Monday, January 4, 2016

Scottish Songs in Germany - Max Bruch, Edmund Friese & Hermann Kestner (1864-68)

In Germany during the 19th century there was a great interest for Scottish literature and culture. "Schottische Volkslieder" were very popular since Herder's time. But somewhat surprising is the lack of original tunes from Scotland. Haydn and Beethoven had arranged many songs for the British market but very few of these works were published in Germany. Burns' songs were easily available, but rarely with their original tunes. German composers preferred to set the translated texts to new music. For example "My Heart's in the Highlands" became one of the most popular songs in Germany, either as a Volkslied with half a dozen different tunes - none of them the original one - or as a Lied with numerous new melodies (see "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" - New Musical Settings By German Composers 1836-1842, in this blog).

The other very popular "Scottish" song was not Scottish all: "Here comes the Bard", one of Thomas Moore's pastiches from the Popular National Airs (Vol. 4, 1823) and introduced in 1835 by Friedrich Silcher in his Ausländische Volksmelodien (Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 2) as "Stumm schläft der der Sänger" - translation by Hermann Kurz -, became a standard for male choirs. 

Up until the early 1860s the number of Scottish tunes published in Germany was not as high as one would have expected. The best and most comprehensive collection of songs from Scotland - and also from Ireland, Wales and England - only came out in 1862, not in Germany but in Denmark. The Engelske, Skotske og Irske Folk-Sange og Melodier by Danish composer A. P. Berggreen, the 4th volume of his Folke-Sange og Melodier, Fædrelandske og Fremmede (available at the Internet Archive), offered an excellent selection of British songs with original texts, Danish translations, the original tunes as well as informative notes.

Also during the '60s most of Beethoven's arrangements of Scottish - as well as Irish and Welsh - songs were published as part of the complete edition of his works (in: Serie XXIV, Nos. 257-263; Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig, all available at BSB). Interestingly at that time some more collections of original tunes in new arrangements began to appear in Germany: 1864 one by Max Bruch, 1865 another one by Edmund Friese and 1868 three booklets by Hermann Kestner and Eduard Hille.
  • Max Bruch, 12 Schottische Volkslieder mit hinzugefügter Klavierbegleitung, F. F. C. Leuckert, Breslau, n. d. [1864; date from Hofmeister, April 1864, p. 80]
    (available at the Internet Archive)
Young composer Max Bruch (1838-1920; see Wikipedia, see Fiske, pp. 177-82) was amongst those who became interested in Scottish songs. This small collection of 12 pieces with "well-written piano accompaniments" (Fiske, p. 178) was first published in 1864. He included some of the most popular standards like "Will ye go to the ew-bughts, Marion", "Mary's Dream" and "Auld Rob Morris". Thankfully the original texts were also printed. Some of the translations were by H. Hüffer, for others no name is given. Perhaps Bruch himself was responsible for these German texts. One reviewer (in: Niederrheinische Musik-Zeitung 13, 19 August 1865, pp. 262-3, at BStB) was very impressed by this publication. He lauded both the songs and the arrangements: 
"Die Melodien [...] haben alle eine schöne einfache und nirgends gekünstelte Eigenthümlichkeit, die aber keineswegs monoton ist, sondern je nach dem Charakter des Gedichts ganz verschieden [...] Was aber nun diese kleine Sammlung besonders auszeichnet, ist die Clavierbegleitung [...] Ein solches Eingehen in den Geist und Ton der Melodien ist uns bei ähnlichen Arbeiten noch nie vorgekommen". 
A decade later he published seven of these songs again, this time in arrangements for a choir: 
  • Max Bruch, Denkmale des Volksgesanges. Volkslieder vierstimmig gesetzt (Sopran, Alt, Tenor u. Bass). 1. Heft: Schottische Volkslieder. Texte deutsch und englisch. Partitur, N. Simrock, Berlin, 1876 (pdf available at UDK Berlin, RA 7464-1
In 1877 the 12 Schottische Volkslieder were reprinted in Bruch-Album. 24 ausgewählte Lieder (Peter, Leipzig, see Hofmeister, Oktober 1877, p. 307). He also used Scottish tunes in other compositions, for example in the Scottish Fantasia, (1880, Op. 46), his popular violin concerto (see Fiske, pp. 179-181).
  • Edmund Friese, Schottische Volkslieder für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, 2 Hefte, J. Rieter-Biedermann, Leipzig & Winterthur, n. d. [1865, date from Hofmeister, April 1865, p. 65; adverts in:  AMZ NF 3, 1865, p. 207; LAMZ 2, 1867, p. 244; AMZ 4, 1869, p. 360]
    (available at the Internet Archive
AMZ 4, 1869, p. 360
Much less known than Bruch was Edmund Friese (1834-1897), no composer, but a respected musician, at that time Musikdirektor in the town of Offenbach. He came from Leipzig. His father was the well known publisher Robert Friese (1805-1848) whose imprint we can find for example in Robert Schumann's Neue Zeitschrift für Musik as well as in a great number of musical publications. He studied at the Conservatory in Leipzig and then first became violinist in the Gewandhaus-Orchestra. In his younger years Friese worked in Reval, Helsinki, Edinburgh, Zürich, Frankfurt until he came to Offenbach where he stayed for the rest of his life (see Schmidt 1925, p. 1). 

