Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Some Estonian Songbooks (1860-1900)


I have just written a little treatise about the collection and publication of Volkslieder - national songs - of the Estonians and Latvians from circa 1770 until the late 19th century (see the previous blogpost). Texts were published in considerable numbers, at first by Baltic-German scholars and then by the first generation of indigenous intellectuals. But tunes only played a minor role. Very few were made available until the 1860s. Only since then - during the era of what is called the national awakening - they began to appear, not in academic anthologies but in songbooks for choral singing.

The first one to publish two Estonian rahwawiis was Carl Robert Jakobson in 1869 in a small anthology with the title Wanemuine Kandle Healed (at digar). The first collection of Volkslieder only appeared in 1890: Karl August Hermann's Eesti rahwalaulud (at the Internet Archive). This was very late. For example in Finland - also a nation trying to find its own voice - the very first anthology of national songs was already made available in 1831 and more would follow soon (see in this blog: The Collection and Publication of National Airs in Finland 1795-1900).

Even the Latvians were a little bit faster in this respect. Some original Latvian traditional tunes had already been published in 1859 by the pastor Juris Caunītis and the teacher Jānis Kaktiņš in their songbook 100 dseesmas un singes ar nohtem (see Karnes, p. 205, p. 219, n. 64, see Das Inland 25, 1860, p. 151). In 1869 a conference of Latvian teachers called for a more systematic collection of traditional tunes (Apkalns, pp. 151). The key figure here was Jānis Cimze (1814-1881; see Wikipedia) from the teacher seminary in Valka who in 1872 published the very first anthology of Latvian Volkslieder arranged for choirs: Dseesmu rohta jaunekļeem un wihreem (see Karnes 2015; Apkalns, pp. 148-53). 

Here I will attempt a select bibliography of Estonian songbooks published since 1860. I am foremost interested in the publication of rahwalaulud. Why did traditional tunes play a comparatively small role? How many were published? Why took it so long until the first anthology appeared? But it is equally important to see the wider context: the development of a national repertoire for choral singing. This was what Estonian teachers and musicians were interested in. At first this repertoire consisted nearly solely of translated German songs and only slowly Estonian songs - both new works and rahwalaulud - were added. 

Today - in the digital era - a bibliography is not only list of books. Thankfully most of the publications needed here have been digitized and are therefore quick at hand. This is a great progress. These are all rare books that are available in only a very few libraries. Back in the old days it would have been necessary to travel to these libraries to see them. Now they can be checked online and the reader has also direct access to these primary sources. 

In Estonia the digital libraries are well-organized. For a systematic approach we should start with Eesti rahvusbibliograafia (erb), the Estonian National Bibliography that is available online. A look for example at the entry for Jakobson's Wanemuine kandle healed (erb) shows that one can find here all relevant bibliographical data as well as other helpful information. Usually both the number of copies printed, the price and the content - here a list of the songs in this book - are included. It is also possible to get a chronological list of all the publications a particular writer - in this case Jakobson - was involved in (erb). 

Thankfully there is also a link to a digital copy if one exists as well as a link to a book's record in ester, the National Library Catalogue that also offers the link to the digital copy. The most important digital libraries are digar - Estonian National Library - , etera - University of Tallinn - and the one of the University of Tartu. Jakobson's songbook is available at digar. The online readers of etera and digar - here only for a part of the books - are usable but not as flexible as I would wish. But all digitized books can also be downloaded as pdf-files and I have taken the liberty to upload some of those I needed to the the Internet Archive where they are much easier to use. 

The number of books already digitized by the Estonian libraries is impressive but there are of course still some that haven't been scanned yet. Thankfully it is also possible to order the digitization of a book, but only if it is available at one of the libraries in Tallinn and - apparently - if it was printed before 1900. In this case there is a link in ester that leads to EOD, the well-known network of libraries. Therefore digital copies of five more relevant songbooks can now be accessed online.

Most of the editors, composers and writers mentioned here are not exactly household names outside of Estonia. Therefore some basic information is needed and here the German wikipedia proved to be very helpful. Links to the relevant articles are added but they can only serve as a short introduction. For some of the more obscure names I found only Estonian sources, either Wikipedia or another encyclopedia. 

