- Pionier der alten Musik: Hans Eberhard Hoesch und die Kabeler Kammermusik by Nikolaus de Palézieux
Nikolaus de Palézieux’s 2012 study of early music pioneer Hans Eberhard Hoesch (1891–1972) is an indispensible work for academics and amateurs alike who are interested in the early music revival in twentieth-century Germany. Although Hoesch played a vital role in collecting rare baroque scores, period musical instruments, and even creating the first early music chamber orchestra in Germany, his name has been ignored in virtually all other historical accounts. De Palézieux’s book represents a vital step in rectifying this omission, and this work will be the volume on which all other studies of Germany’s early music revival must build.
Hoesch lived most of his life in the small city of Hagen, located on the eastern edge of the Ruhr region. As a teenager, he studied violin with Bram Eldering in Cologne, a colleague of Johannes Brahms. After Hoesch’s service in World War I, he returned to Hagen to serve as the technical director of his family’s highly successful paper factory. Most of the book details the years 1928 to 1934, the period in which he created Kabeler Kammermusik, an early music concert series in which Hoesch played viola. By April 1931, Hoesch had assembled the first complete chamber orchestra to play on period instruments. He then founded his own workshop for instrument preservation on the ground floor of his home. Hoesch ultimately financed the entire venture himself, as he received little to no support from the city government. And in 1933, he opened a small concert hall inside his home for public performances.
Through de Palézieux’s treatment of Hoesch’s musical tastes, it is easy to get a sense of why he was so driven to create such an ensemble. Hoesch considered modern music (especially jazz) to be a highly destructive influence, a sentiment that he also shared in the program notes for the Kabeler Kammermusik’s first public concert in January of 1930. Hoesch’s own musical ideology can tell us much about the cultural milieu in which the early music revival took place, and although the Nazis would share his musical preferences in many respects, Hoesch nevertheless found the party’s cultural politics abhorrent.
The question lingering throughout the book—why did Hoesch not receive any credit for his part in the early music [End Page 448] revival?—is artfully threaded in and out of the narrative. Ultimately, there are several reasons why Hoesch languished in obscurity: his primary role as a paper manufacturer rather than cultural impresario, the ensemble’s Hagen origins which isolated the group from success outside the region, and Hoesch’s own brief involvement with the entire project. As de Palézieux points out, Hoesch’s decision to resign from the ensemble in 1936, just as the group was becoming more established, also meant that he remained uncelebrated. With the unexpected death of his third wife, Hoesch felt unable to continue his work with the Kabeler Kammermusik. In addition, the Nazis’ cultural politics had begun to make Hoesch increasingly uncomfortable, and he wanted to avoid registering his ensemble with the Reichsmusikkammer (RMK). To Hoesch, there appeared no better solution than to resign.
After his departure, the group soon changed their name to the Kammermusikkreis Scheck-Wenzinger after two of the ensemble’s long-standing members, flutist Gustav Scheck and cellist and recorder player August Wenzinger. Although Hoesch had resisted pressure to join the RMK and accept funding from the National Socialists, the ensemble’s new leaders were not so reticent. In 1940, the Kammermusikkreis Scheck-Wenzinger received funding from the Nazi organization Kraft durch Freude and its Italian counterpart, Dopo Lavoro, to go on a concert tour of Italy. At the opening of each concert, as the audience stood while giving the Nazi salute, the ensemble played the Fascist anthems of Germany and Italy. Johann Philipp Hinnenthal, a viola da gamba player and close friend...