This collection was his very first published work but for some reason only one more would follow (3 Ungarische Märsche, 1880, see Hofmeister, März 1880, p. 81). One may assume that he became familiar with Scottish songs during his time in Edinburgh. His selection is interesting. More than half of them are by Burns, for example "My Heart's in the Highlands", "John Anderson, My Jo" and ""Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon". Besides these he also used other classics like "Pibroch of Donuil Dhu" and "Flowers in the Forest". His source may have been Graham's Songs of Scotland (3 Vols., 1848-9) where all the 12 songs can be found.
Unfortunately he didn't include the original texts but only the translations. Some of the German texts were borrowed from Pertz and Corrodi, others are uncredited, like "Mein Herz ist im Hochland". But that one is the very popular adaptation by Ferdinand Freiligrath first published in 1836. All in all this was a worthwhile publication although - as far as I know - it apparently wasn't such a big success. There seem to be very few extant copies, in fact I know of only one.
  • Eduard Hille & Hermann Kestner, Ausländische Volkslieder für Sopran, Alt, Tenor und Bass, bearbeitet und mit deutscher Übersetzung versehen. Schottische Volkslieder, 3 Hefte, Adolph Nagel, Hannover, n. d. [1867-8, date from Hofmeister, Dezember 1867, p. 208 & April 1868, p. 59)]
    (available at the Internet Archive: Heft 1 & 2, Heft 3
Hermann Kestner (1810-1890; see Hahn 2003/4; Sievers 1961; Werner 2003/4; Werner 1919; very short: Wikipedia) from Hannover, a collector of art and books and also a notable private scholar, was one of the most knowledgeable experts for international "Volkslieder" in Germany. Not at least he had amassed an extensive collection of songs from all possible countries. One may say that at that time nobody knew more about that genre than Kestner. And surely nobody in Germany knew more songbooks and songs. His great collection of manuscripts has survived and is today available at the Stadtbibliothek Hannover (see RISM; Werner 1919).

Unfortunately he never published as much as he would have been able to. A collection of Spanish and Portuguese songs came out in 1846 (available at SUB Göttingen; Vol. 2, 1859, dto.). But he shared the songs, his translations, his knowledge and his library freely with other scholars and editors and was in contact with for example Ludwig Erk in Germany, who used some of his works, and with A. P. Berggreen in Denmark whom he helped out occasionally. 