Otherwise I can recommend some books. Estonian music history in the second half of the 19th century is more or less identical to the history of the national singing movement, therefore I found Arro's Geschichte der estnischen Musik (1933) very helpful. He is good at describing the context and also discusses nearly everyone mentioned here. But it is better to ignore his stern judgments about most Estonian song composers. Nearly all of these editors were also busy in other fields, as writers, poets, teachers, journalists and cultural activists. For that reason a good history of Estonian literature is also useful. Hasselblatt's (2006) is the best so far. 


The new choral singing movement from Germany and Switzerland (good overview: Klenke 1998) was quickly adopted by the Baltic-Germans (see Loos, p. 226). They had their own choirs: in 1833 the first Liedertafel was founded in Riga, in 1849 a choral society in Reval and the year 1857 saw the the first great German song festival. They also had their own songbooks where we can find the popular German repertoire: 
  • Baltisches Liederbuch, Plates, Riga, 1861, at UofTartu & the Internet Archive 
  • Vierundzwanzig Volkslieder mit ihren Singweisen für Sopran und Alt 1. Heft, Laakmann, Dorpat, 1871, at digar 
  • Liederbuch für Knaben- und Mädchenschulen, von A. W. Schönberg, Gesanglehrer am Gymnasium zu Arensburg, 1876 [erb], at digar 
  • Joh. Reinfeldt, Baltischer Liederkranz. Ausgewälte Lieder zum Gebrauch für den Gesangsunterricht, 2. vermehrte und verbesserte Auflage, 1. & 2. Teil, Kluge, Reval, 1886 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Joh. Reinfeldt, Baltischer Liederkranz. Ausgewälte Lieder zum Gebrauch für den Gesangsunterricht, 3. vermehrte und verbesserte Auflage, 1. Teil, Kluge, Reval, 1898 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
The Estonians - just freed from the shackles of serfdom - also started singing in choirs and at first they were of course taught by their German pastors. What should they sing? For centuries they had been treated to imported hymns translated into Estonian and these religious songs made up the greatest part of their repertoire. More collections appeared during these years, for example: 
  • [Johann August Hagen], Choralbuch zum Gebrauche für die Orgel und das Pianoforte. Enthaltend Kirchen-Melodien für Deutsche und Ehstnische Kirchen-Gesangbücher, so wie auch für Dr. K. C. Ulmanns geistliche Liedersammlung. Tallinna ja Tarto lauloramatute täis wisi ramat Reval, n. d. [1844] [erb], at digar  
  • Tallinna- ja Tarto-ma Kirriko laulo ramato laulo wisid, Jacoby & Co., Pärnu & Viljandi, n. d. [1860] [erb], at digar 
What was missing were secular songs. The pastors didn't like the Estonians' traditional song culture which was under perpetual cultural pressure. Instead some of them also promoted modern German songs that were translated into Estonian. An early pioneer was Emil Hörschelmann (1810-1854, see Arro 1933, pp. 28-51) who - besides writing and publishing hymns - also put out a small collection of German songs, Mönned armsad laulud (1847, erb, at digar). It seems this booklet was quite popular. New editions appeared in 1852 and 1862. 

During these years the first generation of Estonian writers and teachers came to the fore and they would single-handedly begin to create what they regarded as their national culture. But most of them still preferred the adoption of German singing culture. The key figure here was Johann Voldemar Jannsen (1819-1890; see Wikipedia; Hasselblatt, pp. 175-7, 184-8, 203; Arro, pp. 89-97; see erb), teacher, writer, journalist, translator, choirmaster and activist. In 1850 he was "barred from full membership in a German choir because of his ethnicity" (Ŝmidchens, p. 70) and felt it necessary to start his own. 

