Hausegger, Siegmund


[A request for biographical material brought the following sketch from Mr. Hausegger, which is so interesting that it is inserted verbatim.] I was born on August 16, 1872, at Graz in Styria, that lovely province of Austria, which has sent forth such renowned artists as Amalia Materna, Scaria, Busoni, and above all the great and unfortunate composer, Hugo Wolf, so that to be born there would almost seem a good omen for a young musician. My father, Dr. Friedrich von Hausegger, a solicitor, was musically highly gifted, and from his earliest youth had the ardent wish to devote himself entirely to this art, but instead he was obliged to take up a more lucrative profession. However, every spare hour he devoted to music, more especially to scientific studies as to the origin and innermost soul of music. He made himself known by several works on aesthetics, Die Musik als Ausdruck Das Jenseits des Künstlers, and others, and is regarded in Germany as one of the founders of the modern school of musical aesthetics, which is based upon the theories of Wagner and Schopenhauer. But although specially attracted by the scientific side of music, it never* became to him a soulless object only to be dissected; the artist in him was equal to the scholar and so he was ever ready to receive new impressions, new rules from new geniuses. It was his special pride that he was one of the first in Austria to recognize the greatness of Richard Wagner and to exert himself to the utmost in propagating his music and his ideas.

It is easy to understand what such a father has been to me; nature could not have given me a more precious gift. He very soon discovered the signs of musical talent in me, and after having received the first rudiments from my mother my education was entirely under the guidance of my father. Very soon I began to improvise and every new readingbook that we got at school was set into music the same day. Of course all my relations, uncles and aunts, were much impressed by such performances, and my mother often told me afterwards how unhappy she had been because my father would never allow me to appear in public as another little boy of my age, Ferruccio Busoni, did at the same time, as her motherly pride desired for me the same honors as he received.

At the age of nineteen I composed my first serious composition (preceded only by a series of overtures to blood-stained tragedies which I wrote myself), a mass for chorus, solos, orchestra and organ, at the request of the rector of the college, who wished to have it performed by his pupils at a festival in honor of the Emperor's birthday. Unfortunately it proved too difficult for the boys to execute. Great was my disappointment; so that my good father, to help and to encourage me, helped me to a performance of the work, which I had to conduct myself. It took place before an invited audience, and this first debut as conductor and composer was a great success.

At eighteen I began my studies in the history of art, literature, philosophy and history at the University; but they were often somewhat neglected, as I continued to work at the composition of my first opera, Helfrid, which was performed in 1890 at the Landestheatre in Graz. The succeeding years were rich in musical work, songs, chamber-music, sonatas, a symphony, and lastly a new fantastic comic opera, Zinnober. Beside this I was an active member of the Graz Wagner Society, which my father, with some kindred spirits, had founded. As preparation for the festivals at Bayreuth he arranged a complete performance of the Nibelungen Ring in the form of concerts. During 1895-1896 I was conductor at the opera in Graz, and these years were to me an excellent school, especially as I had to bring out all novelties in a very short time. The year 1898 brought me the first great success outside of my native town, when Richard Strauss had my opera, Zinnober, performed at the Royal Opera in Munich. Of all modern German artists, Strauss was the first who actively interested himself in me and my work, and ever since he has done his utmost to forward me in my career by his active friendship. The performance at Munich was an excellent one and brought me full honor, both from the public and the critics. The impressions of Munich altogether were pleasant, as it is an ideal city for artists, and I was therefore greatly delighted when soon after I received an invitation to conduct one of the Kaim concerts and to perform on that occasion my first symphony   poem, Dionysiche Fantasie. Following the splendid reception I received the engagement from Dr. Kaim as colleague of Weingartner, in conducting his orchestra. I was to enter my new appointment in the autumn of 1899, and the intervening months were occupied in finishing a new symphonic poem, the composition of which had been cruelly interrupted by the death of my father, in February, 1899. The origin of this work is closely connected with the political events of that year, when the Teutonic population in Austria was oppressed by the Slav party and rose in furious rebellion against the Badenyi ministry; Graz being one of the most Teutonic towns in Austria, the excitement rose high and a revolution seemed to be inevitable. From the windows of my home I saw the infuriated populace storming the police offices, the mounted and armed soldiers charging the hurling crowds, the erection of barricades, and I felt the misery of my people as my own. Then it was that my thoughts turned constantly to the wonderful German legend of the old Emperor Barbarossa, who slumbers in the depths of a huge mountain (some say, the majestic Untersberg near Salzburg), awaiting the day of greatest need to arise and save his people; when the rocks will burst with thunderous sound and the Emperor surrounded by his knights will appear in his great array. The composition of the symphony entitled Barbarossa was begun in 1898 and finished before I left for Munich in 1899. It is divided into three parts, the misery of the people, the enchanted mountain, the awakening; nevertheless it is easy to recognize the old form of the symphony suited to a poetic idea. The first part is allegro, the second begins with a scherzo, followed by an adagio, and ends with a repetition of the scherzo.

I spent the following three years at Munich, conducting the Volkssymphonie-Konzerte (popular symphony concerts), which soon became so well patronized that their number was to be doubled, and the Modern Evenings at which I brought out a quantity of new work. Besides this I undertook many tours, partly with the orchestra, partly to fulfil invitations to conduct my own work. " Barbarossa '* was performed for the first time in Berlin and met with such general appreciation and lively enthusiasm that it soon made the round of the concerts all over Germany and several American towns, and has subsequently become the most popular of my works.

In 1902 I married Hertha Ritter, daughter of Alexander Ritter, the composer and intimate friend of Richard Strauss, and niece of Richard Wagner's, and some months after I entered upon my new duties in the position of conductor of the Museumskonzerte in Frankfort-on-theMain, one of the finest and most important orchestras and concert unions in  Germany. With it I performed for the first time my latest symphonic poem, Wieland der Schmied (after the plot sketched by R. Wagner), at the Musical Festival which, in 1904, was held at Frankfort. During six months of the year my duties as conductor kept me at Frankfort, but the whole summer is spent at my country house in Obergrainau near Garmisch in the Bavarian Highland, where nature in all her grandness and purity helps to restore the mind and body after the winter's work and fatigue. I left Frankfort in 1906 in order to have entirely free time for composition, which I consider to be my principal avocation.

A LIST OF MY PUBLISHED WORKS: 1. Zinnober, romantic-comic opera in three acts. 2. Dionysische Fantasie, symphonic poem. 3. Barbarossa, a symphonic poem. 4. Wieland der Schmied, a symphonic poem. 5. Thirty-two Songs. 6. Two choruses for male voices accompaniment of orchestra. 7. Totenmarsch, chorus for male voices with orchestral accompaniment. 8. Two choruses for male and female voices (a) Stimme des Abends, (b) Schnitterlied. 9. Two Songs for tenor with orchestral accompaniment (a) Schwule. (b) O war es doch. 10. Three " Hymnen an die Nacht," for barytone and orchestra accompaniment. 11. Seven Songs (Lieder der Liebe), for tenor and orchestral accompaniment. 12. Three Songs for a medium voice.