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Aloys Fleischmann (1880-1964):Immigrant Musician in Ireland
Aloys Fleischmann (1880-1964):Immigrant Musician in Ireland

Our Price:49.00
Authors: Joseph P. Cunningham and Ruth Fleischmann
Affiliation: English Department of the University of Bielefeld
Publication Year: Hardback 2010
Pages: 300
Size: 234 x 156mm

ISBN: 9781859184622


This book outlines the career of one of the most distinguished figures in Irish musical life in the first half of the twentieth century — a Bavarian organist, Aloys Fleischmann senior, whose son would later become Professor of Music in UCC. Fleischmann senior came to international attention through his work with the North Cathedral Choir in Cork, which was regarded as one of the finest of its kind. He was a prolific composer who wrote nearly 400 works, and he was a highly respected teacher whose students included Séan Ó Riada.

The book also contains an essay on the music and an annotated catalogue by Séamas de Barra.

The Irish Catholic church did not regain public influence until the middle of the 19th century when most of the British anti-Catholic legislation was repealed. Aloys Fleischmann senior and his father-in-law Hans Conrad Swertz were among the fifty continental church musicians who were brought to Ireland from the 1860s by the bishops to develop Catholic church music, as no indigenous tradition of Catholic sacred choral music had survived the period of the Penal Laws. The leading figure of the Irish Revival, Edward Martyn, together with the foreign immigrant musicians were the driving force in the reform of church music prescribed by Pope Pius X in 1903. In Ireland, the efforts to provide ecclesiastical music of quality formed part of a wider cultural movement emanating from a growing awareness and appreciation of Ireland's Gaelic heritage and ancient European links.

This biography is the first full study of one of these continental musicians who made a particularly significant contribution to Irish cultural life. An abundance of documentation concerning Fleischmann senior's career has survived, which makes it possible to present an authoritative account of his richly varied professional life and to illuminate the cultural and social context in which he worked. His music is assessed by Séamas de Barra, with an annotated catalogue of the compositions.

Joseph Cunningham, an accountant by profession, served as assistant organist and choirmaster to Fleischmann. Ruth Fleischmann was lecturer in the English Department of the University of Bielefeld (Germany) and dean of studies of her faculty. Séamas de Barra is a composer and musicologist

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5 of 5 It is impossible in a short notice to do justice t March 13, 2012
Reviewer: Harry White Irish Historical Studies from Republic of Ireland  
It is impossible in a short notice to do justice to the archival depth and cultural contextualisation  that enhance and fortify this splendid biography. Suffi ce it to say that the  composer s own correspondence provides much evidence of a lively and deeply engaged  relationship not only with his wife and son but also with many leading fi gures of Irish  cultural and political life  including Daniel Corkery and the MacSwiney family  as well as  with any number of German  migr s and other visiting musicians  among them Herbert  Hughes and E. J. Moeran . As an  immigrant musician  in Ireland  Aloys Fleischmann  profoundly enriched the cultural complexion of his adopted country.

