Wilhelm Fitzenhagen – a name that not even those familiar with the cello repertoire are necessarily familiar with. But when one hears his Second Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, one asks oneself why this work hasn’t managed to become part of the standard cello repertoire: it is colorful, virtuosic
and demonstrates the composer’s personal style throughout. Fitzenhagen is most often associated with Peter Tchaikovsky, whose Rokoko Variations he revised – a revision that was resisted in the beginning, but later supported even by Tchaikovsky himself. Tchaikovsky dedicated this work – as he did his Piano Trio op. 50 – to Fitzenhagen.
Born in 1848 in Seesen, Fitzenhagen – already a celebrated cello virtuoso – went to Moscow at the age of 22, founded the celebrated Russian cello school as professor at the conservatory there, and decisively shaped Russian musical life in the following years. He composed four cello concertos as well as chamber music and songs. Fitzenhagen died at the age of 42 in Moscow.