Hugo Herrmann (musician)

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Hugo Herrmann (born April 19, 1896 in Ravensburg , † September 7, 1967 in Stuttgart ) was a German composer , organist and choir director .


Youth and Studies

Herrmann came from a family of teachers and initially had the goal of becoming a primary school teacher . At the latest during his studies in Schwäbisch Gmünd , his creative talent came to light. He found his first job as a teacher in 1914 in Reichenbach am Heuberg . In the First World War he was seriously wounded at the age of just 22 years and was therefore released in 1918. After returning to his old job, he came to Ludwigsburg after a brief interlude in Balingen . Through his work with the male choir, he was encouraged to devote himself to music and used the proximity to Stuttgart to receive the necessary preparation for studying music from the director of the Stuttgart Conservatory at the time, Oskar Schröter . His next position took him to the Hochschule für Musik Berlin , where he studied piano, organ, composition and conducting. His teachers here included Walther Gmeindl and in particular Franz Schreker whose master class for composition he attended. Herrmann earned his living as a pianist and organist, and his first compositions were soon written. After completing his studies, the young composer and musician returned to Württemberg, but the economic crisis forced him to go on a concert tour to the United States with his young wife, who is known as a pianist .

Intermezzo in the USA 1923–1925

As a concert musician, organist and church choir leader, he could have stayed in Detroit or at least in the USA , but two years later the homesick couple returned to Germany. Despite - or perhaps because of - this impressive experience of an emigrant, these two years were among the most formative and shaped the craft learned during the course into a respectable personal style. In the following years he created "over 90 works of the most varied kinds, each with its own character".

Former home

Back in Germany, he settled in Reutlingen , worked as a school teacher and was active as an organist at St. Wolfgang, which also resulted in an initial creative phase for organ literature. But he let his eyes wander outside of the box and strengthened the existing contact with Paul Hindemith , a central figure among German composers at the time. In 1926, through the mediation of Hindemith, he was commissioned to write a composition for the Days of New Music in Donaueschingen . For this purpose, the accordion work “Seven New Game Music” was created, which was to lay the musical foundation stone of New Music for the accordion and established Hermann's lifelong bond with Trossinger Harmonika-Fachschule. In this context, several works for accordion were created in the following years . In 1930 he commissioned the Wiesbaden City Theater to compose his opera “Vasantasena”, for which he received a state award, his second important award after the 1928 Schubert Award. From 1933 he committed himself to the National Socialist regime by composing male choirs and had an arrangement of the Horst Wessel song (NSDAP hymn: "Die Fahne Hoch") for accordion published by Hohner Verlag.

In 1935 he changed his job and from then on worked at the harmonica college. This narrowed the gap between profession and calling, although Herrmann's pedagogical side should not be underestimated either. Nevertheless, he had new opportunities to develop his musical creativity there and enough compositions by Herrmann were received with such great applause that after the seizure of power gentlemen like Otto zur Nedden and State Councilor Hans Severus Ziegler kept an eye on him. Pieces such as the Chorburlesken im Zoo op.73 , a five-part male choir humoresque with a jazz combo, were decisive for a life-changing incident in 1936. On June 17, Walter Schulz - until 1934 director of the State University of Music in Weimar - wanted Hermanns Gamben Concerto op.79 list. The composer came to Weimar on this occasion and found himself listed under the dreaded category Degenerate Artists at an exhibition . The program of the evening only commented on this with “was canceled by Goebbels ”. His name now appeared alongside those of Paul Hindemith , Arnold Schönberg and Igor Stravinsky at the corresponding exhibitions in Frankfurt, Weimar, Düsseldorf and Vienna. “In order to defend himself against this and in the struggle for his professional existence, he took advice from his well-meaning friends to acquire membership of the NSDAP in 1939 in order to obtain a party court case as the only possibility of rehabilitation.” Herrmann became Gauchor leader “Gau Swabia of the German Singers Association ". "Herrmann's relationship to the NSDAP requires some differentiation, since his compositional work was also subject to defamation by the National Socialist press, including being labeled as" degenerate, "which Herrmann fought vehemently and successfully." From 1935 to 1963, Herrmann was director the Trossinger Harmonika-Fachschule (later Trossingen Municipal Music School , today Hohner Conservatory ), although he was on the list of “degenerate artists” in Vienna until 1939. However, due to the course of the war, a procedure that was previously sought became superfluous and in July 1944 Herrmann (like 760,000 other party comrades) declared his resignation from the NSDAP.


