About This Site
The Albert Lortzing Website is designed and maintained by George Overmeire
Currently Lortzing’s oper “Regina” is performed in the Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern theatre.
The work has a strange history, but I will not go over that here; others have done that better. But, since the first performance of the restored version in Gelsenkirchen in 1998, the popularity of the work is rising, which is a good thing, because Lortzing’s fame as a composer of popular, “volkstümlich” Spieloper is declining. “Regina” is putting him back in the spotlight as a composer of more serious music.
Although I still think that Lortzing’s forte was more in the field of comic opera, IMHO. 🙂
Last year Regina was performed in Munich, but only as a concert. A recording on CD of this performance can be ordered here, but you can listen to the Finale at YouTube, music only.
Since the work has been restored, there must have been a corrupt version too! It is not the place here to talk about the how’s, the why’s and the howmany’s, but the most infamous of these versions is the arrangement by Adolphe l’Arronge and Richard Kleinmichel, who made a complete different story (and, in fact, almost a complete different opera) of it, to adjust the opera to the political situation of Aronge’s time.
It was performed in Berlin on March, 21st in 1899. The arrangement was criticized, especially in the journal “Ulk”, as you can see on this caricature:
Just to show a little of the way L’Arronge treated Lortzing’s work: The finale, in the original music consisting of the festive music Lortzing recycled from his own “Caramo, oder das Fischerstechen”, is now replaced by the so called “Yorckscher Marsch”, originally written by Ludwig van Beethoven. Not a bad composer, although personally I don’t like this kind of “Kapellmeister-Musik”. However, you should judge for yourself:
Now, in Kaiserslautern, you can hear Regina as closely to Lortzing’s original intentions as possible, although I’m not sure if Lortzing would have liked the horrible dress that Regina had to wear during the performance:
(picture by Hans-Jürgen Brehms-Seufert, from a review by Manfred Langer, September 22nd, 2013 at “Der Opernfreund”. Since there is no permanent link to this review I’ve uploaded a pdf to my own server.)
George Richard Kruse is one of the first biographers of Lortzing and his work cannot be underestimated. He published Lortzing’s letters in three editions and several short articles. Also he published a great deal of Lortzing’s Operas with extensive, “in der Beschränkung zeigt sich nicht der Meister” prefaces and he wrote two biographies.
One of them, published in 1914, is republished on this website, but the older biography of 1899 is, IMO, better. Some illustrations and examples of music and a text less focused on the sentimental aspects of the “undervalued genius”, exploited by his publishers, but more on the musical greatness of Lortzing, which should be, after all, what counts.
Now the good news is that this biography has been digitized recently by the Internet Archive, so you can read it online or download the pdf to your computer.
There is more: at the Internet Archive you find more Lortzing freebies: Opera scores with some misspellings (e.g. “bauberoper” “for “zauberoper”, but who cares), the French version of “Die beiden Schützen” (Les Méprises) and the libretto of “Zar und Zimmermann” (you can also find the piano score) published by Wittmann – with a very good preface. (Wittmann’s Lortzing biography is to be published on this website, currently work in progress).
Finally: piano scores of Lortzing’s most popular operas are at the International Music Score Library Project.
A small and rather unknown piece for male choir by Lortzing found online! On June, 12th 1848 Lortzing sent a letter to the editor of the “Illustrirte Zeitung” in Leipzig, and offered this “trifle” for publication:
Anbei eine Kleinigkeit für Männerchor – gut vorgetragen – macht sichs vielleicht. Ich erlaube mir jedoch die Bemerkung, daß die kleine Komposition Ihrerseits nur für die Illustrierte Zeitung und den Kalender zu benutzen ist. – Albert Lortzing – Sämtliche Briefe, Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, I. Capelle, VN318)
In was only published in 1848, in the “Illustrierter Kalender: Jahrbuch d. Ereignisse, Bestrebungen u. Fortschritte im Völkerleben u. im Gebiete d. Wissenschaften, Künste u. Gewerbe. Leipzig : Weber, 1848“.
(click the here for the original).
The poem is from J.N. Vogl’s “Lyrische Blätter“, Vienna 1836 pages 76-77.
I was very enthousiastic about the book “Die Pokornys” by Oskar Pausch and I wrote about it, mainly because the alleged discovery of two unknown Lortzing pieces.
Last week I received an e-mail by Irmlind Capelle, the world’s most acknowledged expert on Lortzing, who compiled the catalogue of Lortzings works – “Lortzing Werkverzeichnis” (1994, ISBN 3-89564-003-4).
While doing her research for this book, she had the manuscripts of “Cheristanens Denkstein” and the “Türkischer Marsch” examined and concluded that the handwriting was clearly not by Lortzing, which was earlier also mentioned by Georg Richard Kruse, another expert on Lortzing’s life and works. Because of this, and because a performance of the music is mentioned nowhere, the authorship of Lortzing is ruled out.
