Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Herder, Hupel and the Discovery of Baltic "Volkslieder" - Pt. 2


Part 1
I. Introduction
II. Pastor Hupel as a Collector of Estonian and Latvian Songs
III. Herder and the Baltic
IV. Herder's Volkslieder
V. Herder & Hupel after 1779 

Part 2
VI. New Perspectives 1780-1830
VII. Baltic Volkslieder since 1830
VIII. Towards Cultural and Political Emancipation
Literature 


VI. New Perspectives 1778 - 1820 

Herder's anthology can be regarded as turning-point for the perception of the culture of the Baltic peasants. It became a "catalyst that reinforced the legacy of folksong study among the German speaking minority of Livland" (Jaremko-Porter 2008a, p. 163). But one can't say that suddenly everybody set out to collect and publish Latvian and Estonian songs. It was more of a very slow process and only very few relevant publications appeared over the next several decades. 

At first one of the old hands, the already legendary pastor Stender, returned to the scene. It is not clear if he knew about Herder's Volkslieder and its new approach. But for a new edition of his Lettische Grammatik in 1783 he expanded the chapter about Latvian poetry and songs and even added some German translations (pp. 272-81). This was a competent and knowledgeable overview. But he still preferred to promote his own Latvian songs, those he wrote for educational purposes like the one "wider die Säufer" where he tried to emulate the "crude taste of the peasants" (p. 279). 

Some years later two interesting articles about the Estonians appeared in the Teutsche Merkur, at that time the most important periodical for the German literary intelligentsia (1787, 4, pp. 232-55; 1788, 2, here pp. 425-33; see also Meyer 1896, pp. 268-80). The author was one Christian Schlegel (1757-1842), a young theologian from Jena who had spent some years as a teacher in Estonia. He offered a considerable number of Estonian songs with German translations, some original tunes and also very informative notes. 


The first of these two articles, Volksgedichte der Esthnischen Nation, was also translated into English and appeared in 1795 in the Varieties of Literature (1, pp. 22-44), but without any reference to its source. Instead it was only described as a "Letter from a Friend". Samuel Taylor Coleridge then reprinted two songs as well as some explanatory notes in his Watchman (1, March 1, 1796, pp. 271-3). One of these songs was later borrowed by Maria Edgesworth for her Castle Rackrent and reprinted in the Glossary as "a curious specimen of Esthonian poetry" (1800, pp. xv-xvi; 4th ed., 1804, pp. 195-6): 
This is the cause that the country is ruined
And the straw of the thatch is eaten away;
The gentry are come to live in the land-
Chimneys between the village
[...] 
A decade after Schlegel's articles Garlieb Merkel (1769-1850), pastor, writer and a spirited fighter against serfdom and the political and cultural repression of the Baltic peasants, published his great book about Die Letten in Liefland am Ende des philosophischen Jahrhunderts (1797, here 2nd ed. 1800, at the Internet Archive). Already here he included some notes about the Latvians' songs and music (see pp. 55-7, pp. 61-2). The same year an article Ueber Dichtergeist und Dichtung unter den Letten with translations of several Latvian songs appeared in the Neue Teutsche Merkur, (1797, 2, pp. 29-49). This text was then recycled in his next important book, Die Vorzeit Lieflands. Ein Denkmahl des Pfaffen- und Rittergeistes (I, 1798, pp. 194-202). 

The year 1802 saw the publication of Johann Gottlieb Petri's Ehstland und die Ehsten, a comprehensive treatise about the Estonians in three volumes, a "historisch-geographisch-statistisches Gemälde von Ehstland". The author, another theologian from Germany who had spent 12 years as a teacher in the Baltic and in Russia (see Heeg 1985), also included some remarks about Estonian songs and music (pp. 67-72, at EEVA). But unlike Schlegel and Merkel he didn't offer anything new. This small chapter was mostly derived from Hupel's works. 

Gustav Bergmann, a pastor already involved in Hupel's efforts to collect Latvian songs for Herder, had over the years amassed a great number of texts. He published them in two volumes in 1807 and 1808 and also printed another collection by colleague (see Biezais 1961). It is not clear if he knew about Herder's Volkslieder and if he had assimilated some of his thoughts (see Jaremko-Porter 2012, pp. 143-4; Scholz 1995, pp. 571-2). But it seems he remained an old-fashioned antiquarian collector in the style of Hupel and Stender. This little booklets only included the Latvian texts. Bergmann had printed them himself in only very small numbers and therefore they were barely known outside of his home. But at least Gottfried von Tielemann, teacher, writer and also editor of Livona, a popular anthology for the Baltic provinces, had seen a copy and he wrote a helpful and worthwhile little treatise Über die Volkslieder der Letten (1812, pp. 177-96) and also included some translated texts.


Pastor Bergmann also happened to become acquainted with the Scottish ballad scholar Robert Jamieson who at that time just spent some years as teacher in Riga. He gave him copies of these collections and also translated all the songs for him into German. Parts of two songs - in Latvian with an English translation - were then included in the Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, the great anthology of old Scandinavian and German epic poetry compiled by Jamieson together with Sir Walter Scott and Henry Weber (1814, pp. 469-70; see Biezais, pp. 27-9). As far as I know this was the first time that Latvian songs were made available in Britain. 

Meanwhile in Reval another learned pastor, Johann Heinrich Rosenplänter, had started with his Beiträge zur genaueren Kenntnis der esthnischen Sprache. 20 Volumes were published between 1813 and 1832 (available at BSB, the Internet Archive and EEVA) and some of them offered interesting collections of Estonian songs, texts only of course, as well as informative treatises (see f. ex. 1, 1813, pp. 11-2; 2, 1813, pp. 15-34, pp. 71-4; 4, 1815, pp. 134-65; 7, 1817, pp. 32-87). Translations were only rarely included and therefore most of these articles were only suitable for specialist with a knowledge of the language. 

In 1817 Bavarian diplomat and scholar François Gabriel de Bray's Essai Critique sur l'Histoire de la Livonie was published. In this excellent treatise on the history of Livonia we can find some remarks about music and songs with the old "Jörru, Jörru" from Kelch's Historia as an example (pp. 54-5). He also quoted from an unpublished work by a pastor Masing who had collected this song only recently from oral tradition (pp. 286-8; later in Beiträge 10, 1818, pp. 60-71). 

In 1821 young Estonian poet and scholar Kristian Jaak Peterson (1801-1822; see Wikipedia & EEVA) published his German translation of Christfried Ganander's Mythologia Fennica (at the Internet Archive & EEVA). He included additional examples from Estonian tradition (see f. ex. pp. 26-7). Two years later a handful of "Nachbildungen Esthnischer Volkslieder" were made available in the St. Petersburgische Zeitschrift (12, 1823, pp. 127-8; pp. 254-6). The author was one Heinrich Neus, (1795-1876, see Wikipedia & EEVA), formerly a student of theology in Dorpat and at that time already school inspector. He will reappear several times again in the course of this story. 

Nearly all of these works were produced by German scholars and writers, mostly theologians. They played the major role in this field. Estonians and Latvians were of course rarely involved. Serfdom would only be abolished in the Baltic provinces between 1816 and 1819. At least some of these writers - particularly Merkel, the truest Herderian among them - showed a less antiquarian and more forward-looking perspective. But at that time there was not yet any kind of systematic collection of songs. Individual scholars - especially Bergmann and Rosenplänter - managed to acquire considerable numbers of songs but they still were not able to discuss them in a wider context. It also appears that barely anyone except Schlegel cared about the music. Otherwise they all collected and published many texts but only rarely the associated tunes. 

Herder may have brought the Estonians and Latvians onto the European literary stage but for a very long time they were still relegated to the background and rarely noted or discussed by intellectuals, scholars and the general readership in the European cultural centers. One should remember that this was a time when poetry and also songs from even the remotest parts of world were already easily available. 

For some reason the Lithuanians fared a little bit better. Already in 1808 a literary adaptation appeared. Popular writer M. G. Lewis, the first one England who borrowed texts from Herder's Volkslieder - in his novel The Monk (1795) and in the Tales of Wonder (1801; see Guthke 1957 & 1958) - also used one of the Lithuanian songs for his ballad "The Dying Bride" in the Romantic Tales (II, p. 115, see I, p. xiii). "Eine littauische Daina (Liebesliedchen)" was discussed in the AMZ in 1812 (pp. 25-28). 

In 1825 the first comprehensive anthology of Lithuanian songs appeared: Rhesa's Dainos oder Litthauische Volkslieder (at the Internet Archive; see Šmidchens, pp. 59-61) offered original texts, translations into German and even some tunes and was well-received in Germany. Jacob Grimm wrote a review for the Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen (1826, St. 104, pp. 1025-1035). Goethe - interested in the Baltic since he had met Herder more than 50 years ago - also put his thoughts to paper. But his review wasn’t published at that time (later in Sämmtliche Werke 33, 1844, pp. 339-41; see also Hennig 1987, pp. 298-90).

Adelbert von Chamisso (1781-1838), poet and scholar, created adaptations of four songs from this book (see Gedichte, 1834, pp. 154-60). One of them, "Lied einer Wittwe" ("Her zogen die Schwäne mit Kriegsgesang"), became very popular and was regularly reprinted in other anthologies, even in books for schools like Wackernagel's Auswahl deutscher Gedichte für höhere Schulen (1836, No. 255, p. 254). 

Thanks to the melodies included by Rhesa some of his songs also found its way into musical anthologies. Zuccalmaglio and Baumstark used one in their Bardale (1829, No. 21, p. 36), the first German collection of international national airs. Five of them were then included in O. L. B. Wolff's Braga, another anthology of this kind in 14 volumes (1835, here Vol. 14, Nos. 1-5, pp. 3-9). Apparently Wolff - who otherwise had an encyclopedic knowledge in this field - wasn't able to find some Estonian or Latvian songs. 

He also plundered Rhesa's collection for his later anthologies of only texts, Halle der Völker. Sammlung der vorzüglichsten Volkslieder der bekanntesten Nationen (1837, II, here pp. 132-9) and Hausschatz der Volkspoesie. Sammlung der vorzüglichsten und eigenthümlichsten Volkslieder aller Länder und Zeiten (1846, here f. ex. pp. 123-4), while missing out the rest of the Baltic except for one Estonian song borrowed from Herder. Other popular anthologies of this kind from this time also preferred Lithuanian texts. One may only look into Die Volksharfe. Sammlung der schönsten Volkslieder aller Nationen published in six volumes in 1838. Here we find three of Chamisso's poems (6, Nos. 57-9, pp. 69-74). Otherwise the Baltic people are - once again - only represented by two of Herder's Estonian songs (1, No. 56, p. 117, 2, No. 6, pp. 9-10). 