A tireless creative urge can be felt especially in the 1920s. Herrmann tries every imaginable genre and processes the musical material in a thoroughly contemporary way. Choir and organ compositions seem to be at the center of his work at this time, which is also explained by his work as an organist and choir director in Reutlingen. In the field of organ composition, his op. 25 from 1926, Five Pieces for Chamber Organ and Percussion , which he wrote for the first organ conference in Freiburg, caused a sensation . Numerous modern style elements are woven in here. Aphoristic brevity characterizes the five movements, which are not free-tonal , but free from narrow tonal references. The use of percussion instruments and jazz-like elements as well as the rhythmic treatment of the organ pedal show the composer at the height of his time. So a lot of this work is found in open width at Leif Kayser in his Concerto per Organo of the 1965th

The Kleine Kammermusik op. 13 seems partly towards historicism and Max Reger , but Hanns Moser sees Herrmann's song in tears for string quartet with soprano from 1924 "at first glance not growing far from Schönberg's F sharp minor piece op. 10". Even the commission from Ernst Hohner for a first genuine accordion work hardly allowed recourse to familiar things. Seven new pieces of music were the result of Herrmann, which was controversially discussed in public. "While the folk musicians marveled at the work as an unusual novelty or rejected it as unplayable, the specialists resented their colleague Herrmann for the apparent slide [...] of what had been achieved so far."

The 3rd Symphony was written in 1949/50 based on pictures of the Rothenburg Holy Blood Altar by Tilman Riemenschneider .

List of works (selection)

Hermann only numbered his works up to opus 100, which is why many pieces are only given the year of their premiere.


  • Vasantasena Op. 70, premiere Wiesbaden 1930, libretto: Lion Feuchtwanger
  • Paracelsus Op. 100, premiere Bremen 1943 (lost during the war)
  • The record: school opera
  • The miracle: opera in one act, premiered in Stuttgart 1937
  • Gazelle Horn Op. 43, Chamber Opera Premiere Stuttgart 1929 Libretto Elisabeth Gerdts-Rupp
  • Picnic Op. 50, Chamber Opera Libretto Elisabeth Gerdts-Rupp

Orchestral works

  • 1st Symphony Op. 32, WP Stuttgart 1928
  • Festival music for wind orchestra, 1929
  • 2nd Symphony Op. 56, WP Wiesbaden 1929
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra Op. 75, UA Wiesbaden 1931 with Rudolf Bergmann , later concertmaster of the Palestinian Symphony Orchestra , and Carl Schuricht
  • Concert music I for string orchestra, piano, trumpet and timpani Op. 79b, UA Reutlingen 1931
  • Concerto for viol and string orchestra Op. 79c, UA Vienna 1931, German premiere in Cologne 1932 with Paul Grümmer , dedicated to Paul Grümmer
  • Symphony of Work Op. 90: for mixed choir and wind orchestra, premiered in Stuttgart 1935
  • Romantic night music for accordion orchestra, premiered in Trossingen 1938
  • Concert for accordion and string or hand harmonica orchestra with 2 timpani ad lib., 1941
  • Celebration music II: Concerto grosso for solo oboe, solo cello and concertino op.98, 1944, WP Stuttgart 1946
  • 2nd concert for accordion and orchestra, premiered in Trossingen 1949
  • 3rd Symphony (based on images of a Riemenschneider altar) for large orchestra and boys' choir, premiered in Munich 1950
  • Symphonic Metamorphosis for orchestra (after Dante's Purgatorio), UA Stuttgart 1953
  • 4th symphony based on the music of the opera “Paracelsus” for large orchestra, premiered in Tübingen 1951
  • 5th Symphony (based on Dante's Divine Comedy)

Works for chamber ensemble

  • Symphonic Music Op. 29b: Radio music for chamber orchestra, premiered in Baden-Baden 1927
  • Tonbild-Overture Op. 67a, UA Baden-Baden 1929
  • The machine Op. 69: Sinfonietta for chamber orchestra, premiered in Stuttgart 1929
  • Concerto for harpsichord and chamber orchestra Op. 78, UA Berlin in 1931, with Alice Ehlers under Hermann Scherchen , dedicated to Alice Ehlers
  • Apocalypse 1945: Chamber Music I for 2 solo voices and string orchestra, premier during the New Music Days in Donaueschingen 1946

Chamber music

  • Little Chamber Music in the Old Style for String Quartet and Piano Op. 13a, UA Reutlingen 1925
  • Sonata for violin and piano Op. 17, WP Stuttgart 1925
  • Spring: Third String Quartet, premiered in Stuttgart 1939

Music for harmonica, accordion and accordion ensemble

  • Seven new music for chords Op. 57, UA broadcasting Stuttgart 1927
  • Swabian village music for accordion, premiered in Trossingen 1934
  • Fair music for accordion, premiered in Trossingen 1935
  • Musical movement games for accordion, premiered in Cologne 1936
  • Rondoletto for accordion, UA Trossingen 1938
  • Concert studies for accordion, premiered in Trossingen 1946
  • Three small celebratory music for accordion orchestra, premiered in Stuttgart 1936
  • Celebration sound game for a group of accordion players with other instruments ad. lib., 1943
  • Christmas pastorals for a group of accordion players with other instruments ad. lib., 1944

