commentary to South African Suite
South African Suite for Chamber Orchestra, op. 13a (1956)
V. Heia Safari beginning
Orchestra: 22.214.171.124 - 126.96.36.199 - Perc., Hrp., Strings
Duration: 18 Minutes
Publisher: Ricordi Berlin MOD 386 // Score and Parts
Video: Works by Hummel on youtube
I was in South Africa in 1954 / 55. The situation of art in Namibia was very different from that in the Union of South Africa. While there were for example concerts and artistic activities in Cape Town and Johannesburg comparable with those in Europe, Namibia and also other smaller places in the Union of South Africa were musically absolutely under-developed. The political situation of apartheid was one I could not agree with and has today, thank God, been overcome. At that time the South African Suite - almost a musical travel diary - took shape with the movements Ali Baba, Kalahari, Boer Dance, Basuto Elegy and Heia Safari, recorded after my return to Germany by Willi Stech with the Kleines Orchester des Südwestfunks Baden-Baden.
Bertold Hummel (in: "Gespräch mit Bertold Hummel" Januar 1998, Tutzing 1998)
the years 1954/54, Bertold Hummel joined a group of German artists as cellist
and composer for an extended concert tour through the Union of South Africa.
Badische Zeitung, 27th September, 1963
In the "South African Suite in 5 Movements" (composed for the Stech Ensemble) by Bertold Hummel from Freiburg, the joint influence of two techniques was immediately apparent: cantus firmus, known from our older traditions as a structural device in the way we have just discussed, together with masterly instrumentation of the most refined kind. This combination took the form of fluctuating sonorities interacting with precise gestures in the musical language, the latter expressed principally through the pendant for asymmetrical rhythms. Hummel wrote his music in South Africa - in a manner of speaking a study of that geographical environment with a touch of old Boer traditional song.