Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Old German Songbooks, No. 8: W. Kothe, Gesangbuch für katholische Schulen (2 editions: 1894 & 1908)

Here is another old songbook from Germany, once again one for the use in schools. This collection also had a particularly long life, not as long as the Liedersammlung by Weeber & Krauß (see here) but it remained in print for at least 50 years. I have found two editions, one from 1894 and the other one published in 1908, nearly a decade after the death of the original editor. As usual the books I have scanned are no clean library copies but were clearly heavily used by their former owners. 
  • Wilhelm Kothe, Gesangbuch für katholische Schulen. Eine Sammlung von 140 ein- und mehrstimmigen Schul- und Volksliedern. Mit hoher Genehmigung des Hochwürdigen Herrn Fürstbischofs von Breslau und des Hochwürdigen Herrn Bischofs von Ermland. 19., verbesserte Auflage, Leipzig 1894
    Now available at the Internet Archive
  • Wilhelm Kothe, Gesangbuch für katholische Schulen. Eine Sammlung von 140 ein- und mehrstimmigen Schul- und Volksliedern. Mit hoher Genehmigung des Hochwürdigen Herrn Fürstbischofs von Breslau und des Hochwürdigen Herrn Bischofs von Ermland. 25. Auflage, besorgt von Augustin Apel, Leipzig 1908 [pp. 31/2 missing]
    Now available at the Internet Archive
The editor Wilhelm Kothe (1831-1899) was a music educator and seminary teacher from Lower Silesia. He had studied in Berlin but also had been in Speyer, Brühl and Regensburg to learn a little bit more. At first he worked in Liebenthal and then since 1871 until 1899 in the town of Habelschwerdt. In 1891 Kothe was honoured with the title Königlicher Musikdirektor (summarized from Hamann 1976, pp. 62-3). 

He was a very industrious and productive editor and writer and created, for example, pieces for the organ as well as choral arrangements. But he also published some more books, among others a Gesangbuch für ein- und mehrklassige Volksschulen (see Hofmeister XIX, August 1888, p. 322), a Katholisches Gesang- und Gebetsbuch (see Hofmeister XIX, April 1894, p. 165), guidelines for singing lessons (Kurzgefasster Leitfaden für die methodische Behandlung des Gesangunterrichtes in der Volksschule; 4th ed., 1870 online available at BStB, München, Mus.th. 1798) and a historical work about the Prussian King Friedrich der Große als Musiker, sowie als Freund und Förderer der musikalischen Kunst (Braunsberg 1869, online avaliable at BStB, München, Mus.th. 1797). 

But this Gesangbuch für katholische Schulen may have been his most successful work. It was first published in 1865 (see the preface) but as far as I can see there is no extant copy of this original version. A third edition from 1869, "vermehrt und verbessert" with 120 songs, can be found at the BStB in Munich (Mus.pr. 332, now [10.5.2014] also available online). The book was then the regularly reprinted and republished for several decades but it seems there were few changes except that he added a couple of more pieces. The 19th edition from 1894 presented here includes - as the title says - 140 songs.

After Kothe's death in 1899 this collection remained in print and the editorship was assumed by one Augustin Apel (1867-1937; dates from Krause & Marwinski 1999, p. 18, at Google Books), a music teacher from the town of Heiligenstadt. Here I have the so-called "jubilee edition", the 25th, that was published in 1908. As late as 1915 a 28th edition came out (see DNB 574435468) but it seems that this was the last one. Perhaps this collection began to look a little old-fashioned at that time. 

The repertoire promoted in this book is not that different from many other song collections for schools from this era and a not unsurprising amount of songs is still known today. This is especially the case with the ditties for the younger children in the first part (No. 2-9). One gets the impression that these kind of educational songbooks were in fact very effective in teaching the pupils a kind of basic stock of so-called "Volkslieder" that they then remembered for the rest of their life. 

Kothe also included a couple of standards by composers like Nägeli, Schumann, Mozart and of course Silcher, for example the latter's immensely popular "Loreley". And not at least - this was during the Kaiserreich - the pupils were also treated to a great number of patriotic pieces, songs like "Unser Kaiser lebe lang" (No. 101), "Des Deutschen Vaterland" (No. 105) or "Dem Kaiser" (No. 115), all more or less indigestible today. What is missing - for some reason - are the all very popular imported foreign hits, for example "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" or "Lang, Lang ist's her". The only exception is the tune of "Robin Adair", here not with the words of Wilhelm Gerhard's "Treu und herzinniglich" but with "Heimat, Ade!". That text was apparently preferred by the compilers of collections for schools. But interestingly Kothe has edited the melody a little bit and the second part looks in parts different from the standard version: 

  • Fritz Hamann, Die Musikerziehung an den ehemaligen Lehrerseminaren in Nieder- und Oberschlesien, Ost- und Westpreußen, Pommern und Posen nebst Biographien ihrer Musiklehrer (SML). Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Musik- und Schulgeschichte, Dortmund 1976 (Veröffentlichungen der Forschungsstelle Ostmitteleuropa, Reihe A, 31)
  • Friedhilde Krause & Felicitias Marwinski, Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände Deutschlands 20, Hildesheim 1999

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