Iwan Knorr’s Ukrainian Love Songs Op. 5 for four voices and piano have the same flexible choral or one-per-part scoring as the Liebeslieder Waltzes Op. 65 by Johannes Brahms, to which they compare also in terms of compositional quality. Inspired by the Ukrainian Cossack tradition, Knorr’s cycle of nine settings combines lyrically romantic vocal writing with spirited virtuoso piano accompaniments. The poems tell stories of impassioned love, heroic warriors and the anxious wait for their safe return.
Iwan Knorr (1853–1916) was a composer and music teacher. Born in West Prussia, he grew up in Russia, Riga and Leipzig and studied at the Leipzig Conservatoire. While working as a teacher in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, he established contact with Johannes Brahms, who became his mentor and advocate. Later, Knorr was a colleague of Clara Schumann on the staff of the Hoch Conservatoire in Frankfurt. Throughout his life, he sought to strengthen musical ties between the cultures of Central and Eastern Europe.