Bertold Hummel

Audio Gallery

The collection in this audio gallery will give you a first audible impression of the different facets of Bertold Hummel's music.

The numerous other samples on this web site are available under Work index by clicking on . In the Complete works listed by opus number simply click on the work required and the information page opens automatically. Here sections of the work marked with , unless otherwise indicated, can be heard complete on an MP3 player.

Symphonic works

The large-scale symphonic works are the centre-piece of Bertold Hummel's compositional production. The scores are colourful and clearly structured, finding expression through eruptive force, as here in the Allegro from Episodes, op. 23 or through a sweeping symphonic arch as in the Lamentationes Jeremiae of the 3rd Symphony, op. 100.

In the 3rd movement of his 2nd Symphony op. 30, Hummel sets the Gregorian "Te deum laudamus" in contrast against a fully chromatic 12-tone theme. Here is the beginning of the Finale concertante.

The Visions after the Apocalypse of Saint John op. 73 was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic and afterwards performed by such renowned conductors as Marcello Viotti and Klauspeter Seibel. Now listen to the beginning of the work.

Works for the theatre

Bertold Hummel's musical language is in every way predestined for dramatic scenes on the stage. Although the number of works for the theatre is relatively small, we find here powerful compositions which - whenever they are put on stage - are always perceived as extremely effective for the audience.

The anti-war ballet The Last Flower, op. 55a from the year 1975 touched, at the height of the Cold War, the nerve of the times: the fear of atomic catastrophe was everywhere. Here you can hear the Entry of the dictator at the beginning of the ballet and the Intermezzo mechanico in which inventors experiment on their death-bringing machines.

In his Scenes from Faust op. 72, Hummel set Heinrich Heine's Dance Poem in 6 scenes. Here is the beginning of the Witches' Sabbath, which leads into a jazzed-up version of the Gregorian "Dies Irae".

The work The Emperor's New Clothes, op. 10 sadly remained his only opera, although Hummel was throughout his life looking out for the right libretto. Now listen to the Entry of the Lord Chamberlain in scene 2.

Solo concertos

Hummel's Concerto for Percussion op. 70 is with its 110 performances the composer's best-known work and is furthermore the most successful concerto for percussion of its time. Hear now the beginning of the virtuosic final movement Finale-Vivace.

A relatively late work is the Music for Saxophone and large Orchestra, op. 96b, which also exists in alternative versions for Clarinet or Horn. A 7-section concert piece in one movement. Now you can hear the cadenza and end of the work.

Beside these concertos with large orchestra, there are 8 further solo concertos accompanied by string orchestra. Amongst these are three Percussion Concertos (op. 53, op. 86, op. 105). Especially significant is the Poem for Violoncello and Strings, op. 80 from the year 1984, based on the famous "Stufen-Gedicht" ("Stages-Poem") by Hermann Hesse. Now listen to the beginning of the second part.

Church Music

"In a time of increasing secularisation, creative and interpretive artists have without doubt the task of making their fellow man aware of the transcendent, the inexplicable and the unprovable," wrote Bertold Hummel a year before his death. This inner attitude lay behind numerous compositions.

His opus summum in this genre is considered to be the almost two-hour oratorio, Der Schrein der Märtyrer (The Shrine of the Martyrs) op. 90. With gigantic instrumental forces, he set old Irish texts on the martyrdom of the Franconian apostles and biblical texts such as the Sermon on the Mount or Psalm 150. Here are the close of the Oratorio and the Storm at Sea, which with two organs and percussion groups leaves no wishes unfulfilled in terms of suggestive power.

For liturgical purposes, Hummel composed countless organ and choir works, which are sung and played with pleasure in Christian churches. He wrote 5 Latin Masses and numerous motets, which can also be performed by amateur choirs. The Ave Maria, op. 97e2, which he wrote on the death of his sister, was particularly dear to him. Listen now to the beginning of the Ave Maria.