He at first translated religious songs, for example Krummacher's Zionsharfe (here f. ex. 1827, at Google Books). The first part of the Estonian version appeared in 1845 with the title Sioni-Laulo-Kannel ehk 333 uut waimolikko laulo (erb). More parts would follow as well as other similar collections. But he also tried to take care of the secular repertoire and in 1860 he published an anthology with the title Eesti laulik - "The Estonian Singer" - with 125 texts. 
  • [Johann Voldemar Jannsen], Eesti Laulik. 125 uut lauo neile, kes hea melega laulwad ehk laulo kuulwad. Esiminne jaggo, Laakmann, Tartu, 1860 [erb], at digar; at BSB [= Google Books]; at the Internet Archive [= GB-Oxford]
    -, 2. Trük, Laakmann, Tartu, 1865 [erb], at Google Books [= BL] 
Jannsen was no Herderian and no friend of Estonian rahwalaulud (see Arro 1933, pp. 90-1; Ŝmidchens, pp. 77-8). In fact he didn't like them and preferred German songs. All texts in this songster were translations from the German and he completely avoided any original Estonian pieces. But nonetheless his anthology became very popular and was reprinted several times. He also compiled a tune-book with only the melodies because he couldn't afford to publish complete arrangements for choirs: 
  • [Johann Voldemar Jannsen], Eesti Lauliko wisi-ramat. 120 uut laulo-wisi , Laakmann, Tartu, 1862 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
Other early pioneers also relied completely on German songs. Martin Körber (1817-1893; see Arro, pp. 112-9; Wikipedia), a German pastor in a little village on the isle of Saremaa did a lot for the musical culture of his flock, not at least because he didn't want them to sing their traditional drinking songs. He himself wrote new songs and taught them the people, he had them sing in choirs and also organized the earliest local song festivals. One collection of his songs was published with music: 
  • Laulud Sörwemaalt, mitme healaga. Lieder aus der Schworbe, mehrstimmig, Laakmann, Tartu, 1864 & 1867, 2 Vols. [erb: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2], at Uof Tartu 
Friedrich Brandt (1830-1890; Wikipedia), teacher and writer, also put together a songster with the title Eestima öpik (1864, erb at digar) - "The Estonian Nightingale" - that included both translations from the German as well as his own works. This collection was reprinted several times and apparently sold in great numbers. He for example included the popular German ballad "Es waren zwei Königskinder" ("Kuningatte lapsed", p. 28). Folklorist Walter Anderson (1932, pp. 23-48) has shown that nearly all variants collected from oral tradition are derived - directly or indirectly - from this anthology. Brandt also published a little songbook with music, Pisukene laulu- ja mängimees (1869, erb, at digar). Just like Jannsen he avoided all references to his sources. But it seems that these songs were mostly his own. 

Friedrich Kuhlbars (1841-1924; see Wikipedia; Hasselblatt, p. 267), teacher, writer and poet, compiled the first songbook for schools and he only used songs imported from Germany: 
  • Laulik koolis ja kodus. Ued laulud ühe, kahe, kolme ja nelja healega ja kaanonid. Noorele ja wanale, iseäranis Eesti koolidelle wäljaanud Friedrich Kuhlbars, Gläser, Tartu, 1868 [erb], at digar 
Here we can find pieces by Schulz, Silcher, Gersbach and Julius Mayer as well as many that are only described as "Deutsche Volksweise". Interestingly there is also an version of Thomas Moore's "Last Rose of Summer" ("Õue viimne roosikene", No. 15, pp. 13-4). But he didn't feel it necessary to include even a single original Estonian song. 

In the meantime Jannsen had launched Wanemuine, a society for choral singing and other convivial activities (see Arro, pp. 98-101). It was named after a mythological character in Kreutzwaldt's Kalevipoeg, the god of music with the harp ("Laena mulle kannelt, Vanemuine!"). This society played a major role during the next decades and Wanemuine himself appeared on the covers of some songbooks. Jannsen also organized the first Grand Song Festival in 1869 in Tartu (see Arro, pp. 102-8). This was of course modeled after the German song festivals but it set the start of a long-running tradition (see Wikipedia). The repertoire performed at these festivals shows the development of the national Estonian singing culture: 
  • [Johann Voldemar Jannsen], Eestirahwa 50-aastase Jubelipiddo-Laulud. Tartu Wanemuine seltsit wäljaantud, Laakmann, Tartu, 1869 [erb]; at digar & the Internet Archive 
This is the songbook for the first festival. Here we can find for the most part religious songs - that's what the local choirs sang at home - and only a few of secular character. Nearly all of them were by German composers, for example Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Abt and Kreutzer. Finland was the other major source. There is one song by Finnish composer Karl Collan (No. 22, p. 71) and Jannsen himself wrote a new text for the tune Frederik Pacius had composed for Runeberg's "Vårt land", the future Finnish national anthem. His "Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm" (No. 21, p. 70) would then become - after independence in 1918 - the Estonian anthem. 

