An intricate biography between times and nationalities. By Michael Haas.
What do we know about Hans Winterberg? Not much, one might say, although we have been able to find out more and more from a deliberately veiled past. We know that Winterberg was born in 1901 to a Jewish family in Prague. The family had been living in Prague for 300 years and had, among other things, a former Chief Rabbi. Winterberg was born as an Austrian, but with the emergence of Czechoslovakia in 1918, he became a Czech citizen without transition. He confirmed this status in the 1930 census and also called himself Hanuš Winterberg. As a child he learned to play the piano with Therèse Wallerstein, who was later murdered by the Nazis. He studied in Prague at the German Academy of Music with Fidelio Finke and Alexander Zemlinsky. In 1939/40, together with Gideon Klein, he attended composition lessons with Alois Hába at the Prague State Conservatory. For some time he worked as a répétiteur in Brno and Gablonz.
In 1930 he married the pianist and composer Maria Maschat, who had become famous as a former child prodigy. She was German-Bohemian and not Jewish; her daughter Ruth was born in 1935. After the invasion of the German Wehrmacht many of Winterberg’s relatives were deported to the concentration camp, his mother Olga was murdered in 1942 in Maly Trostinez. Winterberg’s marriage was dissolved in 1944 according to the Reichsehegesetzt, and in January 1945 he was deported to Theresienstadt. In May 1945 he was liberated and soon afterwards his wife and daughter were again deported to Germany in cattle trucks on the basis of the Beneš decrees. It was not until 1947 that Winterberg was given a Czech passport, which enabled him to travel to Bavaria to visit his wife and retake possession of his manuscripts, which he had entrusted to his wife and friends abroad before being deported to Theresienstadt. In 1948 there was a communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia, and Winterberg was faced with a dilemma: if he remained a Czech citizen, he would be returned to Czechoslovakia; in order to remain in Germany, he had to confess to the Sudeten German ethnic group. The Sudeten German conductor Fritz Rieger and other musicians stood up for Hans Winterberg, performed his works and recorded them for the BR, where a considerable number of recordings were made.
Some musicians who still knew Winterberg from Prague accused him of disguising himself as a German Bohemian out of opportunism. The possible exposure as a Czech, who had crept into the Sudeten German community, caused Winterberg worries.
The marriage with Maria Maschat did not last long in Germany, and Winterberg married three more times. The fourth wife, Louise Maria née. Piper, came from the Sudetenland. Winterberg also adopted her then 22-year-old son Christoph, whose biological father was a former SS man. After the death of Hans Winterberg and Louise Maria in 1991, Christoph sold the estate of his adoptive father for 6000 DM to the Sudetendeutsche Musikinstitut. In 2002, an agreement was concluded which blocked the estate and prohibited all information about the family until the beginning of 2031. It was also agreed that the Jewish origin of Winterberg should never be made public. Only in 2031, after the lifting of the ban, could Winterberg be discussed, but only as a “Sudeten German composer”.
Only through the efforts of Ruth Winterberg’s son (the daughter from Winterberg’s first marriage), Peter Kreitmeir, and the publication of the agreement with the Sudeten German Music Institute on Michael Haas’s blog “Forbidden Music” (mediated by Randy Schönberg) could the ban be lifted and the rights returned to the grandson. The estate of Winterberg is now being looked after at the exile.arte Centre at the Vienna University of Music.
Now that Winterberg’s music is accessible again, one notices that it has its origin mainly in the Czech school established after Janáček . Some members of the Sudeten German Community have always suspected of being “Czechs” again. As one hears from his music today, they were apparently right.
World premiere of the latest trio of the Austrian composer on 10 October 2019.
Alexander Wagendristel doesn’t just write good music, his works also take a stand on current topics and events with pleasure and often vehemently. In “life was so easy”, his new trio for clarinet, cello and piano, it is explicitly about flight, expulsion and exile.
Wagendristel quotes Schönberg’s Piano Concerto op.42: “life was so easy”, “suddenly hatred broke out”, “a grave situation was created” and “but life goes on” are the movement headings in Schönberg’s own sketches for this concerto. The musical material of the concerto is also spun further; after all, even its basic series is clearly audible at one point towards the end of the trio.
However, Wagendristel is not only concerned with remembering the historical catastrophe that National Socialism meant for Europe, but above all with the reference to the present: at that time people like Schönberg had to emigrate from Europe in order to escape annihilation. Today people flee to Europe for the same reason. How do we deal with this and where do we stand today? Is history repeating itself?
In any case, we are very much looking forward to premiering this incredibly exciting and complex work on October 10 at the Mödlinger Schönberg-Haus. Also to be heard at this concert will be compositions by Erich Zeisl, Robert Starer, Ernst Toch and Joachim Stutschewsky.
With the proclamation of the Republic of Austria on 12 November 1918, women in Austria also received the universal and equal right to vote, which they were able to exercise for the first time at the elections to the Constituent National Assembly in February 1919.
