Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Herder, Hupel and the Discovery of Baltic "Volkslieder" - Pt. 2


Part 1
I. Introduction
II. Pastor Hupel as a Collector of Estonian and Latvian Songs
III. Herder and the Baltic
IV. Herder's Volkslieder
V. Herder & Hupel after 1779 

Part 2
VI. New Perspectives 1780-1830
VII. Baltic Volkslieder since 1830
VIII. Towards Cultural and Political Emancipation
Literature 


VI. New Perspectives 1778 - 1820 

Herder's anthology can be regarded as turning-point for the perception of the culture of the Baltic peasants. It became a "catalyst that reinforced the legacy of folksong study among the German speaking minority of Livland" (Jaremko-Porter 2008a, p. 163). But one can't say that suddenly everybody set out to collect and publish Latvian and Estonian songs. It was more of a very slow process and only very few relevant publications appeared over the next several decades. 

At first one of the old hands, the already legendary pastor Stender, returned to the scene. It is not clear if he knew about Herder's Volkslieder and its new approach. But for a new edition of his Lettische Grammatik in 1783 he expanded the chapter about Latvian poetry and songs and even added some German translations (pp. 272-81). This was a competent and knowledgeable overview. But he still preferred to promote his own Latvian songs, those he wrote for educational purposes like the one "wider die Säufer" where he tried to emulate the "crude taste of the peasants" (p. 279). 

Some years later two interesting articles about the Estonians appeared in the Teutsche Merkur, at that time the most important periodical for the German literary intelligentsia (1787, 4, pp. 232-55; 1788, 2, here pp. 425-33; see also Meyer 1896, pp. 268-80). The author was one Christian Schlegel (1757-1842), a young theologian from Jena who had spent some years as a teacher in Estonia. He offered a considerable number of Estonian songs with German translations, some original tunes and also very informative notes. 


The first of these two articles, Volksgedichte der Esthnischen Nation, was also translated into English and appeared in 1795 in the Varieties of Literature (1, pp. 22-44), but without any reference to its source. Instead it was only described as a "Letter from a Friend". Samuel Taylor Coleridge then reprinted two songs as well as some explanatory notes in his Watchman (1, March 1, 1796, pp. 271-3). One of these songs was later borrowed by Maria Edgesworth for her Castle Rackrent and reprinted in the Glossary as "a curious specimen of Esthonian poetry" (1800, pp. xv-xvi; 4th ed., 1804, pp. 195-6): 
This is the cause that the country is ruined
And the straw of the thatch is eaten away;
The gentry are come to live in the land-
Chimneys between the village
[...] 
A decade after Schlegel's articles Garlieb Merkel (1769-1850), pastor, writer and a spirited fighter against serfdom and the political and cultural repression of the Baltic peasants, published his great book about Die Letten in Liefland am Ende des philosophischen Jahrhunderts (1797, here 2nd ed. 1800, at the Internet Archive). Already here he included some notes about the Latvians' songs and music (see pp. 55-7, pp. 61-2). The same year an article Ueber Dichtergeist und Dichtung unter den Letten with translations of several Latvian songs appeared in the Neue Teutsche Merkur, (1797, 2, pp. 29-49). This text was then recycled in his next important book, Die Vorzeit Lieflands. Ein Denkmahl des Pfaffen- und Rittergeistes (I, 1798, pp. 194-202). 

The year 1802 saw the publication of Johann Gottlieb Petri's Ehstland und die Ehsten, a comprehensive treatise about the Estonians in three volumes, a "historisch-geographisch-statistisches Gemälde von Ehstland". The author, another theologian from Germany who had spent 12 years as a teacher in the Baltic and in Russia (see Heeg 1985), also included some remarks about Estonian songs and music (pp. 67-72, at EEVA). But unlike Schlegel and Merkel he didn't offer anything new. This small chapter was mostly derived from Hupel's works. 

Gustav Bergmann, a pastor already involved in Hupel's efforts to collect Latvian songs for Herder, had over the years amassed a great number of texts. He published them in two volumes in 1807 and 1808 and also printed another collection by colleague (see Biezais 1961). It is not clear if he knew about Herder's Volkslieder and if he had assimilated some of his thoughts (see Jaremko-Porter 2012, pp. 143-4; Scholz 1995, pp. 571-2). But it seems he remained an old-fashioned antiquarian collector in the style of Hupel and Stender. This little booklets only included the Latvian texts. Bergmann had printed them himself in only very small numbers and therefore they were barely known outside of his home. But at least Gottfried von Tielemann, teacher, writer and also editor of Livona, a popular anthology for the Baltic provinces, had seen a copy and he wrote a helpful and worthwhile little treatise Über die Volkslieder der Letten (1812, pp. 177-96) and also included some translated texts.


