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Book Losses

During the fire at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library, not only a large part of the historical building and works of art were destroyed, but above all culturally historic and unique book collections were lost.

Anna Amalia’s (1739-1807) collection of sheet music – manuscripts and rare prints such as a choral part by Orlando di Lasso from 1588 (cat. no. S 4:12), a manuscript of a score with arias and choir sections to Lila (Goethe) in four scenes by Siegmund, Baron von Seckendorff dating from 1777, and also a manuscript of the Grand Sonata for piano four hands in A-flat Major op. 92, by Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Altogether the collection contained 95 works by Hummel. Only five of them and a small fragment remain. 52 of Hummel’s works were at least microfilmed.

Another manuscript lost was that of Pasquale Anfossi (1727-1797), La Maga Circa Farsetta a Cinque Voci (in un Atto Solo Musica) dating from 1788. The German translation of the text was partly written by Goethe.

In addition, further valuable prints from the 16th and 17th centuries were destroyed, in particular a large part of the library of the former Wittenberg university professor and director of the Weimar library, Konrad Samuel Schurzfleisch (1641-1708) and of his brother, Heinrich Leonhard Schurzfleisch (1664-1722). Individual bits of this collection have been saved, for example a funeral oration on the occasion of the death of the professor’s widow, Christine Walther, dating from 1711 (cat. no. S 1:80).

Most of the printed works of the “Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft” (Fruitful Society), the first association for the German language, founded in Weimar in 1617, were also lost. Among these: “Die Fortpflantzung der hochlöblichen Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft...” (The Propagation of the highly admirable Fruitful Society...), a society essay of the association from 1651 (cat. no. D 6 : 18 f and D 6 : 18 f a). The famous “Neu-Sprossende Teutsche Palmbaum” (Newly Sprouting German Palm Tree) dating from 1668 was not burned, contrary to other contradictory information (cat. no. D, 6 : 19). Unfortunately, parts of the estate of Wilhelm Fröhner (1834-1925), an important archaeological researcher and collector, were sacrificed to the flames, including several omnibus volumes from diverse sub-disciplines of archaeology (e.g. cat. no. 8°XXXIX : 62 z 116).

The estate of the anti-semitic, nationalistic author Adolf Bartels (1862-1945), which was comprised of several thousand books, was also destroyed. In contrast, the bible collection which had also been kept in the rococo hall and many other valuable volumes could be rescued from the lower floors. The fact that they had been loaned out for an exhibition, or that they were stored elsewhere in general, is the reason why several parts of the above-mentioned categories were kept from harm, such as the Mozart manuscript of the “Concerto in B-flat” (cat. no. Mus V : 125).

Photo: Maik Schuck