Bert Hagels
On the Origin of the Symphony No. 1 in E major

(Part 3)

Updated on
January 8, 2012
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Rott hoped that the publication would change his situation in Vienna which meanwhile had become intolerable. He had no position and thus no secure existence, the lessons he gave obviously did not earn him a living. As from December 1879 on he almost exclusively depended on the support his friend Joseph Seemüller gave him.38 Although Rott was negotiating with the Music Association Concordia in Mulhouse/Alsace as from July 1880 on in order to take on the position as a choirmaster, he was reluctant to give up his hopes for making a living in his native town Vienna for the time being and did tried every possibility to spare him this step. He did not only submit his symphony for the scholarship but also tried to have his work performed in Vienna. By letter of August 23 from Glashütte, vacillating between devotion and missionary zeal, to Hans Richter, conductor of the Philharmonic Concerts, he announces his visit for the next week in order to introduce Richter to the symphony. Following an oral inquiry Richter seems to have brushed Rott off in a friendly way. Rott reports to Seemüller on September 6:

"Talked to Richter, had been exceedingly nice; he apologized for not having answered and he has so much to do - 21st this month "Meistersinger". On Thursday I go and see him in Weidling, where he promised to most thoroughly look through the complete score with me, of course during my play and then some doubtful points. Have been to the Ministry today; tomorrow I will get back my score. Today I write to Geier who will get it immediately tomorrow afternoon so that I will have it by Thursday respectively Wednesday evening for Richter."39

Copyist Geyer was to receive the scores to make excerpts of parts for the hoped for performance - Rott was that optimistic. He had been to the ministry to claim the score submitted for the "state scholarship". The visit to Richter, now planned for Thursday of the same week, September 9, failed, however. Richter had stood him up. The same day he complains to his friend Seemüller:

"I have just returned from Weidling - Richter had forgotten our appointment and had not been there. Oh, that strong sex! that power! Not even enough to inform one: "I am presently very busy, do come another day" [...] I would rather someone threw me out at the door than such a thing - for both parties."40

He is, however, reluctant to give up his hopes for Richter ("Well, let's wait!") and varnishes the situation: "Richter has to definitely declare himself; he can do it; years ago he performed an overture by Tchaikovsky at his own risk without rehearsal."41 One week later, on September 16, friend Friedrich Löwi/Löhr is laconically informed: "Have not seen Richter yet, perhaps tomorrow [...]."42 This appointment, too, seems to have not been kept, nor another one planned for October 13, for Richter apologizes in writing to Rott that day for "my today's neglect" and at the same time promises to examine the work and asks him to come and see him the next day.43 Maja Loehr reports Richter's reaction to the symphony:

"Richter's judgement is said to have been very appreciative and encouraging but - he did not accept this first work for a performance with the Philharmonic Orchestra."44

And also for the scholarship Rott wants to become active. He tries to find out what member of the jury shall pass judgement on his ability. "The jury [for the state prize] comprises Goldmark besides Brahms and Hanslick"45, he informs Joseph Seemüller on September 9. He calls on the ministry, entertains hopes and plans to personally introduce himself to the members of the jury. On September 16 he writes to Friedrich Löwi/Löhr: "[...] at the ministry everything goes very well, the prospects for a scholarship are favourable. [...] anyway tomorrow at Hanslick + Brahms."46 This visit to Brahms which, according to the quoted letter may have taken place on September 17, must have been catastrophic for Rott. Although only anecdotic information have been handed down to us Joseph Seemüller's report certainly is very close to the truth. Brahms is said to have said that "the composition contained besides so much beauty so much triviality and nonsense that the former could not possibly stem from Rott himself."47 A few weeks later, probably on October 22, 188048, - Rott is travelling from Vienna to Mulhouse, for nolens volens he had to take on the position in Mulhouse. He points a pistol at a fellow traveller to prevent him from lighting a cigar being under the delusion that Brahms had had filled the train with dynamite. On October 23 Rott, is committed to the Psychiatric Hospital of the General Hospital in Vienna "in a completely confused state"49. On February 16, 1881 he is committed to the Provincial Lunatic Asylum of Lower Austria, the diagnosis says "insanity, hallucinatory persecution mania"50. There he dies on June 25, 1884 not yet twenty-six years old.

It's seems like an irony of fate that by letter of the "Imperial and Royal Governor of Lower Austria" dated March 15, 1881 Rott is granted the scholarship of the Ministry of Education, despite Brahms's negative judgement.51

For the score published by Ries & Erler ( the following sources have been evaluated:

o Score copy, first movement
o Autographic scores, movements 2-4
o Autographic loose leaves inserted into the first movement
o Sets of parts by a copyist, movements 1-3
o Sets of parts, partly by a copyist, partly autographic, first movement
o Autographic drafts for movements 1-4
o Autographic draft for movement 2
o Two autographic drafts for movement 4

All aforementioned documents are kept in the Musical Collections of the Austrian National Library, Vienna.