In 1866 he started a series with the title Ausländische Volkslieder. Composer Eduard Hille (1822-1891, see Fuchs 1987), Akademischer Musikdirektor in Göttingen, wrote the arrangements, not for piano and voice á la Bruch and Friese, but for mixed choirs. The first two volumes were dedicated to Irish and Welsh Songs (see Hofmeister, August 1866, p. 127). Each volume consisted of three booklets with altogether 18 pieces. The third volume with Scottish songs appeared in 1867 and 1868. It seems that more was planned. Wille and Kestner had also prepared Scandinavian songs (see f. ex. RISM 451503615) but they were never published. One may assume that the first volumes didn't sell particularly well and the publisher wasn't interested in more. 

Kestner's major source was clearly Graham's Songs of Scotland to which he refers in the preface to Vol. 1. But at least two songs seem to have been borrowed from Berggreen's collection: "There were three Ravens" and "The Cruel Mother" (Vol. 3, Nos. 4 & 6). Otherwise he simply recycled most of the standards that were already available in Germany, like "The Bush aboon Traquair", "The Campbells are coming", "I Dream'd I Lay" and of course "My Heart's in the Highlands" and "John Anderson, my Jo". Kestner also included "The Blue Bell of Scotland", not a Scottish song  but an old English popular hit, and the above-mentioned "Here sleeps the Bard" by Thomas Moore. Both were already well known and very popular in Germany since the 1830s. The translations were all by Hermann Kestner himself but for me they often sound rather stiff.

Nonetheless this was also a worthwhile compilation of songs and a welcome addition to what was already available. Of course he did not intend a scholarly collection as he says in the preface but one for practical use. But Kestner would have been able to put together a much more comprehensive work about songs from the British Isles and particularly from Scotland. Judging from the descriptions of his manuscripts he was familiar with nearly all the relevant Scottish publications including the Scots Musical Museum as well as Kinloch's and Motherwell's important books. But maybe the time wasn't ripe for such a work. Only in the following decade another admirer of Scottish, Irish and Welsh national airs, young scholar Alfons Kissner, would attempt to make available a much greater amount of original tunes. But I will write about his impressive series of publications in another article.

  • Roger Fiske, Scotland In Music: A European Enthusiasm, Cambridge 1983 
  • Hermann Fuchs, Die akademischen Musikdirektoren Arnold Wehner (1846-1855) und Eduard Hille (1855-1891), in: Martin Staehlin (ed.), Musikwissenschaft und Musikpflege an der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, 1987 (= Göttinger Universitätsschriften A 3), pp. 90-107
  • G. F. Graham, The Songs of Scotland Adapted To Their Appropriate Melodies Arranged With Pianoforte Accompaniments By G. F. Graham, T. M. Muddle, J. T. Surenne, H. E. Dibdin, Finlay Dun, &c. Illustrated with Historical, Biographical, and Critical Notices, 3 Vols, Edinburgh, 1848-9 (available at NLS & Internet Archive
  • Gerlinde Hahn, "Ich möchte, Du gäbest alles nach Hannover" - Die "Sammlung Kestner" in der Stadtbibliothek Hannover, in: Hannoversche Geschichtsblätter, Neue Folge, Band 67/68, 2003/4, pp. 27-36
  • Karl Schmidt, Nachruf: Robert M. Friese, in: Wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen aus dem Siemens-Konzern IV, Heft 2, Berlin & Heidelberg, 1925, p. 1-8 (this is an obituary for one of Edmund Friese's sons who became a professor for electrical engineering and a director of Siemens) 
  • Heinrich Sievers, Die Musik in Hannover. Die musikalischen Strömungen in Niedersachsen vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Musikgeschichte der Landeshauptstadt Hannover, Hannover, 1961 
  • Theodor W. Werner, Die Musikhandschriften des Kestnerschen Nachlasses im Stadtarchiv zu Hannover, in Hannoversche Geschichtsblätter 22, 1919, pp. 241-372 
  • Luise-Marie Werner, Hermann Kestner - ein bedeutender hannoverscher Forscher, in: Hannoversche Geschichtsblätter, Neue Folge, Band 67/68, 2003/4, pp. 37-39

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