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Ernst Schiffmann

Ernst Schiffmann was born on 8 May 1901 in Munich (Germany). He studied at the Tonakademie and at the university in Munich. After his studies in 1926 he moved to Herrsching and completely dedicated his career to composition.


Schiffmann understood himself in the tradition of Bruckner, Verdi or Dvorak and art was for him: "microcosmic ordering that makes sense when it changes the human heart". So already the modernism in art music starting around 1910 up to 1945 did not match with Ernst Schiffmann's idea of composing. But in this transitional period his works at least found a place in concerts and Ernst Schiffmann was a composer of at least minor public awareness in Germany. His photo (left) was published in the journal "Signale für die musikalische Welt" in 1939 as one of the composers featured at the Reichsmusiktage in Düsseldorf that year.


But after World War II the musical evolution disrupted the barely started career of Ernst Schiffmann. The sought-after art music became more and more radical and in contrast to this trend Schiffmann's works sounded more and more outdated. His works did not find a place in concerts anymore and were not broadcasted. A fate that many traditional composers suffered at that time. Ernst Schiffmann's response to this situation was a complete and radical retreat. He withdrew from composing and stopped his whole musical career. That was in the early 1950s. Ernst Schiffmann and his wife then lived a simple and meager life and drew on their savings. The Schiffmanns lived in seclusion in their small house in Herrsching and withdrew even from social life. They didn't have a phone, made farming for self-supply and focused on themselves.

For that reason there is virtually no biographical information available about Ernst Schiffmann, especially from his time after 1945. But luckily I am in possession of a copy of the notice of resignation that Ernst Schiffmann sent to the Tonkünstlerverein München. The notice is addressed to Heinrich Knappe, who was the president of the association from 1949 to 1951. Therefore the text dates from around 1950. I would like to quote some sections of this 2 page long text, because it illustrates the mood and the perspective of Ernst Schiffmann in those days:


"In a quarter of a century I created over one hundred of compositions, but with such an output I was neither able to satisfy simple necessities nor have a recognisable artistic impact. It strikes me that I received this defamatory treatment under every political regime (pre-Nazi-, Nazi-, post-Nazi-). [..]
It is a verified but hard to believe fact: if you compose a beautiful melody, a simple natural phrase, you will make a fool of yourself, will be dismissed as old-fashioned and backward and thereupon sidelined. [..]
I remember the score of an opera by a now renowned radical composer in which the first violins play E major and the oboes simultaneously in E-flat major. And it is really possible, that people gaze at such an absurd, impotant sound in wonder and that such music is performed in concert and comes to fame."


Ernst Schiffmann died in 1980 in Herrsching (Germany).


The work catalogue of Ernst Schiffmann consists of around 100 compositions. Due to the fact that there is so little known about him, I decided to present a detailed work list here. I found most of the information about his compositions in old newspapers and journals. Unfortunately the work lists remains incomplete, so if you have information about missing opus numbers, please let me know.

op. ?: George-Lieder, for voice and piano (1924)

op.2: Invention for string orchestra
op. ?: Music for string orchestra (1930)
op. ?: Clarinet quintet (1931)
op.8: Introduction for organ
op.9: Concert ouverture, for orchestra
op.10: Divertimento for 2 violins and string orchestra (1931)
op.18: Sinfonietta for orchestra (1932)
op.22: Concert piece for violin and orchestra (1933)
op. ?: Tanzphantasie for orchestra (1933)
op. ?: String quartet No.1 (before 1934)
op. ?: String quartet No.2 (before 1934)
op.26: Fantasy for organ (1935)
op.29: Arioso for violin and chamber orchestra (before 1940)
op.33: Small music for string orchestra
op.35b: String quartet
op. ?: opera „Wera“ (1939)
op.53: Intermezzo for trombone and organ
op.59: Dance rondo for winds
op.61: Symphonic music No.1 for orchestra (1941)
op.64: Praeludium for orchestra
op.66: Fantasy for 3 trombones and timpani ad lib.
op.67: Concert piece for trombone and orchestra
op.71: Piano concerto (1947)
op.79: Suite for violin alone
op.83: Quadrupel fugue, for orchestra
op.85: Violin concerto
op.86: Sonatina for oboe and piano
op.88: Duo for violin and piano
op.90: Piano quintet
op.96: Serenade for string trio
op.97: Trio with piano (before 1956)

op.107 No.1: Erste Blume, for voice and piano

oop: Wunsch, for voice and piano

oop: Spruch, for voice and piano

oop: Liebeslied, for voice and piano

oop: Das Lalala-Lied, for voice and piano

oop: Herr des Lebens, for voice and piano

oop: Der Frühling, for voice and piano

oop: Vorsatz, for voice and piano

In my possession are two autograph manuscripts of compositions by Ernst Schiffmann: The Concert ouverture for orchestra op.9 and the Violin concerto op.85. I also own a copy of the printed score of the Suite for violin alone op.79. All three works are dedicated to Hans Adolf Winter (1892-1981), German violinist and conductor. So it seems likely that all three scores come from the musical estate of Hans Adolf Winter.


For information purposes I present here scores of both unpublished compositions:

PDF-Dokument [1.1 MB]


According to the manuscript in my possession the Konzertouvertüre op.9 for orchestra was performed (premiered?) on 9 June 1932 at the Odeon Theatre in Munich. The manuscript also shows heavy annotations from a conductor which very likely was Hans Adolf Winter himself. From 1924 Hans Adolf Winter was principal conductor at the Bayerischer Rundfunk and regularly performed at the Odeon. So it is an educated guess that the Konzertouvertüre by Ernst Schiffmann was premiered on 9 June 1932 at the Odeon Theatre in Munich by an orchestra of the Bayerischer Rundfunk under the baton of Hans Adolf Winter.

PDF-Dokument [469.2 KB]


An old friend of Ernst Schiffmann kindly donated to me another autograph manuscript of his compositions: Erste Blume for voice and piano op.107 No.1. The song uses a poem by Josef Weinheber and is surely one of the last compositions done by Ernst Schiffmann. It dates very likely from the early 1950s.

PDF-Dokument [75.4 KB]


In addition to the autograph manuscripts I also own copies of scores for the songs:

  • Vorsatz (text by Anton Stockmayr)
  • Der Frühling (text by Hermann Hesse)
  • Herr des Lebens (text by Anton Stockmayr)
  • Das Lalala-Lied (text by Anton Stockmayr)
  • Liebeslied (text by Anton Stockmayr)
  • Spruch I (text by Anton Stockmayr)
  • Wunsch (text by Anton Stockmayr)
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