Pro Memoria of Wilhelm Wortmann
Wortmann, Wilhelm, 1797-1882
The author of this report, Wilhelm Wortmann (born November 20, 1797 in Elberfeld, died August 6, 1882 in Dusseldorf) had been one of the deputy mayors in Dusseldorf since 1848 and was a member of the administrative council of the Allgemeine Musikverein, founded in 1845, where he functioned as recording secretrary. In addition, he was second oboist of the society's orchestra. This circumstance could have a personal note, since Wortmann was not a professional musician but one of the "dilletantes" whom Schumann disliked having in the orchestra. Robert Schumann was the director of the Allgemeine Musiverein [General Music Society] at Dusseldorf from 1850 until the end of 1853 (de jure until the end of 1854), conducting the orchestra and the chorus. He was also the municipal music director. Nearly from the beginning there were conflicts between the Society and Schumann. In his second year, he had a stormy confrontation with the deputy mayor Wilhelm Wortmann who was also a leading member of the council of the Allgemeine Musikverein. Schumann's health deteriorated during 1852 and especially the fall of 1853. Things got worse when members of the chorus and orchestra were dissatisfied with Schumann's style of conducting and refused to perform under his direction. Schumann was for his part dissatisfied with the skills of some instrumentalists and singers. In addition, Schumann failed (or refused) to appear at a concert on November 10, 1853. In a letter to the administrative council of the Society dated November 1853, Schumann accuses the council of breach of contract. Mayor Ludwig Hammers tries to mediate between the two parties with a letter dated December 5, 1853. In the end, Schumann terminated his contract in Dusseldorf in October 1854. The paper Pro memoria must have been written between November 19 and Debember 5, 1853. It was written to clarify the situation between the Society and its director and then delievered to the members of the town council of Dusseldorf. At the end of the report, Wormann mentions the letter from Schumann dated November 19 (page 43 of the Pro memoria, line 13-16). A copy of the Pro memoria was most probably sent to Schumann on Debember 5, 1853 from Mayor Hammers, along with a letter in which he asks for Schumann's comment on the reported events. There is another copy of this report held by the Stadtarchiv Dusseldorf (Town Archive Dusseldorf). There are two possibilities for the relationship the two documents. First, the Rice University copy could be a copy of the one held by the Town Archive Dusseldorf. Second, both could be a copy of another exemplar. The later seems likely. Both copies have mistakes in writing that are held in common. There are marks in the Rice copy made in pencil. It is unclear who made them. However, all of the are at parts of the text that report negatively on Robert Schumann. They stem from a member of the town council, from a member of the music society, or from later owners.
Schumann, Robert, 1810-1856