Jan 30, 2015

Joseph Lanner in Grove Music Online

The first paragraph of the article "Lanner, Joseph", written by Mosco Carner and revised by Herbert Krenn, in the online edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians reads as follows:


Where to begin in the face of so many mistakes in just one paragraph?

Lanner's first name was just Joseph. There is not a single contemporary source that corroborates the additional names "Franz Karl" which only appear on the announcement of the reburial of Lanner's remains on 13 June 1904 in Vienna's Zentralfriedhof. Lanner was not born on 11 April, but on 12 April 1801. The baptismal entry in the records of St. Ulrich proves this and so does his baptismal certificate which in 1879 Lanner's daughter, the renowned ballerina Katti Lanner, copied for the Viennese writer Josef Wimmer (1834-1903).
Baptismal certificate
I, the undersigned, herewith certify that by Martin Lanner, I. & R. privileged glove manufacturer living at St. Ulrich No. 10 and his wife Anna, née Scherhauf, both catholic,  a son was produced during their marriage who on the twelfth of April in the year one thousand eight hundred and one (12 April 1801), on the day of his birth, received the Christian baptism from the reverend Franz von Salazar, parish cooperator in the presence of Mr. Joseph Stey, glove manufacturer as godfather according to the Christian rite and was given the name Joseph. In witness whereof my personal signature, Vienna St. Ulrich's parish on 26 June 1843, the parish priest Heinrich Münzer.

Katti Lanner's transcription of her father's birth certificate ("Taufschein") in her letter to Josef Wimmer of 26 January 1879 (A-Wst, H.I.N. 20137/3)

Lanner's wrong date of birth was created by the New Grove article's co-author Herbert Krenn, who, feeling short of new information in his 1992 dissertation on Lanner, decided to create a piece of artificial news concerning the composer's biography. The correct date has been published in print several times, the last time in 2001 by Thomas Aigner. By making up a new date Krenn just wanted to appear much smarter than all his predecessors.

The commemorative plaque with Lanner's correct date of birth on his place of birth, the house Mechitaristengasse 5. The New Grove is not afraid to contradict dates that are carved in stone.

The name of Lanner's mother was not "Maria Scherhauff". It was Anna Scherhauf which is proved by several sources, not just the entry concerning the wedding of Lanner's parents on 7 April 1801 in the marriage records of Vienna's Piarist Church (Tom. 5, fol. 5),


but also the entries concerning Anna Lanner's death on 15 January 1823 in the burial records of St. Ulrich's (Tom. 1820-27, fol. 27),


and the municipal death register (A-Wsa, Totenbeschreibamt 153, L, fol. 2v):

Lanner Martin, befugt. Handschuhmacher, seine Gattin Anna gebohrne Scherrhauf, hier gebürtig, beim weißen Kreuz N. 68. am Neustift, an der Auszehr[ung] alt 46 Jr. Vormittag 11. Uhr. Dallinger
Joseph Lanner was not "largely self-taught as a violinist". Archival sources suggest that Lanner was a pupil of the violinist and court musician Zeno Menzel (1757-1823). Lanner did not get married on 28 November 1828, but on 24 November of that year. His wife's name was not "Franziska Jahn", but Franziska Jahns. She was not born in 1800, but on 15 September 1799 in the house Laimgrube No. 68 (today the area in front of Linke Wienzeile 48).

A section of Franziska Seraphika Jahns's baptismal entry from 15 September 1799 (St. Josef ob der Laimgrube, Tom. 7, fol. 35). The dash above the "n" is a mistake which was corrected in the father's name. Franziska Jahns's godmother was Franziska Perin, née Huber, the wife of Jean Perin, a Paris-born make-up manufacturer.

The entry concerning Joseph Lanner's wedding on 28 November 1828 (St. Josef ob der Laimgrube, Tom. 9, fol. 66). Lanner's best man was the owner of the "Sperl" in the Leopoldstadt Johann Georg Scherzer. Lanner's other close friend, the innkeeper Martin Hartl (1788-1835) did not serve as witness, because he knew too much about the groom's premarital love life. It seems that Herbert Krenn misread the date at the upper left of this entry, but the correct date of the wedding also appears in several baptismal entries of Lanner's children.