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5 of 5 If a skilled writer of fiction were to stretch ima October 18, 2010
Reviewer: Dr E.M. Hogan from Republic of Ireland  
If a skilled writer of fiction were to stretch imagination to the limit  the resulting narrative could hardly be more fascinating than the real life story told between the covers of this beautifully produced book. But this book  contains much more than a family odyssey of sizeable proportions. It also makes an important contribution to modern Irish history and  specifically  to the history of music in Ireland.  One of the central themes in the history of Irish music from the late nineteenth century  onwards is the introduction of the great classical European tradition  and its cross fertilisation with  indigenous traditions.  The Catholic Church played a significant role in this process.  No native tradition of sacred music had survived penal times.  Catholic Emancipation  provided the backdrop to the emergence of a self confident and outward looking Catholic Church.  Exposure of leading churchmen  to the magnificent liturgies of the continental Church created a desire to emulate them. There followed the recruitment by the Hierarchy of continental Church musicians  organists and choir masters  to organise and oversee sacred music in Irish cathedrals  seminaries and the churches of religious orders. Generally these immigrant musicians   highly trained in the classical tradition   were poorly paid and were compelled  to take on private pupils    teach music in seminaries  secondary colleges and music schools  as well as functioning  as choir masters or conductors of local choirs and musical societies. Some fifty immigrant musicians were introduced between 1860 and 1960.     The first church musician to be appointed to St. Mary s and St. Anne s Cathedral  Cork  was L opold de Pr ns  1870 . He was followed by a M. de Paine  1889 . Some years earlier  in 1879  Hans Conrad Swertz  a church organist in Dachau  near Munich  who  had been trained in Regensburg and Rome  took up a post in the Vincentian church at Sunday s Well  Cork. He replaced Paine as cathedral organist in 1890.  In addition to his cathedral duties Swertz  taught  organ  singing  composition and advanced harmony in the newly established Cork School of Music and composed and gave recitals. He brought a wife from Dachau and together they produced nine children. His second daughter  Matilda  Tilly  showed promise as a musician and  at the age of nineteen  1901    went to the Royal Academy of Music in Munich to further her education. There she met Aloys Fleischmann  recently appointed church organist at Dachau  who she married in 1905. Fleischmann had already made his mark in Dachau through his  Childrens  Festival Nativity Plays  and his School of Music for orchestral Instruments  and the couple could look forward to long and productive professional careers in Germany.     However a completely unexpected development was to change the course of their lives. In 1906 Conrad Swertz resigned his post at the Cork cathedral  leaving his family to take up an appointment as a church organist in Philadelphia. He was never to return. Part of the explanation for this dramatic step was his rejection of the Papal Instruction of 1903 which excluded women from church choirs and prescribed a return to the plainchant and classical polyphonic music of the 16th and 17th centuries. American bishops had interpreted this Instruction in a manner which permitted women to  continue in church choirs. But there must have been other reasons for Swertz s virtual abandonment of  his family. It is suggested by Cunningham/Fleischmann that he was in financial difficulties and that his marriage was unhappy.  His abrupt departure meant that his wife and eight dependent children  all at school or in college  were unprovided for. It was against this background that Swertz s son in law resigned his post in Dachau and applied successfully for the Cork cathedral position.     Aloys never intended to spend his life in Cork but  the storms of war  revolution  inflation  misery and tears  made it impossible for him to leave. The birth of an only child  a  son   Aloys   g  later Professor of Music at University College  Cork  was a further tie with Ireland. But to the end of his long life he  dreamt of the old times  of the shadow play of youth  of the distant sun of home  and experienced the  home sickness which accompanies every emigrant until the end of his life .     The story of  the Fleischmann family    presented by Cunningham/Fleischmann mainly from  the  correspondence between husband and wife   and father and son  is one of extraordinary tenderness. The most poignant letters were written between 1916 and 1920  during the Great War and its aftermath  when  Aloys was interned as an alien exile  first in Oldcastle  Co Meath  and later in the Isle of Man. Deeply sensitive  the loneliness of these years is writ large in the sparse correspondence permitted him and which survives from this period. The hope that he might be reunited with his beloved wife and son helped him to survive.  His understated but deep Christian faith was the other sustaining pillar.     