50 Years of Music – Original German Letters by the Schnabels

as-ts-schuberWhen Artur Schnabel moved to Berlin in 1900 he was eighteen years old and completely unknown.  and for both’s good fortune she made the acquaintance of Artur.  Therese Behr, a famous Lieder singer, was searching for a pianist/accompanist, and for both’s good fortune their agent, Hermann Wolff, sent Artur Schnabel for a series of concerts.  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 traveling constantly they kept in touch with letters as, fortunately for us, the telephone was not yet ubiquitous. It was the only way they could communicate while traveling.

Starting in 2014 the German musicologist Britta Matterne worked 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 edition was launched at the C. Bechstein Centrum Frankfurt.

Tas-ts-rueckenhe correspondence presented in this edition covers the whole time from 1900 to 1951.  During this span Artur Schnabel 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 Schnabels to Italy and England, and finally the USA. Especially during the war years, but also at other times, Artur and Therese Schnabel traveled together.  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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Sarah Cahill hosted the Schnabel Music Foundation on KALW radio on March 26, 2017

François and Ann Mottier in the KALW studio (Photo Sarah Cahill)

On Sunday evening Sarah Cahill received Ann and François Mottier for a two hour radio show on the San Francisco radio station KALW.  She played much music recorded by all of the musicians of the Schnabel family.  They are, in reverse order of birth date: Claude Mottier (1972), Helen Schnabel (1911), Karl Ulrich Schnabel (1909), Artur Schnabel (1882), and Therese Schnabel (1876).

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Karl Ulrich Schnabel’s Film of 1933 Restored

Paper Burgdorf-DKH
Newspaper review of the private showing of  Karl Ulrich Schnabel’s film “The Cold Heart,” in Burgdorf, Switzerland. The front row in the photo shows from left: Margrit Läubli (famous Swiss Cabaret actress), Yvette Mottier, Lenka Bozonova Althaus; back row:  Markus Altenberger (image restoration), Manuel Zach, Robert Israel (film music), with Raff Fluri and  Simon Häberli (graphic designer).
Karl Ulrich Schnabel was an avid film buff all his life.  When he was just over twenty years old he acquired a film camera and started to experiment with it.  In 1932/33 he wrote a script for a film version of the Wilhelm Hauff fairy tale “The Cold Heart.” With his friends and family serving as actors, extras, and stagehands he directed a silent full feature film.  After the flight from Berlin in 1933 the film lingered in Berlin until it was discovered by Raff Fluri, a young film director in Switzerland. Now the film restoration has been completed.
On Saturday, April 30 the completed film by Karl Ulrich Schnabel was shown for the first time to the sponsors, funders and collaborators.   Robert Israel, noted musician and film music creator, who composed and directed the sound track for the silent movie had arrived from the Czech republic. Ann Schnabel and Francois Mottier joined the event in Burgdorf (near Berne) in Switzerland via Skype to greet the audience and to wish Robert Israel a happy birthday.  At the end of the movie Ann Schnabel was again available via Skype to answer questions about the movie.
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Artur Schnabel’s Cadenzas for Mozart Piano Concertos K. 467, K. 482, K. 491, K. 503


The latest music publication by the Schnabel Music Foundation is about to hit the shelves: Pianist Sarah Cahill has written an introduction for the cadenzas.
A recent Facebook post by Pianist and Radio host James Irsay reads as follows:

Today Ann and François presented me with a pre-release copy of her grandfather’s cadenzas to four Mozart concertos, the first ever edition. Most striking, as those familiar with Artur Schnabel’s recording will know, is the cadenza to the first movement of the c minor, no. 24 K491. How appropriate that this movement of this concerto gets the boldest, most imaginative treatment; the movement utilizes all 12 notes of the chromatic scale before the theme’s first statement is completed, and we’re not talking about any actual chromatic scales here. Inspired by Mozart’s music, Schnabel uses all 12 notes in about 1 1/2 measures of the cadenza, measure 7 til about half of m.8. That sets the tone (in a manner of speaking) for the whole cadenza.

Interesting how, in his recording with Susskind, Schnabel brings out the middle notes of the syncopated chords of the cadenza’s opening to emphasize the descending melodic “cells”, which are repeated in the LH octaves. That’s his first brilliant stroke – to imitate the orchestra’s lead-in before the cadenza’s beginning.

Many consider this cadenza “weird’, “far out”, and ill-suited to Mozart’s music. But the craft applied by Schnabel in its composition, the molecular cohesion of Mozart’s essential building blocks, binding every measure to the next, renders the cadenza perfectly consistent and meaningful in the context of Mozart’s brilliant first movement. The vital inner workings are a perfect match with Mozart’s Allegro, giving the material new breadth. And of course Artur Schnabel kicks it… totally SICK perfomance of that cadenza !! (“Sick” in a good way, need I mention…)

Yes, the cadenza’s concluding emphasis on the notes B and E flat (the ear hears B and D sharp), creating the expectancy of a return in e minor, provide a … well…. unusual orchestral re-entry in c minor… now that’s what we call fearlessly holding to one’s vision; we salute you, Artur Schnabel!