A reference to the date of Lanner's wedding on the occasion of the christening of his son August Joseph on 24 January 1835 (St. Josef ob der Laimgrube, Tom. 21, fol. 23)

Lanner's marriage to Franziska Jahns – who had been a friend of her future husband since their days of childhood – seems to have been the result of a resolute decision by Lanner's father, who, after his son had already fathered two illegitimate children with two other women (one of whom he almost married), obviously had enough of his son's escapades and forced him to marry the daughter of his old friend August Jahns, a glover from Halberstadt. On 20 November 1828 Jahns's landlord Leopold Kienast, the owner of the inn "Zum rothen Hahn", wrote the following testimony, thereby confirming the flawless moral reputation of Lanner's bride:

Testimony.
I, the undersigned herewith testify that Mr. August Jahns I. & R. privileged glove manufacturer has been living with his family for 11 years in my house, Laimgrube, Kothgasse At the Red Rooster No. 97 and that during this time his daughter Franziska has never been absent from her parents.
As confirmation of the truth my signature and seal
Vienna, 20 November 1828
                              Leopold Kienast
                              house owner
These are just the mistakes in the first paragraph of New Grove's current Lanner article. This poses the question: why was Herbert Krenn chosen to write it? One should assume that having written a dissertation about a composer should qualify an author to write a short article about this composer for New Grove. But Krenn got his PhD in musicology in Vienna and – as I have repeatedly pointed out – in Vienna things are a little different.


The online edition of The New Grove seems to be a cursed enterprise which is especially annoying considering the fact that Oxford University Press is charging a fee for the online access. In 2001, after the encyclopedia had gone online, musicologists were promised "regular updates" and "time stamps for articles" by the then editor of grovemusic.com Laura Macy:
As of our next update (October 2001) grovemusic.com will have a system of 'date stamping' of articles, so that you will be able to indicate exactly which version of an article you are citing. We will also have a consultable archive of previous versions of articles. So: If there is no date on online article, then you are essentially looking at the article as it appears in the printed book. (AMS-list, 19 July 2001)
In January 2001 Macy announced a "mission update" concerning the policy for revisions to be posted in April 2001 which never appeared. On 18 September 2002 I told Macy about the most glaring mistakes in The New Grove's Lanner entry, but no correction was made. In 2001 I published a review of Robert Winter's New Grove Schubert article (which is more or less a train wreck) which in 2013 I translated and published on this blog. None of the countless mistakes in Winter's article has so far been corrected. Since I have been asked by the editors to revise my own articles in New Grove, OUP's current policy seems to be that articles can only be revised and corrected by their original authors. In October 2012 I made the offer to completely overhaul Winter's Schubert article, but there is obviously no budget to pay writers for such extensive corrective work and thus the online version of The New Grove is forced to be stuck with flawed material forever. Why should Herbert Krenn ever want to correct his own work? To have his wrong Lanner dates printed, copied and preserved for ages, was why he came up with them in the first place!


Joseph Lanner's seal on his marriage contract



I have spent years of paid (and much more unpaid) research concerning the biography of Joseph Lanner and can say without arrogance that I know more about this man's life than anybody else. But my research cannot be published, because there is no funding available for such an enterprise in Lanner's hometown. Furthermore there is no medium for this kind of publication. The Wiener Institut für Strauss-Forschung has ceased the publication of its journal and the editors of the "Wiener Geschichtsblätter" have shown themselves not to be trustworthy.

© Dr. Michael Lorenz, 2015. All rights reserved.

Updated: 16 April 2017

Jan 19, 2015

News, Reactions and Responses

Some of my blog posts have lead to responses and reactions that are too interesting not to be published. The many cases where my posts have already been referred to in print compensate the fact that some journalists (and musicologists) think that digital publications "do not really count" and can either be ignored or copied at will. Some comments added greatly to my amusement, because some readers seem to think that on this blog – like on countless others – material is being rehashed that can be found somewhere else on the internet. They soon realize that this is not a blog like any other and my research can rarely backed up by information that has already appeared elsewhere.

