Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Ausländische Volkslieder" in 19th-Century Germany - Some Important Collections 1829-1853 (Part 1)

During the 19th century German music fans were fascinated with what was called "ausländische Volkslieder" or "National-Lieder": national airs from other countries. Of particular importance were a couple of book-length collections that promised to give an exemplary overview of this genre. Thankfully all these publications have been digitized and are now easily available for research and study.

What kind of songs were included, what were the editors' sources, what did they actually know about other countries' and cultures' music?  Interestingly the first relevant publication - apart from the Abbé Vogler's interesting Polymelos (1791, 1806, see in this blog: Abbé Vogler's Collections of National Airs) - came out only in 1829. That was rather late compared to Britain: there had already been a great fashion for these kind of anthologies from 1800 to 1830 (see in this blog: "Melodies of Different Nations": Anthologies of International "National Airs" in Britain 1800-1830).
  • Eduard Baumstark & Wilhelm von Waldbrühl, Bardale. Sammlung auserlesener Volkslieder der verschiedenen Völker der Erde mit deutschem Texte und Begleitung des Pianoforte und der Guitarre, herausgegeben und dem Herrn Geheimen Rathe und Professor Dr. A. F. J. Thibaut hochachtungsvoll gewidmet, I. Band, Friedrich Busse, Braunschweig, 1829 (available at BStB-DS: Mus.pr. 2623-1 & Google Books )
This collection was dedicated to Prof. Thibaut (1772-1840, see Baumstark 1841) in Heidelberg, a jurist but also an influential music theorist. Since the early 20s he was busy collecting books of national airs. The second edition of his  famous Über Reinheit der Tonkunst includes a chapter "Über Volksgesänge" in which he discusses the history of the genre and the most important publications available at that time (1826, pp. 74-93). In fact he had acquired an impressive collection of relevant literature, mostly from Britain, including for example four volumes of Thomson's Scottish Airs, a nearly complete set of Moore's Irish Melodies as well as Parry's Welsh Melodies and Horn's Indian Melodies (see Verzeichnis, 1842, pp. 40-3). Thibaut's Singverein, his own very ambitious choir, used to perform these songs (see Baumstark, Blätter, f. ex. pp. 160-81). Since circa 1820 he was busy compiling a manuscript of Alte National-Gesänge: arrangements of German and international national airs - including translations - for four voices (RISM 453009283). Both editors spent some time in Heidelberg and sang with Thibaut. And of course they were able to use his resources for their own works.

Wilhelm von Waldbrühl (i. e. Wilhelm von Zuccalmaglio, 1803-1869) was a very interesting character and he later became one of the more controversial collectors and editors of so-called "Volkslieder" during that era. In fact he was so carried away by his passion for this genre that he sometimes wrote songs himself - or at least edited heavily what he had collected - and passed these pieces off as creations of the "folk" (see Friedlaender 1919). This was of course not uncommon at that time. The sound and the style of the songs was much more important than their provenance. If the "folk" didn't deliver every skilled writer and composer could learn to produce "Volkslieder" that sounded right. Johannes Brahms for example, who didn't care much about "authenticity" and couldn't stand nitpicking scholars like Ludwig Erk, liked and admired Zuccalmaglio's work (see Noa 2013, pp. 333-6). This collection of foreign songs was one of Wilhelm von Zuccalmaglio's earliest publications (see Yeo 1993, pp. 79-90). Here he worked together with Eduard Baumstark (1807-1889), a young economist and jurist who later made himself a name as a politician and university professor.

 The book offered songs that were described for example as Persian, Hebrew, Italian, Scottish, Irish, Welsh or Russian, all in German translation, but without the original text. Arrangements for piano and the guitar were included. Thankfully the editors have also listed their sources. Most of these pieces were taken from earlier printed collections, those from Ireland, Scotland and Wales for example mostly from George Thomson's publications. For some songs they noted that they had collected them from oral tradition ("aus dem Volksmunde") but I wouldn't put too much trust in these claims.

This collection looked quite impressive but the reviewers weren't impressed (see AMZ 31, 1829, pp. 733-742; BAMZ 7, 1830, pp. 283-5). They didn't like the introduction, the song selection, the arrangements nor the translations. And by all accounts it wasn't such a big success. No further volumes were published. Some years later the same team tried it out a second time (see the advert in AMZ 37, 1835, Intelligenzblatt No. 2, p. 8). Here they also included the original texts. But only the first three booklets appeared and then this attempt also came to an end :
  • Eduard Baumstark, Auserlesene, Aechte Volksgesänge der verschiedensten Völker mit Urtexten und deutscher Übersetzung, gesammelt in Verbindung mit A. W. von Zuccalmaglio, ein- und mehrstimmig eingerichtet, mit Begleitung des Pianoforte und der Guitarre, 3 Hefte, L. Pabst, Darmstadt, 1835-6 (Booklets 1 & 2 online available at BStB-DS: 4 Mus.pr. 474-1 & 4 Mus.pr. 474-2).
The same year another collection was published:
  • O. L. B. Wolff, Braga. Sammlung Österreichischer, Schweizerischer, Französischer, Englischer, Spanischer, Portugiesischer, Brasilianischer, Italienischer, Holländischer, Schwedischer, Dänischer, Russischer, Polnischer, Litthauischer, Finnischer, u. s. w. Volkslieder mit ihren ursprünglichen Melodien mit Klavierbegleitung u. unterlegter deutscher Uebersetzung, 14 Hefte, N. Simrock, Berlin/Bonn, n. d. [1835] (see Hofmeister, September 1835, p. 93; available at Google Books; & the Internet Archive; booklet No. 5 with English, Scottish and Irish songs is missing in Google's edition but it is now available at SLUB Dresden and the Internet Archive)
Otto Ludwig Bernhard Wolff (1799-1851, see Steffen 1996; also: Wikipedia, ADB 44, 1998, pp. 9-12 & wikisource) was immensely knowledgeable and industrious writer who made himself a name as a novelist, translator, editor and scholar. In 1829 he became professor of literature in Jena. His output was simply astounding. Beside his works of fiction he also produced a number of voluminous anthologies, for example of German "Volkslieder" and of German and English poetry as well as an encyclopedia of literature in 8 volumes and a Conversations-Lexicon für Gebildete aus allen Ständen in 5 volumes. 

