Fritz Brun (1878 - 1959)

List of Works


Fritz Brun was born the son of a secondary school teacher from Entlebuch and an orphaned immigrant from Bergamo on August 18, 1878, in Lucerne and died on November 29, 1959, in Grosshöchstetten (canton Berne). He was a composer, conductor and pianist. Brun attended gymnasium in Lucerne and received regular piano lessons from Julie Kopp. He also enjoyed piano lessons with the organist Franz Josef Breitenbach (1853-1934) between 1892 and 1895. Brun was instructed in piano for a period of two years by the Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951), who held the position of music director in Lucerne from 1891 until 1895. This duty was subsequently filled for one year by Peter Fassbaender (1869-1920). The then 12-year-old, half-orphaned Brun was employed in approximately 1890 as a harmonium player by the prison in Lucerne and performed every Sunday during its Sunday Service. From 1896 until 1901 Brun studied composition at the conservatory in Cologne under Franz Wüllner (1832-1902), who was at that time the director of the institute and conductor of the 'Kölner Gürzenich-Konzerte'. Brun also received piano lessons from Max van de Sandt (1863-1934) and theory lessons from Arno Kleffel (1840-1913). During his studies, Brun became friends with Volkmar Andreae, who was also studying in Cologne. His friendship with Othmar Schoeck and the influence of his work is reflected in the instrumentation of three of Brun’s lieder ('Auf meines Kindes Tod', 'Die drei Zigeuner' and 'Jugendgedenken').

On July 31, 1901, Brun graduated from the conservatory in Cologne with a matriculation certificate. He was subsequently engaged in Berlin between 1901 and 1902 as the music teacher and private musician of Prince George of Prussia (1826-1902), a time that he was also able to use for his own personal development. Following the death of the prince, Brun travelled to London where he offered private lessons and eked out a living orchestrating music-hall couplets. Brun became a piano and theory teacher at the conservatory in Dortmund in October 1902. He also taught Italian to singers until the following spring when the insolvency of this institution forced him to return to Berne. In the autumn of 1903, Brun was offered a piano teaching position at the music school in Berne; he also performed as a professional pianist and, from 1904 until 1908, travelled to Italy. In February 1909, Brun succeeded Karl Munzinger (1842-1911) as the conductor of Berne Music Association's Symphony Concerts. He also became director of the 'Cäcilienvereins' and the 'Berner Liedertafel' choirs and travelled with them on concert tours to neighbouring countries (1923 Rome; 1926 Paris). His position in Berne was also assisted by the advocacy of important friends such as Volkmar Andreae, whose second, fourth, fifth and ninth symphonies he world premiered. Hermann Scherchen promoted the work of Brun in Wintethur by presenting the world premiere performances of his sixth, seventh and eighth symphonies. Brun conducted the first and third symphonies himself in Berne. He was married in 1912 to Hanna Rosenmund who bore him three children. The University of Berne conferred the academic title of Doctor Honoris Causa on Brun for his work on November 26, 1921. Brun dedicated his fourth Symphony to the said institution as a sign of gratitude. He was vice president of the Swiss Association of Musicians from 1926 until 1940.
Fritz Brun resigned from all his public administrative engagements at the end of the 1940/41 season and withdrew to the small village of Morcote, situated on the lake of Lugano in the canton of Tessin, in order to dedicate his time to composing. Lastly, he conducted all nine symphonies by Ludwig Van Beethoven and the associated 'Missa Solemnis' in Berne. Numerous awards pay tribute to his work. He received the Swiss Association of Musicians’ prize in 1954 and the Lucerne Art Prize in 1958.

Lukas Näf