August Walter (2003)

The large collection of letters by and to August Walter is an additional source from Brahms’ inner circle. The computer-based formal cataloguing of the material was concluded in 2003 using allegro-HANS, a system especially suited to working with manuscripts and estates.

The collection was acquired for the Brahms-Institut from August’s grandchild Peter Walter in Basel in 1996/97. Of a total of 1584 letters, that stretch across a time span of 50 years (1846–1895) and except for ten are all unpublished, 1100 come from family correspondence between August Walter and his second wife Anna Walter-Strauß  (1846–1936). Walter’s correspondence with other contemporary music figures consists of 484 letters.

August Walter (1821–1896), a German composer, violinist, and conductor, moved to Basel in 1846, where he enduringly shaped musical life with Ernst Reiter and Alfred Volkland. Although he only worked in Basel and was of more or less regional importance, his correspondence includes many other music centers of the German-speaking world and reflects the various interweavings in musical life at the time. In this context, it is significant that both Walter’s wives, Josephine Walter-Fastlinger und especially Anna Walter-Strauß (1846–1936), were concert singers in demand. The correspondence deals primarily with questions of programming. 

At the focus of interest are the numerous comments on important composers, their works, and their personalities. Some of the letter writers include the Zurich-based composer, conductor, and friend of Brahms Friedrich Hegar (1841–1927), the Munich music researcher and librarian Joseph Maier (1821–1889) and Leipzig composer, Thomaskantor and music theorist Moritz Hauptmann (1792–1868), objects of judgment and interpretation include Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann. Frequent mention is also made of Mendelssohn, Wagner and Verdi. The letters are an important source of music history of the period.

 

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Anna Walter Strauß (1846-1936),
2. Ehefrau von August Walter