In fact Lithuanian songs were generally much better known in Germany and also much easier to find. A second edition of Rhesa's collection appeared in 1843 (at the Internet Archive) and new anthologies followed soon, for example Jordan's Litthauische Volkslieder und Sagen (1844, at the Internet Archive). Meanwhile Latvian and Estonian songs still took a backseat. Much of what had already been published - by Merkel, Schlegel, Hupel and others - seems to have been forgotten. Only the Baltic chapter of Herder's Volkslieder occasionally served as a source. What was made available anew often didn't reach the mainstream. 


VII. Baltic Volkslieder since 1830 

In Britain not much was published. In 1830 William Taylor included in the chapter about Herder in his Historic Survey of German Poetry two of the Estonian songs from the Volkslieder as well as one Lithuanian (pp. 16-8). This was the first time since M. G. Lewis' publications three decades ago that texts from Herder's anthology were published in English translation. The Volkslieder were barely known there. 

But the following year a much more interesting piece appeared in the Foreign Quartely Review ( 8, 1831, pp. 61-78). Pastor Bergmann's anthologies of Latvian dainas, brought to England by Robert Jamieson, also reached - via Sir Walter Scott - the well-known polyglot writer John Bowring (1792-1872; see Wikipedia) who had already published translations of, for example, Finnish, Russian, Serbian, Hungarian, Polish, Dutch and Spanish poetry. He wrote a treatise about "Lettish Popular Poetry" and also tried his hand at translating some of these texts into English. Bowring's linguistic abilities were somewhat controversial. He often seems to have relied on the help native speakers or used German translations as starting-point (see f. ex. Lurcock 1974). It is not clear who helped him with this work. By all accounts he didn't know the manuscript with the German texts that Bergmann had given to Jamieson (see Biezais, pp. 29-30). 

This article quickly reached Germany. A short piece in the Blätter für literarische Unterhaltung (2, 1831, pp. 1379-80) offered "Proben lettischer Volkslieder und Poesie". But the anonymous author simply translated some of Bowring's English texts into German. One may assume that these few examples had not much to do with the original songs as collected by Bergmann. Three years later Baltic-German pastor and scholar Carl Christian Ulmann (1793-1871, see Wikipedia) - at that time already the foremost expert in this field - reviewed Bowring's treatise and criticized him for his bad translations. In fact he accused him of not knowing the language at all, a not unreasonable assumption (in Dorpater Jahrbücher 2, 1834, pp. 393-407). Nonetheless this work was also translated into German and appeared in the Magazin, herausgegeben von der Lettisch-literärischen Gesellschaft (5, 1835, pp. 28-86). 

Meanwhile in Germany Christian Schlegel had returned to the scene. He had made a career in the bureaucracy of the Russian Empire but still had enough time at hand for traveling around (see Paucker 1847; Kallas 1902, pp. 16-18). Schlegel reported about these trips in his Reisen in mehrere russische Gouvernements, published in 10 volumes between 1819 and 1834. He kept on collecting - apparently with the help of local clergymen - songs of all the peoples he visited, especially of the Estonians. A great number of texts - in German translation - as well as some tunes can be found scattered among several volumes of this series (see f. ex. Vol. 5, 1830, pp. 108-63; Tab. I & II). Unlike others he really enjoyed what he heard and took great care to describe it accurately. He also tried to compare the Estonians' songs and performances with what he had read about the national music of other peoples. 


The 10th volume (1834) included a great number of texts - about 100 - but I haven't yet seen a copy. It seems this was a very rare book. For some reason the editors of popular anthologies of international songs like O. L. B. Wolff weren't familiar with Schlegel's highly interesting works and never used any of the songs from his books. But at least it was taken note of by local scholars in the Baltic. Heinrich Neus wrote an extended and informative review (in: Dorpater Jahrbücher 5, 1836, pp. 217-32). 

At that time most of the research into the popular poetry and songs of the Latvians and Estonians was done by German-Baltic scholars. Learned societies had already been founded: the Lettisch-literärische Gesellschaft in 1824 (see Scholz 1990, pp. 121-4) and the Estnische Gelehrte Gesellschaft in 1838. Their periodicals regularly included relevant articles as well as original texts, often with translations (see Kallas 1901, pp. 60-1). Ulmann had already called for the systematic collection of Latvian songs in the Latvian society's Magazin (Vol. 3, p. 282). A very insightful treatise "Über das lettische Volkslied" by Hermann E. Katterfeld can be found in the fifth volume of the Magazin (pp. 1-27; see Scholz 1990, pp. 160-2). 

Neus published Estonian texts in several volumes of Das Inland. Wochenschrift für Liv-, Esth- und Kurland's Geschichte, Geographie, Statistik und Litteratur (see f. ex. Vol. 6, 1841, pp. 671-2, 753-4, 782-9, 811-6, at UofTartu Rep.). F. R. Kreuzwald (1803-1882; see Wikipedia) - not a German but from an Estonian family - also wrote an informative treatise for the Verhandlungen der Gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft (f. ex. in Vol. 2.2, 1848, pp. 43-59). But it seems that these works rarely reached Germany or England. Most of these scholars' knowledge as well as the songs they were collecting and publishing remained confined to small Baltic-German circles. 

During the 1840s only very few more relevant publications appeared in Germany. Johann Georg Kohl (1808 - 1878; see Wikipedia; wikisource), librarian and writer from Bremen had spent several years as a teacher in the Baltic and also traveled through parts of the Russian Empire. In 1841 his book Die Deutsch-Russischen Ostseeprovinzen oder Natur- und Völkerleben in Kur-, Liv und Esthland was published. He included chapters about the poetry, songs and music of both the Latvians and Estonians and quoted a great number of texts in German translation (II, pp. 119-186; pp. 223-36; see Viese 1989; Jaremko-Porter 2008a, p. 147, pp. 174-6). 

These were interesting and knowledgeable treatises and it is clear that Kohl - who called the Latvians a "nation of poets" - had done his homework. He was well aware of the history of collecting and criticized the German clergy of earlier times for their attempts to suppress the Baltic peasants' singing culture. Kohl was also able to describe the different genres as well as the performance contexts. All in all this was a competent addition to the literature and also suitable for a wider readership in Germany. Unfortunately he didn't include any tunes. 

Georg Friedrich Daumer (1800-1875; see Wikipedia), philosopher and poet from Nürnberg, was an expert for oriental poetry. But he also tried his hand at Baltic songs. A small collection of translations, "Lieder der Letten und Esthen", can be found in the Kalender auf das Jahr 1843 (München 1842, here pp. 58-62). Four years later Daumer published his Hafis. Eine Sammlung persischer Gedichte. Nebst poetischen Zugaben aus verschiedenen Völkern und Ländern and here he included a long chapter dedicated to "Lettisch-Litthauische Volkspoesie" as well as another one with Estonian songs (pp. 227-280). With these translations the Latvian and Estonian peasants returned onto to the literary stage. 

Compilers of anthologies of literature occasionally used Daumer's text, for example Heinrich Scherr in his popular Bildersaal der Weltliteratur. He not only reprinted some of Rhesa's and Chamisso's texts in a chapter titled "Volkslieder aus Polen und Lithauen" (pp. 1163-5) but also added some of Daumer's pieces under the heading "Lieder der Letten" (pp. 1187-8). Some of his adaptations were also reprinted 12 years later in a curious collection edited by Amara George (i. e. Mathilde Kaufmann): Mythotherpe. Ein Mythen-, Sagen- und Legendenbuch (1858, pp. 106-20). Here the readers could find a lot of exotic poetry not only from Europe but also from around the world and the few Baltic texts were placed here in a chapter including translations of Finnish, Siberian, Polish and Serbian songs and poems. 

The year 1846 also saw the publication of Friedrich Kruse's Ur-Geschichte des Esthnischen Volksstammes und der Kaiserlich Russischen Ostseeprovinzen Liv-, Esth- und Curland überhaupt. Kruse, at that time professor of history in Dorpat , added a short chapter about "Volkslieder der Letten und Esthen" (pp. 169-74, see also p. 47) with several texts as well as two melodies, one Estonian and one Latvian. The latter was particularly important. It was - as far as I can see - the first time since Hupel in 1782 that a Latvian traditional tune was made available in print. 


A more systematic collection and publication also started during the 1840s. In 1844 pastor G. F. Büttner published his Latweeschu lauschu dzeesmas un singes (at Google Books & ÖNB), the first comprehensive anthology of Latvian songs. But he only included the original texts and because of the lack of translations this otherwise very valuable collection was not really suitable for a more general readership. But at least the introduction and the notes were in German and an interesting and helpful review in a Baltic-German periodical also offered at least some information to readers not proficient in Latvian (11, No. 13, 26.3.1846, pp. 293-8). 

Much better in this respect was Heinrich Neus' Ehstnische Volkslieder. Urschrift und Übersetzung (1850-52, 3 Vols, at the Internet Archive). This was at that time a definitive anthology of Estonian songs and here the reader could find the original texts, translations into German, a good introduction as well as explanatory notes. Another collection appeared four years later: Mythische und Magische Lieder der Ehsten (1854, at the Internet Archive) by Neus and Friedrich Kreutzwald. The music was missing in all these volumes but most scholars were more interested in the words of the songs than the tunes. 

But nonetheless this was a good start. Scholars of Baltic song culture as well as compilers of literary anthologies now had a little more to select from. One may have a look for example at Wolfgang Menzel's Gesänge der Völker, another collection of the texts of international songs published in 1851. These kind of anthologies - all of course modeled on Herder's Volkslieder - were very popular in Germany. Menzel, a well-known and very productive poet, critic and scholar, did not yet know Neus' Ehstnische Volkslieder - this is understandable because the first part had just been published the year before - but at least he was familiar not only with Herder, Rhesa and Chamisso but also with Schlegel's and Kruse's publications (see pp. 76, 152-6, 290-1, 347, 365-6). Therefore his selection of Baltic songs was a little more varied than what earlier similar anthologies like Wolff's or the Volksharfe had offered. 

But several publications from the 1860s - from England, Germany and Denmark - show that the reception of the works of the Baltic-German scholars and also of the older literature was still somewhat limited. English linguist and ethnologist Robert Gordon Latham included in his Nationalities of Europe (Vol. 1, 1863, here pp. 23-42, pp. 132-45, pp. 148-50) chapters about both the Lithuanians and the Estonians. He also discussed their "poetry" and quoted a considerable number of songs in English translation. For the former he used an anthology published in the meantime, Nesselmann's Littauische Volkslieder (1853, at the Internet Archive). For the Estonians he could rely on Neus' great collection but didn't use anything  else. Strangely there is only a short and not particularly insightful remark about the Latvians (p. 102). Perhaps he wasn't familiar with what was available. 

