Shot by a cannon as a child, Heinrich Hammer’s nearly century-long life was anything but typical right from the outset. Beginning with his often troubled childhood in Germany, he had to fight from a young age with a recalcitrant uncle (his guardian) to pursue his musical goals academically. Once an adult though, his path brightened and, over the years, he encountered a seemingly endless parade of noteworthy composers, musicians, painters, and nobility—he even witnessed the infamous Wright Brothers testing their new flying machine as well as other historic “firsts” along the way.
The reader is introduced to these illustrious individuals via detailed sidebars in chronicling the journey of Maestro Hammer as he traverses two continents, multiple countries, and numerous orchestras, providing a truly unique window into a bygone era. Following a key early study period in Paris, his music-related travels throughout Europe included his founding of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, still going strong today. He also conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, with royalty in attendance at his concerts on various occasions. Migrating across the ocean to America, he performed for President Taft, resurrected and led the Washington Symphony Orchestra in the nation’s capital, and became a U.S. citizen, to his extreme delight.
After relocating to Southern California, he conducted the L.A. Philharmonic, and had a life in Hollywood which intersected with the Golden Age of film—followed by a decided change in his fortunes during WWII.
Although he was passionate about his musical pursuits right up to the end of his days, he also had a host of other interests and was remarkably accomplished at almost everything he set his hand to—from hunting, to farming, to construction. For a house he built single-handedly, he “bought lumber which was used to build the stands for President (Woodrow) Wilson’s inaugural parade.” Ingenious indeed...
In reading this remarkable memoir, penned by him at age 90 (in 1952), you’ll meet the gifted Maestro Heinrich Hammer, an acclaimed musician who could play every instrument in an orchestra, composed 9 symphonies, and spoke 7 languages. The kaleidoscope of his long life was filled with unexpected twists, turns, and arduous struggles throughout…as you’ll soon discover.
INCLUDES 50+ vintage black & white photos/images
"One Maestro’s Journey is a story of a life well lived. Heinrich Hammer’s own personal challenges, as well as the dignity with which he overcomes them provide…a glimpse into the music world as it existed in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. The sidebars are wonderful…and also turn him into a bit of a Forrest Gump figure, appearing in various places at important moments in history—all just as fascinating as one would think improbable. Was he really the man who planted the idea of conducting without a baton in Leopold Stokowski’s head (something Stokowski became known for)? Overall, Hammer’s positive outlook carried the day, he played the cards he was dealt and always did so with a smile…truly inspiring."
“Heinrich Hammer was instrumental in forming and shaping the Gothenburg Symphony’s first two years in the beginning of the 20th century. With his solid experience as a musician, composer, and conductor, he gathered fine musicians from Sweden and other parts of Europe and created a new orchestra which quickly made an impact in Sweden’s musical life and soon was considered the best in Sweden. He paved the way for his successor Wilhelm Stenhammar who would build upon what Heinrich Hammer had laid out. In this book, eloquent and captivating, the reader is invited to a fascinating life story that reveals many new details about some of the world’s leading artists, musicians and orchestras of their time. RECOMMENDED.”