Pastor Bergmann also happened to become acquainted with the Scottish ballad scholar Robert Jamieson who at that time just spent some years as teacher in Riga. He gave him copies of these collections and also translated all the songs for him into German. Parts of two songs - in Latvian with an English translation - were then included in the Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, the great anthology of old Scandinavian and German epic poetry compiled by Jamieson together with Sir Walter Scott and Henry Weber (1814, pp. 469-70; see Biezais, pp. 27-9). As far as I know this was the first time that Latvian songs were made available in Britain. 

Meanwhile in Reval another learned pastor, Johann Heinrich Rosenplänter, had started with his Beiträge zur genaueren Kenntnis der esthnischen Sprache. 20 Volumes were published between 1813 and 1832 (available at BSB, the Internet Archive and EEVA) and some of them offered interesting collections of Estonian songs, texts only of course, as well as informative treatises (see f. ex. 1, 1813, pp. 11-2; 2, 1813, pp. 15-34, pp. 71-4; 4, 1815, pp. 134-65; 7, 1817, pp. 32-87). Translations were only rarely included and therefore most of these articles were only suitable for specialist with a knowledge of the language. 

In 1817 Bavarian diplomat and scholar François Gabriel de Bray's Essai Critique sur l'Histoire de la Livonie was published. In this excellent treatise on the history of Livonia we can find some remarks about music and songs with the old "Jörru, Jörru" from Kelch's Historia as an example (pp. 54-5). He also quoted from an unpublished work by a pastor Masing who had collected this song only recently from oral tradition (pp. 286-8; later in Beiträge 10, 1818, pp. 60-71). 

In 1821 young Estonian poet and scholar Kristian Jaak Peterson (1801-1822; see Wikipedia & EEVA) published his German translation of Christfried Ganander's Mythologia Fennica (at the Internet Archive & EEVA). He included additional examples from Estonian tradition (see f. ex. pp. 26-7). Two years later a handful of "Nachbildungen Esthnischer Volkslieder" were made available in the St. Petersburgische Zeitschrift (12, 1823, pp. 127-8; pp. 254-6). The author was one Heinrich Neus, (1795-1876, see Wikipedia & EEVA), formerly a student of theology in Dorpat and at that time already school inspector. He will reappear several times again in the course of this story. 

Nearly all of these works were produced by German scholars and writers, mostly theologians. They played the major role in this field. Estonians and Latvians were of course rarely involved. Serfdom would only be abolished in the Baltic provinces between 1816 and 1819. At least some of these writers - particularly Merkel, the truest Herderian among them - showed a less antiquarian and more forward-looking perspective. But at that time there was not yet any kind of systematic collection of songs. Individual scholars - especially Bergmann and Rosenplänter - managed to acquire considerable numbers of songs but they still were not able to discuss them in a wider context. It also appears that barely anyone except Schlegel cared about the music. Otherwise they all collected and published many texts but only rarely the associated tunes. 

Herder may have brought the Estonians and Latvians onto the European literary stage but for a very long time they were still relegated to the background and rarely noted or discussed by intellectuals, scholars and the general readership in the European cultural centers. One should remember that this was a time when poetry and also songs from even the remotest parts of world were already easily available. 

For some reason the Lithuanians fared a little bit better. Already in 1808 a literary adaptation appeared. Popular writer M. G. Lewis, the first one England who borrowed texts from Herder's Volkslieder - in his novel The Monk (1795) and in the Tales of Wonder (1801; see Guthke 1957 & 1958) - also used one of the Lithuanian songs for his ballad "The Dying Bride" in the Romantic Tales (II, p. 115, see I, p. xiii). "Eine littauische Daina (Liebesliedchen)" was discussed in the AMZ in 1812 (pp. 25-28). 

In 1825 the first comprehensive anthology of Lithuanian songs appeared: Rhesa's Dainos oder Litthauische Volkslieder (at the Internet Archive; see Šmidchens, pp. 59-61) offered original texts, translations into German and even some tunes and was well-received in Germany. Jacob Grimm wrote a review for the Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen (1826, St. 104, pp. 1025-1035). Goethe - interested in the Baltic since he had met Herder more than 50 years ago - also put his thoughts to paper. But his review wasn’t published at that time (later in Sämmtliche Werke 33, 1844, pp. 339-41; see also Hennig 1987, pp. 298-90).

