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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