Johann Georg Kohl, at that time one of the most successful travel writers in Europe, offered another contribution to this field and made again use of his research in the Baltic. Die Völker Europas (1868, pp. 284-303; 2nd ed., 1872, pp. 156-73), a popular ethnography of the peoples of Europe for a wider readership, included a chapter about Latvians and Lithuanians. This was an interesting and informative presentation of their history and he also quoted from several songs.


Latham and Kohl only used texts. More problematic was the music. Not much was available. Carl Engel, a German scholar and musician living in England, was at that time surely one of the greatest experts for international national airs. His Introduction to the Study of National Music (1866) can be regarded as the most comprehensive contemporary discussion of this genre. The bibliography list nearly all relevant anthologies of songs. He was of course familiar with the Lithuanian collections by Rhesa and by Nesselmann (p. 404). The latter also included some tunes. But the Estonians are only represented - besides a book of hymns - by Neus' anthology of texts and the chapter in Latham's Nationalities of Europe (p. 387). Apparently the few older publications with tunes - like Hupel's, Schlegel's and Kruse's - weren't known to him. The Latvians are not even mentioned. 

The largest anthology of international Volkslieder at that time was Danish composer A. P. Berggreen's Folke-sange og Melodier, Faedrelandske og Fremmede, published in 10 volumes during the 1860s. He also included a couple of Lithuanian songs (in Vol. 9, 1869, pp. 3-20) taken from Rhesa and Nesselmann. Latvian and Estonian songs are completely missing. ´

Some original Latvian traditional tunes had already been published in 1859 in 100 dseesmas un singes ar nohtem, a collection of songs for the youth compiled by the pastor Juris Caunītis and the teacher Jānis Kaktiņš (from Karnes, p. 205, p. 219, n. 64, see Das Inland 25, 1860, p. 151). But one may assume that this booklet was barely known outside of the Baltic. The first Latvian anthology including some tunes aimed at an international readership would only be available in the following decade. Lettische Volkslieder übertragen im Versmaass der Originale by Karl Ulmann - son of Carl Christian Ulman - appeared in 1874 (see Karnes 2005, pp. 212-4). Here the interested reader could find German translations of original songs - but no Latvian texts - as well as 11 melodies (see Anhang). This wasn't much and also much too late, nearly a century after Herder and 50 years after the publication of Rhesa's Lithuanian collection. 

It was also during the '70s that Latvian tunes appeared in a musical publication in Germany, in Baltic-German composer Hans Schmidt's Weisen fremder Völker mit hinzugedichtetem Texte (c. 1879, here pp. 12-3). He was from Riga and one may assume that he was familiar with the musical traditions of the Latvians. A more systematic collection and publication of a greater number of Latvian tunes only started in the 1870s (see Biezais, pp. 22-4; Apkalns, pp. 149-52; Boiko 1994; Karnes 2005).

Jānis Cimze (1814-1881; see Wikipedia), a teacher and musician who had studied in Germany, compiled the series Dseesmu rohta jaunekļeem un wihreem (1872-84). Here the songs were offered with arrangements for choirs. But his important and influential anthologies were barely known outside of the Baltic. In 1890 composer Adam Ore's Lettische Volkslieder. Latweeschu Tautas Dseesmas, für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte (at the Internet Archive) was published. This little booklet may have been more suitable for a wider public. German translations of the original texts were included.

Estonian tunes also remained quite rare. Two songs described as "Eesti rahwaviis" can be found in Wanemuine kandle healed (p. 13, p. 16), a small collection of original Estonian songs arranged for four voices that was published by Carl Robert Jakobson (1841-1882; see Wikipedia) in 1869. Some more were included in similar publications. The first anthology - also with arrangements for choirs - only appeared in 1890: Karl August Hermann’s Eesti rahwalaulud (at the Internet Archive). Hermann (1851-1909; see Wikipedia), journalist, linguist and composer, also wrote the first treatise about this topic: Ueber estnische Volksweisen (1892, at UofTartu Rep.; also in: Verhandlungen 16, 1896, pp. 54-72). In fact at that time he did the most for a revival of the old traditional tunes. 


Here we can look into some musical anthologies of national songs from all over the the world that were published around the turn of the century in England and Germany, for example Reimann's Internationales Volksliederbuch (c. 1894, see pp. 2-3) or the Characteristic Songs and Dances of All Nations by Alfred Moffatt and James Duff Brown (c. 1901, see p. 150). At best one can find there some Lithuanian songs. Both the Latvians and the Estonians were still completely ignored. 

But at least Latvian songs would become more visible on the music market after the turn of the century. The works of composer Jāzeps Vītols ([Joseph Wihtol] 1863-1948; see Wikipedia; see Apkalns 1977, pp. 247-64) were particularly important in this respect. His 100 Latweeschu tautas dseesmas. 100 Lettische Volksweisen (1908, at IMSLP), with German texts by poet Rūdolfs Blaumanis, was the most comprehensive anthology so far and the first to offer a greater selection of Latvian Volkslieder for an international audience.


VIII. Towards Cultural and Political Emancipation

This was only a quick review of works including original or translated texts that were published until the 1860s and - to show the negligence of the musical dimension - of songs with tunes that were published until the turn of the century. It is clear to see that the reception of Estonian and Latvian Volkslieder in the West - here in Germany and England - during the 19th century was somewhat limited. It was a very slow and uneven process. As noted before: Herder may have lifted the Baltic peasants out of literary obscurity and placed the on the main stage. But for most of the time they were barely visible. 

As I tried to show only very few writers or scholars in Germany or England showed some interest and offered major contributions: historians like de Bray and Kruse, ethnologists like Latham, travel writers like Schlegel und Kohl, translators of poetry like Bowring and poets like Daumer. At that time poets in Germany produced translations of foreign poetry and songs on assembly line. But Daumer was the only one who offered a greater number of adaptations of Baltic texts. 

Also many composers were busy setting these kind of translations to new music but a look into Hofmeisters Monatsberichte shows that only very few of them tried their hand at Latvian and Estonian songs. The old "Jörru, Jörru" - usually taken from Herder's Volkslieder - was supplied with a new tune a couple of times, for example by Julius Rietz (see Hofmeister, 1841, p. 80). Jakob Rosenhain used one of Daumer's texts ("Sehnlich in die Runde") for his "Esthnisches Volkslied" (here in Album für Gesang, c. 1860, Nr. 17, pp. 62-5). Alexander Winterberger wrote new tunes for two of Daumer's Latvian or Lithuanian adaptations. They can be found in his 20 Gesänge (Op. 10, 1862, here Nos. 5 & 6; see Hofmeister, 1862, p. 182). On the title-page both are called "Lettisches Volkslied". This was - by the way - a very interesting and not untypical collection of Lieder. Besides the two Baltic texts he also set to music both German poems by Uhland und Heine and translations of songs and poems from the Britain by Burns, Moore, Byron and Hemans. 

At that time only very few Volkslied-scholars used collections of Baltic songs for comparative research. Ludwig Uhland referred to a Latvian text in his - posthumously published - Abhandlung über die deutschen Volkslieder (1866, here p. 67). But it seems he only knew Herder and Rhesa's Lithuanian anthology. Alexander Reifferscheid, editor of Westfälische Volkslieder in Wort und Weise (1879, pp. vx-xvi) listed both Neus' and Ulmann's anthologies in his bibliography. 

For some reason most of the great work done by the Baltic-German scholars was often ignored and not taken note of outside of their own small circles. The lack of easily accessible handy anthologies with translations and melodies seems to have been a serious problem. Not at least some of the important older relevant publications were more or less forgotten. For example Schlegel's Reisen, a real treasure trove of Estonian songs and tunes, fell quickly into oblivion. Even in later years much of what was known about Baltic song culture didn't reach a wider readership. 

Here we can look into one more anthology of popular songs, ballads and poetry from around the world. Grabow's Die Lieder aller Völker und Zeiten - "Nach dem Vorbilde von J. G. Herder's 'Stimmen der Völker'" - with around 700 texts on more than 650 pages was published in 1880. The editor - who plundered many earlier collections of this kind - was able to include even Chinese or Persian poems as well as songs of the North American Indians. But his knowledge of the Baltic was rather uneven. Of course he offered a considerable amount of Lithuanian songs - all again from Rhesa's influential anthology - but there are only very Estonian texts - mostly from Herder's Volkslieder - and only one Latvian (pp. 295-6). Apparently he wasn't aware of what was already available at that time. 

In fact the international reception of the research and the publications by the Baltic-German scholars left a lot to be desired. But at home their work was all the more important and influential. Rosenplänter, Ulmann, Neus and Büttner have already been mentioned. I could add for example August Bielenstein (1826-1907, see Wikipedia), another collector and editor of Latvian songs - the two volumes of his Latweeschu tautas dseesmas appeared in 1874/5 (see Biezais, pp. 7-8) - and Ferdinand Wiedemann (1805-1887; see Wikipedia), author of Aus dem innern und äussern Leben der Ehsten (1876, at the Internet Archive), a groundbreaking treatise on Estonian folklore. They all were primarily linguists, they studied the Estonian and Latvian languages. Therefore their emphasis on texts and the negligence of tunes is of course understandable. Most of them had studied theology and they later became pastors and teachers. Ulmann was even appointed bishop. 

It should be remembered that their predecessors during the 17th and 18th centuries, both the rabid fighters against paganism like Einhorn and the well-meaning enlightened pastors like Stender and Hupel, were not really fond of the Latvians' and Estonians' own singing culture. They of course had started to document and describe what they saw and heard. But it would not be too far off to say that their ultimate goal was surely the eradication such unwelcome and dangerous traits of the Baltic peasants' traditional culture. This was exactly what Herder had criticized so harshly. But of course they were never completely successful. The Latvians and Estonians showed considerable resilience against this kind of cultural repression and managed preserve much of what their German teachers and pastors despised or even regarded as a sin. 

This new generation of learned clergymen that was busy during the 19th century showed much more understanding and much more interest for what their flock was singing. Of course they taught them tunes of songs and hymns imported from Germany or simply translated German songs - both secular and religious - into Latvian and Estonian (see f. ex. Karnes, pp. 204-5). But some of them - not all of course - learned to apply a more Herderian perspective and they managed to find some real value in the traditional songs of the Baltic peasants, not only as a source for studying their languages but also as a legitimate testimony of their "national spirit" that was about to die out (see f. ex. Karnes, p. 210-14; also Smidchens, pp. 61-2, Scholz 1995, p. 573). The Baltic-German scholars documented what was left and preserved it for the future. That way they laid an indispensable foundation for the later cultural - and ultimately also - political emancipation of the Latvians and Estonians (see Jürjo 1995). 

The first generation of Latvian and Estonian intellectuals and scholars that came to the fore during the second half of the century - what is called the era of "national awakening" - could seamlessly continue these efforts. "Armed with a Herder-inspired Romantic nationalist ideology mediated through the works of three generations of Baltic German writers and armed with a vast store of cultural artefacts" collected and documented so far (Karnes, p. 215) they set out to define and create their national culture (see also f. ex. Jaremko-Porter 2008a, pp. 176-87; Ŝmidchens, pp. 63-106, Scholz 1990, passim; Apkalns, pp. 148-63; for a wider context: Joachimsthaler 2007). 