The Mysterious Grassi Document

Shortly after the opening of the exhibition Mozart-Bilder Bilder Mozarts in January 2013 the Mozarteum Foundation launched an article in The New York Times to drum up public interest in the exhibition and a "newly identified Mozart portrait". The article, titled "Wolfgang, Is That You?", presented a miniature on a snuffbox as the work of "Joseph Maria Grassi" that the Salzburg researchers had supposedly been able to identify as Mozart after the surprising discovery of a hitherto unknown document:
A rummage through the archives found a document showing the object's provenance. The document said Mozart had owned the snuffbox for 10 years and gave it as a gift to Anton Grassi, a sculptor friend in Vienna. Letters from Mozart indicate that Grassi's brother Joseph, also an artist, painted a miniature of Mozart. Joseph acquired the snuffbox from his brother and attached the miniature.
That the important newly discovered document was not mentioned in the exhibition catalog came as a slight surprise. On 6 February 2013 in my blogpost "'The Newly Discovered Mozart Portrait': Back to Reality" I referred to this disappointing fact as follows:
What we read here, quickly takes us down from the spheres of "sensationally new discoveries" to the low grounds of only too well-known dull speculation. The "certainty" that the press release has been bragging about is gone and the shadow of "we don't really know anything for sure" is lying heavily on the the portrait's supposed authenticity. [...] This mysterious "document" (which could not be located by the Mozarteum experts in the course of the yearslong preparation of their current exhibition) is still unpublished. Since (as stated by Dr. Großpietsch) "Mozart owned several tobacco boxes", its provable[!] connection to the box in question remains doubtful. There is no proof at all that Anton Mathias Grassi (b. 26 June 1755 Vienna, d. 31 December 1807 Vienna) was a "sculptor friend" of Mozart's (as a matter of fact he was a model sculptor at the Imperial Vienna Porcelain Manufactory). To establish a close connection between Anton Grassi and Mozart is an even bigger stretch than the inflation of Joseph Grassi's dancing activities in 1783 into an intimate friendship with the composer.
It seemed that the new document that proved that Mozart had owned the snuffbox for ten years and gave it as a gift to Anton Grassi had simply been found too late to be included in the exhibition catalog. It was to be expected that the Mozarteum would publish this important source as soon as possible to make it available to scholars interested in Mozart portraiture. But nothing happened. The mysterious document remained secret. Thus in January 2014 I added the following postscript to my blogpost:
The document that according to the 2013 article in the New York Times, "said Mozart had owned the snuffbox for ten years and gave it as a gift to Anton Grassi, a sculptor friend in Vienna" has still not been published by the Mozarteum.
One year later the situation remains unchanged. The document that according to the New York Times was found during "a rummage through the archives" has still not been published. It has by now acquired the taint of a canard.

The Reaction of the Haydn-Institut

On 26 September 2014 my articles "Three Unknown Godchildren of Joseph Haydn" and "Joseph Haydn's Real Wife" led to the following reaction from the Haydn-Institut in Cologne:
Congratulations, that's a minor sensation! On one hand we are thrilled by your new research results, on the other hand ashamed, because Haydn research for so many decades has simply copied what had been carelessly published. I think it would be wonderful - and an honor for us – if you would be willing to publish this research in our Haydn-Studien, in whatever form. Would it be possible to just do a German version of the blog? We would be delighted to hear from you in this regard!
On 22 November 2014 I asked the Haydn-Institut what fee they could imagine to pay for a German article covering my recent Haydn research. I have not heard back from them since and therefore assume that the Haydn-Institut expects me to provide unpaid work. Given the financial resources of its sponsors the Haydn-Institut can only be congratulated for being blessed with a staff that can afford to work for free. I am not in such a lucky position.