As Cunningham/Fleischmann make clear  coming from the Munich hinterland   a major centre of Europe s musical culture   to a small provincial city in southern Ireland  more a large market town than a city  brought its own kind of isolation. He was able to share his cultural enthusiasms with a handful of local residents   such as Daniel Corkery  Terence MacSwiney  Professor Stockley of U.C.C. and his German wife  Germaine  and the solicitor J. J. Horgan.  But he lacked the stimulation of day to day intercourse with professional peers. As much as two world wars would allow  he maintained contact with a handful of Munich based Germans such  as the church organist  Alois Ritthaler and the poet and historian Franz Schaehle  and also with some exiled German musicians  such as Joseph Koss of St. Mary s Cathedral  Kilkenny. Nonetheless he experienced a significant measure  of professional isolation to the end of his days. His contacts with English musicians  such as Arnold Bax  E. J. Moeran  Sir  Richard Terry   and Herbert Hughes  Belfast   meant much to him  but were sporadic.    In 1920 Aloys returned to his  cathedral choir  Tilly took charge of it during his absence  as if he had never been away. His first liturgy was the funeral of the patriot Terence MacSwiney  a close personal friend who he had come to know from his contacts with Irish cultural nationalists in the pre war era. The cathedral choir was Aloys   great monument. There can be no doubt of the standard of  excellence  achieved  under his direction by that group of forty men and sixty boys  in the cathedral liturgies  in frequent  broadcasts on the Irish radio station and occasionally on the BBC World Service   and in concerts given throughout Ireland. Cunningham/Fleischmann provide  convincing testimonies from reputable Irish and international critics  including Carl Hardebeck  Herbert Hughes  Richard Terry   Arnold Bax  Alois Ritthaler and Joseph Koss   about the masterly performance of  a challenging repertoire. The day to day life of the choir  Aloys  teaching and conducting techniques  his relationships with the choristers   are all explored. Accounts are also given of his period of twenty years as a professor in the Cork School of Music   and his falling out with that School   his teaching duties in St. Finbarr s diocesan seminary   and the attention and encouragement he gave to exceptional musical talents. Among his most notable pupils were Pilib O Laoghaire  Sean O Riada and  of course  his son Aloys  g. His was a professional life of singular dedication.  His work with the Cork Choral Union and with choirs in the Cork hinterland were further testimony to his dedication  as was his lengthy struggle   ultimately successful   to provide the Cork cathedral with an organ worthy of its purpose.     Cunningham/Fleischmann address Aloys  views on the significance of European art music for Irish culture and the sharp differences on that subject he had with Fr Christoir O Flynn. The latter  renowned at bringing Shakespeare to the Cork masses and training actors of high quality in the process  rejected the notion that there could be any meaningful cross fertilization between traditional Irish music  the sean n s tradition  and the European tradition. Aloys argued for a compatibility between the two and proved his point in the musical arrangements which he created for his choirs and ensembles. His son  Aloys  was to share his father s conviction and his remarkable creative achievements in this regard  have been comprehensively documented in S amas de Barra s book Aloys Fleischman  Field Day Publications  2006 .    A noteworthy feature in the current book is the quality of the research. The  absence of any records relating to Aloys in the archives of St. Finbarr s Seminary where he taught for almost forty years is a disappointment  but otherwise the source material is voluminous and well organized.  It is particularly gratifying  therefore   that the authors were willing  to write  this book  strictly from the sources  avoiding the conjecture  hearsay and partisan judgement  so often found in biographies of this nature. It is clear too that this book benefited from a proper division of labours    critical for the success  of any collaborative work . In this case most of the research was conducted by Joseph Cunningham while Dr. Ruth Fleischmann  who also translated the German texts  was responsible for most of the writing.  The contributions of the three German scholars are in the nature of useful short appendices. The analysis of the music of Aloys Fleischmann and the annotated catalogue of his compositions  provided by the distinguished Irish musicologist   S amas de Barra  function as  two substantial appendices.   As a result the finished work  possesses a unity of style rare in a collaborative study of this nature.  And Dr. Fleischmann s style is particularly lucid and pleasing.     The choice of de Barra to analyse  Aloys  creative work   his  Dachau nativity plays  his vocal and choral compositions  both sacred and secular   his arrangements  and instrumental music   further ensures the status of the book as a significant addition to Irish musicology. De Barra s perceptive study of the life and music of Aloys  the son  inevitably led him to a profound understanding of Aloys  the father. By the same token  the general reader will find the book  in its entirety   most rewarding  as a chronicle of a remarkable family and an absorbing account of the times.

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