon’, 1830.
Variations for oboe and orchestra, 1819.
Variations for three trombones and orchestra, 1830.

Chamber music
Duet for oboe och bassoon.
Duet for two flutes.
Duet for two oboes.
Duet for two violins, G major.
Duet for basset horn or clarinets.
Fugue for strings, G major.
Quartets for flute, violin, viola and bass.
Quartet for 2 flutes and 2 French horns, op. 1.
Potpourri for oboe and piano, op. 5 (Copenhagen, 1807−1815).
Sonata for oboe, flute or violin and piano.
Two quartets for flute, oboe, French horn/basset horn and bassoon, F major and E-flat major, 1816.

Solo piano
Diverses Bagatelles pour le piano forte, according to Tobias Norlind in SBL.
6 simple variations for piano.

Solo oboe
18 caprices for oboe.

Songs
Sei canzonetti, 1822 (six songs dedicated to H.R.H. the crown princess).
Hon flydde bort.
14 songs for men’s quartet, according to Tobias Norlind in SBL.