This anniversary is a wonderful occasion for us to play a programme exclusively with female composers this time. For a long time female composers had to struggle with the same prejudices as all women who could not and/or did not want to comply with traditional role clichés. Mild to pitifully smiled at, subtly suppressed and, if necessary, vehemently fought back, only a few women succeeded in gaining recognition and recognition. Some things have improved over the years, but not least the current #metoo debate shows that we are still a long way from real equality today.
For our programme we have chosen female composers from the 19th century to the present, from different countries and with different backgrounds, who, despite all prejudices and resistance, have gone their way and above all have one thing in common: They wrote and write incredibly good music!
With several concerts we celebrate the 100th birthay of the Austrian Republic.
100 years ago out of the catastrophy of World War I the Austrian Republic was founded. Times were hard and instable then and Austria wasn’t a “desired child”, so it didn’t exist very long. IIn 1934 the republic was destroyed by civil war and Austro-fascism followed by Nazi-occupation in 1938 and Worls War II. Only after the reestablishment in 1945 Austria became a stable democracy. Political consensus, social balance and economic growth made the Second Republic a success and finally a wealthy member of the EU.
In our concerts we perform music from the early years of the republic, but also works of contemporary composers. Most particular attention we give to those composers who were expelled in 1938 an forgotten after 1945.
Back then as well as today we find a fascinating artistic range, which can only be indicated in the works selected. But the variety 100 years ago was the result of insecurity, despair and social changes, while today it is the sign of an open and globally interconnected society. As we can learn of the history of our republic this openness and freedom are by no means granted, which we should never forget.
A great and successful year is coming to its end, and we would like to thank our audience, promoters and everyone who supported us.
Next year is going to be even more intense and rich of fascinating concerts. We’re looking forward to it!
A trio of the blind and today nearly forgotten composer can now be rediscovered.
“15. November 1917” is written by hand at the end of Josef Labor’s Trio in e-minor for piano, clarinet and cello. Exactly 100 years and one week later this trio will be performed again in our concert on November 22nd at Haus Hofmannsthal in Vienna.
Josef Labor (1842 – 1924), left blind since childhood due to contracting smallpox, was highly notable pianist, organist and teacher in Vienna at the turn of the century. Arnold Schönberg, Julius Bittner, Alma Mahler and Paul Wittgenstein were amongst his students. For Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm as a soldier in World War I but nevertheless intended to pursue his career as a pianist, Labor wrote the aforementioned trio. The piano-part thus is written for the left hand, one of the first works of this kind, which was to be followed by many others, for example by Ravel, Hindemith, Britten, Korngold and Franz Schmidt.
Today Josef Labor is almost forgotten, even his memorial opposit of the Konzerthaus in Vienna is hardly known.
November 22nd 2017, 07:30 pm
Concert in Haus Hofmannsthal
Reisnerstraße 37, 1030 Vienna
Phone: (01) 714 85 33, Fax.: DW 9
Two concerts presenting the composer’s chamber music.
75 years ago, on March 15th 1942, Alexander Zemlinsky, one of the most important composers of his age, died in exile in the USA in poverty and almost forgotten. At best he was remembered as Arnold Schönberg’s teacher, friend and brother-in-law, while his music remained unheard for many years. Like many otherss of his generation he was twice a victim of history: Menaced as a Jew and forced to emigration by the Nazis, the post-war avantgarde regarded him as conservative and therefor ignored his music completely.
Only in the nineties of the 20th century Zemlinsky’s importance became rediscovered and appreciated. Meanwhile his status is unquestioned, his operas and orchestral works being performed all over the world. TRIS, too, has been playing his music for many years. In November we invite you to attend two concerts with Zemlinsky’s complete chamber music for clarinet, cello and piano.
On November 6th you will hear his Fantasy pieces op.9 for clarinet and piano as well as his Cello Sonata in a-minor dating from 1894. The heaading of this concert is “Zemlinsky and Jewish Vienna”, so we will also perform Joachim Stutschewsky’s “Klezmer’s Wedding music” and Carl Frühling’s Trio op.40.
On November 22nd we will perform Zemlinsky’s Three Pieces for cello and piano and his famous Trio op.3 in d-minor. And you will hear Josef Labor’s Trio in e-minor, which he composed exactly 100 years ago for his pupil Paul Wittgenstein. Wittgernstein had lost his right arm in WW I, so the piano part is written only for the left hand!
The term “school” is seldom more appropriate in music history than in the case of Schönberg and his group of associates. Members of this school did not belong merely because of their direct status as pupils, but rather due to their identification with the compositional ideals that link the composers whose works are performed this evening. Wellesz, Schmid, Spinner and Skalkottas also make obvious, how different the directions taken nevertheless may be.
This includes Beethoven as well – Viennese Classicism is the source from which the teaching of the Viennese School takes its inspiration. The “Gassenhauer-Trio” will be performed as a reference to Mödling, where Beethoven spent the summer months of 1818/19 not far from Schönberg’s House.
The concert will take place at September 28th at 7:30 pm at the Schönberg-house (Bernhardgasse 6, 2340 Mödling).