S. C. Eckhardt - Gramatté





S. C. Eckhardt-Gramatté was born in Moscow an January 6, 1899. Her mother who had been a pupil of both Anton and Nicholas Rubinstein, taught the children of Leo Tolstoy piano and French over a period of 20 years. She was married to Nicolas de Fridman, a banker, and they had 2 children. Sophie-Carmen was born after the break-up of the marriage, but the identity of the father was never confirmed by her mother.

The child's earliest years were spent in England, separated from her mother who, because of the necessity of earning a livelihood, was forced to return temporarily to Russia. When Sophie-Carmen was 5 years old her mother took her to Paris, and there they made their home. A piano and a violin were bought for the child, and although she took to both of them immediately, formal training was not begun until she was 7 1/2 years of age. By the time she was 6 she was improvising freely at the piano, and these earliest pieces were noted in script by her mother.

In 1908 she enrolled in the Conservatoire National for the study of both violin and piano. She made rapid progress and by the time she was 11 years old gave her first concerts in Paris, Geneva and Berlin. But she was not encouraged in the direction of composition in spite of her strong inclinations. Her abundant virtuosity as both violinist and pianist led her professors to advise against the pursuit of this other avenue of musical expression.

Early in 1914 she and her mother moved to Berlin. After an initial period of great hardship, during which time she played in a beer-garden, and later in a café, she had the good fortune to meet Suzanne Joachim-Chaigneau, the daughter-in-law of Joseph Joachim, and herself a violinist and teacher. Sophie-Carmen's great talents were recongized by this influential woman, and scholarships were arranged enabling study with Bronislaw Hubermann.

In 1920 her marriage to the painter Walter Gramatté brought the freedom to devote her time to composing and giving concerts. For 2 1/2 years they lived in Spain, and this period left a profound impression on her.
In 1925 she toured with Edwin Fischer.
Her husband died in 1929, just at the time when Leopold Stokowski had engaged her for a number of concerts in America, in which she would perform several of her own compositions.
On her return to Europe after the tour, she gave up performing almost completely in order to devote her time exclusively to composition. In the 1930's there was a period of the study of instrumentation with Max Trapp at the Preussische Akademie in Berlin.

In 1934 she married art critic Dr. Ferdinand Eckhardt, with whom she moved to Vienna in 1939. Gradually she became recognized as a composer, and in 1950 was awarded an Austrien State Prize for Composition.

In 1953 she moved to Canada, with her husband who had been appointed Director of The Winnipeg Art Gallery. Here she was increasingly successful through many performances of her works. Sbe received numerous commissions and in 1974 her life and music formed the subject of a 2-hour documentary by CBC-Radio.
Her teaching activities were also more extensive than had previously been the case. Her untimely death occurred, while on a trip to Europe, in Stuttgart an December 2, 1974. Burial Look place in East Berlin.

A competition "for the performance of Canadian music" is held annually at Brandon University in her memory.

P.S.: Until her marriage to Walter Gramatté she was known as S.C. (Sonia) Friedman, later Friedman-Gramatté or Sonia Gramatté. From the mid-thirties she called herself S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté.

Pablo Casals: "S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté is a born musician. She is a musician by God's favour. All her compositions and her violin and piano playing are a manifestation of this favour, and provide us with a feeling of abundance of rich gifts of the kind that can only be endowed by nature."

Jehudi Menuhin: "I heard the recording of S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté's Violin Concerto, composed and played by her and was very impressed by her playing and by the strength and spiritual quality of her composition."

Critical comments an her triple role as violinist, pianist, composer:

"The mystery of the creative human being seems to be quite obvious in her" (Berlin, 1925).
"A musical phenomenon; of her kind perhaps the only one which has ever been born" (Lübeck, 1928).
"The first of her kind at least as far as my recollection goes, in the history of concerts" (Chicago, 1929).
"...beside the tremendous strength of sound there is also contained a great spiritual power" (Vienna, 1948).
"One of the most colourful of musical personalities in Vienna" (Vienna, 1950).
"Mme. Eckhardt blazes her own trail" (Winnipeg, 1961).
"This is music that sizes the listener by the collar and shoots its message straight into his face. Like it or not, it's strong stuff" (Toronto, 1968).
"Honourable without compromise, a vital and vivid figure, who was an inspiration to all those, who just catch a glimpse of what it means to be faithful to the highest standard of arts" (from an obituary an the CBC, 1974).