This is another story that I can't go into here but at least some names should be mentioned. Friedrich Kreutzwald - the son of an Estonian bondman who studied medicine and became a physician - was a pioneer in this respect. He also created the Kalevipoeg (see Wikipedia), the future Estonian national epic. Jakob Hurt (1839-1906; see Wikipedia; Scholz 1990, pp. 148-50), pastor and teacher, linguist and folklorist, wrote his first treatise about Estonian legends. It was published in 1863 by the Estnische Gelehrte Gesellschaft (at the Internet Archive). He later became the chairman of the Eesti Kirjameeste Selts, the first Estonian literary society (1872, see Scholz 2013, p. 112). His anthology of Estonian songs appeared between 1875 and 1884 (at Google Books, at etera): Vana Kannel. Täieline kogu vanu Eesti rahvalauluzid. Alte Harfe. Vollständige Sammlung alter estnischer Volkslieder. He still included German translations so international scholars could use it. 

Others filled gaps left by the Baltic-German scholars. Choral singing had become immensely popular among Latvians and Estonians but at first their repertoire consisted predominantly of songs translated from German. Jakobson, Herrmann and Cimze published traditional tunes, not for academic purposes but to create a national song repertoire. For centuries Western observers had decried the Baltic peasants' singing. What they heard had been described as "kläglichs Geschrey" and "schreyende Gesänge" or as howling like the wolves. Now they were "transformed into singing nations at national song festivals, which established a distinct public culture to carry the message of nationalism" (Šmidchens, p. 78; see also Karnes, p. 201; Loos 2014). 

Of course I have to mention teacher and writer Krišjānis Barons (1835-1923; see Wikipedia; see Scholz 1990, pp. 164-7) who started in 1878 what would become a life-long project: the collection and systematic review of the Latvian dainas (see Biezais, pp. 8-13). The first volume began to appear in 1894 and this would be the most comprehensive and most important edition even though at first it was only printed in very small numbers. 

For nearly all of them the traditional songs were a part of their national identity. They had in fact become a means of cultural - and in the end also political - emancipation. Herder had laid the foundation and it was his work, his reappraisal of the up to that point more or less despised traditional song culture of the Baltic peasants as their own legitimate national literature that can be seen as one of the starting-points for this process. This development was of course only possible under the right political, economical and cultural circumstances: first the abolishment of serfdom, then the growing literacy and the emergence of a small but influential group of intellectuals who took the chance and set out to define what they regarded as Latvian respectively Estonian national culture.  


Literature 
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  • Richard Baumann, Language, Poetry, and Volk in Eighteenth-Century Germany: Johann Gottfried Herder’s Construction of Tradition, in: Richard Bauman and Charles L. Briggs, Voices of Modernity: Language Ideologies and the Politics of Inequality, Cambridge & New York, 2003, pp. 163-96
  • Haralds Biezais, Die erste Sammlung der lettischen Volkslieder von Gustav Bergmann. Mit einer historischen Einleitung über die Ausgaben der lettischen Volkslieder, Uppsala, 1961 
  • Martin Boiko, Latvian Ethnomusicology: Past and Present, in: Yearbook for Traditional Music 26, 1994, pp. 47-65 
  • Julija Boguna, Lettland als übersetzte Nation. Garlieb Merkels 'Die Letten' und ihre Rezeption im 19. Jahrhundert in Livland, Berlin, 2014 
  • Dace Bula, Latvian Folksongs: Collected, Published and Studied, in: Dace Bula & Sigrid Rieuwerts (eds.), Singing the Nations: Herder's Legacy, Trier, 2008 (= Ballads and Songs - International Studies 4), pp. 7-29 
  • Franz-Josef Deiters, Das Volk als Autor? Der Ursprung einer kulturgeschichtlichen Fiktion im Werk Johann Gottfried Herders, in: Heinrich Detering (ed.), Autorschaft: Positionen und Revisionen, Stuttgart & Weimar 2002, pp. 181-202 
  • Franz-Josef Deiters, Poesie als kulturelle Selbstbescheibung. Johann Gottfried Herder und die Fallstricke des Eurozentrismus, in: Jens Stüben (ed.), Ostpreußen - Westpreußen - Danzig. Eine historische Literaturlandschaft, München, 2007 (= Schriften des Bundesinstituts für Kultur und Geschichte der Deutschen im östlichen Europa 30), pp. 285-303 
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  • Stefan Greif, Marion Heinz & Heinrich Clairmont, Herder Handbuch, Paderborn, 2016 
  • Johann Gottfried Herders Sammlung der lettischen Volkslieder, ms. SB Berlin, Nachlass Herder, XIV 50-53, online at Archives of Latvian Folklore 
  • Karl S. Guthke, Die erste Nachwirkung von Herders Volksliedern in England, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen 193, 1957, pp. 273-84 
  • Karl S. Guthke, Some Unidentified Early English Translations from Herder's Volkslieder, in: Modern Language Notes 73, 1958, pp. 52-6 (jstor
  • Rudolf Haym, Herder nach seinem Leben und seinen Werken, Gaertner, Berlin, 1880 & 1885, 2 Vols., at the Internet Archive 
  • Jürgen Heeg, Die Publikationen Johann Christoph Petris (1762-1851) über Estland, Livland und Russland, in: Journal of Baltic Studies 16, 1985, pp. 128-37 (jstor
  • John Hennig, Goethes Europakunde: Goethes Kenntnisse des nichtdeutschspracigen Europas. Ausgewählte Aufsätze, Amsterdam, 1987 
  • Emil Gottfried von Herder, Johann Gottfried von Herder's Lebensbild. Sein chronologisch-geordneter Briefwechsel, verbubnden mit den hierhergehörigen Mittheilungen aus seinem ungedruckten Nachlasse, und mit den nöthigen Belegen aus seinen und seiner Zeitgenossen Schriften, Bläsing, Erlangen, 1846, 6 Bde., at BSB [= GB] 
  • [HW =] Johann Gottfried Herder, Werke in 10 Bänden, Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, Frankfurt/M., 1985-2000 (= Bibliothek deutscher Klassiker) 
  • Johann Gottfried Herder, Briefe. Gesamtausgabe 1763-1803, Böhlau, Weimar, 1977-2009 
  • Otto Hoffmann, Herders Briefe an Hamann, Gartner, Berlin, 1889, at the Internet Archive
  • Kristina Jaremko-Porter, Johann Gottfried Herder and the Latvian Voice, Ph. Diss., Edinburgh, 2008a (at Edinburgh Research Archive
  • Kristina Jaremko-Porter, A Return to a Rural Idyll: The Herderian Past in Latvian Ethnographic Singing, in: Dace Bula & Sigrid Rieuwerts (eds.), Singing the Nations: Herder's Legacy, Trier, 2008b (= Ballads and Songs - International Studies 4), pp. 40-50 
  • Kristina Jaremko-Porter, The Latvian Era of Folk Awakening: From Johann Gottfried Herder's Volkslieder to the Voice of an Emergent Nation, in: Matthew Campbell & Michael Perraudin (eds.), The Voice of the People. Writing the European Folk Revival, London & New York, 2012, p. 141-156
  • Jürgen Joachimsthaler, Mythos "Volk". Zu Vorgeschichte und Entstehung der National-Texturen Mittel-, Ostmittel- und Nordosteuropas, in: Nordost-Archiv. Zeitschrift für Regionalgeschichte 16, 2007, pp. 19-77 (at Nordost-Institut
  • Jürgen Joachimsthaler, Das übersetzte "Volk". Johann Gottfried Herder und die Tradition baltischer Spracharbeit, in: Bernd Kortländer & Sikander Singh (eds.), "Das Fremde im Eigensten". Die Funktion von Übersetzungen im Prozess der deutschen Nationenbildung, Tübingen, 2011, pp. 23-38
  • Ambraziejus Jonyas, Herder als Herausgeber litauischer Volkslieder, in: Jahrbuch für Volkskunde und Kulturgeschichte 8. 1980, pp. 15-19, at EVIVA 
  • Indrek Jürjo, August Wilhelm Hupel als Repräsentant der baltischen Aufklärung, in: Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas NF 39, 1991, pp. 459-513 
  • Indrek Jürjo, Das nationale Erwachen der Esten im 19. Jahrhundert - ein Verdienst der deutschbaltischen Aufklärung, in: Nordost-Archiv. Zeitschrift für Regionalgeschichte 4, 1995, pp. 409-430 (available at Nordost-Institut
  • Indrek Jürjo, Aufklärung im Baltikum. Leben und Werk des livländischen Gelehrten August Wilhelm Hüpel (1737-1819), Köln etc., 2006 
  • Oskar Kallas, Die Wiederholungslieder der Estnischen Volkspoesie. I. Akademische Abhandlung, Finnische Literaturgesellschaft, Helsingfors, 1901, at the Internet Archive [= GB] (see pp. 58-65, a very helpful bibliography) 
  • Oskar Kallas, Übersicht über das Sammeln estnischer Runen, in: Finnisch-Ugrische Forschungen. Zeitschrift für Finnisch-Ugrische Sprach- und Volkskunde 2, 1902, pp. 8-40, at the Internet Archive [= GB] 
  • 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 (dx.doi.org/10.1093/jrma/fki003
  • Andreas F. Kelletat, Herder und die Weltliteratur. Zur Geschichte des Übersetzens im 18. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt/M., 1984 
  • Toms Kencis, Oral literature: Latvian, 2016in: Joep Leerssen (ed.), Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe (electronic version; Amsterdam: Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms, www.romanticnationalism.net), article version 1.1.2.1/a, last changed 25-03-2017, consulted 11-04-2017 
  • Kaisa Kulasalu, Oral literature: Estonian, 2016, in: Joep Leerssen (ed.), Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe (electronic version; Amsterdam: Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms, www.romanticnationalism.net), article version 1.1.2.1/a, last changed 25-03-2017, consulted 11-04-2017 
  • Heinrich Lohre, Von Percy zum Wuinderhorn. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Volksliedforschung in Deutschland, Berlin & Leipzig, 2002 (= Palelaestra XXII), at the Internet Archive 
  • 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 
  • A. F. T. Lurcock, John Bowring and Finland, in: Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 75, 1974, pp. 428-443 (jstor
  • Theodor Matthias (ed.), Herders Werke. Kritisch durchgesehene und erläuterte Ausgabe. 2. Band, Leipzig & Wien, n. d. [1903] (= Meyers Klassiker-Ausgaben), at the Internet Archive 
  • L. M. [Leo Meyer], Acht estnische Volkslieder aus Herders Nachlaß und dreizehn aus Wielands Teutschem Merkur nebst mehreren alten Hochzeitsgedichten in estnischer Sprache in: Verhandlungen der gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat 16, 1896, pp. 237-318, here pp. 243-63 
  • Friedrich Menius, Syntagma de Origine Livonorum, Dorpat, 1632-35, p. 45 (not yet digitized; reprinted in: Scriptores Rerum Livonicarum II, Riga & Leipzig, 1848, pp. 511-42, at the Internet Archive) 
  • Johann Georg Müller (ed.), Erinnerungen aus dem Leben Joh. Gottfrieds von Herder. Gesammelt und beschrieben von Maria Carolina von Herder, geb. Flachsland, Cotta, Stuttgart & Tübingen, 1830, 3 Bde. , at the Internet Archive 
  • C. J. Paucker, C. H. J. Schlegel's Leben und Schriften, in: Archive für die Geschichte Liv- Esth- und Curlands 5, 1847, pp. 95-107, at the Internet Archive [= GB] 
  • Beata Paškevica, Die Sammlung von Volksliedern im lettischen Livland. Herders Helfer in den Jahren 1777 und 1778, in: Klaus Garber (ed.) et al., Kulturgeschichte der baltischen Länder in der frühen Neuzeit, Tübingen, 2003, pp. 229-244 
  • Andreas Poltermann, Antikolonialer Universalismus. Johann Gottfried Herders Übersetzung und Sammlung fremder Volkslieder, in: Doris Bachmann-Medick (ed.), Übersetzung als Repräsentation fremder Kulturen, Berlin, 1997 (= Göttinmger Beiträge zur internationalen Übersetzungsforschung 12), pp. 217-259 
  • Johann Friedrich von Recke & Karl Eduard Napiersky, Allgemeines Schriftsteller- und Gelehrten-Lexikon der Provinzen Livland, Esthland und Kurland. Zweyter Band: G - K, Steffenhagen & Sohn, Mitau, 1829, at the Internet Archive [= GB] 
  • Heinrich Schaudinn, Deutsche Bildungsarbeit am lettischen Volkstum des 18. Jahrhunderts, München 1937 
  • Wolf Gerhard Schmidt, 'Homer des Nordens' und 'Mutter der Romantik'. James MacPhersons Ossian und seine Rezeption in der deutschsprachigen Literatur, 4 Bde., Berlin & New York, 2003-4 
  • Friedrich Scholz, Die Literaturen des Baltikums: Ihre Entstehung und Entwicklung, Opladen, 1990 (= Abhandlungen der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 80) 
  • Friedrich Scholz, Herders Auffassung des Volkslieds und der Dichtung und die lettischen Volksliedersammlungen des 19. Jahrhunderts, in: Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 44, 1995, pp. 564-577, at zfo-online 
  • Singer, Rüdiger: "Nachgesang". Ein Konzept Herders, entwickelt an Ossian, der popular ballad und der frühen Kunstballade. Würzburg 2006 (= Epistemata; Reihe Literaturwissenschaft, 548) 
  • Guntis Šmidchens, Herder and Lithuanian Folksongs, in: Lituanus. Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences 56, 2010, pp. 51-67, at Lituanus 
  • Guntis Šmidchens, The Power of Song. Nonviolent National Culture in the Baltic Singing Revolution, Seattle, London & Copenhagen, 2014 
  • Kurt Stavenhagen, Herder in Riga. Rede, gehalten zum Festaktus des Herder-Institutes am 4. September 1922, Löffler, Riga, 1925 (= Abhandlungen des Herder-Instituts zu Riga 1), at UofTartu 
  • S. Viese, Lettische Volksdichtung aus der Sicht Johann Georg Kohls, in: Zeitschrift für Slawistik 34, 1989, pp. 256-64 (doi.org/10.1524/slaw.1989.34.16.260
  • [SWS 25 = ] Johann Gottfried Herder, Sämmtliche Werke XXV. Herausgegeben von Bernhard Suphan. Poetische Werke 1. Herausgegeben von Carl Redlich, Weidmann, Berlin, 1885, at the Internet Archive 
  • Karl Wagner, Briefe an Johann Heinrich Merck von Göthe, Herder, Wieland und andern bedeutenden Zeitgenossen. Mit Merck's biographischer Skizze, Diehl, Darmstadt, 1835, at the Internet Archive 
  • Alexander Wegner, Herder und das lettische Volkslied, in: Deutsche Blätter für erziehenden Unterricht 54, 1927, pp. 315-8, 323-6, 331-4 
  • Sabine Wienker-Piepho, Herder and the Development of his Volkslied Concept during his Time in Riga, in: Dace Bula & Sigrid Rieuwerts (eds.), Singing the Nations: Herder's Legacy, Trier, 2008 (= Ballads and Songs - International Studies 4), pp. 30-39 

