50 Years of Music – Original German Letters by the Schnabels

as-ts-schuberWhen Artur Schnabel moved to Berlin in 1900 he was just eighteen years old and completely unknown.  Therese Behr, a world famous Lieder singer, was searching for an pianist/accompanist, and for both’s good fortune she made the acquaintance of Artur.  Therese liked Artur’s playing and so she started a collaboration with him that grew over the time.  From then on they corresponded regularly; first the notes exchanged were business only such as agreeing on rehearsal times.  Soon their meetings became more personal, even amorous until they got married in 1905.  As both were soon traveling the world they kept in touch with letters as, fortunately for us, the telephone was not yet ubiquitous.  Besides, both appear to have enjoyed writing letters long hand. 

Starting in 2014 the German musicologist Britta Matterne has been working on preparing an edition of the correspondence between Artur and Therese Schnabel. Ann Schnabel Mottier is co-editor. On September 14, 2016, the 140th birthday of Therese Schnabel, the completed German edition of the correspondence was presented at the Frankfurt Steinway-Haus.

Tas-ts-rueckenhe correspondence presented in this edition covers the whole time from 1900 to 1951.  During this span Artur rose from unknown accompanist to a world renown soloist; On the political stage many events changed the face of the world we live in: the great depression – Nazi Germany and World War II with the exodus of the Schnabel’s to Italy, then England, and finally the USA. Especially during the war years, but also in other times, Artur and Therese were not traveling separately.  In those periods Therese wrote about the couple’s life and experiences to their son Karl Ulrich Schnabel.  Since she wrote in the name of both these letters are included in the edition, primarily to maintain an uninterrupted flow and account on the couple’s life.


The first two volumes of the three volume set contain the letters.  The third volume contains extensive footnotes, a comprehensive register of referenced people , many with short biographies. 

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