Adelbert von Chamisso (1781-1838), poet and scholar, created adaptations of four songs from this book (see Gedichte, 1834, pp. 154-60). One of them, "Lied einer Wittwe" ("Her zogen die Schwäne mit Kriegsgesang"), became very popular and was regularly reprinted in other anthologies, even in books for schools like Wackernagel's Auswahl deutscher Gedichte für höhere Schulen (1836, No. 255, p. 254). 

Thanks to the melodies included by Rhesa some of his songs also found its way into musical anthologies. Zuccalmaglio and Baumstark used one in their Bardale (1829, No. 21, p. 36), the first German collection of international national airs. Five of them were then included in O. L. B. Wolff's Braga, another anthology of this kind in 14 volumes (1835, here Vol. 14, Nos. 1-5, pp. 3-9). Apparently Wolff - who otherwise had an encyclopedic knowledge in this field - wasn't able to find some Estonian or Latvian songs. 

He also plundered Rhesa's collection for his later anthologies of only texts, Halle der Völker. Sammlung der vorzüglichsten Volkslieder der bekanntesten Nationen (1837, II, here pp. 132-9) and Hausschatz der Volkspoesie. Sammlung der vorzüglichsten und eigenthümlichsten Volkslieder aller Länder und Zeiten (1846, here f. ex. pp. 123-4), while missing out the rest of the Baltic except for one Estonian song borrowed from Herder. Other popular anthologies of this kind from this time also preferred Lithuanian texts. One may only look into Die Volksharfe. Sammlung der schönsten Volkslieder aller Nationen published in six volumes in 1838. Here we find three of Chamisso's poems (6, Nos. 57-9, pp. 69-74). Otherwise the Baltic people are - once again - only represented by two of Herder's Estonian songs (1, No. 56, p. 117, 2, No. 6, pp. 9-10). 

In fact Lithuanian songs were generally much better known in Germany and also much easier to find. A second edition of Rhesa's collection appeared in 1843 (at the Internet Archive) and new anthologies followed soon, for example Jordan's Litthauische Volkslieder und Sagen (1844, at the Internet Archive). Meanwhile Latvian and Estonian songs still took a backseat. Much of what had already been published - by Merkel, Schlegel, Hupel and others - seems to have been forgotten. Only the Baltic chapter of Herder's Volkslieder occasionally served as a source. What was made available anew often didn't reach the mainstream. 


VII. Baltic Volkslieder since 1830 

In Britain not much was published. In 1830 William Taylor included in the chapter about Herder in his Historic Survey of German Poetry two of the Estonian songs from the Volkslieder as well as one Lithuanian (pp. 16-8). This was the first time since M. G. Lewis' publications three decades ago that texts from Herder's anthology were published in English translation. The Volkslieder were barely known there. 

But the following year a much more interesting piece appeared in the Foreign Quartely Review ( 8, 1831, pp. 61-78). Pastor Bergmann's anthologies of Latvian dainas, brought to England by Robert Jamieson, also reached - via Sir Walter Scott - the well-known polyglot writer John Bowring (1792-1872; see Wikipedia) who had already published translations of, for example, Finnish, Russian, Serbian, Hungarian, Polish, Dutch and Spanish poetry. He wrote a treatise about "Lettish Popular Poetry" and also tried his hand at translating some of these texts into English. Bowring's linguistic abilities were somewhat controversial. He often seems to have relied on the help native speakers or used German translations as starting-point (see f. ex. Lurcock 1974). It is not clear who helped him with this work. By all accounts he didn't know the manuscript with the German texts that Bergmann had given to Jamieson (see Biezais, pp. 29-30). 

This article quickly reached Germany. A short piece in the Blätter für literarische Unterhaltung (2, 1831, pp. 1379-80) offered "Proben lettischer Volkslieder und Poesie". But the anonymous author simply translated some of Bowring's English texts into German. One may assume that these few examples had not much to do with the original songs as collected by Bergmann. Three years later Baltic-German pastor and scholar Carl Christian Ulmann (1793-1871, see Wikipedia) - at that time already the foremost expert in this field - reviewed Bowring's treatise and criticized him for his bad translations. In fact he accused him of not knowing the language at all, a not unreasonable assumption (in Dorpater Jahrbücher 2, 1834, pp. 393-407). Nonetheless this work was also translated into German and appeared in the Magazin, herausgegeben von der Lettisch-literärischen Gesellschaft (5, 1835, pp. 28-86). 

