for Wind Orchestra op. 39 (1970)
Tempo di Valse
performance (without Fanfare): July 3, 1970, Trossingen , Dr. Ernst-Hohner-Konzerthaus
Heeresmusikkorps der Bundeswehr Ulm / Simon Dach
First performance (with Fanfare): January 28, 1990, Hohenheim, University
Concert Band of University Hohenheim / Patrick Siben
Picc., 2 Fl., 2 Ob., Cor Angl.,
Clar. in E-Flat, 3 Clar. in B-flat, Bass Clar., 2 Bssn ., Contra-Bssn ., 2 Alt-Sax.
in E-Flat, Tenor-Sax. in B- flat, Baritone-Sax. in E-Flat, 4 Hrn. in F., 3 Cornett
in B-flat, 3 Tpt. in B-flat, 4 Trb., Tenor Hrn., Baritone, 2 Tub., Timp., Perc. <3-4> (timp., snare drum, bass drum, field drum, vibra,
xyl., 5 cymbals, pair of cymbals, ratchet, triangle, tam tam, gong, 5 temple block, 3 tom tom)
N. Simrock Hamburg-London (Boosey & Hawkes)
and parts: ISMN: 9790221118134
the first movement Fanfare, the interval of a fifth
plays a dominant role. Canon, augmentation and diminution, accompanied by ostinato
figures mark the formal divisions of this movement with its introductory character.
In the second movement Tempo di valse, gestures of waltz and
ländler are part of the starting material - briefly flaring fanfare sounds
remind us of the first movement. As in Maurice Ravel's "La Valse", this
"disturbed" waltz is not danceable, but rather an inquisitive encounter
with this dance form. Very untypical for a waltz is for example the obtrusive
dotted rhythm which leads to an unexpected close.
movement Intermezzo, is the "solemn" part of the work.
Three brief motifs appear, contrasting with a rhythmical melody in thirds. In
the course of the movement, the individual elements interpenetrate each other
increasingly, reaching then a close with ritardando in an extreme pianissimo.
The entire fourth movement Finale concertante, is dominated
by ornamental figures based on a six-note motif. A twenty-bar march theme forces
itself on us, followed by a "cantus-firmus" treatment of a mercenaries'
song from the 30 Years War. The march theme is announced again. In the apotheosis,
all elements of the movement are heard, whereby the "weaving" of the
woodwind - in canon over the soldiers' song - is conceived in twelve-tone technique.
A short coda with rapidly forming tutti ends the work.
- Musik zum Lesen 04/02
lot has still to be done in developing a taste for new sounds
Bavarian State Music Festival in Bamberg, the "Sinfonietta" by Bertold
Hummel is on the competition programme for the top level. Federal Conductor Ernst
Oestreicher, responsible for programme selection, met the composer for a conversation.
was written as early as 1970. What occasioned the work and why is it having a
renascence today, 30 years later?
My op. 39 was written for a theory student of mine - today he is a first lieutenant
leading an air force band - for his band-leader examination. For the first performance,
the army music corps in Ulm was available. It is of course pleasing that my work
is again currently in vogue and is finding new echoes. Part of the success is
certainly due to the new edition, which can be purchased instead of hired, as
was previously the case.
amateur musicians and amateur event organisers - as most are, who are involved
in the North Bavarian Music Federation - new music is today still something one
is not familiar with and is often rejected. What are the reasons for this?
In many cases, my composer colleagues have not taken enough interest in "music
by and for amateurs", so that a lot still has to be done in this field to
make new ideas in sound and new compositional techniques and structures familiar.
Is it legitimate
to offer the amateur listener help and orientation, or should it be left up to
each individual to develop his own way of listening through contact with the work?
In general, the composer should express himself so clearly, that
no further commentary is necessary. There are however different stages of musical
comprehension. First of all, there is completely unprejudiced naive listening,
then analytical listening, which can also lead to an high aesthetic enjoyment.
For this, however, the right help is needed for the untrained ear, as is incidentally
also the case with classical-romantic music.
advice would you offer musicians and listeners to help them along the way to a
better comprehension of this work?
Besides some musical examples
and formal sketches, the following could be said about the four movements:
In the first movement (Fanfare), the interval of a fifth plays a
dominant role. Canon, augmentation and diminution, accompanied by ostinato figures
mark the formal divisions of this movement with its introductory character.
In the second movement (Tempo di valse), gestures of waltz and ländler
are part of the starting material - briefly flaring fanfare sounds remind us of
the first movement. As in Maurice Ravel's "La Valse", this "disturbed"
waltz is not danceable, but rather an inquisitive encounter with this dance form.
Very untypical for a waltz is for example the obtrusive dotted rhythm which leads
to an unexpected close.
The third movement (Intermezzo), is
the "solemn" part of the work. Three brief motifs appear, contrasting
with a rhythmical melody in thirds. In the course of the movement, the individual
elements interpenetrate each other increasingly, reaching then a close with ritardando
in an extreme pianissimo.
The entire fourth movement (Finale concertante),
is dominated by ornamental figures based on a six-note motif. A twenty-bar march
theme forces itself on us, followed by a "cantus-firmus" treatment of
a mercenaries' song from the 30 Years War. The march theme is announced again.
In the apotheosis, all elements of the movement are heard, whereby the "weaving"
of the woodwind - in canon over the soldiers' song - is conceived in twelve-tone
technique. A short coda with rapidly forming tutti ends the work.
a Sinfonietta, one would naturally expect a certain degree of classical form.