Because Ms. Capelle mentioned the piece (and her conclusions) in the preface of her work (pp 7-8), I think it is rather disputable that Pausch boasts on page 106 of his book:
Gleich das erste abgegebene Stück, eine Bühnenmusik zu Cheristanens Denkstein mit unterlegtem Text, (…), dazu ein türkischer Marsch sind bisher als Werke Gustav Albert Lortzings unbekannt geblieben und scheinen in keinem Werkverzeichnis auf.
There is simply just one Lortzing-Werkverzeichnis and that is the one I mentioned above. So, Pausch obviously didn’t check this book. The pieces are definitely not unknown, and just don’t appear in the catalogue, because according to Ms. Capelle they are not works by Lortzing.
Unfortunately, I also have to blame myself, I didn’t check it either, which is a shame, because my books on Lortzing are always within reach.
So, the big question that remains is: can I trust the rest of Pausch’s book? Because it was a very good read with lots of information. But that doesn’t help you much when the information is wrong. However, I can still recommend the book to anyone who is interested in the musical theatre of the (early) nineteenth century. But with the caveat: check the references!
Recently I’ve been reading Oskar Pausch’s great book “Die Pokornys – ein Beitrag zur Mitteleuropäischen Theatergeschichte “des 19. Jahrhunderts”.
I bought the book mainly because Lortzing had worked briefly with Franz Pokorny during his Viennese period (1846 – 1848), and I was hoping to find some new sparks of information.
Pausch didn’t let me down, when I opened the book for the very first time at a randomly chosen page, it appeared to be page 105, where a reprint is shown of Lortzing’s manuscript of the beginning of Cheristanens Denkstein, Mus. Hs. 33.747
Obviously it is the stage music for the play “Der Verschwender” by F. Raimund. It is dated 1848 and has an evelope with the following description:
Musik zu dem Mährchen Cheristanens Denkstein von Albert Lortzing. Original-Partitur (unvollendet). Von diesem noch unvollendeten Werke ist keine Abschrift vorhanden. N.B. Der andere Theil diese Werkes befindet sich in der Autografen-Sam[m]lung des Herrn Kappelmeister [!] Adolf Müller
The composition , until 2011 unknown and not mentioned in any catalogue of Lortzing’s works, was found in the Pokorny-Archive, that contains also a score of a “Türkischer Marsch” from 1847 by Lortzing (Mus.Hs. 33.748) and works by other composers. The list of manuscripts in this archive with comments by Günter Brosch is shown here; Lortzing is at number 7:
Last summer I visited Dresden and as always I looked forward to visiting some antiquarian bookshops; especialy the “Dresdener Antiquariat”, because it has a lot of out-of-print books and musical scores. This time I was very lucky; not only did I find (at last!) a piano score of Lortzing’s “Der Wildschütz” (The Poacher), that is unacceptably expensive in The Netherlands (where I live), but my best catch was the little booklet “Der deutschen Jugend gilt mein Lied” for only € 4!
That is why I keep lugging antiquarian bookshops: despite the internet, abebooks and e-readers there are still some very rare gems that nobody else would buy, but that are valuable to me!
As was printed on the front page:
Über Leben und Wirken von Albert Lortzing.
Material zur Gestaltung von Heimabenden in den Gruppen der Freien Deutschen Jugend.
Zusammengestellt und geschrieben von Manfred Jordan.
Herausgegeven vom Zentralrat der Freien Deutschen Jugend – Abteilung Kultur.
It is not “just” a Lortzing biography. And, by the way: on the risk of blowing my own horn, you won’t find anything on Lortzing that isn’t already mentioned on this website. It was written to be used during the meetings of the Free German Youth, also known as the FDJ (German: Freie Deutsche Jugend), the official communist youth movement of the German Democratic Republic and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.
What’s in it? “Einleitung des Gruppenleiters”, “Sprecher”, “Wir erzählen”, “Überleitung”, “Wir lesen vor”; it reminded me of my youth, when my parents bought me a children’s prayer book for the catholic mass, to be able to follow the – latin – mass as a child. Also: “Wir spielen oder lesen mit verteilten Rollen” (role-playing avant-la-lettre) and – best of all – concerted music making and singing of Lortzing’s music – isn’t that what’s still happening in church? (well…the congregational singing, they’re not singing music by Lortzing in church, of course)
Except that there are some pieces of music in this booklet that you’ll find nowhere else: on page 43 the “Neues Osterlied” and on page 56 the “Deutsches Studentenlied”, respectively LOWV 80 nrs 2 and 1. “Vier Chöre” for male choir, written during the revolution of March 1848 in Vienna. It has been printed in July 1848, but then it fell into oblivion. Okay, the orchestral parts are still missing (you can always look for them at the Library of the Lortzing archive in Detmold). Furthermore, on page 63, “Der deutschen Jugend gilt mein Lied” (LOWV 95,4), although deliberately renamed as “Es geht der Weg durch Nacht zum Licht” and in a lower key than the original.