Meanwhile in Germany Christian Schlegel had returned to the scene. He had made a career in the bureaucracy of the Russian Empire but still had enough time at hand for traveling around (see Paucker 1847; Kallas 1902, pp. 16-18). Schlegel reported about these trips in his Reisen in mehrere russische Gouvernements, published in 10 volumes between 1819 and 1834. He kept on collecting - apparently with the help of local clergymen - songs of all the peoples he visited, especially of the Estonians. A great number of texts - in German translation - as well as some tunes can be found scattered among several volumes of this series (see f. ex. Vol. 5, 1830, pp. 108-63; Tab. I & II). Unlike others he really enjoyed what he heard and took great care to describe it accurately. He also tried to compare the Estonians' songs and performances with what he had read about the national music of other peoples. 


The 10th volume (1834) included a great number of texts - about 100 - but I haven't yet seen a copy. It seems this was a very rare book. For some reason the editors of popular anthologies of international songs like O. L. B. Wolff weren't familiar with Schlegel's highly interesting works and never used any of the songs from his books. But at least it was taken note of by local scholars in the Baltic. Heinrich Neus wrote an extended and informative review (in: Dorpater Jahrbücher 5, 1836, pp. 217-32). 

At that time most of the research into the popular poetry and songs of the Latvians and Estonians was done by German-Baltic scholars. Learned societies had already been founded: the Lettisch-literärische Gesellschaft in 1824 (see Scholz 1990, pp. 121-4) and the Estnische Gelehrte Gesellschaft in 1838. Their periodicals regularly included relevant articles as well as original texts, often with translations (see Kallas 1901, pp. 60-1). Ulmann had already called for the systematic collection of Latvian songs in the Latvian society's Magazin (Vol. 3, p. 282). A very insightful treatise "Über das lettische Volkslied" by Hermann E. Katterfeld can be found in the fifth volume of the Magazin (pp. 1-27; see Scholz 1990, pp. 160-2). 

Neus published Estonian texts in several volumes of Das Inland. Wochenschrift für Liv-, Esth- und Kurland's Geschichte, Geographie, Statistik und Litteratur (see f. ex. Vol. 6, 1841, pp. 671-2, 753-4, 782-9, 811-6, at UofTartu Rep.). F. R. Kreuzwald (1803-1882; see Wikipedia) - not a German but from an Estonian family - also wrote an informative treatise for the Verhandlungen der Gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft (f. ex. in Vol. 2.2, 1848, pp. 43-59). But it seems that these works rarely reached Germany or England. Most of these scholars' knowledge as well as the songs they were collecting and publishing remained confined to small Baltic-German circles. 

During the 1840s only very few more relevant publications appeared in Germany. Johann Georg Kohl (1808 - 1878; see Wikipedia; wikisource), librarian and writer from Bremen had spent several years as a teacher in the Baltic and also traveled through parts of the Russian Empire. In 1841 his book Die Deutsch-Russischen Ostseeprovinzen oder Natur- und Völkerleben in Kur-, Liv und Esthland was published. He included chapters about the poetry, songs and music of both the Latvians and Estonians and quoted a great number of texts in German translation (II, pp. 119-186; pp. 223-36; see Viese 1989; Jaremko-Porter 2008a, p. 147, pp. 174-6). 

These were interesting and knowledgeable treatises and it is clear that Kohl - who called the Latvians a "nation of poets" - had done his homework. He was well aware of the history of collecting and criticized the German clergy of earlier times for their attempts to suppress the Baltic peasants' singing culture. Kohl was also able to describe the different genres as well as the performance contexts. All in all this was a competent addition to the literature and also suitable for a wider readership in Germany. Unfortunately he didn't include any tunes. 

Georg Friedrich Daumer (1800-1875; see Wikipedia), philosopher and poet from Nürnberg, was an expert for oriental poetry. But he also tried his hand at Baltic songs. A small collection of translations, "Lieder der Letten und Esthen", can be found in the Kalender auf das Jahr 1843 (München 1842, here pp. 58-62). Four years later Daumer published his Hafis. Eine Sammlung persischer Gedichte. Nebst poetischen Zugaben aus verschiedenen Völkern und Ländern and here he included a long chapter dedicated to "Lettisch-Litthauische Volkspoesie" as well as another one with Estonian songs (pp. 227-280). With these translations the Latvian and Estonian peasants returned onto to the literary stage. 