Do you fulfil these expectations?
Really only in the fourth movement,
which comes out almost in a sonata form. The first three movements have more the
character of movements of a suite.
do you see special problems for our orchestra leaders in preparing the a performance
of this work?
As individual instruments are often heard alone, these
passages have to be in a balanced relationship to the general sound. It is also
important to pay attention to the sometimes very contrasting dynamics, so that
the musical and specifically instrumental aims of the composer are realised.
have described the "Sinfonietta" as your "no longer so young daughter".
What do you associate with this daughter of the year 1970 and her generation and
Generally, I have no problems with my elder daughters of the
Muses, for they were each a genuine expression of my musical thought and inventiveness
at the time. Perhaps there is a hint to be detected here of my divided feelings
about false pathos.
compositions are always subject to delving questions regarding the extent to which
they are based on historical compositional ideas. Does your "Sinfonietta"
show signs of influence from a particular style?
We always stand on
the shoulders of our forefathers. My style is a sum of all that has formed me
as a composer. The attempt at a synthesis of all the different compositional achievements
of the so-called "modern music" can certainly also be classified as
"new, contemporary music".
place do you give to your "Sinfonietta" in the context of your whole
oeuvre for wind orchestra?
The "Sinfonietta" represented
for me during its composition an attempt to help in reviving and upgrading the
slightly encrusted woodwind repertoire. It was my first full-scale work in the
area of wind orchestra and therefore has a special significance in my production.
My wish is that as many bands as possible should take on the challenge of the
work, especially at the competition in Bamberg.
are a professional musician and were President of the State Music College in Würzburg.
As the former director of such a "smithy" for professionals, how do
you look upon the efforts of amateur musical associations and their wind orchestras
to interpret modern music?
I can only welcome these efforts and attempt
to support them with all means at my disposal.
always takes place within the triangular relationship composer . performer - listener.
This relationship is unfortunately not always untroubled. The performers complain
even before the first contact with modern music about it's being incomprehensible,
the listeners moan about "wrong chords" and apparent lack of cohesion.
How can we in future improve the relationship between the composer and his "victims",
who have to play and listen to the compositions?
As a composer, a
matter of the greatest importance for me is my sociological position. I do not
take only myself seriously, but also performers and audience. Thus I hope that,
at performances of my works, there will consent on all sides about entering into
this relationship between composer - performers - and listeners. This can of course
happen on different levels. For this to happen, it is necessary for the composer
on his part to have an accurate idea of the technical competence of the performers,
an accumulation of experience and knowledge in dealing with the instruments in
question - as well as on the part of performers and audience an unprejudiced openness
regarding the new works.
writing for wind orchestra and their compositions are often placed by the GEMA
(German performing rights association), without closer inspection, in the category
light entertainment, which is often to the disadvantage of composers of "serious"
modern music. Is this distinction between serious and light music still sensible
at this time, or should we be looking for other criteria?
often a result of the way programme information is gathered. Many of the serious
works referred to appear in the opening parts of a concert programme, while the
rest of the programme is mainly concerned with light music. In such cases, it
is advisable to call the classification committee of the GEMA.
been and still is a lot of discussion about "serious" and "light".
There are countless intermediate steps from the oratorio, the symphony down to
the banal "hit", which the GEMA has to try to classify fairly according
to a complicated procedure which is reviewed annually by a general meeting af
members and improved in the light of experience. This is in my opinion at least
fairer than a uniform treatment for all, which would for example be very much
to the advantage of authors with purely commercial tendencies in the present "light
music" area. The creators of cultural material in the real sense would certainly
suffer severely. (Refer on this subject to the German law on protection of
artists' rights of the 8th May, 1998, BGB, §7): "The pattern of distribution
should be according to the principle of supporting works and performances of cultural
Professor Hummel, I thank you for the interview
and hope that the "Sinfonietta" will become a "classic" of
the literature for symphonic wind orchestra.
for (amateur) wind orchestra
At the end of this look at Bertold Hummel's symphonic work, some remarks on his
writing for amateur musicians is necessary. In this field, he is very much in
the tradition of his teachers Genzmer and Hindemith, who similarly never lost
their rapport with the practices of the non-professional musician. A natural maxim
applies: the simpler the concept, the more diatonic and small-scale the building
blocks and sounds. The aspect of sound colour becomes less important and the compositional
characteristics are more strongly centred on draughtsman-like linear structures
with a significantly conventional effect.
Of the symphonic works, those for
wind orchestra are among the simpler ones. Specifically conceived for amateurs
were the "Sinfonietta", op. 39 (1970) and the "Musica Urbana",
op. 81c, composed in 1983 and baptised a year later in Hummel's birthplace, Hüfingen,
under his direction with local musicians. At a slightly more demanding level,
Hummel composed in 1977 the "Oregon Symphony", op. 67, performed for
the first time on the 7th April, 1978 in Ashland, Oregon (USA) in the presence
of the composer. Nine years later, during his second visit to the USA, Hummel
had the "Symphonic Overture", op. 81d (the extended "Oregon Symphony")
in his luggage and had this performed for the first time in Seattle on the 21st
November, 1987 by the W.I.B.C Directors' Band.
Claus Kühnl (in "Die sinfonischen Werke Bertold Hummels",