Memories and dedication

Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? He who learns from every man, for it is said:
»From all those who taught me I have become wise«
(Talmud, Ethics of the Fathers, IV 1).


»Won’t there be any audio examples?« Prof. Dr. Heinrich Hüschen, the director of the Musicological Institute at the University of Cologne, wanted to know some forty years ago from a student in his proseminar. The student was about to conclude his oral report on the topic of Siegmund von Hausegger’s symphonic poems, and even today yours truly still remembers the tender embarrassment that came over me when confronted with this uncomfortable question: »No, unfortunately … none at all,« I sheepishly conceded – and yet could do so with a clean conscience since during those days of yore not even the two major radio stations whose rarities I made it my habit to record with the finest regularity had available any of the works that had formed the topic under consideration during the preceding quarter of an hour: the Dionysische Phantasie (Dionysian Fantasy) Barbarossa, and Wieland der Schmied (Wieland the Smith) perhaps might have been slumbering away in this or that audio archive. However, without today’s modern »search-and-find operations« the research alone would have consumed a good deal of the time allotted for the preparatory phase between registration on the list of oral reports and the final deadline for submission – not to mention down-on-your-knees negotiations for permissions and the completion of complicated applications for rerecording rights.

Moreover, since not a single Hausegger score could be found in the institute library, the student had no other alternative but to put something together by consulting the relevant lexica and reading writings by the protagonist of his report topic, which – this much we should say – had not been chosen entirely voluntarily. The list on which students could sign up for the History of Program Music had been posted on the bulletin broad, and only a few places were still left.

Nevertheless, the student’s bare bones of a presentation must have appealed to the professor who was teaching the seminar. Shortly after the events described above the same student was given a job as an assistant in the library, participated in the continuous inventory of its holdings, and, as fate would have it, came upon the completely incorrectly shelved score of Hausegger’s Natursymphonie: too late for the seminar, decades too early for the text that would eventually accompany the first (and so far only) recording of this capital work, (1) and yet an additional accent, a mental pièce de résistance, owing to which the name of the composer from that moment on would slumber in my personal Kyffhäuser secret chamber – along with the silent promise at the first opportunity to make good what had once been impossible and to submit to our professor the missing audio examples. To him, whose mighty periphery would have filled with envy even the father of Prince Biribinker, (2) I dedicate the current serial installment of the Hausegger saga, with grateful thoughts of the kindness with which he helped me in difficult phases and accepted my views, which – yes, even then – were somewhat out of the ordinary. more