Compilers of anthologies of literature occasionally used Daumer's text, for example Heinrich Scherr in his popular Bildersaal der Weltliteratur. He not only reprinted some of Rhesa's and Chamisso's texts in a chapter titled "Volkslieder aus Polen und Lithauen" (pp. 1163-5) but also added some of Daumer's pieces under the heading "Lieder der Letten" (pp. 1187-8). Some of his adaptations were also reprinted 12 years later in a curious collection edited by Amara George (i. e. Mathilde Kaufmann): Mythotherpe. Ein Mythen-, Sagen- und Legendenbuch (1858, pp. 106-20). Here the readers could find a lot of exotic poetry not only from Europe but also from around the world and the few Baltic texts were placed here in a chapter including translations of Finnish, Siberian, Polish and Serbian songs and poems. 

The year 1846 also saw the publication of Friedrich Kruse's Ur-Geschichte des Esthnischen Volksstammes und der Kaiserlich Russischen Ostseeprovinzen Liv-, Esth- und Curland überhaupt. Kruse, at that time professor of history in Dorpat , added a short chapter about "Volkslieder der Letten und Esthen" (pp. 169-74, see also p. 47) with several texts as well as two melodies, one Estonian and one Latvian. The latter was particularly important. It was - as far as I can see - the first time since Hupel in 1782 that a Latvian traditional tune was made available in print. 


A more systematic collection and publication also started during the 1840s. In 1844 pastor G. F. Büttner published his Latweeschu lauschu dzeesmas un singes (at Google Books & ÖNB), the first comprehensive anthology of Latvian songs. But he only included the original texts and because of the lack of translations this otherwise very valuable collection was not really suitable for a more general readership. But at least the introduction and the notes were in German and an interesting and helpful review in a Baltic-German periodical also offered at least some information to readers not proficient in Latvian (11, No. 13, 26.3.1846, pp. 293-8). 

Much better in this respect was Heinrich Neus' Ehstnische Volkslieder. Urschrift und Übersetzung (1850-52, 3 Vols, at the Internet Archive). This was at that time a definitive anthology of Estonian songs and here the reader could find the original texts, translations into German, a good introduction as well as explanatory notes. Another collection appeared four years later: Mythische und Magische Lieder der Ehsten (1854, at the Internet Archive) by Neus and Friedrich Kreutzwald. The music was missing in all these volumes but most scholars were more interested in the words of the songs than the tunes. 

But nonetheless this was a good start. Scholars of Baltic song culture as well as compilers of literary anthologies now had a little more to select from. One may have a look for example at Wolfgang Menzel's Gesänge der Völker, another collection of the texts of international songs published in 1851. These kind of anthologies - all of course modeled on Herder's Volkslieder - were very popular in Germany. Menzel, a well-known and very productive poet, critic and scholar, did not yet know Neus' Ehstnische Volkslieder - this is understandable because the first part had just been published the year before - but at least he was familiar not only with Herder, Rhesa and Chamisso but also with Schlegel's and Kruse's publications (see pp. 76, 152-6, 290-1, 347, 365-6). Therefore his selection of Baltic songs was a little more varied than what earlier similar anthologies like Wolff's or the Volksharfe had offered. 

But several publications from the 1860s - from England, Germany and Denmark - show that the reception of the works of the Baltic-German scholars and also of the older literature was still somewhat limited. English linguist and ethnologist Robert Gordon Latham included in his Nationalities of Europe (Vol. 1, 1863, here pp. 23-42, pp. 132-45, pp. 148-50) chapters about both the Lithuanians and the Estonians. He also discussed their "poetry" and quoted a considerable number of songs in English translation. For the former he used an anthology published in the meantime, Nesselmann's Littauische Volkslieder (1853, at the Internet Archive). For the Estonians he could rely on Neus' great collection but didn't use anything  else. Strangely there is only a short and not particularly insightful remark about the Latvians (p. 102). Perhaps he wasn't familiar with what was available. 

Johann Georg Kohl, at that time one of the most successful travel writers in Europe, offered another contribution to this field and made again use of his research in the Baltic. Die Völker Europas (1868, pp. 284-303; 2nd ed., 1872, pp. 156-73), a popular ethnography of the peoples of Europe for a wider readership, included a chapter about Latvians and Lithuanians. This was an interesting and informative presentation of their history and he also quoted from several songs.