Wolff had at that point already published interesting compilations of French songs (Altfranzoesische Volkslieder, 1831, at the Internet Archive) and old Dutch songs (Proben Altholländischer Volkslieder, 1832, at the Internet Archive), but both without music. His Braga was his first and only publication where he included the tunes. As the title says here he offered all in all 14 booklets with songs from all kind of countries with both the original text and - for the most part - his own translation. At that time this was surely the most comprehensive collection of foreign national airs in Germany. Booklet No. 5 is dedicated to songs from Britain. The greatest part are from Scotland and the last four from Ireland.


Unfortunately he forgot to name his sources. But they are not too difficult to find out. The Irish pieces were of course all from Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies while the Scottish songs were lifted wholesale - nearly all even including the piano arrangement - either from R. A. Smith's Scotish Minstrel (6 Vols., 1820-1824) or from James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (6 Vol., 1787-1803). The use of the latter is a little bit surprising because it was barely known in Germany and only very few scholars were familiar with this collection. 

The selection is quite good. We find here many of the common standards, like "MacDonald's Gathering", "Awa, Whig's, Awa", "The Campbells are coming" and "Lord Gregory". But interestingly Wolff was among the first to publish some of Robert Burns' songs in Germany complete with original words and music: "John Anderson, My Jo", "Green Grow The Rashes O" and "Duncan Gray". That was also quite uncommon. Until the mid-30s Burns was not particularly well-known in Germany and and very few of his works were available. And when he later became really popular his songs were usually only published in German translation without the tunes. Unfortunately Wolff didn't even name Burns as the author and so this chance was forgiven. But the same happened to Thomas Moore whose songs were also treated as anonymous "Volkslieder". Nonetheless this was an impressive collection  that included a lot of music that until that point had not been available in Germany.

Two years later he published another collection of his translations of foreign songs, this time without the music:
  • O. L. B. Wolff, Halle der Völker. Sammlung vorzüglicher Volkslieder der bekanntesten Nationen, größtenteils zum ersten Male, metrisch in das Deutsche übertragen, 2 Bde., Johann David Sauerländer, Frankfurt am Main, 1837 (available at Google Books & BStB-DS: Vol. 1 : 6108804 L.eleg.g. 440 sd-1, Vol. 2: 6108804 L.eleg.g. 440 sd-2)
These two volumes include chapters about Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal, Scandinavia as well as one with a mixed bag of songs from a couple of other countries. Here he actually named his sources and added interesting notes for every song. For the British songs he used, besides Smith's Scotish Minstrel, also for example Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany, Percy's Reliques, Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Ritson's Scottish Songs and Motherwell's Minstrelsy: Ancient and Modern (see Vol. 1, p. 2, at Google Books). But the selection is a little bit strange. There is not a single Irish song, not even one of Moore's. Instead it is made up mostly of Scottish texts, but for some reason none of Burns'. But Wolff again proved to be one of the most knowledgeable scholars of foreign song at that time in Germany. A decade later he compiled another - more representative - collection of texts: Hausschatz der Volkspoesie. Sammlung der vorzüglichsten und eigenthümlichsten Volkslieder aller Länder und Zeiten in metrischen deutschen Übersetzungen (Wigand, Leipzig, 1846, at Google Books)

Literature:
    • Eduard Baumstark, Ant. Friedr. Justus Thibaut. Blätter der Erinnerung für seine Verehrer und für die Freunde der reinen Tonkunst, Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig, 1841 (at the Internet Archive)
    • Max Friedlaender, Zuccalmaglio und das Volkslied in: Jahrbuch der Musikbibliothek Peters, Band 25, 1919, S. 53-80
    • Marion Steffen, Der Improvisator als Anthologist. Zu Leben und Werk Oscar Ludwig Bernhard Wolffs (1799-1851), in: Helga Eßmann & Udo Schöning (ed.), Weltliteratur in deutschen Veranthologien des 19. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1996 (= Göttinger Beiträge zur Internationalen Übersetzungsforschung 11), pp. 450-470 
    • Else Yeo, Eduard Baumstark und die Brüder von Zuccalmaglio. Drei Volksliedsammler, Köln, 1993
    • Verzeichnis der von dem verstorbenen Grossh. Badischen Prof. der Rechte und Geheimrathe Dr. Anton Friedrich Justus Thibaut zu Heidelberg hinterlassenen Musiksammlung, welche als ein ganzes ungetrennt veräussert werden soll, Karl Groos, Heidelberg, 1842 (at the Internet Archive)

    revised: 17.11.2015 
      Go to Part 2

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