Then there were two more Estonian patriotic songs: "Mo isama on minno arm" and "Sind surmani" (No. 25-6, pp. 76-9). These are poems by Jannsen's daughter Lydia Koidula (1843-1886; see Wikipedia; see Hasselblatt, pp. 249-59) that were set to music by Alexander Kunileid (-Säbelmann; 1845-1875, see Wikipedia; see Arro, pp. 115-20), a graduate of Cimze's teacher seminary and an aspiring young composer. These two pieces may count as the first published original Estonian songs but - as musicologist Arro has shown - Kunileid had borrowed the tunes from a Finnish songbook.


The first one who took efforts to promote a more original Estonian repertoire was Carl Robert Jakobson (1841-1882; see Wikipedia; Arro, pp. 109-115; Hasselblatt, pp. 261-4), a teacher - also a graduate of Cimze's seminary -, journalist and a very productive writer, particularly of school-books (see erb). He criticized the predominance of the German songs at the festival and published a little booklet with five Estonian songs, all arranged for male choir. The title translates as "The Sounds of Wanemuine's Harp" and the god of music himself appeared on the cover:
  • Wanemuine Kandle Healed. Neljähealega meeste koorid. Eesti Laulupühaks 1869. Wälja annud C. R. Jakobson, Transchel, St. Petersburg, 1869 [erb], at digar 
The words of all five songs were by Lydia Koidula. Three of them - including the two published in the songbook for the festival - were set to music by Kunileid. But the melodies for the other two are described as "Eesti rahwawiis" (Estonian popular tunes): "Miks sa nuttad" & "Meil aia äärne tänawas". The source of these two is not clear but - as mentioned above - it was the first time that Estonian "folk-tunes" were used in a songbook for choirs. Unlike Jannsen Jakobson - who was very critical of the German cultural and economic dominance - had no problems with traditional songs and he saw them as a source for a future national repertoire. Two more anthologies appeared only shortly later and here he showed again that he had different ideas than Jannsen of what the Estonians should sing: 
  • Wanemuine Kandle Healed. Nelja healega meeste koorid. Wälja annud C. R. Jakobson. Toine jagu, W. Gläser, Tartu, 1871 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
  • Rõõmus Laulja. Kooli lugemise raamatu Wiisid. Wälja annud C. R. Jakobson. Esimene jagu: Kahe, kolme ja nelja healega laulud, laste ja segatud kooridele, Laakmann, Tartu, 1872 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
In the second volume of Wanemuine Kandle Healed the tunes of four of the 15 songs were described as "Eesti rahwawiis", collected by Jakobson himself or by Johannes Eglon (1836-1908; see Eesti Entsüklopeedia), another graduate of Cimze's seminary. Jakobson - C. R. Linnutaja was his pseudonym - also wrote new words for three of them and the fourth was combined with a text by Kreutzwald. Besides these there were also some pieces with tunes by Kunileid as well as songs from Finland and Hungary, two linguistically related peoples. 

Rõõmus Laulja was a songbook for schools and it looks a little bit different from Kuhlbars' earlier anthology. Of course Jakobson couldn't avoid at least some German songs. But there were five original Estonian pieces, four with "Eesti rahwawiis" and one written by Kunileid. He also again included a considerable amount of Finnish songs. All in all this looked like a deliberate attempt to push back the German repertoire and to promote his ideas for the future development of Estonian national music. 

