Indexing of the Body of Letters
The extensive collection of August Walter’s letters offers valuable insights into the correspondence of Brahms’ closer acquaintances. The computer-based formal indexing of the documents was carried out with the help of the database system allegro-HANS.
August Walter (1821–1896), a German composer, violinist, and composer, lived in Basel since 1846, where he lastingly shaped musical life together with Ernst Reiter and Alfred Volkland. Although he was only truly important as a regional figure, his correspondence included many other musical centers of the German-speaking world and was a testament to the various links connecting musical life at the time. In this context, it is especially significant that Walter’s two wives, Josephine Walter-Fastlinger and especially Anna Walter-Strauß, were in demand concert singers. The relevant letters deal primarily with questions of programming.
Of the total of 1584 letters that cover a period of fifty years (1846–1895), and which had gone unpublished except for ten documents, 1100 were private family letters between August Walter and his second wife, Anna Walter-Strauß (1846–1936). The file of correspondence between Walter and contemporary musical personalities comprises 484 letters.
A focus of interest is placed on the numerous comments on the work and personalities of important composers: letter writers include the composer, conductor, and friend of Brahms Friedrich Hagar (1841–1927), the Munich musicologist and librarian Joseph Maier (1821–1889), and the Leipzig composer, cantor at St. Thomas’, and music theorist Moritz Hauptmann (1792–1868). Comments often pertained to Johannes Brahms or Robert Schumann, with occasional references to Mendelssohn, Wagner, or Verdi. This prominent network of relationships makes the file of letters an important source for research that reflects the musical life of the nineteenth century.