Go back to Part 1

Monday, May 8, 2017

Herder, Hupel and the Discovery of Baltic "Volkslieder" - Pt. 1


Part 1
I. Introduction
II. Pastor Hupel as a Collector of Estonian and Latvian Songs
III. Herder and the Baltic
IV. Herder's Volkslieder
V. Herder & Hupel after 1779 

Part 2
VI. New Perspectives? (1780-1830)
VII. Baltic Volkslieder since 1830
VIII. Towards Cultural and Political Emancipation
Literature 


I. Introduction 

I have written already a little bit about the early history of the collection and documentation of the music and songs of the Estonians and Latvians. In the last text (see here) I discussed two important travel reports, Brand's Reysen (1702) and Weber's Verändertes Russland (1721). Both writers offered in their works interesting descriptions of what they had heard as well as the words of some songs. Also some German pastors began to take note of the musical culture of their flock and made available more detailed accounts. But the Latvians and Estonians had to wait. First was a surprisingly sympathetic discussion of the songs of the East Prussian Lithuanians by Philipp Ruhig (1675-1749) in his Betrachtung der Littauischen Sprache (1745, pp. 74-9). He included three texts,"der einfältigen Mägdelein erfundene Dainos oder Oden", both in the original language and in German translation. 

Latvian songs were then published by Gotthard Friedrich Stender (1714-1796; see Wikipedia), also in a linguistic work: his Neue vollständigere Lettische Grammatik (1761, pp. 152-7, see new ed., 1783, pp. 272-82). He quoted several original texts in a chapter with the title "Von der Poesie". The tunes were not included. He only noted that they had "einerley Melodie". Otherwise Stender offered a surprisingly insightful description of the Latvians' song poetry even though he claimed there was not much wittiness ("nicht eben viel witziges"). But he saw the economic and political repression of the indigenous peasants as the reason for their "lack of culture". Later this pastor would publish collections of songs in Latvian, some translated from German and others written by himself, as a means of education, for example in Jaunas Singes pehz jaukahm meldeijahm, par gudru islusteschanu (1774, at EEVA) and in the two volumes of Singu Lustes (1785 & 1789, at EEVA). 

In 1764 pastor Johann Jacob Harder (1734-1775) added some more interesting information about Latvian singing culture in an article in the Gelehrte Beyträge zu den Rigischen Anzeigen (here pp. 89-90, at EEVA). He included some fragments from original songs but did not give any musical examples. In fact he described their music as "very crude and undeveloped" and as "singsong" ("etwas sehr grobes und unausgewickeltes", "dieses Geleyer", p. 90). But the most important and influential publication would be pastor August Wilhelm Hupel's Topographische Nachrichten von Lief- und Ehstland. In the second volume in 1777 he included an interesting and informative discussion of Estonian and Latvian music and songs (pp. 133-4, pp. 158-61) as well as two original tunes (plate). 


The Baltic provinces - at that time part of the Russian Empire - were something like the cultural backyard for German intellectuals. Many traveled there and many worked there but there was barely any interest for the culture of the indigenous peasants. Even those who took note usually didn't like what they heard and saw or at best - like Stender - showed a patronizing attitude. Hupel - as will be seen - was no different in this respect. But his work would become be the starting-point for more research into this field: Johann Gottfried Herder read it and asked him to collect even more songs - both Estonian and Latvian - for his forthcoming collection of international Volkslieder. Herder's anthology would be a kind of turning-point: a "revaluation" of the peasants' songs that - until then - were so despised by the enlightened intellectuals (see Arbusow, p. 138), even by well-meaning learned clergymen like Stender and Hupel. 

The following text is an attempt to discuss the process of the discovery and publication of Estonian and Latvian traditional songs - Volkslieder - starting with Hupel and Herder. For comparative purposes I will also occasionally refer to Lithuanian songs. But this all should also be seen in a wider context: the discovery and adoption of music and poetry - i. e. songs - of foreign and "exotic" people" both from outside of Europe and from the European periphery (see in this blog: "Exotic" Songs and Tunes in European Publications 1577-1830 and my Bibliography at Google Docs). 

The main focus will be on Hupel and Herder and their cooperation, particularly their differing attitudes towards the culture of the Baltic peasants. I will then sketch the development over the following 100 years until the era of the so-called "national awakening". Who did collect songs, who published them in which context, what was available? How was the reception outside of the Baltic provinces, in Germany and England? What was known there? What was published there? 

In fact there were three distinctive voices: first the scholars and writers from outside the Baltic. Herder was one of them. For them the Baltic peasants were often enough exotic strangers. Then there were the Baltic-German scholars, mostly learned clergymen like pastor Hupel. Some of them showed considerable sympathy for the plight of their flock. They promoted educational efforts to improve their situation and also set out to document their culture. But first and foremost they were also a part of the repressive regime in the Baltic provinces. This should not be forgotten. The indigenous peasants, the Latvians and Estonians themselves, at first had no voice of their own. They could only be heard through the publications of both the foreign and local scholars. Only much later, since the 1840s, they would come to the fore. Only then they had the possibility to define what they regarded as their own culture. 


II. Pastor Hupel as a Collector of Estonian and Latvian Songs 

August Wilhelm Hupel (1737-1819; see Jürjo 2006; Jürjo 1991, Grashof 1995; Eckhardt in DNB 13, 1881, at wikisource; von Recke & Napiersky 1829, pp. 363-9; Kulturportal West-Ost) was born near Weimar and studied in Jena. He moved to the Baltic in 1757. He first spent some years in Riga and Dorpat and in 1763 was appointed pastor in Oberpahlen (Põltsamaa) where he remained until his retirement in 1804. Hupel also became a highly respected and knowledgeable scholar and an expert for Baltic history and culture. 

His major work were the Topographische Nachrichten von Lief- und Ehstland. Three volumes appeared between 1774 and 1782. This was the first modern topography of Livonia, compiled with the help of a great number of local correspondents and contributors (see Jürjo, pp. 121-80). Pastor Hupel also edited and published Nordische Miscellaneen (1781-91, 28 Vols, at UB Bielefeld) and Neue Nordische Miscellaneen 1792-98, 18 Vols., at UB Bielefeld), two important periodicals. Not at least he also found time for a linguistic work, an Estonian grammar and dictionary (Ehstnische Sprachlehre, 1780, 1806, 1818). These are only his best-known and most influential publications. Besides these he also wrote about topics ranging from theology to economy to ethnography. 

