Lorelei (with German libretto)
(b. Braunschweig, 20. July 1837– d. Braunschweig, 26. April 1922)
Hans Sommer, whose full name was actually Hans Friedrich August Zincken genannt Sommer, was born in Braunschweig in 1837. After his father’s early death, his mother remarried and the family moved to Vienna, where Sommer received his first piano lessons. After he studied mathematics and physics at the University of Göttingen, he pursued an academic career in Braunschweig, specializing in lens systems, and developed object lenses for his stepfather, the entrepreneur and optician Peter Wilhelm Friedrich Voigtländer.
Meanwhile, Sommer never gave up on his musical ambitions. He took composition lessons with Julius Otto Grimm during his time in Göttingen and continued his studies with Adolf Bernhard Marx in Berlin and Wilhelm Meves in Braunschweig, where he settled down and actively participated in the musical life. He became concertmaster of the court chapel as well as founder and artistic leader of the local society for concert music, “Verein für Konzertmusik.” He also developed an interest in musicology and music archiving. In 1884, Sommer retired from his university position in order to dedicate himself entirely to composing.
Due to his delicate voice leading, he quickly made a name for himself as a composer of Lieder. The emphasis he put on declamation and intelligibility of words is also present in his operas. In his review of Sommer’s Lorelei for the Musikalisches Wochenblatt, Martin Krause called the composer’s detailed attention to the true and deeper meaning of every word an asset to dramatic composition.1 Moreover, his style in Lorelei sets an example for the integration of the Liedform into opera, as for instance ternary form in “Wenn mein Schätzlein” (aba’) or strophic form in “Jüngst, als ich in den Wald gesungen.” Both examples also show his preference for syllabic text settings. ..
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