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Erich Mirsch-Riccius

Erich Mirsch-Riccius was born on 5 September 1884 in Bautzen (Germany). His father Paul Mirsch was the cantor at the local St. Petri cathedral. In 1884 later the family moved to Hamburg because the father got a position as music critic at the "Hamburger Nachrichten". Because of the work of the father the family was acquainted to Johannes Brahms, Hans von Bülow and Gustav Mahler, who all stayed in Hamburg around 1890. So Erich Mirsch-Riccius encountered music from an early age and started to play the violin at the age of seven. In 1892 the father fell victim to the cholera epidemic and mother and son moved to Leipzig. The mother, Margarethe Mirsch nee Riccius, worked there as a concert singer. Erich finished school in Leipzig, then added the maiden name of his mother to his own name and started to study music at the local conservatory. There he studied violin and became one of the few students of the conductor Arthur Nikisch.

After his studies Erich Mirsch-Riccius started to work as a kapellmeister at different orchestras in Leipzig, Soest, Geestemünde, Bremerhaven, Emden and in 1909 finally in Memel (today: Klaipeda, Lithuania). With the orchestra in Memel Erich Mirsch-Riccius could premiere his first own compositions, the two operas "Frasquitta" and "Fenella". In 1912 he first moved to Bautzen, then to Berlin where he lectured at two conservatories. With the outbreak of World War I Erich Mirsch Riccius was drafted for military service, fought at the Western front and was wounded three times. One of the injuries was on the left hand and made it impossible to continue his career as a violinist. For recovery Erich Mirsch-Riccius was sent to a military hospital in "Schloss Kamenz" (today: Kamieniec Zabkowicki Palace). The District Administrator in Kamenz was Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia. After the end of World War I the Prince moved to Tabarz in Thuringia and took Erich Mirsch-Riccius with him as the private music teacher for his three daughters. The Prince founded a Bach Choir with Mirsch-Riccius as the conductor. In 1933 Erich Mirsch-Riccius moved to Berlin where he worked as a composer and conductor. At that time his compositions gained more and more interest and several works received premiers and performances. During the World War II Erich Mirsch-Riccius was first active in the high command of the Wehrmacht, later he was musical director of the troop support. After World War II he moved to Nebel on the island of Amrum. There he founded a local choir and smaller instrumental ensembles and performed concerts.
Erich Mirsch-Riccius died on 28 April 1962 in Nebel (Germany).


In my possession is the autograph manuscript of the "Fünfstimmige Fuge op.93" (Five-part fugue) by Erich Mirsch-Riccius. The work was composed in 1921 and is dedicated to Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia. It was originally composed for chamber orchestra, and later revised for string orchestra with organ with a final version just for string orchestra.

The manuscript in my possession is the original version for chamber orchestra of small wood winds, 2 horns and strings. This version - according to a handwritten note on the manuscript - was premiered at the kermess in Groß Tabarz on 9 September 1921.

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