But one may say that Jakobson was at that time some steps ahead of what was possible. Other anthologies published at that time were still much more conservative in this respect: 
  • Friedrich Kuhlbars, Wanemuine ehk Neljakordne Laulu-Lõng. Laulud meestekoorile, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
  • Adelbert Hugo Willigerode, Laulo-salgokenne. Korilaulud Jummala nimmel Keisrile auuks rahwale roömuks soprano, alto, tenore ning basso heältest laulda. Essimenne jaggo, 24 kolilaste-pühha laulu, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb], at digar
    Adelbert Hugo Willigerode, Laulo-salgokenne. Korilaulud Jummala nimmel Keisrile auuks rahwale roömuks soprano, alto, tenore ning basso heältest laulda. Tölne jaggo: 24 kewwade aea laulo, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb; not yet digitized] 
  • Jaan Nebokat, Ilmalikud meestekoorid. Seminaride, kihelkonnakoolide ja lauluseltside tarwis wäljaantud. Saksakeelest ümberpandud, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb; not yet digitized] 
  • [Jaan Jung], Laulud kolme heälega. Keige laulu armastajatele, isseärranis Eesti kolidele ja lastele wäljawallitsetud, seatud ja üllespantud J. Jung, Laakmann, Tartu, 1871 [erb], at digar, at UofTartu
    [Jaan Jung] Laulud kahe ja kolme häälega ja kaanonid. Kõigile laulu armastajatele wälja annud J. Jung, 2. jagu, Laakmann, Tartu, 1876 [erb], at digar; at Uof Tartu 
All these collections offered a germanized repertoire and only very few or none Estonian songs. This was no wonder with Willigerode (1818-1893; see Wikipedia; Arro, pp. 79-80), a German clergyman with a lot of sympathy for the Estonian singing movement. He even was a honorary member of Wanemuine and Jannsen had asked him to be the chairman of the committee for the first song festival. But even younger Estonian teachers like Nebokat (1844-1908; see Wikipedia) and Jung (1835-1900; see Wikipedia) followed in Jannsen's footsteps and preferred songs from Germany. 


This decade also saw the first publications of Karl August Hermann who would become the most important and influential promoter of Estonian choral singing. Hermann (1851-1909; see Wikipedia; see Arro, pp. 155-83), born in a poor family, was at first trained as a teacher and then went to the university of Leipzig to study Mongolian and Slavic languages. There he received his doctorate. Back home in Tartu he made himself a name as a writer and scholar of astonishing productivity (see erb). He was busy as linguist, translator from German, author of books for children and instruction books for Russian, editor and journalist, he wrote a history of Estonian literature (1898, erb) and later even started an encyclopedia. 

But he also was a trained musician and became known as composer, songwriter, arranger, choirmaster, folklorist and popular music writer. Musicologist Arro is not fond of Hermann's abilities as composer but that is not the point. He took great efforts to create a repertoire for mostly rural choirs and singers and what was needed were simple songs in the popular style. That's exactly what he did. 
  • Eesti kannel. Neljä Häälega laulud segakoorile. Komponeerinud ja wälja annud K. A. Hermann, 1. wihk. Laakmann, Tartu, 1875 (= Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi Toimetused 5) [erb], at etera & the Internet Archive 
  • Koori ja kooli kannel. Walja Walitud mitme häälega segakoorilelaulud, kõigile lauluarmastajatele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külakoolidele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külaskoodile on kosku pannud K. A. Hermann. 1. anne, Laakmann, Tartu, 1875 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Karl August Hermann, Kodumaa Laulja. Waimulikud ja ilmulikud neljä häälega laulud meestekoorile. Esimene kogu Komponeerinud ja wälja annud K. A. Hermann, Laakmann, Tartu, 1877 (= Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi toimetused 7) [erb], at etera 
Both Eesti Kannel and Kodumaa Laulja included his own tunes with words - both religious and secular - written by himself and others. In fact at that time these two books presented the greatest number of new original Estonian songs. Nothing comparable had been published before and one may say that Hermann single-handedly created a national repertoire. It seems that at first he was not particularly interested in Estonian Volkslieder. In Eesti Kannel there is only one described as "Eesti rahwawiis" (No. 23, pp. 74-5). Koori ja kooli kannel was - as the title says - intended for schools and choirs and included nearly exclusively German songs. 

Another anthology for schools appeared in 1878. Ado Grenzstein (-Piirikivi; 1849-1916; see Wikipedia), also a teacher trained in Cimze's seminary, compiled this very interesting collection in six parts that was built mostly on European Volkslieder, not only from Germany but also from other countries from Italy to Latvia. 
  • Kooli laulmise raamat. Kuues jaos kirja pannud A. Grenzstein, I.-VI. jagu, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1878 (= Eesti Lirjameste Seltsi toimetused 15) [erb], at etera (in 1 Vol.) & the Internet Archive; at digar 
Here we can even find an Estonian version of "Robin Adair/Eileen Aroon", interestingly not based on any of the popular German versions but instead on the variant used by Boildieu in his La Dame Blanche (VI, No. 14, pp. 17-8). Grenzstein kept the share of German pieces to a minimum and included a considerable number of Estonian songs, both rahwalaulud and new works. This was the closest the school-children came to learn an Estonian national repertoire in an European context.

