commentary to opus 81c

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Musica urbana for Wind Orchestra op. 81c (1984)

I. Fanfare and Chorale

II. March beginning

III. Folk-song and conclusion


Première: July 14, 1984, Hüfingen, Stadthalle
Hüfinger Stadtmusik / Bertold Hummel

Instrumentation: Picc., Fl., 2 Ob., Clar. i. Es, 3 Clar. i. B, BassClar. i. B, Bassoon., Soprano-Sax. i. B, 2 Alto-Sax. i. Es, Tenor-Sax. i. B, Bariton-Sax. i. Es, 3 Trp. i. B, 3 Waldhrn. i. Es (F), 3 Trombones., 3 Cornette i. B, 3 Tenortb. i. B, 2 Bariton-Tb., 2 Baßtb., Timp., Perc. <3>

Duration: 17 Minutes

Publisher: Loosmann B 0059

CD available: Tirol 1809 Markgräfler Verbands Blasorchester / Bernhard Volk - Musik Gillhaus Freiburg (

Video: Works by Hummel on youtube

This work was written for the 900th anniversary of the founding of my native town Hüfingen in 1985. A whole series of memories from childhood found their way into the 3 movements of this commission.
The first movement, Fanfare and Chorale, relates to a number of solemn moments and to chorale themes from the famous Corpus Christi procession in Hüfingen. ("Lobe den Herren")
In the 2nd movement, March, a locally popular march motif appears in an occasionally ironic-grotesque treatment. ("Ei, de David, wenn´d ä Brod witt ..[Ah, our David, when he wants bread....]")
The Finale: Folk-song and conclusion contrasts a setting of a gentle folk-song from the Black Forest ("I han an eim Ort ä Blümli gseh´, ä Blümli rot und wiß..[I saw in that place a flower, a flower white and red..] ") with the March of the Hüfingen Jesters ("Hans gang hom [Hans went home]"), which appears on various planes of tempo and leads with numerous changes between major and minor to an effective close. The work was given its first performance, in the originally more restricted instrumentation, by the "Stadtmusik Hüfingen [City Band Hüfingen]", directed by the composer, in July, 1985.

Bertold Hummel


As I then started the composition, many childhood memories came back to me, spontaneously creating an inner relationship with Hüfingen. There was for example the memory of my father playing the organ in Hüfingen central church and the first acquaintance with chorale and hymn melodies. There were the memories of the lively marches of the Hüfinger Fasnet (carnival) and the stately melodies of the Corpus Christi procession. I also remembered the practice of folk-singing in domestic surroundings - in the Schellenberg House nearby. Thus a work - with the title Musica Urbana - took shape and can be described as follows:
The 1st Movement - Fanfare and Chorale - is suited to the dignity and solemnity of the occasion today. The chorale melody "Lobe den Herren" - quoted in its entirety three times - is accompanied by the most varied motifs, which are taken from the introductory Fanfare and from the Chorale itself .
The 2nd Movement bears the title March. Here you find as a counter-subject a melody which during my childhood in Hüfingen had the following text: "David wenn de Brot witt, in de Schublad liit en Aschnitt" (for non-Hüfinger roughly: "David, if want bread, you'll find a crust in the drawer"). After some turbulent passages, the march surprisingly flows into a valse - triste, although only for a few bars. It is trumped by a closing gesture which wipes away any traces of resignation which might have begun to appear.
In the following 3rd part of the work - Folk-song and Finale - a folk-song is the first source of material: "Han amenort ä Bluemli gsäh, ä Bluemli rot un wiiss" ("I spied a little flower in a certain place, a flower blooming red and white "). In contrast, a song known to all Hüfingers, "Hans blieb do, du woascht jo nit wiäs Wetter wird" , then enters the scene. With wide-ranging variations on this theme, "Musica Urbana" , dedicated to Hüfingen and its citizens, reaches an almost symphonic conclusion.

Bertold Hummel (Extract from his speech at the première on the 14th July, 1984 in Hüfingen.)


Works 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", Tutzing, 1998)

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