Botho Sigwart zu Eulenburg

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Sigwart Graf zu Eulenburg (1884-1915) Sigwart Graf zu Eulenburg.jpg
Sigwart Graf zu Eulenburg (1884–1915)

Sigwart Botho Philipp August zu Eulenburg, Count of Eulenburg (10 January 1884 in Munich 2 June 1915 in Jasło) was the second son of Philip, Prince of Eulenburg (1847–1921) and his wife Auguste, born Countess of Sandels (1853–1941) and a German late romantic composer who fell in the First World War. [1] [2]

Munich Place in Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Jasło Place in Subcarpathian, Poland

Jasło(listen) is a county town in south-eastern Poland with 36,641 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2012. It is situated in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship, and it was previously part of Krosno Voivodeship (1975–1998). It is located in Lesser Poland, in the heartland of the Doły (Pits), and its average altitude is 320 metres above sea level, although there are some hills located within the confines of the city. The Patron Saint of the city is Saint Anthony of Padua.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.


Childhood and studies

The family seat was the castle and estate of Liebenberg in the region of Brandenburg, north of Berlin. Art and music played a central role in family affairs. The Prince zu Eulenburg-Hertefeld himself played and composed music and wrote poetry and romances (the famous Rosenlieder and Scandinavian Cantos) and was a friend and confidant of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who regularly visited Liebenberg. He supported his gifted son and daughter Victoria, familiarly called Tora, who was a pianist, and they grew up in a musical environment at the castle of Liebenberg

Brandenburg State in Germany

Brandenburg is a state of Germany.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Wilhelm II, German Emperor German Emperor and King of Prussia

Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, reigning from 15 June 1888 until his abdication on 9 November 1918 shortly before Germany's defeat in World War I. He was the eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe, most notably his first cousin King George V of the United Kingdom and Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, whose wife, Alexandra, was Wilhelm and George's first cousin.

Sigwart showed his musical talent at a young age, Already at seven he composed songs by ear and at eight years old he began music lessons in Munich and Vienna, devoting himself to musical composition and improvising at the piano, often when the emperor visited them at Liebenberg. Emperor Wilhelm even commissioned the eleven-year-old boy to compose variations on the Dessauer March, a composition for orchestra that was performed in the music salon in Vienna with Sigwart himself conducting. From 1898 he began to take lessons on the organ in Bunzlau with the city's cantor Wagner, who permitted him to select music for the church services. It was during this time that he published his first compendium of songs that he had written as a twelve-year-old, as well as a composition for orchestra that was performed in the hall of the music society in Vienna. In 1899 he left Bunzlau and returned to Liebenberg, receiving private tuition, completing his Abitur at the Friedrich-Wilhelm Gymnasium in Berlin

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Musical composition aesthetic ordering and disposing of musical information

Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.

Mladá Boleslav Statutory City in Czech Republic

Mladá Boleslav is a city in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, on the left bank of the Jizera river about 50 kilometres northeast of Prague.

Eulenburg studied History and Philosophy in Munich from 1902 onward, taking courses in counterpoint with Professor Ludwig Thuille and orchestral studies with the renowned Court Kapellmeister Zumpe. His vacations were spent at home in Liebenberg or travelling to cultivate his love for nature. At the invitation of Cosima Wagner, he was able to spend one summer at the Wagner festivals in Bayreuth with access to all the performances and sometimes standing in to conduct rehearsals. He submitted his dissertation on the Rothenburg ob der Tauber composer and organist Erasmus Widmann (1572–1634), spending many months in Rothenburg until obtaining his doctorate in 1907.

History past events and their record

History is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Counterpoint relationship between voices that are harmonically interdependent (exhibiting polyphony) yet independent in rhythm and contour

In music, counterpoint is the relationship between voices that are harmonically interdependent (polyphony) yet independent in rhythm and contour. It has been most commonly identified in the European classical tradition, strongly developing during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period, especially in the Baroque. The term originates from the Latin punctus contra punctum meaning "point against point".

Schloss Liebenberg, Lindenhaus Schloss Liebenberg, Lindenhaus.jpg
Schloss Liebenberg, Lindenhaus

Further studies and marriage

Sigwart refused a post as kapellmeister in Colmar, organising a studio for himself at his home in Liebenberg where he could work in peace on his compositions. Besides this he continued with further studies under Max Reger in Leipzig. He laboured over his work on fugues, complaining to his godfather and mentor Cuno, Count of Moltke: "The fugue might be an artistic composition and one can write beautiful music by means of the fugue, but it is nevertheless true slavery for the man gifted with fantasy." Reger, his teacher, to whom he also confided this sentiment, countered, "When you have written 300 fugues, as I have, you will also be able to move freely within this form as within any other."

Colmar Prefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Colmar is the third-largest commune of the Alsace region in north-eastern France. It is the seat of the prefecture of the Haut-Rhin department and the arrondissement of Colmar-Ribeauvillé.

Max Reger German composer, pianist and conductor

Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger, commonly known as Max Reger, was a German composer, pianist, organist, conductor, and academic teacher. He worked as a concert pianist, as a musical director at the Leipzig University Church, as a professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, and as a music director at the court of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen.