Grenzstein's collection was way ahead of its time. We can look into the songbooks for the Grand Song Festivals in 1879 and 1880 and see that - even though there is a little more diversity than a decade ago - the German songs still made up the greatest part of the songs performed:
  • Karl August Hermann, Eestirahwa teise Üleüldise Laulu-Pidu Meestekoorid. Tartu Wanemuine Seltsi wälja antud, Laakmann, Tartu, 1877 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Eesti tänu-laulu-pidu laulud. Kaiserliku Majestedi Alekasandri II. 25-aastase walitsuse juubeli-püha mälestuseks wälja annud pidu toimekond, Laakmann, Tartu, 1880 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Laulu-kogu. 1880-ma jubeli aasta mälestuseks. Wälja annud P. Abel ja Dr. M. Weske, J. Erlemanni, F. Säbelmanni ja teiste abiga, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1880 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
Another anthology from this time is a little bit different. Linde (1851-1908; see Wikipedia), also a graduate of Cimze's seminary, offered here mostly Latvian songs with Estonian texts: 
  • Adolf Linde, Lõbus Lõuke. Meeste healtele, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1881 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
During the 1880s Dr. Hermann was even more busy than before: 
  • Koori ja kooli kannel. Walja Walitud mitme häälega segakoorilelaulud, kõigile lauluarmastajatele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külakoolidele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külaskoodile on kosku pannud K. A. Hermann. 2. anne, Laakmann, 1882 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive; at etera 
  • Eesti kannel. Waimulikud ja ilmalikud segakoorilelaulud kirkus, koolis ja kodus laulda. Wälja annud K. A. Hermann. 2. wihk, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1883 [erb], at etera & the Internet Archive; at digar 
  • Eesti kannel. Neljä Häälega laulud segakoorile koolioas ja kodus laulda. 3. wihk. Trükki andnud K. A. Hermann, Laakmann, Tartu, 1884 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
The second volume of Koori ja kooli kannel included mostly German songs as well as a few by Estonian and Finnish composers. In the two volumes of Eesti kannel he was able to add works by some more Estonian composers and songwriters like Grenzstein-Piirikivi, Jung and young Miina Hermann (1864-1941, see Wikipedia) - not related but one of his pupils - who would later become the most important female composer in Estonia. 

Hermann also started a monthly musical periodical that was then published for more than a decade:
  • Laulu ja mängu leht. Kuukiri Eesti muusika edendamiseks. Wastuwaw toimentaja ja wääljandja Dr. K. A. Hermann, 1885-1897, 1908, at digar, at etera;
    Vol. 2, 1886; Vol. 3, 1887; Vol. 4, 1888, also at the Internet Archive  
Here the interested reader could find for example informative articles about composers, musicians, singers. The first four numbers of the second volume included texts about Beethoven, Liszt, Rubinstein, Wagner. And in No. 12 in Volume 4 there was even an article about Dr. Hermann by Dr. Hermann himself. This magazine was a major contribution to the musical education of the Estonians. He also added a supplement with songs, mostly arranged for choirs. Of course Hermann was plugging his own works but otherwise he selected an interesting national and international repertoire. For example the fourth volume included translated German songs by Bach, Abt, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Gluck, Silcher and others, some pieces by Swedish composer August söderman as well as Russian, Finnish, Estonian and Latvian Volkslieder. He also offered young composers like Miina Hermann the opportunity to make their works available to a wider public.  

At around this time Hermann became more interested in Estonian rahwalaulud. He wrote some articles for the Laulu- ja mänguleht (for ex. in Vol. 3, 1887, pp. 9-10) and then in 1890 published the very first anthology of Estonian Volkslieder
  • Karl August Hermann, Eesti rahwalaulud. Segakoorile. Esimene wihk, Hermann, Tartu, 1890 (Eesti Kirjameeste seltsi tolmetused 89) [erb], at etera & the Internet Archive 
Here we can find a short introduction with some musical examples as well as 40 songs, all arranged for mixed choirs. Most of these tunes had been collected by Hermann himself, the rest by colleagues like Aleksander Thomsen (1845-1917, see Wikipedia), a teacher and composer, also a graduate of Cimze's seminary. The texts of most of these songs were also taken "from the mouth of the people" - "rahwa suust" - but some were combined with new lyrics by Hermann or others. All in all this was a very interesting anthology and also an attempt to reanimate traditional songs and make them usable for modern rural and urban choirs. 