Latham and Kohl only used texts. More problematic was the music. Not much was available. Carl Engel, a German scholar and musician living in England, was at that time surely one of the greatest experts for international national airs. His Introduction to the Study of National Music (1866) can be regarded as the most comprehensive contemporary discussion of this genre. The bibliography list nearly all relevant anthologies of songs. He was of course familiar with the Lithuanian collections by Rhesa and by Nesselmann (p. 404). The latter also included some tunes. But the Estonians are only represented - besides a book of hymns - by Neus' anthology of texts and the chapter in Latham's Nationalities of Europe (p. 387). Apparently the few older publications with tunes - like Hupel's, Schlegel's and Kruse's - weren't known to him. The Latvians are not even mentioned. 

The largest anthology of international Volkslieder at that time was Danish composer A. P. Berggreen's Folke-sange og Melodier, Faedrelandske og Fremmede, published in 10 volumes during the 1860s. He also included a couple of Lithuanian songs (in Vol. 9, 1869, pp. 3-20) taken from Rhesa and Nesselmann. Latvian and Estonian songs are completely missing. ´

Some original Latvian traditional tunes had already been published in 1859 in 100 dseesmas un singes ar nohtem, a collection of songs for the youth compiled by the pastor Juris Caunītis and the teacher Jānis Kaktiņš (from Karnes, p. 205, p. 219, n. 64, see Das Inland 25, 1860, p. 151). But one may assume that this booklet was barely known outside of the Baltic. The first Latvian anthology including some tunes aimed at an international readership would only be available in the following decade. Lettische Volkslieder übertragen im Versmaass der Originale by Karl Ulmann - son of Carl Christian Ulman - appeared in 1874 (see Karnes 2005, pp. 212-4). Here the interested reader could find German translations of original songs - but no Latvian texts - as well as 11 melodies (see Anhang). This wasn't much and also much too late, nearly a century after Herder and 50 years after the publication of Rhesa's Lithuanian collection. 

It was also during the '70s that Latvian tunes appeared in a musical publication in Germany, in Baltic-German composer Hans Schmidt's Weisen fremder Völker mit hinzugedichtetem Texte (c. 1879, here pp. 12-3). He was from Riga and one may assume that he was familiar with the musical traditions of the Latvians. A more systematic collection and publication of a greater number of Latvian tunes only started in the 1870s (see Biezais, pp. 22-4; Apkalns, pp. 149-52; Boiko 1994; Karnes 2005).

Jānis Cimze (1814-1881; see Wikipedia), a teacher and musician who had studied in Germany, compiled the series Dseesmu rohta jaunekļeem un wihreem (1872-84). Here the songs were offered with arrangements for choirs. But his important and influential anthologies were barely known outside of the Baltic. In 1890 composer Adam Ore's Lettische Volkslieder. Latweeschu Tautas Dseesmas, für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte (at the Internet Archive) was published. This little booklet may have been more suitable for a wider public. German translations of the original texts were included.

Estonian tunes also remained quite rare. Two songs described as "Eesti rahwaviis" can be found in Wanemuine kandle healed (p. 13, p. 16), a small collection of original Estonian songs arranged for four voices that was published by Carl Robert Jakobson (1841-1882; see Wikipedia) in 1869. Some more were included in similar publications. The first anthology - also with arrangements for choirs - only appeared in 1890: Karl August Hermann’s Eesti rahwalaulud (at the Internet Archive). Hermann (1851-1909; see Wikipedia), journalist, linguist and composer, also wrote the first treatise about this topic: Ueber estnische Volksweisen (1892, at UofTartu Rep.; also in: Verhandlungen 16, 1896, pp. 54-72). In fact at that time he did the most for a revival of the old traditional tunes. 


Here we can look into some musical anthologies of national songs from all over the the world that were published around the turn of the century in England and Germany, for example Reimann's Internationales Volksliederbuch (c. 1894, see pp. 2-3) or the Characteristic Songs and Dances of All Nations by Alfred Moffatt and James Duff Brown (c. 1901, see p. 150). At best one can find there some Lithuanian songs. Both the Latvians and the Estonians were still completely ignored. 

But at least Latvian songs would become more visible on the music market after the turn of the century. The works of composer Jāzeps Vītols ([Joseph Wihtol] 1863-1948; see Wikipedia; see Apkalns 1977, pp. 247-64) were particularly important in this respect. His 100 Latweeschu tautas dseesmas. 100 Lettische Volksweisen (1908, at IMSLP), with German texts by poet Rūdolfs Blaumanis, was the most comprehensive anthology so far and the first to offer a greater selection of Latvian Volkslieder for an international audience.


