A Site Dedicated to all enthusiasts of Classic Style Banjo
I have followed past Discussions on classic-banjo concerning the standard repertoire c.1880-1930, a repertoire that appears to be cheerfully 'light' & 'popular' seemingly without exception, and (exclusively?) written by player-composers. My present question, however, is whether anyone here knows of banjo music - either solo or embedded within an ensemble - written by mainstream 'classical' composers of that period. I've trawled net resources and come up with almost nothing - certainly no solo sonatas, or other extended solo works. Does the classic banjo simply not lend itself to these? Schoenberg and his pupils Alban Berg and Hanns Eisler all used banjo in ensemble, as did Kurt Weill, and as did possibly many other Weimar Republic / Berlin cabaret / jazz age composers. But nothing from Debussy, Ravel, Charles (not Burl) Ives, or other major figures of their generation? Should I be surprised?
Occasionally you find a piece that is influenced by the banjo (I'm thinking Gottshalk)...but usually they're not using a banjo at all. Sometimes you get a banjo part thrown in...but not a full/extended solo. I just don't think it was considered a worthy instrument by the classical composers of the period. I mean, did those guys compose for bagpipe?
I guess the exception to that sort of 'instrumental blindness' would be the glass armonica. Sort of the polar opposite of the banjo anyway.
How long did it take for composers to start in on the Saxophone? Still not a common seat in the orchestral ensemble.
Conservatory musicians have tended to be snobbish about the banjo, believing it to be "not a real instrument". That's one reason.
Did the German composers you mention include the finger style five-string banjo in their compositions? Various types of four string banjo played with a plectrum would be more likely.