The music and songs of the indigenous peasants were clearly only a topic of minor interest for him. In the first volume of the Topographische Nachrichten (p. 162) there was already a short remark that the Estonians didn't have historical ballads about their ancient heroes and wars but he didn't elaborate on it further. In the second volume he dedicated five pages to songs and music (pp. 133-4; pp. 158-61). This was part of an extended ethnography of the Estonian peasants (pp. 121-93) where he discussed language, culture and traditions with a competence and knowledge rarely seen before in literature about the Baltic (but see the critical reading by Boguna 2014, pp. 101-7):


Hupel noted that singing was one of their favorite pastimes and that many had good voices. They sang on weddings, in the fields and it were mostly the women who did the singing: "Bey der Feldarbeit, bey ihren Spielen u. d. g. hört man nur die Dirnen durch ihre schreyenden Gesänge allgemeine Zufriedenheit verbreiten" (p. 133). He also described the differences between Latvians and Estonians. The former used to sing in two voices, with a droning bass while the latter sang in unison, "aber gemeiniglich in 2 Chören, so daß jede Zeile welche ein Haufe vorsingt, von dem zweiten wiederholt wird" (p. 133). The bagpipe, "beyder Völker gemeinstes und vermuthlich sehr altes musicalisches Instrument" (p. 133) was still very popular but the harp and the violin - both introduced from Germany - were also in use. 

He described how songs were improvised and remarked that they enjoyed mockery, especially of their German masters: "sehr sind sie geneigt in ihren Liedern bittere Spöttereien anzubringen" (p. 158). The songs were usually without rhymes and instead they used meaningless end-words, "gedankenlose Endwörter, die sie in etlichen Liedern an jeden Vers hängen" (p. 159). Their songs were often difficult to understand because of many "mutilated" words. He offered German translations of some texts: a wedding song, a lover's song as well as a protest song against serfdom: "Der Teufel wurde zum Aufseher gesetzt" (pp. 159-60). 

But he also added two pieces of original music: one bagpipe tune and the melody of a wedding song (plate). This is what distinguished him from colleagues like Ruhig and Stender who offered texts. This was the very first time music from the Baltic was published in a book since 1635 when Friedrich Menius had included some Estonian and Latvian tunes in his Syntagma de Origine Livonorum (see SRL II, p. 525). Here we can see how long it took until at least a few examples of the Baltic peasants' music were documented and printed. 

At that time it was easier to find Chinese, Turkish or Arabian tunes than examples of original music from the European periphery. These years saw the publication of - among others - Niebuhr's Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien (1774), Steller's Beschreibung von dem Lande Kamtschatka (1774), Forster's Voyage Round The World (1777), Amiot's Mémoire sur la Musique des Chinois (1779) and Höst's Nachrichten von Marókos und Fes (1781), all with one or more musical examples as well as interesting discussions of foreign musical cultures. 

Music from Europe’s borderlands still took a backseat. The first modern Greek song was made available by Pierre Augustin Guys in his Voyage Littéraire de la Gréce ou Lettres sur les Grecs, Anciens et Modernes (1776). A Russian song can be found in Johann Heinrich Christian Meyer's Briefe über Russland (Vol. 1, 1778). Some popular songs and tunes from Norway and Iceland were included in Laborde's Essai Sur La Musique (1780). Original music for example from Finland or Lapland would have to wait until the turn of the century (see my Bibliography at Google Docs). In this respect Hupel was a pioneer. 

But his discussion of the peasants' musical culture was somewhat biased and very negative. Pastor Hupel simply didn't like these songs and thought them "intolerably childish" and worse than the "worst Italian Improvisatore" (p. 160, p. 158). He claimed to have selected the most bearable of all these miserable songs. Just like his predecessors he had problems with the sound of the performances. Describing them as "schreyende[n] Gesänge" echoed comments by earlier observers. Weber in his Verändertes Russland had heard "wüstes Gesänge" (1721, p. 70), in Löwenklau's Annales Sultanorum (here German ed. 1590, p. 182) we read about "kläglichs Geschrey" and Sebastian Münster had noted in his Cosmographey that they "heülen [...] jämerlich wie die wölff, unnd das wort Jehu schreien sie on underlaß" (Basel 1550, p. 929). 

Hupel was really interested in the Baltic peasants' culture and invested considerable time and effort to collect ethnographic information. He was not an aggressive fighter against paganism like his predecessors a century earlier, for example Paul Einhorn who had condemned the Latvians' songs in the harshest terms (Historia Lettica, 1649, p. 41). In fact he defended his flock against other writers' misjudgments and prejudices (see p. 132). 

He also defended them against the curious ideas of a modern ivory-tower philosopher like Johann Gottfried Herder who in his Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache (1772, p. 15) had called the Estonians as well as the Lapps and others "unser kleiner Rest von Wilden in Europa", the European equivalent of Hurons and Peruvians. Hupel (II, pp. 167-9) strictly disagreed: "Das geht zu weit [...]". He even listed their cultural and economic achievements and explained their partial backwardness compared to German peasants from political and economic repression: "Sie haben ihre Fehler; aber sie sind Sklaven". 

But notwithstanding all his sympathy for the Estonian - and Latvian - peasants and all his knowledge about their ways of life: music and songs were one of the elements of their culture that seemed to have been - even after the 18 years he was there - way beyond his understanding. He regarded the traditional songs as an unfortunate relic of the past and promoted educational efforts to improve their situation. He wanted to bring them closer to modern Western culture and all those ditties only reflected their cultural backwardness. 


III. Herder and the Baltic 

At around the same time Johann Gottfried Herder in Weimar was working on what would become his famous anthology of international Volkslieder. He needed more Estonian and Latvian songs and therefore could make use of Hupel's contribution. 

German writers and scholars, the literary establishment, had shown interest for exotic poetry and songs for quite a while. But examples from the Baltic were only very rarely taken note of. For example Morhof in his groundbreaking Unterricht von der teutschen Sprache und Poesie (1682, here new ed., 1700, pp. 374-82) quoted Lapp, Finnish and even Peruvian songs but nothing from the Baltic provinces. Poet Friedrich von Hagedorn showed familiarity with nearly all the relevant literature and discussed songs form all over Europe - English, Scottish, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Lapp - and America in the preface to his Sammlung neuer Oden und Lieder (1742, here 4th ed., 1756). But apparently he didn't know anything about the Latvians, Estonians or Lithuanians. 

The first one was Gotthold Ephraim Lessing who referred to Ruhig's Lithuanian songs in the 33rd of his Briefe, die neueste Litteratur betreffend (1759, here in later ed., 1761, pp. 239-44; see Joachimsthaler 2011, p. 34). Here he first discussed an unsuccessful exotic pastiche in Gerstenberg's recently published Tändeleyen and then quoted - besides a German adaptation of as Lapp song - two of Ruhig's texts as examples of authentic simple poetry: "Welch ein naiver Witz! Welche reizende Einfalt". Poets are born everywhere and "lively sentiments are not the privilege of civilized peoples". One of these texts was then later versified by Gerstenberg himself - he even recommended a German tune to sing these words to - and published in the Hypochondrist (1771, pp. 118-9):


Young philosopher Johann Georg Hamann from Königsberg traveled through the Baltic and he heard Latvian peasants singing. In his Aestehetica in Nuce (here in Kreuzzüge des Philologen, 1762, p. 218; see also Jaremko-Porter 2008a, pp. 97-104, Joachimsthaler 2011, pp. 35-7) he described what he had heard as "eine Kadenz von wenigen Tönen" and put it besides remarks about "Homers monotonisches Metrum". 

Herder himself seems to have shown a little bit of interest in songs from the Baltic already as a young man in Königsberg. It may have been him who published the Estonian song from Kelch's Liefländischer Historia (1695) in the Königsbergschen Gelehrten und Politischen Zeitungen 1764 (see Kelletat, p. 131, Lohre, p. 9 ). In an early unpublished piece - an answer to Hamann's Aesthetica in Nuce - he also referred to Latvian peasants (HW 1, p. 38). But at that time he apparently had only a very limited knowledge about Baltic culture. 

Between 1764 and 1769 Herder spent more than four years in Riga and one may assume that he had time to become familiar with the songs and music of the Latvians. In fact in parts of the literature about Herder it is claimed that he witnessed live performances of Latvian songs and that this could have been a major influence on his thinking and the development of his ideas about what would be known as Volkslieder

These theories are based on the fact that he was there and that he must have heard or seen something during this time. Of course this is a perfectly reasonable assumption. Even for a member of the upper-class with no knowledge of the Latvian language it would have been quite difficult to avoid some personal experiences. But this is also based on one curious remark in his famous Auszug aus einem Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker, a spirited defense of his interest in this genre (in Von Deutscher Art und Kunst, 1773, pp. 3-70, 113-8).

Here he described a kind of epiphany: how he became fascinated with MacPherson's Ossian - i. e. the first volume of Denis' German translation published in 1765 - during an adventurous trip on a ship, far away from the usual routine and thrown out of the "arm-chair of a scholar" (here p. 19). This was in 1769/70 on the way from Nantes to Amsterdam. But then he dated the real "genesis" of what he called his "Enthusiasmus für die Wilden" (p. 18) even earlier : 
"Wissen sie also, dass ich selbst Gelegenheit gehabt, lebendige Reste dieses alten, wilden Gesanges, Rhythmus, Tanzes, unter lebenden Völkern zu sehen, denen unsre Sitten noch nicht völlig Sprache und Lieder und Gebräuche haben nehmen können, um ihnen dafür etwas sehr Verstümmeltes oder Nichts zu geben" (p. 21). 
But strangely he didn't tell his readers where exactly he had heard "einen solchen alten - - [sic!] Gesang mit seinem wilden Gange". He only referred then to the "Latvian ditties" quoted by Lessing. Of course these were Lithuanian songs and it strikes me as odd that he still wasn't able - after more than four years in Riga - to distinguish between Latvians and Lithuanians. Otherwise he avoided any closer description of what he had witnessed and instead discussed songs from Lapland and Peru, the well-known classics of the genre. 

Already Haym in his great biography of Herder (I, 1880, p. 444) claimed - without any further evidence - that this remark referred to "Erfahrungen die er noch früher in Livland, unter Letten und Esthen mit den Resten eines solchen alten, wilden Gesanges gemacht hat". Then Theodor Matthias in the notes in his edition of Von deutscher Art und Kunst added "gemeint sind die livländischen Letten", but also without any explanation (II, 1903, II, p. 26, n. 4). 