VIII. Towards Cultural and Political Emancipation

This was only a quick review of works including original or translated texts that were published until the 1860s and - to show the negligence of the musical dimension - of songs with tunes that were published until the turn of the century. It is clear to see that the reception of Estonian and Latvian Volkslieder in the West - here in Germany and England - during the 19th century was somewhat limited. It was a very slow and uneven process. As noted before: Herder may have lifted the Baltic peasants out of literary obscurity and placed the on the main stage. But for most of the time they were barely visible. 

As I tried to show only very few writers or scholars in Germany or England showed some interest and offered major contributions: historians like de Bray and Kruse, ethnologists like Latham, travel writers like Schlegel und Kohl, translators of poetry like Bowring and poets like Daumer. At that time poets in Germany produced translations of foreign poetry and songs on assembly line. But Daumer was the only one who offered a greater number of adaptations of Baltic texts. 

Also many composers were busy setting these kind of translations to new music but a look into Hofmeisters Monatsberichte shows that only very few of them tried their hand at Latvian and Estonian songs. The old "Jörru, Jörru" - usually taken from Herder's Volkslieder - was supplied with a new tune a couple of times, for example by Julius Rietz (see Hofmeister, 1841, p. 80). Jakob Rosenhain used one of Daumer's texts ("Sehnlich in die Runde") for his "Esthnisches Volkslied" (here in Album für Gesang, c. 1860, Nr. 17, pp. 62-5). Alexander Winterberger wrote new tunes for two of Daumer's Latvian or Lithuanian adaptations. They can be found in his 20 Gesänge (Op. 10, 1862, here Nos. 5 & 6; see Hofmeister, 1862, p. 182). On the title-page both are called "Lettisches Volkslied". This was - by the way - a very interesting and not untypical collection of Lieder. Besides the two Baltic texts he also set to music both German poems by Uhland und Heine and translations of songs and poems from the Britain by Burns, Moore, Byron and Hemans. 

At that time only very few Volkslied-scholars used collections of Baltic songs for comparative research. Ludwig Uhland referred to a Latvian text in his - posthumously published - Abhandlung über die deutschen Volkslieder (1866, here p. 67). But it seems he only knew Herder and Rhesa's Lithuanian anthology. Alexander Reifferscheid, editor of Westfälische Volkslieder in Wort und Weise (1879, pp. vx-xvi) listed both Neus' and Ulmann's anthologies in his bibliography. 

For some reason most of the great work done by the Baltic-German scholars was often ignored and not taken note of outside of their own small circles. The lack of easily accessible handy anthologies with translations and melodies seems to have been a serious problem. Not at least some of the important older relevant publications were more or less forgotten. For example Schlegel's Reisen, a real treasure trove of Estonian songs and tunes, fell quickly into oblivion. Even in later years much of what was known about Baltic song culture didn't reach a wider readership. 

Here we can look into one more anthology of popular songs, ballads and poetry from around the world. Grabow's Die Lieder aller Völker und Zeiten - "Nach dem Vorbilde von J. G. Herder's 'Stimmen der Völker'" - with around 700 texts on more than 650 pages was published in 1880. The editor - who plundered many earlier collections of this kind - was able to include even Chinese or Persian poems as well as songs of the North American Indians. But his knowledge of the Baltic was rather uneven. Of course he offered a considerable amount of Lithuanian songs - all again from Rhesa's influential anthology - but there are only very Estonian texts - mostly from Herder's Volkslieder - and only one Latvian (pp. 295-6). Apparently he wasn't aware of what was already available at that time. 

In fact the international reception of the research and the publications by the Baltic-German scholars left a lot to be desired. But at home their work was all the more important and influential. Rosenplänter, Ulmann, Neus and Büttner have already been mentioned. I could add for example August Bielenstein (1826-1907, see Wikipedia), another collector and editor of Latvian songs - the two volumes of his Latweeschu tautas dseesmas appeared in 1874/5 (see Biezais, pp. 7-8) - and Ferdinand Wiedemann (1805-1887; see Wikipedia), author of Aus dem innern und äussern Leben der Ehsten (1876, at the Internet Archive), a groundbreaking treatise on Estonian folklore. They all were primarily linguists, they studied the Estonian and Latvian languages. Therefore their emphasis on texts and the negligence of tunes is of course understandable. Most of them had studied theology and they later became pastors and teachers. Ulmann was even appointed bishop. 