A Letter From Elbie Lebrecht

In my article on the notoriously misattributed portrait of the "young Schubert" I referred to the fact that the CD producer's decision to use this picture was based on a misattribution in the database of the Lebrecht Music & Arts picture library. My pointing out this mistake in the picture database lead to the following response from Elbie Lebrecht:
Dear Michael Lorenz,

My husband has forwarded your letter to me.  I am really grateful to you for pointing out the error about incorrectly identifying an image as being of Franz Schubert. I have amended our website accordingly. And you are absolutely correct about our source of information. It is very beneficial to have someone who is so knowledgeable pick up on these slips. We obviously do our best to try and have two sources confirming information but there will, inevitably, be errors.
I set up the photo library in 1992 with just a few images. We now have over 300,000 -  many of which are from other photo libraries. Obviously the higher the number the greater the chance of errors creeping in. Please do keep in contact with me as your input is very much appreciated.

Kind regards,
Elbie Lebrecht
Director Lebrecht Music & Arts
This response, which is a model of true professionalism, makes one wish that all institutions would react this way when made aware of an error. The falsely attributed portrait of "young Schubert" has been removed from the Lebrecht database.

Concerning "Beethoven's Elise"

Following my letter to the editor of The Musical Times I was invited to explain my hypothesis concerning the identity of "Beethoven's Elise" in an article for the Winter 2014 issue of this journal which would be published together with letters to the editor from Barry Cooper and Rita Steblin. I decided not to make use of this invitation, because I think my hypothesis is of minor importance and for the time being the "Elise" issue has reached a dead end. As I have stated repeatedly, as long as the autograph of the Albumblatt WoO 59 remains lost, the dedicatee of the piece cannot be identified. My explicit criticism of Kopitz and Steblin was not primarily motivated by my rejection of their "Elise" theories. The identity of this lady is in my opinion far too unimportant. What prompted me to criticise Kopitz were his dubious methods, namely the publication of an untenable, not sufficiently researched theory in the press and the shameless propaganda with sockpuppets on Wikipedia. In Steblin's case it was the irrepressible urge to get her name into the press, followed by a belated publication with a yawning gap in the chain of evidence. In his article "Eine Bagatelle und andere Kleinigkeiten", which in 2014 he published in volume 11 of the Bonner Beethoven Studien, Jürgen May, an employee of the Richard Strauss Institut in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, brought research on "Beethoven's Elise" to a temporary standstill. He showed that Elise Schachner, the daughter and heiress of the owner of the autograph of WoO 59 Rudolph Schachner, died childless in February 1951. He suggested that the autograph of the Albumblatt may have been put into Schachner's coffin in 1896 together with Therese von Droßdik's letters. Beethoven's manuscript obviously did not end up with Elise Schachner's friend, the painter and collector of Beethoveniana Gustav Lörincz de Baranyai, who for some time was in possession of material from Therese von Droßdik's estate. In the conclusion of his article May in my opinion makes an important point: the owner of the autograph Babette Bredl (Rudolph Schachner's mother) had every reason to keep her relation to Elise Schachner a secret. Therefore in return for her permission to publish the Albumblatt she may have requested unconditional discretion from Nohl who may have had no permission to publish completely correct information concerning the inscription on the autograph and the identity of the mysterious "Elise". More entertaining "new solutions" concerning the Elise mystery will surely be presented in the future. After all, each Elisabeth who ever knew Beethoven deserves to have her turn.

A page of Therese von Droßdik's will which I first published in 2001. The last sentence in the next to last paragraph reads: "[...] ferners mein Nußbaum Magohani Flügel nebst allen Musikalien vermache ich Freund Rudolph Schachner Tonkünstler, aus München". (A-Wsa, Landesgericht f. ZRS, 1121/1844)

Mozart According to Baur

Eva Gesine Baur, who after the publication of her Mozart biography in 2014 apparently craved a little more media attention, commissioned the German graphic designer Daniela Gattinger to draw a portrait of "Mozart as he really looked like" which was published by several newspapers.


This amusing portrait confronts the public with the sensationally new and shocking fact that Mozart was not handsome. Who would have thought that he did not look like the guy on the Mozart ball? Even the Swiss free daily Blick am Abend (which is really not known for its high standards) filed this portrait under "Neues aus Absurdistan":


One can only hope that in the future Baur will invest in the production of other, equally priceless Mozart curiosities.