Heinz Wahren: in memoriam Bertold Hummel
A warm welcome to you all, who have come together here to remember Bertold Hummel.
For most of you, my father's name is linked to his compositions, many think fondly back on his heartiness and humour, some have happy memories of him as a colleague, mentor or friend.
For the family, he has been taken out of our daily life. Whether for the children, who paint pictures at school of grandfather's coffin decked with flowers, or for us adults, who in our normal daily pursuits - such a short time after his for us so unexpected death - are repeatedly caught up without warning in feelings of deep sadness: we try to grow accustomed to the fact that his voice, his familiar movements and his touch are no longer with us.
This is not an easy time for us, but we are however aware that, in contrast to some who have to come to terms with such a severe loss, we have the privilege of doing this together with many others who share our feelings.
The many people who came together for his impressive requiem in the cathedral, the many musicians who spontaneously approached us and wanted to honour the deceased with their art in many different places: they help it to become true that, as Tagore expressed it so beautifully - the pain melts into song.
Today, on his seventy-seventh birthday, we are especially grateful that the Music College has considered it a matter of course to organise this concert in memoriam Bertold Hummel. We are very pleased that so many students were willing, in co-operation with their teachers, to take a closer look at his work.
was exactly how my father understood music - as an art that brings about human
contact. Music as an expression of friendship and warmth.
is hardly a composition which he did not dedicate to someone, be it a child, a
great musician or our loving God.
Often a particular event inspired a composition. I still remember well how shocked he was to hear on the radio on the 4th December, 1976 the news of Benjamin Britten's death. He withdrew to his study and after a couple of hours played us on the piano the Adagio which opened this programme.
The rapid mental decay of his zestful friend Dietrich von Bausznern shook him deeply and was the immediate inspiration for the "in memoriam" we just heard.
"Ave Maria" (in the German version) was written in 1993 under the impression of
the death of his sister Erika. A year before his own death he revised the composition
and considered the Latin version now the more successful.
During the last years of his life, much against his habit of leaving pieces lying around unpublished for ages, he brought his works to publication and revised earlier ones.
The publication of "Games with Keys", which he composed and played on occasions such as birthdays and Christenings of the grandchildren, was accomplished with unusual speed.
setting of texts for a song cycle on scurrilous poems by Hermann Hesse, which
I had strongly commended to him years ago, was his last composition.
or less, my dear boy,
we lie down with our fathers,
ambivalence of death was something he experienced plainly during his last days.
On the one side the rapid failing of his body, which he accepted stoically:
of his works will probably still be being played when we who knew him are no longer
As thanks for the honour and friendship which my father and his work were always received in this institute in particular, we would like to bequeath to the Music College Library his complete printed works (which amount to nothing less than 185 volumes.), and our wish is that in the future it will continue to happen that one person or another will take the opportunity to seek to understand the musical universe of his life's work.
last book my father was reading was "The Discourses of Seneca".
closely at all the days of your life - and you will see how few are left to be
called your own ... But whosoever lives rightly, uses each moment and structures
each day as if it were his last, he lives in an eternal Now.
I thank you for your attention.