Anton Kuerti, who played her Piano Concerto III (Symphony Concerto) for the RCA-CBC record, refers to her as Canada's most important virtuoso composer.

References: Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians, London, 1954. - Music Lexikon von H. J. Moser, Berlin, 1955. - Dictionary of Contemporary Music, New York, 1971. - Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Kallmann) 9 Kassel, 1974. - Contemporary Canadian Composers (MacMillan and Beckwith), Oxford University Press, 1975. - Lorne Watson, The E-Gré Piano Technique, doctoral document, Indiana University, 1976. - Mary Elaine Smith, The Cello Works of S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté Master Thesis, University ef Western Ontario. 1978. - Glen Blair Carruthers, The Career and Compositions of S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté, Masters Thesis. Carleton University. Ottawa. 1981, (most extensive bibliography). - Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. University nf Toronto Press, 1981. - Internat. Encyclopedia of Women Composers. R. R. Bowlsen, New York.1981. - S.C.E.G. Life and Work of the Composer, by Ferdinand Eckhardt, manuscript. - Music from Within, edited by G. Bowler. foreword by H. Keahey, University of Manitoba Press, 1985.

Main Depositories: The National Library of Canada, Ottawa. - Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien. - Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, DDR.

Other Depositories: Akademie der Künste, Berlin, BRD. - Bibliothek National, Paris, - Brandon University, Brandon, Man., - Musikverein, Wien. - Provincial Archives, Winnipeg, Man., - University of Manitoba, School of Music, Winnipeg, Man., - University of Toronto, Fac. of Music, Toronto, Ont., - University of Western Australia, Nedlands, W.-Australia. - Zentralbibliothek. Zürich.

Records: Violin Solo Concerto (viol. composer), and Bach "Giaconne" viol. Eckhardt-Gramatté), ODE0N, Berlin, 1936, both new edited an "Masters of the Bow", No. 31, Diconaedia, Toronto. 1981. - Duo Concertante f. Cello and Piano, and Piano Sonata 6. (Cello P. Sampson, piano D. Irons), RCA Victor CC/CCS-1018, 1967. - Symphony Concerto f. Piano and Orchestra. Anton Kuerti, A. Brott, RCA Victor, LSC-3175, 1967. - Triple Concerto, M. Bernardi, National Orchestra, CBC SM 272. 1977. - 10 Caprices for Violin Solo, Francis Chaulin, Masters of the Bow, Discopaedia, Toronto, 1985. - Anthology of Canadian Music, No. 19, (Narrator Lorne Watson) 5 records. Radio Canada International, Montreal, 1985. - Fanfare in "Composer's Brass Group", Music Gall. Edition, Toronto. 1981. - 4 records: "E-Gre plays E-Gre", a documentary of the composer, Violinist and Pianist, Discopaedia, Toronto 1981,

Editions: Triple Concerto for tromp., clar., bassoon, strings & tympani, Universal Edition, Vienna. - "From my Childhood", 2 volumes. 28 pieces for piano, Waterloo Music Co. Ltd.. Waterloo, Ont. - String Quartet III, Berandol, Toronto,

Most works available from Canadian Music Centre, (CMC), 20 St, Joseph Street, Chalmers House. Toronto, Ont., M4Y 1J9., and its branches in Montreal. Vancouver and Calgery.