Music for keyboard instruments

  • Gregorian Fantasy for Organ Op. 9b, UA Schorndorf 1923
  • Toccata Gotica for piano Op. 16, WP Weinheim 1926
  • Five pieces for chamber organ Op. 25, UA Freiburg i. Br. 1926


  • The Minster Tower Op. 1a: Cantata gotica for tenor solo, male choir and organ (orchestra), premiered in Stuttgart 1923
  • German cantata Op. 6a: for high voice, male choir and orchestra, premiered in Friedrichshafen 1926
  • Choir Burlesken im Zoo Op.73: for male choir and chamber orchestra, premiered in Chemnitz 1930, based on texts by Joachim Ringelnatz
  • The child's joy and sorrow: cantata for children's choir and children's orchestra, premiered in Weinheim 1948

Religious music

  • Prelude to a high celebration (Te Deum) Op. 7: for 3 solo voices, large orchestra and organ, premiered in Stuttgart 1925
  • Missa Benedicta Fastosa Op. 33
  • Missa a Capella Op. 53a, WP Dresden 1930
  • Jesus and his disciples Op. 80: Oratorio for mixed choir and orchestra with texts from the Gospel of John and the Apocrypha, WP Weinheim and Berlin 1931
  • Missa Mater Admiralis, 1950

Secular vocal music

  • Minnesota Op. 4: for female choir and harp (or piano), premiered in Heilbronn 1922
  • Dances of Death Op. 20: for mixed a cappella choir, premiered in Chemnitz 1926
  • Marienminne Op. 22a: for 5-part mixed choir a capella, premier Days of New Music in Donaueschingen 1926
  • Two new madrigals Op. 47b: for male choir, WP Ulm 1929
  • Seventeen Choir Trials Op. 72: for mixed choir a capella, premiered in Berlin 1930
  • Liebesfreuden: for mixed choir, premiered in Kassel 1934
  • A choir slogan: for mixed choir, premiere Dresden 1937
  • Two songs in winter Op. 58: for medium voice and piano, WP Saarbrücken 1940
  • Schicksalslied: for high voice and organ, premiered in Tübingen 1943
  • Night pictures: for mixed choir, premiered in Ludwigsburg 1948


One-sided cast bronze medal by Mayer and Wilhelm-Stuttgart, on the composer Hugo Herrmann, 60 mm

Hugo Herrmann wrote the first composition of a solo work for the accordion. Among other things, he initiated the Pfullinger Chamber Music Festival 1930-1933 and the Mannheim New Choral Music Festival. The choir directing seminars of the Swabian Choir Association , the Hugo Herrmann seminars , are named after Hugo Herrmann .

In addition, he was the founder of the Swabian Composers Association and the German Chord Teachers Association , established in 1953 and based in Frankfurt a. M., of which he was appointed honorary chairman.

In the residential area Huberesch in the Ravensburger Weststadt a street is named after Herrmann. A street is also named after him in the Burgholz district of Reutlingen.



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hugo Hermann Leben und Werk , Festschrift for his 60th birthday on April 19, 1956 (Trossingen 1956), page 14
  2. ^ Werner Zintgraf: New Music Donaueschingen 1921-1950. Geiger-Verlag, Horb am Neckar 1987, p. 168.
  3. ^ Werner Zintgraf: Hugo Herrmanns´s way to Trossingen by Loeper Verlag 1983, ISBN 3-88652-030-7 , p. 52.
  4. ^ A b Ernst Klee : The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 236.
  5. ^ "Music theory", Festschrift for Heinrich Deppert on the occasion of his 65th birthday (Tutzing 2000, ISBN 3-7952-1005-4 ), page 163 ff.
  6. ^ Werner Zintgraf: Neue Musik Donaueschingen 1921-1950 Geiger-Verlag, Horb am Neckar 1987, p. 169
  7. ^ Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg: Denazification files of the Spruchkammer Tuttlingen  in the German Digital Library ( files online ), accessed on July 3, 2015.
  8. Aspects of the Organ Movement , Merseburger, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-87537-261-1 , page 484
  9. ^ Hugo Hermann Leben und Werk , Festschrift for his 60th birthday on April 19, 1956 (Trossingen 1956), page 20
  10. ^ Hugo Hermann Leben und Werk , Festschrift for his 60th birthday on April 19, 1956 (Trossingen 1956), page 40
  11. ^ Hugo Hermann Leben und Werk , Festschrift for his 60th birthday on April 19, 1956 (Trossingen 1956), page 59 ff.
  12. Autograph Saxon State Archives Leipzig .
  13. Autograph Saxon State Archives Leipzig .
  14. Autograph Saxon State Archives Leipzig .
  15. see also list of street names in Ravensburg