Music for strings

Bertold Hummel worked not only as a composer but also appeared frequently as a cellist and chamber musician and created an abundance of works for strings. Beside his 1st Symphony for Strings, op. 20, written for large forces, there are 7 further works for string orchestra (op. 19b, op. 43, op. 50, op. 62a1, op. 69a, op. 95b, op. 104).
In the first movement of Contrasts, op. 50 we hear at towards the end a for Hummel typical series of chords, heard almost like a signature in most of his works. Here is the Introduction.

His Adagio in memoriam Benjamin Britten, op. 62a1 can be performed as a string trio or as an orchestral work. Now listen to the beginning of the string orchestra version.

In the 2nd String Quartet, op. 46 the full range of sounds available on the instruments is subtly brought out. Here is the beginning of the beginning of the 1st movement, titled Mosaici.

Hummel saw the composition of a Suite for Violin solo, op. 78 as a great challenge. You can now hear the beginning of the last movement with the title Metamorphosen (Metamorphoses), in which he artistically interweaves material from the preceding movement with new.

In his early Sonata in F for Violoncello and Piano, op. 2 one already hears, despite reminders of Bartok and Hindemith, the genuine musical language of Hummel. Listen to the beginning of the 3rd movement.


Music for percussion

Beside his 4 Concertos for Percussion, there are also about 25 works for 1, 2 (op. 58), 3 (op. 88d), 4 (op. 38) and 5 (op. 72b) percussionists. Hummel was amongst the first composers to include percussion on equal footing with other instruments in chamber music (e.g. Ludi a tre op. 29 and Trio op. 82a). In the
Duettino, op. 82b a piano accompanies "classically". Now you can hear the beginning of the 2nd movement with the title Ostinato.

His Quattro pezzi, op. 92 are a difficult test for percussionists and are therefore often chosen as compulsory pieces in competitions. Hear now the meditative 3rd movement: A la sarabande.

The work Frescos 70, op. 38 has in the meantime become a classic of percussion literature. Now listen to the 4th movement with the title Polymetry.

By the way, it is regrettable that amongst his unfulfilled plans was a symphony to be played exclusively on percussion instruments.

Music for wind

For every orchestral wind instrument, Bertold Hummel also wrote chamber music. In 8 solo pieces, he gave the instrumentalists an opportunity to explore the full range of sounds on their instruments. The Suite für Oboe solo, op. 26b begins with a Fanfare.

Hummel wrote small-scale sonatas with piano accompaniment for recorder, op. 87b, Flute, op. 107a, Trumpet, op. 1a, Tuba, op. 81a, Bassoon, op. 59b, Trombone, op. 59a and Saxophone, op. 95a. The Sonatina for Horn and Klavier, op. 75a is amongst his best-known works. Here is the beginning of the 3rd movement Finale-Presto.

For saxophone, he wrote some important works. They include the Music for 4 Saxophones, op. 88f. The 3rd movement has the title Mixture.

A Little Wind Music, op. 61 takes its orientation from typical charakter pieces of the 19th century. Thus there is an unusual mixture of archaic sonority with contemporary rhythm. Listen to the Intermezzo.

The march rhythms that dominate in the last movement of his Wind Octet, op. 47 are "not completely without satirical elements", as Hummel himself put it. Now listen to the beginning of the Allegro marciale.


Works for symphonic wind orchestra

With three large-scale works, Bertold Hummel made his contribution towards creating a repertoire reflecting the true potential of symphonic wind music.

In the fourth movement of the Sinfonietta, op. 39 a melancholy mercenary's song from the Thirty Years' War is repeatedly interrupted by threatening march music. Here is the beginning of the Finale concertante.

Another song of olden times, "Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen" is quoted by Hummel in the Oregon Symphony, op. 67, written for a wind music congress in the American State of Oregon. In the Finale of the Symphony, he collages various American folk songs (here is the middle section).

For the anniversary of his home town, Hüfingen, he composed an entertaining piece for the City Band, Musica urbana, op. 81c, in which he reworked musical impressions from his youth. In the 2nd movement, a locally very popular march motif undergoes an ironic and grotesque treatment. This is the beginning of the 2nd movement with the title March.


