Julius Stockhausen (1826-1906)

Julius Stockhausen (1826 - 1906), steel engraving (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien)
Julius Stockhausen (1826 - 1906), steel engraving (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien)

Clara Schumann met the baritone Julius Stockhausen in the summer of 1854, when Robert had already been taken to Endenich. After hearing him sing for the first time, she praised him as a “[magnificent singer]” and a “[truly gratifying appearance in the heaven of art]”. The singer, who had been trained in Paris, was one of the first great song interpreters of the 19th century. He was the first to present song cycles by Schubert and Schumann as a whole: in Vienna, Schubert’s The Fair Maid of the Mill in 1854, and Schumann’s A Poet’s Love in 1861, accompanied on the piano by Brahms.

Clara Schumann performed Schumann’s A Poet’s Love for the first time with Stockhausen on 22nd February 1862 in Zurich. On 24th February 1862, she accompanied a number of songs from A Woman’s Love and Life, on 15th October 1862 The Fair Maid of the Mill, and on 27th November 1862 the Winter Journey in Hamburg. Subsequently, Stockhausen also arranged for the first complete performances of Schumann’s A Woman’s Love and Life, Op. 42, the Song Cycle, Op. 39, on poems by Eichendorff (together with Clara Schumann for the first time on 7th January 1865 in Berlin), and the Spanish Song Cycle. In the concerts with Clara Schumann and also with other accompanists, however, the cycles were split, and shorter piano pieces or similar were played between the individual “books” or parts. For instance, Clara Schumann inserted three pieces from Kreisleriana in between parts of A Poet’s Love, and the Winter Journey was divided into three “portions” which were interspersed with compositions by Bach, Scarlatti and Mendelssohn. Interpreting a song cycle without a break was still unthinkable at the time.

Stockhausen is also credited with promoting Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust. In 1862, when Ferdinand Hiller wanted to perform only parts of the work in Cologne, Stockhausen telegraphed back “tout ou rien”, and the conductor relented. This is how the first complete performance of the work, little-known until then, came about in Cologne, with Stockhausen as the singer of Faust.

It was not just Clara to admire Stockhausen’s musicality and voice but he, in turn, also admired the pianist: “[Madame Schumann is one of those rare people for whom I would go to the end of the world ... What an artist!]”, he wrote to his father in 1856. Thanks to Clara Schumann, he made the acquaintance of Brahms and Joachim; in 1859, he gave a concert in London together with Clara, who introduced him to Jenny Lind, Pauline Viardot, and Ferdinand Hiller. His appointment as Director of Music in Hamburg in 1862 barred Brahms from this position but this did not affect the friendly relationship with him and Clara Schumann (who had actually wished the position for Brahms). Brahms dedicated the Romances from Tieck’s Beautiful Magelone, Op. 33, to Stockhausen, who premiered them in 1862.

After Clara Schumann had accepted an appointment at the Hoch Conservatoire in Frankfurt (by the river Main) in 1878, Stockhausen joined the same institution as head teacher of singing soon after that. His conflicts with the Director Joachim Raff and his departure from Frankfurt had no effect on the collegial and friendly relationship with Clara Schumann either. Later on, after Raff’s death, Stockhausen returned shortly to the Conservatoire but then founded his own school of singing.

After their first joint concert on 28th August 1854 in Ostend, where the baritone sang a few songs from Schumann’s Eichendorff Song Cycle, Clara Schumann and Julius Stockhausen appeared together on the concert stage almost 50 times. This included frequent concerts in London and Hamburg, but also in Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin and Frankfurt. There, the two musicians performed for the last time together on 18th November on the occasion of a Mozart celebration at the Masonic Lodge Carl.

(J.M.N., translated by Th. H.)

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