Hermann announced this as the first volume but it took a while for the next booklets of this series to appear. Vols. 2 (see erb) and 3 (see erb; at the Internet Archive) only came out in 1905 respectively 1908. Instead he wrote a little treatise in German about Estonian Volkslieder that was published shortly later. Here he included 27 original melodies, mostly collected by himself: 
  • Karl August Hermann, Ueber estnische Volksweisen. Separat-Abdruck aus den Verhandlungen der gelehrten estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat, Hermann, Dorpat, 1892, at UofTartu,
    -, in: Verhandlungen der gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat 16, 1896, pp. 54-72, at the Internet Archive 
He complained that nobody had yet been interested in the songs of the Estonian people. The few printed in songbooks since 1869 had "vanished among the art songs". Volksmelodien weren't known "weil man das Volk zu wenig kannte". They only sang their songs in family circles but not when strangers, particularly Germans, were present. In recent years the traditional tunes were replaced by modern songs and only "old Estonian women in remote areas" still sing them.

This sounds reasonable and it should be recalled once again that generations of German pastors fought against their flock's traditional music and also a considerable part of the first generation of Estonian intellectuals and teacher weren't fond of the songs sung by the people. Hermann noted that during his youth 30 years ago he had heard many original folk tunes and he had been busy collecting them for a while. This booklet as well as his anthology were the results of his researches. What he tried was to bring "back" the old rural songs and make them usable for modern choral singing. 

His little treatise is still worth reading, not only because it was the very first attempt at discussing this genre. He tried a description of the different styles, from the eldest to the modern tunes. and also pointed out European influences on the more recent melodies. There are also some fancy speculations about a possible relationship to Greek, Egyptian and Sumerian music but such theories were not uncommon at that time. He simply tried to postulate a connection to the ancient civilizations to place the formerly so often derided music of the Estonians in a wider cultural context: "Es ist jedenfalls ein interessanter Gedanke, dass die alten Aegypter und die klassischen Griechen ebenso gesungen haben, wie die Esten bis auf die gegenwärtige Zeit" (p. 65). 

Later Hermann also tried to expand his operations to Germany. 150 songs from his Laulu- ja mängu leht translated into German were published in a massive anthology in 1893:
  • Karl August Hermann, Völkerlieder für vierstimmige gemischte Chöre. Eine Sammlung von 150 geistlichen und weltlichen volkstümlichen Kompositionen und Volksliedern der Italiener, Franzosen, Spanier; Russen, Tschechen, Serben, Letten; Niederländer, Engländer, Walliser, Schotten, Iren, Amerikaner, Schweden, Dänen, Norwegeer; Armenier; Inder; Esten, Finnen, Lappen, Tscheremissen, Magyaren; Türken; Chinesen; Japaner; Javaner. Für den Chorgebrauch gesammelt, bearbeitet und herausgegeben von Dr. K. H. Hermann, Klinkhardt, Leipzig, 1893, at BBF 
This was a very worthwhile collection of international Volkslieder, and it is clear that Hermann - someone from the European periphery - had a different outlook than those from the cultural centers in Germany or England. His selection was much more varied than what his German or English colleagues at that time had managed to put together. Unfortunately the Estonian part was somewhat disappointing because he preferred to promote his own songs instead of rahwalaulud


