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MMD > Archives > June 1996 > 1996.06.13 > 04Prev  Next

The Fugues of Lyonel Feininger
By Wolfgang Heisig

Noteur Wolfgang Heisig sent this further information about the artist
and composer, Lyonel Feininger.  Thanks to Horst Mohr for his
assistance with this translation.

Dear Mister Rhodes,

  Lyonel Feininger was born 1871 in New York city, the son of
German concert-musicians. After moving to Germany Feininger remained a
half century in Europe. In 1937 he returned to his homeland, where he
lived up to his death in 1956 in New York. At first he wanted to start
the musical career and study violin. However then he devoted himself
to teaching drawing and painting in the General Trade-School in
Hamburg, and later at the Royal Academy in Berlin. During this time he
earned his living mainly at drawing caricatures. On this subject he
received important input from Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff,
with whom he was friends since 1912. His artistic roots furthermore
include Cubism and the spirit of DADA. [DADA = Dadaistic =
intentionally naive, surrealistic & cubistic art. --h.m.]

  In Hamburg Feininger was introduced by a friend (Fred Werner)
to Bach's organ-fugues, which impressed him deeply. Thereupon Feininger
studied and memorized Bach's "The Well-Tempered Klavier" so exactly,
that he was able to play each fugue in every possible key by heart.
When Feininger in 1919 commenced teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar, and
later in Dessau, he began to compose fugues, prompted by composer Hans
Broenner. The first originated in 1921, the last in 1927.

  To my knowledge the manuscripts of 12 fugues have been
preserved, which are composed altogether in the spirit and style of J.
S. Bach. The self-taught composer Feininger, who belongs to the
pioneers of the 20th century's modern art, produced excellent,
musically creative works with his fugues, and it is a pity that they
are almost unknown. In case anyone is interested, both fugues (#1 and
#6) can be ordered from me. I am planning to bring all of Feininger's
fugues to player piano rolls in the course of the next years.

Cordial greetings,

Wolfgang Heisig
Grimmaer Str. 16
04703 Leisnig
Tel/Fax: 034321-12995

(Message sent Thu 13 Jun 1996, 14:58:33 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Feininger, Fugues, Lyonel

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