It is really a collector’s item and I’m proud to possess it. However, for all of you interested in Lortzing (or probably in the history of socialism/communism in the German Democratic Republic) I offer you a pdf of the booklet; you can download it here.
Jürgen Lodemann is probably even more a fan of Albert Lortzing than I am. In 1962 he wrote his dissertation “Deutsche Bürgerlichkeit. Lortzing und seine Spielopern” on Lortzings Spielopern. In 2001, a Lortzing memorial year, he published “Lortzing, Gaukler und Musiker”, and last year he published his novel “Salamander – a novel”
It is not just a novel. Superficially read, it is a detective, about a crime passionel. If you are shallow enough to keep it at that level, you might still have many enjoyable hours of reading, but of course you deprive yourself of the satisfaction of a more deeper understanding (and you deprive the author of his well-earned respect as well). There is a second level – it is a love story of the German city Freiburg and of Baden, one of the sixteen states of Germany. Freiburg is beautifully depicted and I wish my next vacation could have Freiburg as a destination.
But there is even more; Lortzing’s opera’s Undine and Regina are involved in the story-line. Not only because the female protagonist is called Undine, it also because a lot of the action in the story is centered around the rehearsals and a performance of Regina, merged with some information on the opera Undine. This is the third level of the novel: unravelling the “who dunnit”, you stumble on lots of informaton, not only about Lortzing’s opera’s, but also on Goethe, culture, literature, politics and the culture of Islam. Did I forget something? Definitely, but it is just to show the inexhaustible richness of the novel when it comes to these ideas.
Finally, on the fourth level, it is a book about philosophy, humanity and tolerance. Lodemann’s interpretation of how the two opera’s are compatible in the way they reflect Lortzing’s worldview is transposed to the problems of our time – which shows that Lortzing might have lived and died two hundred years ago, in an era without computers or cell phones (Lodemann writes of our own time as “Sankt Digitalien”), but that his work and his ideas are still valid. And, of course, that we misunderstand and underestimate Lortzing by thinking of him “just” as a composer of comic Spieloper.
It’s a story about freedom, but also about “Mut zur Anderswelt”. “Die Natur des Mannes als Naturkatastrophe”.
So wisse, dass in allen Elementen
es Wesen gibt, die aussehn fast wie ihr;
in Feuers Flammen spielen Salamander,
die Gnomen hausen in der Erde Tiefen,
in Äthers Blau und in den Strömen lebet
der Geister viel verbreitetes Geschlecht.
Salamander shows that Opera, Music,Art is there to create emotion – feelings and humanism. A must-read.
The Lippische Landesbibliothek Detmold, house of the Lortzing-Archive, has acquired a new autograph of Lortzing, although it actually is only a receipt with Lortzing signature. You can read the original article here:
(…)es handelt sich um eine Quittung der Schlesinger’schen Buch- und Musikalienhandlung in Berlin vom 10. Juli 1850. Lortzing quittiert den Verkauf der Lieder Nr. 4 und 6 aus der Schauspielmusik zu “Eine Berliner Grisette” (LoWV 93). Der Text der Quittung stammt aus fremder Hand, Lortzing unterschrieb und datierte nur selbst. Die zwei verschiedenen Tintenfarben sind auch gut zu erkennen.
An interesting issue of WUZ, a magazine devoted to Jean Paul – and especially his schoolmaster Wuz, who – like the Duke of Gloucester – preferred thin books over “damned fat square books”.
So, WUZ apparently always issues small, thin booklets with only a few pages. I only got to know the magazine when the publisher, Armin Elhardt, offered me to send me volume 19, devoted to Albert Lortzing and written by Lortzing’s greatest fan – not to say zealot: Jürgen Lodemann, as a present. A great gift – thank you mr. Elhardt!.
I know mr. Lodemann personally, I’ve met him, I’ve heard him lecturing on Lortzing in Detmold (2001) and Leipzig (2009),and I’ve read his “damned fat” book on Lortzing: “Gaukler und Musiker” (2000). And he gave me permission to publish his great essay “Nun kommt der Freiheit grosser Morgen” (on Lortzing’s opera “Regina”) on this website.
Now this small book is another example of Lodemann’s persuasive style: in nineteen short statements mr. Lodemann explains why Lortzing always has been important to opera culture and still should be important to us. Beautifully illustrated with drawings by Peter Schmidt, that make this issue a must-have for the Lortzing connoisseur and the collector of Lorzingiana. But also the superficially interested reader will pick it up to read and re-read it again and again, or just to browse through the pages.
WUZ is published in a limited edition, which is a shame. The only obstacle I can think of for you, my dear reader, is the language: WUZ is entirally written in German. But, thinking about it, when you’re interested in German culture you can’t have a serious problem with the language.