Bert Hagels

(From the Critical Survey for the score edition of the Symphony in E major, Berlin: Ries & Erler, 2002)

1 Helmuth Kreysing, Preface in: Heinz-Klaus Metzger/Rainer Riehn (Editors): Hans Rott. Der Begründer der neuen Symphonie [Hans Rott. The Founder of the New Symphony] (= Musik-Konzepte 103/104), Munich 1999, p. 5-8; here p. 5.

2 See Helmuth Kreysing/Frank Litterscheid: Mehr als Mahlers Nullte! Der Einfluß der E-Dur Sinfonie Hans Rotts auf Gustav Mahler [More than Mahler's Symphony No. 0. The Influence of Hans Rott's Symphony in E major on Gustav Mahler] in: Heinz-Klaus Metzger/Rainer Riehn (Editors): Gustav Mahler. Der unbekannte Bekannte [Gustav Mahler. The Unknown Well-known] (= Musik-Konzepte 91), Munich 1996, p. 46-64. Also with a short statement on Mahler's psychically ambivalent relationship with Rott.

3 Numbering of works according to Leopold Nowak: Die Kompositionen und Skizzen von Hans Rott in der Musiksammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek [Hans Rott's Compositions and Drafts Kept in the Music Collections of the Austrian National Library], in Günter Brosche (Editor): Beiträge zur Musikdokumentation. Franz Grasberger zum 70. Geburtstag [Contributions to Music Documentation. To Franz Grasberger on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday], Tutzing 1975, p. 273-340. Helmuth Kreysing compiled a list of the performable compositions in: Heinz-Klaus Metzger/Rainer Riehn (Editors): Hans Rott, ibid., p. 157-171. Uwe Harten presents a distinct concordance of both indexes in: The same (Editor): Hans Rott (1858-1884). Biographie, Briefe, Aufzeichnungen und Dokumente aus dem Nachlaß von Maja Loehr (1888-1964) [Hans Rott (1858-1884). Biography, Letters, Notes and Documents from the Estate of Maja Loehr (1888-1964)], Vienna 2000, p. 28-31.

4 Quoted from: Helmuth Kreysing (Editor): Hans Rotts schriftlicher Nachlaß [Hans Rott's Written Estate], in: Heinz-Klaus Metzger/Rainer Riehn (Editors): Hans Rott, ibid., p. 45-156, here p. 63. The consonants "m" and "n" with a line on top to mark their doubling are written in full in the following.

5 According to Kreysing, op. cit., p. 63, this was the Suite in E major (No. 33).

6 Kreysing, op. cit., p. 64.

7 Kreysing, op. cit., p. 67; Franz Krenn (1816-1897) had been professor of harmony, counterpoint and composition at the Viennese Conservatoire from 1869 to 1893 and Rott's and Mahler's teacher.

8 Quoted from a note by Uwe Harten saying that the entry into the diary in Kreysing, op. cit., p. 147 is not correctly quoted.

9 Op. cit., p. 147f. Accentuations as in the original document.

10 Robert Lach: Geschichte der Staatsakademie und Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Künste in Wien [History of the State Academy and University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna], Vienna, Prague, Leipzig 1927, p. 61.

11 Carl Hruby: Meine Erinnerungen an Anton Bruckner [My Recollections of Anton Bruckner], Vienna 1901, p. 12f.; see August Göllerich/Max Auer: Anton Bruckner, vol. IV/1, Regensburg 1936, p. 441; and Maja Loehr: Hans Rott. Biography (1949), in Uwe Harten (Editor): Hans Rott (1858-1884). Biographie, Briefe, Aufzeichnungen und Dokumente aus dem Nachlaß von Maja Loehr, Vienna 2000, p. 51-96; here p. 64.

12 Hruby, ibid.; here quoted from Nowak, op. cit., p. 273.

13 See Maja Loehr: Hans Rott, in: op. cit., p. 64.

14 Kreysing, op. cit., p. 68; Kreysing dates this letter "June 1878", although - according to his own note - there is a note on the envelope, presumably by Maja Loehr: "mid-July (before the 15th) 78". Rott's quoted hint as well as Rudolf Krzyzanowski's "happy graduation" mentioned later in this letter, suggest that this letter had been written after July 2 and before July 15, 1878. Rudolf Krzyzanowski had gained a First Prize at the "Concurs"; see Maja Loehr, Hans Rott. Biography, ibid., p. 64.

