Sunday, July 13, 2014

Old ([this time:] Swiss) Songbooks, No. 13: Ignaz Heim, Sammlung von Volksgesängen für den Männerchor (1863)

  • [Ignaz Heim (ed.)] Sammlung von Volksgesängen für den Männerchor. Herausgegeben von einer Kommission der zürcherischen Schulsynode, unter Redaktion von I. Heim. Zehnte, vermehrte und verbesserte Auflage. Fünfte Stereotyp-Ausgabe, Zürich, Fries & Holzmann, 1863
    Now available at the Internet Archive (my own scan of a book from my collection)
Ignaz Heim (1818-1880; see ADB 50, 1905, pp. 133-5, at BStB-DS; a short summary at Wikipedia) was one of the mainstays of the Swiss music scene for several decades. He made himself a name as a choirmaster, composer and editor of songbooks for choirs. I have already discussed one of his publications, the first volume of Neue Volksgesänge für den Männerchor (1863) (see No. 3 of this series, in this blog). The songbook presented here was another of his immensely popular collections of arrangements for Männergesangvereine. 

I have the 10th edition of this Sammlung von Volksgesängen - "expanded and improved" - that was published in 1863. According to the article in the ADB (p. 134) the first edition of the Sammlung von Volksgesängen had come out the previous year. That means that there were at least 10 editions of this book in the course of one year. This collection remained on the market for several decades. The 119th edition was published in 1897. 

What kind of songs does this book contain? The terms "Volksgesang" and "Volkslied" should not be confused with what we understand today as "folk songs" in the narrow sense. At that time all kinds of "simple" songs for the people, songs to sing at home or in amateur choirs, were regarded as "Volkslieder". Therefore we can find here numerous pieces by popular composers, for example 15 pieces by Friedrich Silcher as well as some by Abt, Nägeli, Mendelssohn, Marschner, Schumann, to name just a few. 

I am particularly interested in foreign songs that became popular in the German speaking countries during the 19th centuries. There are not much of these kind of songs in this volume. But at least the editor included a German version of Robert Burns' "My Heart's In The Highlands" ("Mein Herz ist im Hochland", No. 188, pp. 334-5). He used the well known translation by Ferdinand Freiligrath but the tune is different from all the the other variants of this song published in Germany. It is described as "Volksweise" but Heim didn't name the source. I haven't yet found this melody in any other earlier publication and I would not be surprised if he had simply written it himself and then passed of as a "folk tune". These kind of methods were not uncommon at that time:
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