It should be remembered that their predecessors during the 17th and 18th centuries, both the rabid fighters against paganism like Einhorn and the well-meaning enlightened pastors like Stender and Hupel, were not really fond of the Latvians' and Estonians' own singing culture. They of course had started to document and describe what they saw and heard. But it would not be too far off to say that their ultimate goal was surely the eradication such unwelcome and dangerous traits of the Baltic peasants' traditional culture. This was exactly what Herder had criticized so harshly. But of course they were never completely successful. The Latvians and Estonians showed considerable resilience against this kind of cultural repression and managed preserve much of what their German teachers and pastors despised or even regarded as a sin. 

This new generation of learned clergymen that was busy during the 19th century showed much more understanding and much more interest for what their flock was singing. Of course they taught them tunes of songs and hymns imported from Germany or simply translated German songs - both secular and religious - into Latvian and Estonian (see f. ex. Karnes, pp. 204-5). But some of them - not all of course - learned to apply a more Herderian perspective and they managed to find some real value in the traditional songs of the Baltic peasants, not only as a source for studying their languages but also as a legitimate testimony of their "national spirit" that was about to die out (see f. ex. Karnes, p. 210-14; also Smidchens, pp. 61-2, Scholz 1995, p. 573). The Baltic-German scholars documented what was left and preserved it for the future. That way they laid an indispensable foundation for the later cultural - and ultimately also - political emancipation of the Latvians and Estonians (see Jürjo 1995). 

The first generation of Latvian and Estonian intellectuals and scholars that came to the fore during the second half of the century - what is called the era of "national awakening" - could seamlessly continue these efforts. "Armed with a Herder-inspired Romantic nationalist ideology mediated through the works of three generations of Baltic German writers and armed with a vast store of cultural artefacts" collected and documented so far (Karnes, p. 215) they set out to define and create their national culture (see also f. ex. Jaremko-Porter 2008a, pp. 176-87; Ŝmidchens, pp. 63-106, Scholz 1990, passim; Apkalns, pp. 148-63; for a wider context: Joachimsthaler 2007). 

This is another story that I can't go into here but at least some names should be mentioned. Friedrich Kreutzwald - the son of an Estonian bondman who studied medicine and became a physician - was a pioneer in this respect. He also created the Kalevipoeg (see Wikipedia), the future Estonian national epic. Jakob Hurt (1839-1906; see Wikipedia; Scholz 1990, pp. 148-50), pastor and teacher, linguist and folklorist, wrote his first treatise about Estonian legends. It was published in 1863 by the Estnische Gelehrte Gesellschaft (at the Internet Archive). He later became the chairman of the Eesti Kirjameeste Selts, the first Estonian literary society (1872, see Scholz 2013, p. 112). His anthology of Estonian songs appeared between 1875 and 1884 (at Google Books, at etera): Vana Kannel. Täieline kogu vanu Eesti rahvalauluzid. Alte Harfe. Vollständige Sammlung alter estnischer Volkslieder. He still included German translations so international scholars could use it. 

Others filled gaps left by the Baltic-German scholars. Choral singing had become immensely popular among Latvians and Estonians but at first their repertoire consisted predominantly of songs translated from German. Jakobson, Herrmann and Cimze published traditional tunes, not for academic purposes but to create a national song repertoire. For centuries Western observers had decried the Baltic peasants' singing. What they heard had been described as "kläglichs Geschrey" and "schreyende Gesänge" or as howling like the wolves. Now they were "transformed into singing nations at national song festivals, which established a distinct public culture to carry the message of nationalism" (Šmidchens, p. 78; see also Karnes, p. 201; Loos 2014). 

Of course I have to mention teacher and writer Krišjānis Barons (1835-1923; see Wikipedia; see Scholz 1990, pp. 164-7) who started in 1878 what would become a life-long project: the collection and systematic review of the Latvian dainas (see Biezais, pp. 8-13). The first volume began to appear in 1894 and this would be the most comprehensive and most important edition even though at first it was only printed in very small numbers. 

For nearly all of them the traditional songs were a part of their national identity. They had in fact become a means of cultural - and in the end also political - emancipation. Herder had laid the foundation and it was his work, his reappraisal of the up to that point more or less despised traditional song culture of the Baltic peasants as their own legitimate national literature that can be seen as one of the starting-points for this process. This development was of course only possible under the right political, economical and cultural circumstances: first the abolishment of serfdom, then the growing literacy and the emergence of a small but influential group of intellectuals who took the chance and set out to define what they regarded as Latvian respectively Estonian national culture.  


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