Philosopher Kurt Stavenhagen in 1922 in a lecture about "Herder in Riga" (1925, pp. 13-4) even tried to identify what exactly Herder had seen and heard and speculated that he - who spent some time during the summers in the countryside near Riga as a guest of his wealthy friends - may have witnessed the local Latvians' midsummer's eve celebrations on St. John's Day in 1765. This is also not an unreasonable assumption but without supporting evidence it looks more like wishful thinking.

Nonethleless these claims were replicated and elaborated on by other scholars (see f. ex. Wegner 1927, pp. 324-6, Schaudinn 1937, p. 134). Most important in this respect was Arbusow's otherwise outstanding and seminal work about Herder and Latvian songs (1953). He went a step further and claimed that what Herder heard and saw at that time played a pivotal role in shaping his ideas about the genre he would later call "Volkslied": 
"Es war also die Begegnung mit dem lettischen Volksliede im Jahre 1765-1766 um oder in Riga oder vielleicht in Maihof [...] die diesen tiefgreifenden [...] Wandel in Herders Anschauungen über Poesie und die Umwertung der Lieder primitiver Völker hervorgebracht hat. Diese Erleuchtung hat sich bei mehrmaligen Hören und Sehen lettischer Gesänge eingestellt und wiederholt" (pp. 139-40; see also p. 136, p. 142, pp. 144-5, p. 151, p. 159). 
Today we can find these kind of speculations and claims - often without any critical revaluation - in many works about Herder and the Baltic (see f. ex. Paškevica 2003, p. 231; Jürjo 2006, p. 342; Jaremko-Porter 2008a, pp. 8-9, pp. 88-92, pp. 118-20; Bula 2008, p. 9; Joachimsthaler 2011, p. 28; Šmidchen 2014, p. 27; see also Apkalns 1977, p. 317) and also in some of the more general scholarly literature about him (see f. ex. Kelletat 1984, p. 131-2; Grimm in HW 2, 1993, p. 1141; Baumann 2003, p. 174; Singer 2006, p. 198). This has been described as a "broad consensus of scholarship" (Jaremko-Porter 2008a, p. 120). In fact it is more a kind of self-reproducing theory that has taken on a life of its own and is usually based on references to earlier secondary literature. Assumptions are reported as facts. 

I think this is all not convincing and it doesn't hold up. I see it the other way round. It is astonishing how little - in effect nothing! - Herder knew about the songs of the Latvians from personal experience. How he managed to live there for four and a half years and and not learn anything about the musical culture of the local population is way beyond my understanding! 

Herder - who of course didn't know Latvian, he once intended to learn the language but then apparently gave it up (see Hofman 1889, p. 17 & p. 33) - never described in detail what is claimed he may have heard. He never repeated this story from the Briefwechsel again and nowhere in his writings - published or unpublished - we can find another reference to it. Noone else knew about it, even not his wife who worked with him on the Volkslieder. There is no evidence that he himself ever collected or tried to collect songs while he was there and he didn't bring anything back. From reading what Herder wrote about Baltic songs I don't get the impression that he had any personal experiences. In fact it is all derived from either printed sources or from information received from helpful correspondents.

Herder was always a man of books and never a field researcher. It seems his only attempt to collect some songs from real people - in 1770 when he had returned to Germany - was a debacle (see Briefe 2, p. 76, Kelletat, p. 132-3). His influences and inspirations while developing his concept of Volkslieder have been researched and discussed thoroughly (see f. ex. Gaier, in HW 3, pp. 848-92). Herder's wife later named the oriental poetry that he had read in his youth, Shakespeare's Hamlet and of course then MacPherson's Ossian (Müller, Erinnerungen I, p. 70). 

During his time in Riga he spent a lot of time with Old Norse poetry. The German translation of Mallet's Introduction à l’histoire de Dannemarc had been published in 1765 (available at Google Books, see Arbusow, p. 136). After he left Riga he became familiar with Percy's Reliques, also a major influence and source. Otherwise he was busy reading the works of English scholars like Blackwell, Lowth and Brown (see Arbusow, p. 133). In Germany both Lessing and Hamann had already anticipated some of his ideas (see Joachimsthaler 2011, pp. 33-6). 

Texts from the British traditions - from Shakespeare to Percy's ballads and MacPherson's Ossian - made up the greatest part of what he worked with: "Der Anblick dieser Sammlung gibt's offenbar, daß ich eigentlich von Englischen Volksliedern ausging [...]", he wrote later in his Volkslieder  (II, p. 27). On the other hand his actual knowledge of and familiarity with Baltic musical culture was very limited. He knew barely anything and referred to Latvian, Estonian or Lithuanian songs only very rarely. 

In his second Fragmente Über die neuere deutsche Literatur (1767, here pp. 222-3) Herder - still in Riga - first called for the collection of national songs - "Nationallieder" or "Nationalgesänge" - and offered an impressive looking list of all kinds of European and non-European peoples: "Skythen und Slaven, Wenden und Böhmen, Russen, Schweden und Polen [...] Ballads der Britten, [...] Chansons der Troubadouren, [...] Romanzen der Spanier [...] Sagolinds der alten Skalder [...] Kosakische Dummi, oder peruanische, oder amerikanische Lieder sein [...]". 

This sounds somewhat familiar. As already Arbusow has noted (p.141-2) this list is mostly derived from Hagedorn's above-mentioned introduction to the Sammlung neuer Oden und Lieder (1742, here 4th ed., 1756, pp. [i-xiii]). But there is an additional reference to "Lettische Dainos", in fact the Lithuanian texts published by Lessing in the 33rd Brief. There are Latvian dainas and Lithuanian dainos and Herder simply mixed them up. Otherwise there is no hint that he at that time was already familiar with real Latvian songs.

In a letter to his future wife (14.10.1770, in: Briefe I, p. 254; Herder, Lebensbild 3, No. 43, p. 204) he quoted a somewhat boastful list of exotic songs, the more exotic the better: "'Arabische von Eselstreibern, Italienische von Fischern, Amerikanische aus der Schneejagd, item Lapp-Grönländische u. Lettische'". But there is no evidence that this was more than only a reference to texts from the printed sources he knew at that time. 

Then, of course, I have to mention again Herder's Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache (1772, p. 15) where he told his reader about what he called "unser kleiner Rest von Wilden in Europa, Ehstländer und Lappen usw." who have ""semi-articulated and not writable sounds" just like the Hurons and Peruvians. I wonder how he knew that. He can't have met many Estonians. Why not the Latvians? But perhaps they are included in the rather unspecific "u. s. w.". 

As strange as this may sound - and, as already noted, pastor Hupel was quite upset about it - he only wanted to say that they represented an earlier stage of cultural development, just like the "savages" in the Americas. Herder knew about exotic people on the other side of the world from reading travel books. Now - in full Ossian-mode - he compared them to the ancient Scottish bards. 

In the Briefwechsel he then claimed that the Iroquois of the Five Nations and the bards had several song genres in common: "alles ist den Barden Ossians und den Wilden in Nordamerika gemein" (p. 16; see Schmidt, p. 687). What he needed here were contemporary European "Wilde". His dreamland was Scotland: "zu den Schotten! zu Macferson [...] eine Zeitlang ein alter Kaledonier werden" (p. 17). Apparently he expected to still find there some real old-fashioned "savage" songs:
"[...] und dann nach Wales und Schottland und in die westlichen Inseln, wo auf einer Macpherson, wie Ossians jüngster Sohn sitzt. Da will ich die celtischen Lieder des Volks in in ihrere ganzen Sprache und Ton des Landherzens wild singen hören [...]" (in: Letter to Merck, 28.10.1770, in Briefe I, p. 277; Wagner I, No. 4, p. 14).
But he never made it there. He only had been in the Baltic where it may have been possible for him to witness what he needed: "Lieder der Wilden". What he wrote in the Briefwechsel about the "genesis of his enthusiasm" - when he first heard "einen solchen alten - - [sic!] Gesang mit seinem wilden Gange" - was clearly a retrospective claim (see also Singer 2006, p. 198), a fictitious account that added a touch of authenticity. Here he created a symbolic turning-point. There is no reason to take him literally. 

Next we can look at Herder's first attempt to compile an anthology of international songs. This was only shortly later, in 1773. But he did not publish it, not only because he wasn't satisfied with what he had put together but also because he was somewhat afraid of the reactions of the literary establishment. Thankfully the manuscript of his Alte Volkslieder has survived (documented in SWS 25, pp. 1-104). 

There is only a small chapter dedicated to Baltic songs (pp. 88-92) and everything was taken from printed sources: the two Lithuanian texts from Lessing's Brief - here he had apparently learned to distinguish between Lithuanian and Latvians - the well-known Estonian song from Kelch's Historia and the Latvian song in Weber's Verändertes Russland. He also quoted from Harder's article in the Gelehrte Beyträge zu den Rigischen Anzeigen. That was all. He may have known Stender's grammar but didn't use it. His knowledge of the available literature was somewhat incomplete. He didn't know Menius' important but obscure book nor Brand's Reysen (1702) with its examples of songs from all three Baltic peoples. Instead there is (p. 83) a tribute to the pastors who were busy researching the peoples living along the Baltic Sea, "Wenden, Slaven, Alt-Preussen, Litthauer, Letten, Esthen", and a call to collect the information more systematically. 

At this point Herder clearly didn't know much about Baltic songs. There is no reference to any kind of personal experiences nor any hint that they were particularly important for him. He was completely dependent on what he found in books. This all doesn't fit well to the theories proposing a special significance to live performances of Latvian songs he may have witnessed during his time in Riga. I would even say that for someone who had been there for several years his knowledge seems to have been extremely limited. He would only acquire a more closer acquaintance with the songs of Baltic people long after he had left and then only with the help of competent correspondents. 


IV. Herder's Volkslieder (1778/9) 

In 1777 he started to work again on his anthology of international songs. Parts of the introduction to the unpublished Alte Volkslieder were recycled for an article with the title Von der Ähnlichkeit der mittlern englischen und deutschen Dichtkunst in the periodical Deutsches Museum (2, St. 11, Nov. 1777, pp. 421-435). Some more Lithuanian songs were supplied to him by Johann Gottlieb Kreutzfeld, professor in Königsberg (see Jonyas 1980; Šmidchens 2010; Arbusow 1953, pp. 164-5). Then the publication of the second volumne of Hupel's Topographische Nachrichten with informative remarks about Estonian and Latvian songs as well as the translations of original texts must have been like a gift from Heaven for him. But he wasn't satisfied what he found there and tried to get more songs. 

Herder contacted Hupel and asked him for both Estonian and Latvian songs. He gave clear instructions about what he needed: original texts, translations, and an exemplary tune (see Arbusow, pp. 166-7, Jürjo 2006, p. 343). Hupel delivered and helped him out with a small but fine sample of Estonian songs collected by himself and a friend - 8 texts, two additional tunes - as well as some helpful notes (publ. in: Meyer 1896, pp. 243-63). 

