Karl Georg Göhler was born on 29 June 1874 in Zwickau (Germany). He studied composition, music theory, piano and organ under Hermann Kretzschmar at the Conservatory in Leipzig from 1893 to 1896. Georg Göhler finished his studies with a doctoral thesis on the local renaissance composer Cornelius Freundt.
Subsequent to his studies Georg Göhler found a position as assistant choirmaster at the renowned Riedel-Verein in Leipzig and became its principal choirmaster in 1898. From 1903 Georg Göhler was Hofkapellmeister at the Landestheater Altenburg, then at the Badische Hofkapelle in Karlsruhe and returned to Leipzig in 1909 as the principal choirmaster of the Riedel-Verein. He then took up the position of the music director of the „Neue Oper“ in Hamburg in 1913 and two years later suceeded Wilhelm Furtwängler as conductor of the orchestra of the „Verein der Musikfreunde Lübeck“ and from 1919 gave also lectures at the local conservatory. In 1922 Georg Göhler returned to the Landestheater Altenburg, first in the position of the Kapellmeister and from 1925 as its music director. Georg Göhler was a champion of the music of Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler (he conducted the world premiere of the revised version of Mahler's Symphony No.5 in 1914) and Giuseppe Verdi. Göhler conducted the German premiere of Verdi's „Macbeth“ in 1928 and his activity was a significant element of the revival of Verdi in Germany in the 1920s and 30s.
In 1932 Georg Göhler retired from the public musical life and dedicated himself to composing and music theory. He died on 4 March 1954 in Lübeck.
Georg Göhler composed five symphonies, piano and cello concertos, an opera, chamber music and an extensive catalogue of songs. He also composed 2 violin concertos that are presented below in detail.
The Violin concerto No.1 in e minor was composed in 1925/1926. The work was first performed on 12 October 1926 by Australian-born violinist Alma Moodie, a renowned and acclaimed soloist in Germany in the 1920s who also premiered violin concertos by Hans Pfitzner, Ernst Krenek, Rudolf Moser or Egon Wellesz. She was accompanied by the Altenburger Landeskapelle under the baton of Georg Göhler himself.
The following two reviews picture this world premiere:
"A totally different kind of work [in contrast to Günter Raphael's Symphony op.16 which was performed at the same concert] is the violin concerto by Georg Göhler which was premiered at the Philharmonie in Halle, performed by Alma Moodie. Right now only a note about this curious work can be made, a work that bares inwardly experiences in its first, slow movement in an unveiled and nearly painful clarity. But then the work shows the opposite in an almost infernal second movement. And the last movement, a movement of variations on an inwardly smooth and happy theme with occasional relapses, finally brings itself to master life. Possibly this concerto, which is mostly composed for the violinist, is too private to stand out particularly as a concerto. But it is certain that we once again learned about a work of most internal private value."
(Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 1926, issue 11, page 640)
"Göhler has especially understood to pen down the concertante character between orchestra and solo instrument in his compositions. Both parts really mate and intermeave thematically. The work ascends in regards to content. The final variations on a simple, song-like theme are definitely the most valuable movement and the theme is varied in a rich change of colour and expression. On the whole the concerto shows less originality than paraphrase. A bit of Händel, some Brahms, some Strauß, a bit of the modern contemporaries – this all forms a style that is not completely consistant, but everything is created euphoniously on the instrumental part."
(Neue Musik Zeitung, 1927, issue 4, page 85)
The original autograph manuscipt of the Violin concerto No.1 is archived at the "Ratsschulbibliothek Zwickau".
The Violin concerto No.2 in a minor was composed in 1930. The world premiere was performed on 9 May 1932 by Eva Hauptmann (violin) and the Hamburger Philharmoniker under the baton of Georg Göhler.
A review of the world premiere in the „Hamburger Fremdenblatt“ on 10 May 1932 stated:
[The violin concerto] „differs, as Göhler mentions in the program, 'from the usual type, because none of its movements is in the sonata form. It is more a suite-like composition of three short movements, like in former violin concertos, which gives the solo instrument an opportunity to make a „concert“ with the small accompanying orchestra, i.e. to compete with it.' From this attitude arises a gorgeous work, that creates intense atmospheres from the original melody and theme. The first movement, a Toccata, paints a bright al-fresco-tableau with rich colours; while the second movement ascends a soft, beautiful melody into an elegiac sentiment, mainly accompanied by the wood winds. The last movement uses the Rondino form to give the work a sunny, humorous closure.“
The piano reduction of the concerto was published in 1932 by Kistner & Siegel and the release was reviewed in the journal "Die Musik" (1933-34, volume 26, issue 2, page 147):
"Despite all admiration to the excellent musician and conductor Dr. Göhler, who also refers deliberately to Schumann in his songs, it has to be said that his second violin concerto is no enrichment of the repertoire. It is possible that the first movement – a Toccata – appears totally different with an orchestra than with a piano, but it has in neither way the grandeur nor the calibre that one has to demand from a first movement. I can much better befriend with the two other movements. The Larghetto, which was also published separately and can be performed with organ accompaniment, is an elegant and warm Romance and is a rather good recommendation for church concerts. The final Rondino with its hunting-like theme has some nice ideas and rewarding passages for the soloist."
The original autograph manuscipt of the Violin concerto No.2 is archived at the "Ratsschulbibliothek Zwickau".