S E L E C T E D  W 0 R K S

Vol. I   Symphony I, score.
Vol. II   Symphony II ("Manitoba Symphony"), score & red.
Vol. III   Piano Concerto I, score & reduction.
Vol. IV   Piano Concerto II, score & reduction.
Vol. V   Piano Concerto III ("Symphony Concerto"), sc. & red.
Vol. VI   Concerto for Violin & Orchestra, sc. & red.
Vol. VII   Triple Concerto, sc. - Bassoon Concerto, sc. & red. - Konzertstueck (cello) sc. & red., - Fanfare for brass, sc.
Vol. VIII   Capriccio Concertante. sc. - Markantes Stueck (two pianos & orch.) sc. -
Vol. IX  

"L'Ile", sc. - "Skelettenspiel", sc. - Overture "Träumender Knabe", sc. ® "Procession Funèbre", sc.

Vol. X   Passacaglia & Fugue, sc. - Concerto for Orchestra, sc.
Vol. XI   Weihebild", sc. - "Tanzbild". sc. - Concertino for Strings, sc. - Molto Sostenuto (f. strings), sc. -
Vol. XII   String Quartets I, II, III, scores.
Vol. XIII   String Trios I & II - 4 String Duos -
Vol. XIV   "Ruck-Ruck-Sonata" (clar.. piano) - Piano Trio-Nonet - "Ein wenig Musik" (trio).
Vol.XV   Wind Trios I & II - Wind Quartet - Wind Quintet.
Vol. XVI   "Der Geiger" (viol. p.) - Berceuse (fl,p.) - Improvisation (fl,p.) - Lagrima (viola or cello. p.) - February Suite (viol.p.) - Prestos I & II (fl.p.) - Duo Flute & Violin - Duo Cello & Piano.
Vol. XVII   Piano Sonatas I - Vl.
Vol. XVIII   Works for Piano: Piano Caprices 1-6 - Letter A (modern version) - Introduction & variations - Etude de Concert II - Danse de Negre - Petite danseuse à la corde - Trepak - Kosak - Arasbeskp - Tune for a child.
Vol.XIX   Works for Violin: Concerto for solo violin - Four Suites for solo violin - Ten Caprices for solo violin. PAGANINI ARRANGEMENTS: Caprices 1. 16, 19, 24 with piano acc. - Campanella f. piano - Caprices l, 16, 17, 24 arrangements for orch.. with orch. acc. and piano acc.
Vol.XX   For 2 Pianos: Passacaglia & Fugue - Markantes Stück.- Opera Fragment - 4 Christmas Songs - Viol. Capr. 5 & 8 witb orchestra & piano acc. - Grave Funèbre, viol. w._ orch. & red.
Vol. XXI   Quartet fragment - Quartet Satz - Concertino Gamba (cello) & Harpsichord (piano) - Piano Sonata 7 (fragm.) - Trumpet Concert (one movement only).
Vol. XXII   Preface by Glen Carruthers - Ziganka (pantomime-ballet, fragments) - Mon petit Cheval Zaza (p.) - Souvenir II (viol.p.) - Happy Birthday (arr.) - Misc. pages re-printed from earlier volumes.
Vol. XXIII   Kadettenmarsch (fl.p.) - Konzertstück (v.orch.) - 4 Christmas Songs (à capella and solo voice with Capricio Concertante (2 pianos.red.) - Gedenkstein (orch, fragments).
Vol. XXIV   Paedagog. piano pieces. in vreraration by Lorne Watson.

Please visit the Home Page of The Eckhardt-Gramatté-Foundation in Winnipeg, Canada.

Sent to me in 1988 by my uncle Dr. Ferdinand Eckhardt


Marie-Anne Heinke, Peter Sehmsdorf, Mechthild Heinke, Eckhardt Sehmsdorf, Christoph Sehmsdorf, Michael Sehmsdorf, Gottfried Sehmsdorf, Dorothee Wauer, Christian Bock, Bärbel Bock, Hans Heinrich Cölle, Annemarie Melzer, Martin Melzer, Katrin Melzer, Katrin Rother, Rudolf Werner Lemke, Hedera Bausch, Rudolf Schoening, Alexander Schoening, Jost Schaper, Christoph Schaper, Julia Schaper, Karl Schaper, Jost Schaper, Veronika Crawford, John Crawford, Stephanie Crawford, James Crawford