Leipzig Place in Saxony, Germany

Leipzig is the most populous city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. With a population of 581,980 inhabitants as of 2017 it is Germany's tenth most populous city. Leipzig is located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) southwest of Berlin at the confluence of the White Elster, Pleiße and Parthe rivers at the southern end of the North German Plain.

Apart from his diverse social life and wide circle of friends including, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Professor Arthur Nikisch, the artist continued to study the great philosophers and the different world religions. Through the family’s acquaintance with Dr. Rudolf Steiner, who occasionally stayed at Liebenberg, Sigwart encountered Anthroposophy. In addition to studying the basic works of Anthroposophy, he often attended Steiner’s lectures. together with his sisters Lycki and Tora, his brother Karl, and his sister-in-law Marie.

Wilhelm Furtwängler German conductor and composer

Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler was a German conductor and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.

Arthur Nikisch Hungarian conductor

Arthur Nikisch was a Hungarian conductor who performed internationally, holding posts in Boston, London, Leipzig and—most importantly—Berlin. He was considered an outstanding interpreter of the music of Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Liszt. Johannes Brahms praised Nikisch's performance of his Fourth Symphony as "quite exemplary, it's impossible to hear it any better."

Rudolf Steiner Austrian esotericist

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.

In the meanwhile Sigwart had come to know the Kammersängerin Helene Staegemann (1877–1923), daughter of the Leipzig theatre director Max Staegemann and his wife, the violinist Hildegard Kirchner. Her brother was the celebrated operatic baritone and actor Waldemar Staegemann and she came from the well-known artist family Devrient. Directly after having been instructed in Voice by her father, she began her stage career in Berlin, Vienna and Prague, becoming a celebrated interpreter of song compositions with composers such as Carl Reinecke und Hans Pfitzner dedicating compositions to her. She and Sigwart were married on 21 September 1909 in Leipzig. [3]

Helene Grafin zu Eulenburg, geb. Staegemann (1877 - 1923) Helene Staegemann 2.jpg
Helene Gräfin zu Eulenburg, geb. Staegemann (1877 - 1923)

The couple settled in Dresden, travelling extensively to Helene's musical engagements and occasional performances of Sigwart's compositions. He began a course of further instruction on the Organ with Albert Schweitzer, whom he sought out in Strassbourg and to whom he dedicated his composition for organ (op. 12). Then in May 1911 they undertook a journey through Greece and were deeply impressed by the holy places of antiquity. Sigwart made extensive notes in his diary, which he reworked musically on their return to Germany. His melodrama for orchestra The Funeral of Hector, with words taken from the Iliad (op. 15) was performed with considerable success in Leipzig and Dresden and led to a commission by the conductor and director of the Leipzig Conservatory, Arthur Nikisch (1855–1922), for a symphony for orchestra. For several years, however, Sigwart had been thinking about composing an opera. Having been alerted to the texts of Euripides by his early music teacher, Count Sporck, Sigwart withdrew for a period in 1912 and 1913 to his family residence Hertefeld Castle by the Rhine to work on it in solitude. The Songs of Euripides, as it was called, was accepted as a work in the spring of 1913 by the Staatstheater Stuttgart. After a labour of one and a half years, it was to be the only opera he composed, its completion coinciding with the birth of his only son Friedrich Max Donatus Sigwart on 19 February 1914.

Battle and fall on the Eastern Front

A few months later Sigwart volunteered for active service first in Flanders and France, where he still managed to complete his Sonata for Piano, the Kreigssonate (op. 19) and thereafter in Galicia, where his regiment was transferred in April 1915. By now a lieutenant and bearer of the Iron Cross, he was wounded by a shot that pierced his lung. He was no longer able to experience the highly acclaimed premier of his opera at the Staatstheater in Stuttgart, succumbing to his wound on 2 June 1915 in a field hospital in Jaslo. He lies buried on the estate of Liebenberg. His widow survived him by eight years, his son Friedrich, also a brilliant young musician, was accidentally killed in 1936 during a reserve duty training exercise at the age of 22.

Post-mortem communications

Between 1970 and 1972 three volumes of communications between Sigwart, his sisters Lycky and Tora and sister-in-law Marie appeared in publication under the title Brücke über den Strom, published in English as Bridge over the River. They contain notes of the three women of messages he transmitted to them over the following years describing his experiences on the other side of the so-called threshold of death. On first receiving these communications, the recipients sought out Rudolf Steiner to question him as to their authenticity. He adivised them to take careful notes and these they made available to be published many years later. [4] The relationship to Anthroposophy continued in the family subsequently and Sigwart's older brother, the later Prince Friedrich Wend zu Eulenburg was one of the influential signatories to the petition to release the priests of the Christian Community, who had been interned by the Gestapo in 1941. [5]

A foundation "Förderkreis Botho Sigwart e.V." based at the Castle Hertefeld today promotes the musical work and awareness of Botho Sigwart zu Eulenburg

List of musical works

CD and DVD


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  1. Foreword to 2008 Edition, Beginnings in Bridge Across the River translated by Joseph Bailey
  2. Article Botho Sigwart zu Eulenburg
  3. Article Helene Staegemann
  4. Brücke über den Strom Oratio Verlag; Auflage: 6., Aufl. (29. April 2009) ISBN   978-3721405514
  5. Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (1933-1945) Uwe Werner, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag 24. März 1999 ISBN   978-3486563627