It was a little more difficult for him to get some Latvian songs because Hupel himself didn't know this language. But he sent out requests to colleagues who he thought should be able to help him out (see Arbusow, pp. 166-77; Schaudinn, pp. 134-5; Jaremko-Porter, pp. 130-5). It is interesting to see that he still was afraid that some pastors may still regard these songs as a "sin" and decline his request. But Hupel also couldn't completely forget his personal bias and noted in a letter: ""Je witziger die Lieder, desto besser. Die meisten jedoch sind einfältig" (Arbusow, p. 167). 

Thankfully some local clergymen were able to collect texts and sent him a considerable number of pieces. At least one of them admitted that he wasn't aware of these kind of songs and reported that his servants performed them for him with great enthusiasm. But he also wondered why Herder wanted to have these songs and what he needed them for: "Was will Herr Generalsuperintendent Herder [...] mit unsern lettischen Volksliedern machen? Der große Mann! das ist mir noch ein rechtes Rätsel, wo aufzulösen nicht imstande bin" (Arbusow, p. 169; Jaremko-Porter 2008a, pp. 132-3). 

It is interesting to see that the process of collecting the songs ran not through scholarly channels but through those of the church. Herder, the well known writer and philosopher, also had a high office in the hierarchy of the Lutheran church: he was Generalsuperintendent in Weimar. He made use of the fact that all local scholars were clergymen with not so high an office but with direct access to the people. It should also be clear that these pastors' servants only sang to them what they thought was appropriate for the their ears. Here were can see contemporary power structures: from the Generalsuperintendent via the local pastors to the real people. 

Nonetheless the results of these efforts were very impressive. Herder received a manuscript with nearly 80 Latvian texts of different genres (at Archives of Latvian Folklore; transcription in Arbusow 1953, pp. 187-222) even though it is not completely clear who exactly had recorded and compiled these texts. All in all this was at that time the largest and most comprehensive collection of Volkslieder - the words only, of course - of a people from the European periphery, surpassing all that was available from - for example - the Finns, the Lithuanians, the Estonians or from any other linguistic group in the Russian empire. 

Herder used only very few of these texts in his Volkslieder (II, 1779, pp. 83-92, pp. 96-101, pp. 111-3). Here we find 6 short Latvian texts - "Fragmente lettischer Lieder" - as well as a "Frühlingslied". These were the only texts taken from the massive collection he had. There are also - only - three Estonian songs from Hupel's collection. Most interesting among them was the ""Klage über die Tyrannen der Leibeigenen", a lament against oppression and it is somewhat surprising that Hupel had managed to collect such a song and sent it Herder: "Vor dem bösen Deutschen flieh ich, vor dem schrecklich bösen Herrn" (pp. 99-100).


Herder was not naive. He had no illusions about the economic and political situation in Livonia. In his unpublished Journal, written after he had left Riga, he called it "die Provinz der Barbarei und des Luxus [...] der Freiheit und der Sklaverei [...]" (Herder, Lebensbild 2, p. 182). He was very much aware of the repression of indigenous peasants by their German masters. But he barely scratched the surface of what he had at hand. Nonetheless in the context of the book it looks very impressive. He mixed these texts up with songs from other "exotic" places - Greece, Lithuania, Lapland - and this was followed by English and Scottish pieces as well as one from Greenland. 

In the introduction to this chapter Herder quoted once again the song from Kelch's Liefländischer Historia as well as some relevant parts from Harder's and Hupel's works and also from Theodor von Hippel's anonymously published Lebensläufe in aufsteigender Folge (1778/9). This was a fictitious autobiography of the son of a German pastor in the Baltic that also included a knowledgeable discussion of Latvian singing as well as an equally fictitious collection of Latvian songs in German translation. In fact these were all pastiches created by the author (Vol. 1, pp. 72-3, Vol. 2 Beilage A, pp. 558-618; see Jaremko-Porter 2008a, pp. 141-3). In addition Herder also quoted some Estonian proverbs from Gutsleff's Kurtzgefaszte Anweisung Zur Ehstnischen Sprache (1732, see there pp. 325-72). 

All in all his was a very informative documentation, but it was completely derived from printed sources. Herder avoided any thought of his own and a reader surely doesn't get the impression that the author had spent several years in the Baltic. If he really had seen and heard something during his time in Riga one would expect that he would at least here try to describe it in more detail. But there is nothing. Nor do I find any hint that he attached particular importance to the musical culture of the Estonians and Latvians. This is more like a "exotic" topping that brought a little more diversity to an anthology that was mostly made up of British, German and Nordic texts. 

What he published in his anthology was of course several steps away from the original context. Herder only received texts - both the original transcriptions and a German translation - as well as a few tunes. This he had to work with. In fact he experienced Latvian and Estonian songs only as translated texts. He himself had surely never in his life heard a performance of an Estonian song. As mentioned above it is not clear if he really had witnessed Latvian songs while he was there. But if so he at that time had no way to understand them because he didn't know the language. 

Herder then selected from these texts he had at hand only what he thought would fit into the context of his anthology or what he regarded as a representative sample or simply what he liked best. It is not clear why exactly he used these particular pieces. Of course he also edited the translations according to his own aesthetic ideas. The artifacts of musical performances with often improvised words were turned into literature to read. They were transferred from the "discontinuity of orality to the continuity of the printed book" (see Deiters 2002, p. 183): texts codified in print in a different language and in a new cultural context. The readers of Herder's anthology had no way of knowing how these songs were supposed to sound. 

But there was an additional bonus: the ethnographic descriptions from the relevant literature helped the readers to understand the contexts of the original performances at least a little bit. Herder's Volkslieder were both a literary and an ethnographic project and the Baltic chapter was particularly successful in this respect. But it was not a musical project, not only because he simply couldn't afford the include some music. Even some tunes wouldn't have helped too much to understand how these songs sounded. This was also a problem with the songs from all the other peoples. Of course nobody in Germany had any how for example the pieces from Greenland or Lapland sounded as songs. Even musical performances of Scottish or English Volkslieder were not available in Germany at that time.

But nonetheless: in the context of this great collection the short chapter about the Baltic with these few examples and the documentary texts offered a good and competent introduction into the singing culture of this area. Nothing comparable was available at that time. Herder put together what was known and made it digestible for those readers who perhaps may not be willing to look into the more academic or obscure works like for example Hupel's or Harder's publications. 


V.  Herder & Hupel after 1779 

This was apparently the only time Hupel and Herder crossed paths and worked together, at least via letters. As far as I know they never met personally. Herder had the ideas and the theory but barely any empirical knowledge except what he had found in some books. Hupel made available to him what he needed even though he didn't like these songs and thought them "childish" and "simple-minded". In fact everything Herder knew about the musical culture of the Estonians and Latvians he owed to the efforts of the Baltic-German scholarly clergymen. 

But even though he was completely dependent on their work he offered an opposite viewpoint. For him it was the literature of the indigenous population. Herder regarded these songs a legitimate part of their culture that should not be suppressed. Already in his Briefwechsel über Ossian he had explicitly criticized that our culture was forced upon the peoples he called "Wilde", the less cultivated and civilized nations. There he had referred to 
"lebende[n] Völker[n] [...] denen unsere Sitten noch nicht völlig Sprache und Lieder und Gebräuche haben nehmen können, um ihnen dafür etwas sehr Verstümmeltes oder Nichts zu geben [...] was haben solche Völker durch Umtausch ihrer Gesänge gegen ein verstümmeltes Menuet, und Reimleins [...] gewonnen" (p. 21). 
In fact this sounds like a critical comment on the educational efforts of German clergy in the Baltic provinces, exactly what - with the best intentions - Stender, Hupel and their colleagues were doing. In the Volkslieder he showed that the local population had at least preserved parts of their traditional culture against all pressure from above. In the context of his anthology we find the Baltic examples in between those from other nations. He lifted the Estonian and Latvian peasants from the backyard of history onto the German literary stage and tried to demonstrate that their cultural expressions - in this case their songs - were as valuable and important as those of the more "cultivated" nations. This was at a time when many didn't even believe that the Baltic peasants had a culture of their own (about Herder's "anti-colonialist" attitude see Poltermann 1997, here pp. 236-59; see also Kelletat 1984, pp. 127-39; Deiters 2007).

Both Hupel and Herder only rarely returned to this particular topic. Pastor Hupel - unfortunately it is not known what he thought about Herder's Volkslieder - published his Ehstnische Sprachlehre fuer beide Hauptdialekte in 1780. Here he included a very short chapter of two pages, Von der Dichtkunst oder den Volksliedern, with some informative notes and parts of two songs (pp. 89-90). This book was published again in 1806 (digar [pdf], here pp. 144-5) and 1818 (pp. 144-5) but without any changes or additions to this chapter. 

The third volume of the Topographische Nachrichten appeared in 1782. He we find (pl. 1) two Latvian songs with German translation and - that's notable - with the tunes. This was not only the first time since Menius in 1635 that original Latvian music was published in a book. It would also take very long until more tunes were made available. In fact these two melodies together with the one in Herder manuscripts are the only specimens of Latvian music we have from this time.

This was all and afterwards Hupel never wrote again about the songs of the Baltic peasants. It seems it was a topic of minor interest for him. But Herder also remained reserved in this respect. Only once he mentioned the Baltic peoples again in a major work. In his Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (IV, 1791, pp. 17-22; engl. ed., London, 1800, pp. 475-7) we find a chapter about "Finnen, Letten und Preußen", also with a reference to Hupel's works. "All the popular tales and songs of the laps, fins, and esthonians, prove them to be gentle people" (engl. ed., p. 475, or. text, p. 19). He criticized strongly oppression and serfdom: 
"The fate of the nations on the Baltic fills a melancholic page in the history of mankind [...] Humanity shudders at the blood, that was here spilled in long and savage wars, till the ancient prussians were nearly extirpated, and the courlanders and lettonians reduced to a state of slavery, under the yoke of which they still languish. Centuries perhaps will pass, before it is removed, and this peaceful people are recompensed for the barbarities, with which they were deprived of land and liberty" (from Engl. ed., pp. 476-7, or. text, p. 19 & pp. 21-2).
During the last years of his life Herder kept on working on his Volkslieder (see Volksgesang, in Adrastea V, 1803, pp. 269-73). But a new edition - now titled Stimmen der Völker in Liedern - was only published posthumously in 1807. It was put together by his widow in cooperation with the Swiss scholar Johannes von Müller and they decided to order the songs geographically. Therefore the Baltic texts got their own chapter (pp. 107-23). But they only added one more Estonian song from the vaults (see pp. 112-3) and otherwise there were no notable changes. It was this edition that was regularly published again and became quite popular during the 19th century. 

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