15 See the letters to Heinrich Krzyzanowski of July 20 (Kreysing, op. cit., p. 70); July 26 (Kreysing, op. cit., p. 71); August 5 (Kreysing, op. cit., p. 72) and August 15 (Kreysing, op. cit., p. 73).

16 See Harten, op. cit., p. 110.

17 Under the same date there is an entry in his diary: "Arrived in Eger at 8 o'clock in the morning." Harten, op. cit., p. 110.

18 See Rott's letter to Heinrich and Rudolf Krzyzanowski of September 26; Kreysing, op. cit., p. 74.

19 Sk1-4; for further information see "sources". Obviously the order of the draft pages, the greater part of which Rott had paginated, got mixed up during the collation; the reconstruction of the original order cannot be treated in detail here.

20 Nowak, op. cit., p. 303 mentions another date in the drafts referring to the second movement "? 8. 78". This obviously refers to a note on page 1 of the draft. There is, however, no point between "8" and "78" to be seen, so that, together with a vertical stroke blurred by an initial flourish, it just shows the date "1878"

21 Nowak, ibid., reads the first-mentioned date. But here again the writing not cannot be read clearly; again, it could just be the year "1879" or a figure which has nothing to do with a date.

22 See Nowak, ibid. The origin of this movement would be worthwhile a closer inspection, for the dating of the drafts prove that originally it was to begin with bar 323 ff.

23 Quoted from Nowak, op. cit., p. 303.

24 Kreysing, op. cit., p. 56.

25 Kreysing, op. cit., p. 57.

26 See Rott's letter to Louise [Löwi/Löhr] of June 2, 1880; Kreysing, op. cit., p.88: "Tomorrow I'll move to my beautiful rooms in the country [...]."

27 See Rott's message to Friedrich Löwi/Löhr of July 24, 1880 from Glashütte; Harten, op. cit., p. 138. In early July, however, Rott seems to have returned for some time to Vienna; a biographical note is dated "Vienna, on the 8th July 1880. Thursday." (Kreysing, op. cit., p. 106).

28 The double spelling of the family name has been adopted from Harten, op. cit. between 1887 and 1901 the name of the individual family members had been changed; see Harten, op. cit., p. 250.

29 Harten, op. cit., p. 138. As for the persons mentioned in this letter, Joseph Saphier (1859 -1940) and John Leo Löwi (1856-1883) see Annotated Index of Persons in: Harten, op. cit., p. 245-255.

30 Quoted from Nowak, op. cit., p. 303.

31 Sk 1-4; see Sources.

32 Quoted from Harten, op. cit., p. 133.

33 See Harten, op. cit., p. 30; in the end Rott obviously does not submit the symphony for this competition but the String Sextet (No. 42) finished by the end of August; see a letter to Joseph Seemüller of September 9, 1880, Harten, op. cit., p. 155.

34 See Loehr, in: Harten, op. cit., p. 87.

35 Harten, op. cit., p. 138f.: "On Friday evening at 5.30 I will go by mail coach to Rekawinkl [sic], from there by train to Vienna and then immediately to you [...]."

36 Harten, op. cit., p. 155; as to Rott's friend and fellow student in Franz Krenn's composition class see Harten, op. cit., p. 252. As to the "horn passage" see note to movement 4, bar 225-262.

37 Harten, op. cit., p. 157.

38 The first, still very roundabout petition to Seemüller dates December 23, 1879; see Harten, op. cit., p. 118f. During the next six months the requests become bolder and more urgent; see the letters to Seemüller of February 5, 1880 (Harten, op. cit., p. 120f.), February 11, 1880 (Harten, op. cit., p. 121 f.), March 22, 1880 (Harten, op. cit., p. 122), April 10, 1880 (Harten, op. cit., p. 127), April 17,1880 (Harten, op. cit., p. 127f.), May 28, 1880 (Harten, op. cit., p.132).

39 Harten, op. cit., p. 151.

40 Harten, op. cit., p. 155; one day later he informs Friedrich Löwi/Löhr in almost the same way, but now the disappointment is being rationalized by making light of it and by conceit. He had only just now remembered that he had to go to Richter on Thursday because of the symphony about whom he now writes: "Fritz, do you know what it means to me, being led up the garden path by weaklings?" Harten, op. cit., p. 158.

41 Harten, op. cit., p. 155.

42 Harten, op. cit., p. 165.

43 Kreysing, op. cit., p. 100.

44 Maja Loehr, in: Harten, op. cit., p. 90.

45 Harten, op. cit., p. 152.

46 Harten, op. cit., p. 165.

47 Quoted from Maja Loehr, in: Harten, op. cit., p. 87.

48 The date of issue of Rott's passport; see Harten, op. cit., p. 93, note 158.

49 Quoted from Harten, op. cit., p. 27.

50 Ibid.

51 The notification is printed in Kreysing, op. cit., p. 102.

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