Meanwhile in Estonia other songbooks appeared and we can see that repertoire became more diverse. Estonian songs now made up a greater part than before. A good example is this collection for schools. Around a third of the 30 songs included are described as "Eesti rahwawiis" while the share of German songs was brought to a minimum. Instead the pupils get some more modern Estonian songs by Piirikivi and Hermann as well as some European Volkslieder, for example from Scotland and Sicily:
The anthologies produced for the song festivals in the 90s also show a more varied repertoire even though they remained more conservative than for example songbooks for schools. Nonetheless the greater number of Estonian songs - both modern pieces and rahwalaulud - is notable (see also Arro, p. 153): 
  • Neljanda üleüldise ja teise tänu-laulupidu segakoori laulud, Hermann, Tartu, 1891 (Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi toimetused 91) [erb], at digar & etera 
  • Neljanda üleüldise ja teise tänu-laulupidu meestekori laulud, Hermann, Tartu, 1891 (Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi toimetused 92) [erb], at digar 
  • Eesti Rahwa Wabastuse Seitsme-kümne-wiie Aasta Juubeli Tänulaulupidu laulud. Segakoorid, Laulupidu toimetawad seltsid, Jurjewis [Tartu], 1894 [erb], at digar 
  • Eesti Rahwa Wabastuse Seitsme-kümne-wiie Aasta Juubeli Tänulaulupidu laulud. Meestekoorid, Laulupidu toimetawad seltsid, Jurjewis [Tartu], 1894 [erb], at digar 
  • VI. Eesti üleüldise laulupidu meestekoorid. Trükki toimetanud K. Türnpu, Lootuse ja Estonia Selts, Tallin, 1896 [erb], at digar 
  • VI. Eesti üleüldise laulupidu segakoorid. Trükki toimetanud K. Türnpu, Lootuse ja Estonia Selts, Tallin, 1896 [erb], at digar 
I will close this little history of Estonian songbooks with another of Hermann's productions, a comprehensive anthology for all purposes and occasions: for schools, home, concerts and festivals. Here we can find a very diverse repertoire - both religious and secular - that shows how much had changed in this respect since the 1860s. There is still an emphasis on German songs but all in all what is offered here is much more balanced. The original Estonian repertoire consists mostly of Hermann's own songs but a few pieces by others as well as some rahwawiis are also included: 
  • Laulude raamat. Ilu-hääled kooli, kiriku, kodu, konzerdi ja pidu tarwituseks. Kokku seadnud ja wälja andund Dr. K. A. Hermann, Hermann, Jurjewis [Tartu], 1897 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive; at UofTartu 
We can see how a small group of teachers, writers and activists managed to create a kind of national repertoire. Music played a particularly important role for the development of Estonian culture. This was of course a slow process but all the more impressive. The Estonians were stuck between the dominant German culture on one side and the the Czarist government with their attempts at Russification on the other side. All publications were still subjected to censorship. Nonetheless they created a cultural space and used it as good as possible. 

Noteworthy was the lack of interest in traditional Estonian tunes. The longstanding prejudices against the musical culture of the Estonians were even shared by some important protagonists of the first generation of national activists, especially Jannsen. Over the years only a few tunes found its way into popular songbooks. Compared for example to the situation among the Latvians this was somewhat disappointing. And it is also interesting to see that most of the early collectors and popularizers of rahwalaulud - Jakobson, Kunileid, Thomsen, Grenzstein - had been trained in Cimze's seminary. They were clearly influenced by their Latvian colleagues. A more systematic collection of Estonian "folk tunes" only started after the turn of the century and in an European perspective this was really very late. 

  • Walter Anderson: Das Lied von den zwei Königskindern in der estnischen Volksüberlieferung, in: Verhandlungen der Gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft 26, 1932, pp. 1-130, at UofTartu 
  • Longins Apkalns, Lettische Musik, Wiebaden, 1977 
  • Elmar Arro, Geschichte der Estnischen Musik. Band I, Tartu, 1933 
  • Cornelius Hasselblatt, Geschichte der estnischen Literatur. Von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Berlin & New York, 2006 
  • Kevin C. Karnes, A Garland of Songs for a Nation of Singers: An Episode in the History of Russia, the Herderian Tradition and the Rise of Baltic Nationalism, in: Journal of the Royal Musical Association 130, 2005, pp. 197-235 (
  • Dietmar Klenke: Der singende „deutsche Mann“. Gesangvereine und deutsches Nationalbewußtsein von Napoleon bis Hitler, Münster, 1998 
  • Helmut Loos, Deutsche Männergesangvereine im Ostseeraum und der Anfang der lettischen Singbewegung, in: Martin Loeser & Walter Werbeck, Musikfeste im Ostseeraum im späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 2014, pp. 221-36 
  • Heinrich Rosenthal, Kulturbestrebungen des estnischen Volkes während eines Menschenalters (1869-1900). Erinnerungen, Cordes & Schenk, Reval, 1912, at the Internet Archive 
  • Guntis Šmidchens, The Power of Song. Nonviolent National Culture in the Baltic Singing Revolution, Seattle, London & Copenhagen, 2014