Music for organ

The rich variety of sounds on the organ fascinated Bertold Hummel throughout his life. Thus there are works form every phase of his compositional work either for organ alone or organ partnering other instruments.

Works like the Alleluia, op. 44 and the Three Marian Frescos, op. 42 are, in the same way as the 25 minute work, in memoriam Anton Bruckner, op. 91a, symphonically conceived (and in sections even calling for a large orchestra); all are based, as is his last work for organ, Benedicamus domino, op. 102, on Gregorian themes. Here is the beginning of the "Alleluja" and of the "Benedicamus Domino".

Amongst the 5 large-scale works for organ and instrument (op. 74 and op. 98a for percussion, op. 45 for oboe, op. 68a and op. 68b for optionally trumpet or saxophone, op. 63 for violin), we also find the frequently performed "in memoriam", op. 74, from which you can now listen to the beginn of the Toccata. As a reminiscence of the arias of Johann Sebastian Bach, Hummel composed the Arioso from the Dialogue, op. 63.

One could describe the Metamorphoses on the notes Bb-A-C-B, op. 40 as a kind of organ concerto. In 3 movements, the famous four-note series is heard in the most varied combinations of sonorities. Listen here to the beginning of the Toccata.

Music for children

Hummel's Music for Children grew out of his experiences in teaching and in making music at home with his six sons. The pieces are for performers who are just learning to master the basics of their instrument, are easy to play and stimulate enthusiasm in listeners and players through their cantabile and rhythmic characteristics. The most successful work of this category is probably the Sonatina for Violin and piano, op. 35a, from which you can now hear the final movement, Finale-Vivace.

A Little String Music, op. 95b is a short work which can encourage young people into string quartet play. Here is the Tango.

Hummel's piano pieces for children are collected in three volumes (10 Piano Pieces for children, op. 56b, Playing keys - a little Piano Album for my Grandchildren, op. 103d and Mimi's fingerfun).

These are little miniatures, sometimes cheeky as in Knees-up, sometimes elegiac as in the The wailing Nightingale, which are fun for young players. His last piano piece of this kind was composed in May, 2002: "Good mood".



Unusual combinations of instruments

Bertold Hummel often wrote works for unusual combinations of instruments. Seeking for the most varied mixtures of sounds, he produced pieces which are received well by performers and listeners alike.

A special work is the Fantasia poetica for Dulcimer and Viola, op. 101b. It is dedicated to the memory of the poet Wolfgang Borchert, convincing in its expressive musical language. Listen now to the beginning of the Fantasia poetica.

Hummel's work with electronic sounds - which he often used in film and theatre music - led him to compose the piece Yume I-IV, op. 41a. The technical resources available at the time are exploited skilfully to accompany a live flute with distorted or metamorphosed flute sounds. Listen now to the beginning von Yume I, a recording which, with tape effects that can hardly be produced today, can confidently be called historic.

The Sinfonia piccola for 8 double basses, op. 66 (here with the beginning of the Burlesque) is a touchstone for double bass ensembles world-wide regarding intonation and ensemble.



Works for the Kleine Unterhaltungsorchester (Little Light Orchestra) of the SWF (South-West Radio)

At the beginning of his composing career, Bertold Hummel freelanced for the SWF in Freiburg. One of his tasks here was to provide arrangements of well-known pieces for the then famous Little Light Orchestra, led by Willi Stech, and also to compose works of his own for light entertainment concerts. He later grouped these works together under the opus number 13.

In the South African Suite, op. 13a he drew on impressions during the several months of his concert tour in the former German South-West Africa. In carefree mood, the 30-year old composer gave the final movement final movement the title Heia Safari.

Short concert pieces for flute, op. 13d, bassoon op. 13e, viola op. 13f and piano op. 13g were written by Hummel for the excellent soloists of the Orchestra.
Here is the beginning of Pan 56 for Flute and Chamber Orchestra, op. 13d.


Back to previous page

Deutsch - Français