Hollman, Joseph

Maastricht, 16 October 1852
Paris, January 1st 1927*

Joseph Hollman studied cello with Isidore Deswert** and composition with François-Joseph Fétis and Charles Bosselet at the Brussels Conservatoire. Subsequently he continued his cello studies with Léon Jacquard and Karl Davidov. In Paris he became acquainted with Jules Massenet, Edouard Lalo, Eugène Ysaÿe and Camille Saint-Saëns, among others. Later his network came to include Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. He made concert tours throughout Western Europe, as well as in Scandinavia, Russia and America.
While making his London debut in 1885 he performed with Saint-Saëns as a duo partner. Saint-Saëns dedicated his Concerto in D minor to him and later composed the double concerto La muse et son poète for Ysaÿe and him for his ‘silver jubilee’ in London in 1910. He took up permanent residence in Paris from1916 until his death.

A number of Hollman’s recordings have survived to the present day, including one of Saint-Saëns’s The Swan and David Popper’s Gavotte no.2. A recording dating from around 1915 of Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat major in the transcription by Servais can be heard on the website of the Servais Society.
The city of Maastricht pays tribute to Hollman with a bust of the musician on display in the vestibule of the old town hall. The gable of the house in the Spinstraat where he was born bears a text indicating that it is the birthplace of Joseph Hollman 1852-1926* court cellist of His Majesty Willem III.

Besides two concertos and other works Hollman wrote a number of short works for cello and piano. They are quintessential works of the Parisian salon culture of the late nineteenth century.

Available as a legal download on ISMLP/Petrucci:
(Quatre) Pièces (1884)
Fantaisie sur Carmen [c. 1885]
Quatre Morceaux faciles [1887]
Chanson d’Amour [c. 1888], for voice, cello and piano
Six Morceaux {1892}
Extase [c. 1893]
Vieille Chanson (1894)
Deuxième Mazurka (1894)
Adagietto [c. 1902]
Andante religioso (1902)
Intermezzo [c. 1903]
Le Rouet (1903)
Souvenir de Berck (1910)

Other works:
Sérénade [1890]
Romance sans Paroles [?]
Benedictus de Van Helden [?]
Improvisation [composed no later than 1898]

Chanson d’Amour, performed by Emma Eames, Joseph Hollman and an unnamed pianist: Emma Eames, the complete Victor recordings (1905-11), Romophone 81001-2.

* Hollman’s grave in Maastricht indicates his date of death as 1 January 1927; however, sometimes it is listed as 31 December 1926.
** Many studies (for instance Boettcher/Pape, Das Violoncello) refer to Hollman as being a student of Adrien François Servais. Stephen Sensbach, French Cello Sonatas 1871-1939, even mentions the year 1870 in this context. In this case the lessons must have been spiritualistic seances, considering that Servais had already passed away in 1867 (our thanks to Peter François).

(April 2007, updated July 2014)