Friday, March 14, 2014

Old German Songbooks, No. 5: Illustriertes Volksliederbuch [c. 1900]

  • Illustrirtes [sic!] Volksliederbuch. Eine Sammlung der schönsten, beliebtesten und bekanntesten Volks-, Jäger, Liebes-, Soldaten-, Studenten-, Trink-, Wander-, Opern- und Gesellschaftslieder. Mit zahlreichen Original-Bildern vom A. v. Werner, Georg Bleibtreu und Ludwig Burger, Verlag von Moritz Schauenburg, Lahr n. d. [c. 1900], 410 pp.
    Now available at the Internet Archive (my own scan of a book from my collection: 72,4 MB, 410 pp.)
During the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th century countless songbooks of all kinds were
published in Germany. The fad for "Volkslieder" survived all political and cultural changes and publishers and editors were able to recycle the standard repertoire of these kind of songs endlessly. Many of these collections remained available for several decades and apparently sold in great numbers. Textbooks were particularly popular, not only because many people knew all the important tunes but of course also because these kind of handy pocket volumes were much cheaper than songbooks with music. The collection presented here was apparently first published in the 1860s, perhaps even earlier, at least according to the dates given in some library catalogs. The dating is a little bit difficult because the publisher refrained from giving the year of publication. But that was not uncommon for songbooks at that time. 

A digitized version of another edition of this book is available at the Hathi Trust Digital Library, as usual with annoying watermarks. I really don't understand why they have to put them on every single page. They are especially disturbing in graphically more ambitious publications like this one. Their edition with 588 texts and 386 pages is dated as from "[1871?]" and that seems like a reasonable assumption. In the catalog of the HAAB Weimar (Sign. 231065-A) an edition with the same number of pages has "ca. 1867" as an approximate date. The copy of the book I have includes 661 texts on 408 pages. This extended edition was apparently published around the turn of the century (see the catalog of SUB Hamburg, Sign. A/595057, [1902]). 

This is a particularly interesting and enjoyable collection of texts that is enhanced by numerous tasteful illustrations. In fact it is most pleasant to look at and to browse through. But for some reason the unknown editor - perhaps publisher Schauenburg himself - refrained from giving the name of the authors of all these numerous texts included here. These were surely not all "Volkslieder" produced by the anonymous "folk". In fact there is not a single reference to a source and not a single writer or poet is credited. I assume that it was all borrowed - i. e. stolen - from printed sources and then recycled here for free. But nonetheless it is a nice book that reflects nicely the popularity of the so-called "Volkslieder" and related genres at that time.

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