Swiss Misic History - titel
Link Wartensee
Link Kirchner
Link Goetz
Link Niggli
Link Jelmoli
     In the first third of the 19th century a nationalistic influence became noticeable in the Swiss Music.
It was thanks to the Zürich composer, music teacher and editor Hans Georg Nägeli (1773 Wetzikon - 1836 Zürich), who built the basics of Swiss choir tradition with his «Zürcherischen Singinstitut» that he had founded 1805. This choir tradition was soon to become the carrier of the Swiss National Romanticism. Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee (1786 Luzern - 1868 Frankfurt am Main), a member of a highly respected patrician family of Lucerne, who was friends with Nägeli since 1811, iniciated a short classical period with works. This period, which started late in Switzerland, was poor in remarkable compositions and therefore did not leave any substantial traces.

     The life-work of Friedrich Theodor Fröhlich (1803 Brugg - 1836 Aarau) that belongs to the early Romanticism contains piano compositions in Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy‘s spirit as well as 6 Elegies op. 15 and very precious choir songs, still waiting for rediscovery.
A further development of the musical Romanticism in Switzerland began only after some great composers from Germany moved to the Zürich area. Before that foreign composers such as Carl Czerny, Franz Liszt
and Ignaz Moscheles with their virtuoso piano paraphrases on cowbells and shepherd songs brought more than the native compositions.

     The greatest influence on the development of romantic trends was given by the pianists Fürchtegott Theodor Kirchner (1823 Neukirchen bei Chemnitz - 1903 Hamburg) and Hermann Goetz (1840 Königsberg - 1876 Zürich). They marked the biggest antipode to Wagner and Liszt‘s «Neudeutsche Schule» by playing the piano works of Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Schumann and Brahms. The almost forgotten Mendelssohn-pupil Johann Carl Eschmann (1826 Winterthur - 1882 Zürich) oriented himself to the german Romanticism as well as Joseph Joachim Raff (1822 Lachen am Obersee - 1882 Frankfurt am Main), born from a german father and a swiss mother, who wrote mostly symphonies. He had started out in Germany with a recommendation by Mendelssohn Bartholdy and his antipode Franz Liszt before he made himself known in Weimar, Wiesbaden and Frankfurt.

     Two lines are now developing simultaneously in the Swiss Romanticism: a more «classical» line with a tight connection to the instrumental music and a very folkloristic one, mostly in Swiss dialect. This is shown in a astonishing multitude of piano songs which were performed until the Expo 1939 on Swiss stages and even at the yearly concerts of the «Schweizerischen Tonkünstlerverein». The politically undermined «native style» was also influencing the music of our country which was closing itself up. Their roots lie in the «Drei Aargauer Liebeslieder» by Theodor Fröhlich 1828 on texts of Wilhelm Wackernagel and peaked with «Drei Kinderlieder in Schweizer Mundart» (J. M. Usteri) op.5 by Hermann Goetz in the year 1869.
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     This specifically swiss line, to which Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee with his «Zwei Schweizerlieder» from the operette «Heimweh und Heimkehr» (Pfyffer zu Neueck) had contributed, only took off shortly after 1900, as a flood of piano songs started together with unaccompanied choirworks and Othmar Schoeck, as successor of Hugo Wolf, was at times more appreciated abroad than in his swiss homeland.

The popular poetry of Adolf Frey, Sophie Haemmerli-Marti, Meinrad Lienert and Josef Reinhart which was put into music by Volkmar Andreae, Carl Attenhofer, Richard Flury, E. A. Hoffmann, Hans Jelmoli, Walter Lang, Friedrich Niggli, Heinrich Pestalozzi, Walter Schulthess and Werner Wehrli were particularly liked.
How many linguistic-musical treasures amongst the many swiss dialect songs of the early 20th century have remained hidden is shown with this first recordings of samples of so different composers like Hans Jelmoli and Friedrich Niggli.

The lucernese musician Franz Josef Leonti Meyer von Schauensee (1720 - 1789) with eclesiastical works as well as with the Opera buffa «Die Engelbergische Talhochzeit» and Joseph Franz Domonik Stalder (1725 - 1765) with his «six simphonies à quattre parties» have contributed to the development of the classic period in Switzerland, but it was Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee that brought the late breakthrough of that period.

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Walter Labhart   


© Vision of Paradise, Music + Art Ruth Juon and Evi Juon, Switzerland