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Cello solo Sonata on CD by Sam Magill

Sam Magill and Beth LevinCongratulations to Samuel Magill and Beth Levin for their new CD “Cello Music from Austria-Hungary” which includes a wonderful interpretation of Artur Schnabel’s Solo Cello Sonata.

Read about the project here and order the CD from Amazon.com

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Documentary “Artur Schnabel: No Place of Exile”

Please visit the website for a documentary about Artur Schnabel, composer and pianist.

Waldhaus Hotel in Sils Maria, Engadin, where Artur Schnabel spent his summer vacation and composed his Seven Piano Pieces in 1947. One of the film locations.

Waldhaus Hotel in Sils Maria, Engadin, where Artur Schnabel spent his summer vacation and composed his Seven Piano Pieces in 1947. One of the film locations.



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Resurrection of K.U. Schnabel’s Full-length Fairytale Film of 1933

Karl Ulrich Schnabel produced a full-length film “Das kalte Herz” (The Cold Heart), based on a fairytale by Wilhelm Hauff.  He wrote the screen play, directed, filmed, and edited the movie that featured family members and friends, mostly acting and music students in Berlin. The main character was played by Franz Schnyder, a Swiss actor at the beginning of his professional career. A young Swiss filmmaker, Raff Fluri, discovered a copy of the film on VHS cassette in the archive of Franz Schnyder who had become a successful film director.   
Karl Ulrich Schnabel filming sequence in his film "Das Kalte Herz" (Cold Heart)

Karl Ulrich Schnabel filming sequence in his film “Das Kalte Herz” (Cold Heart)

After researching the history of the film Raff contacted The Schnabel Music Foundation hoping that the family of K.U. Schnabel might be able to shed some light on the background of this movie.  In 2015 the film was digitized and restored. The renowned composer and sound producer for old silent movies, Robert Israel, created the sound track for the Cold Heart.  The premiere will take place in 2016.

More on the history of this film project can be found, in German, at this web site: here.  
For English use this link.
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Upcoming Edition of Correspondence between Artur and Therese Schnabel

The correspondence between Artur and Therese Schnabel starts in 1900 when the still unknown pianist Artur Schnabel was hired to accompany the renowned and revered singer Therese Behr. The last letters from Therese Schnabel chronicle the crushing final days of Artur before his death in 1951 in Axenstein, Switzerland as reported by Therese in her reports to their son Karl Ulrich. The letters cover the blossoming of mutual love, their marriage and raising of two sons; a fascinating history of political upheaval through two World Wars, experiencing travel through Europe, America, and Australia by a musician from the “old world,” evolution of the music making scene and business, and much more.thumb_IMG_2920_1024

Meeting of Editors and Publisher in Hofheim/Frankfurt, Germany, October 2015. L. to r.: Peter Mischung and François Mottier

The original German correspondence edition in two volumes and one additional volume of annotations is scheduled to be available in September 2016. The publisher is the Wolke Verlag, Hofheim, Germany. An English translation is already being prepared for publication latest in 2017.

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Allan Evans, our Advisor and new Project Coordinator

Allan EvansWe are honored and pleased that Allan Evans, professor at Mannes College – the New School, New York, and director of the Arbiter of Cultural Traditions Company (reformed in 2002 from the former Arbiter Recording Company) has joined the Schnabel Music Foundation as Project Coordinator for the English edition of the correspondence between Artur and Therese Schnabel. He will also be In charge of preparing and restoring newly discovered or acquired historic recordings of Therese Behr and Artur Schnabel for publication by Arbiter Records. Allan’s vast knowledge will be an invaluable asset to SMF as adviser in musical matters.


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Britta Matterne, our new Production Manager


Britta Matterne in front of Villa Ginetta, Tremezzo, Lake Como, September 2015, where the Schnabels lived from 1933 to 1938.

Beginning in 2014 Britta Matterne has been working on preparing an edition of the correspondence between Artur and Therese Schnabel. Ann Schnabel Mottier is coeditor. As work on this subject has grown substantially beyond the originally envisioned scope and Britta has shown extensive knowledge about both Therese and Artur Schnabel, great enthusiasm, responsibility and commitment, the Schnabel Music Foundation has promoted her to Production Manager. She will be responsible for future publication projects.

Britta Matterne is a native of Hamburg, Germany. The Schnabel Music Foundation is supporting Britta currently with a scholarship while she prepares her doctoral thesis on the Therese and Artur Schnabel.  She studied Musicology and Romance Languages at the University of Hamburg. Her thesis for the Magister title (roughly equivalent to a Master’s degree) had Therese Behr Schnabel as subject.

Ann and François Mottier have been working with Britta extensively. In the summers of 2014 and 2015 Britta spent time with them at Lake Como, Italy, and in the Engadin, Switzerland, to gain first hand experience of where Artur and Therese Schnabel, together with their sons, lived in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Britta has also traveled to Connecticut, and in the spring of 2015 she researched original documents in regard to Artur Schnabel at the archives of Yale University, the Frick Collection in Manhattan (NY), and other libraries.

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