Richard Ozanne-Travel Research to London-DDR East Germany 1977/78-
We left Tucson during the end of the first semester of University. I was to help my father in Liszt Manuscript research, both in London and in East Germany.
Although our stay was only for a few days in London my father was busy contacting former associates, musicians and conductors as to his research....I was his assistant.
During my time in London, between meetings, I had the opportunity to visit the museums again and see my favorite works still on display at the National Museum of Art in London. The collection of WM Turners work was phenominal. I was given a private viewing of several of his unknown sketchbooks on the aspects of color...this not generally on display to the public. Although I was enrolled in the music school at this time, my interest in art was ignited and almost overwhelming. The works of WM Turner as well as Paul Delaroche were gleeming... After the personally guided tour (At the National Museum) and after seeing these sketchbooks...I had a need for understanding color. That our next destination Weimar and the Goethe Museum was a destination seemed something of a destiny. Something about Goethes "Color Theroy"-Farbesladen was meant to be inspired, and still destined to be of influence.
We departed London and took a flight to Frankfurt before the train out the next day to the former Communist Bloc of the DDR (GDR) and the remote but influential town of Weimar. Visas were not easy to come by incidentaly. One had to be invited, show ones invitation to the authorities and pay in advance for most services including hotel before entering the former Communist Bloc. It was a hassle as well as a reminder of freedom. Who was running the show except the troops and beaureaucrats, the people who would stomp around and make every life untolerable to afford their own existence- "Communism" and the gray rayon coats!
Upon approach to the DDR Border there was tension. This tension was just about as much as you would feel (dear reader) as if you saw the red and blue flashing lights in your rear view mirror while driving on a rain-slick lightening illuminated evening. And one knew their tail light just had to be out..and the police officer just had to be one of those so suspicious ones with a reason to hand-cuff anyone just for looking cross-eyed! Kid you not, approaching the Eastern German territory was a trip and one half! There were miles and miles of coil wire and tank traps. The train moved very slowly as there were German checks first and then came the East Germans. Now I absolutely sure none of them wanted to do their job. The East German Grenza guards were a very strict set that almost looked as from a 1930's war story where all the soldiers were so tense and bitter that they couldnt have some sense of freedom that they all looked as though they took a lemon and squeezed it between their lips before doing their job.
Customs! Passport! (Yelled with a strong accent)....and then came the fellows with machine guns aimed at anything just to break the monotony. These were the Honor Neurve of the former Communist State..One didnt have the slightest idea that there would be any nonsense here. The machine guns were ready and when that stamp went down it sounded like a machete! It took two or three hours to get through this entire issue. The soldiers would come through and check everyone and everything, look under seats (were there gnomes under there? Come on!) and over the seats.. There was an inspector and dogs and more machine guns and more dogs..Stalag 13, the hotel where the people go in but may not get out..that kind of feeling..heavy.
After the grenza (border) there was bleak and gray landscape. The entire place seemed as though it was unattended to and falling apart. There was an ease of tension though, a kind of feeling as though paying homage to a long passed relative...a certain kind of saddness, and it was this way through the towns before Weimar and into the train station at Weimar DDR.
We had booked the Hotel Elephant a 5 star hotel for the Imperial westerners to stay. I suppose there were other outfits available, but the Elephant had history..and being 5 Star was something to be paid close attention to. The Hotel had a history. Nearly every famous individual from 17th century forward stayed there. Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Liszt, Goethe...Kandinsky used to play there Jazz..the history goes back through rough and tumble times. I guess ol Mr "H" stayed there too...it was an Elegant place in the midst of a very dreary backdrop and of course there was that hybrid of tension that only could say "winter here" as it was cold, dark and damp. One could smell the soft coal and feel the vapor of steam heating when one came through on the red carpet, eager to greet guests from the west. The staff were all dressed exquisitly..as though in a movie set from the 19th century, lightly updated. Our room was elegantly furnished and spoke of times long ago with that certain tinge of nostalgia deeply etched into the plaster walls which were colored a beige or mustard. The steam heat whistled coming from the elongated old iron radiators. Yes..we were here in Weimar, the seat of the old Weimar Republic, the seat of Germany at the height of its glory in the 19th century...unchanged.
The evening fell to darkness as my father, noted pianist,professor, and researcher of the music of Franz Liszt Ozan Marsh and I discussed the next days events and planned our visitation to the Goethe/Shiller/Franz Liszt archives. We would meet with our government guide from the Liszt Hochschuler (Music School in the morning at 7am)
The next morning we were up bright and early taking coffee and some cake at the hotel before meeting our guide Mr. Hans Werner for our briefing, talk, and direction to various resources. It was a fair day but rain clouds gathered overhead promising the cold rain to come through on this day.
Mr Hans Werner was your specialist in the works of music, 19th century history and art. We sat at the table at the hotel Elephant discussing the history of Weimar and its cultural reference. My father and I gathered our materials and head out to the archives at the Goethe/Schiller Archives for viewing of the rare and undisturbed archives of my fathers research, the music of Franz Liszt.
The doors were opened by an official lady with a bun of gray hair holding a daunting set of keys, her glasses pitched over her nose.
These were some of the most extensive archives in the world of Goethe/Shiller- Un-Obtanium, the seat of knowledge and culture of the "best" of western culture. There were glass cases old and worn with sets of manuscripts and books as far as one could see, all worn with the air of Central Europes nostalgia of history, and this history important in some way to us all.
We were lead back..straight forward and to the right for an office meeting, small conference and then given "white" gloves with an aspect of caution that was heavy. In through one room and then through another hall was the viewing room. On one side were large black wooden cases numbered in this case to volumes of the works of Goethe, Schiller and in one room the 'manuscripts' of the noted composer Franz Liszt. These archives were extensive. If the composer had made notes on a napkin it was kept. There were boxes of letters and notes as well as photographs of the composer and then the symphonic compositions that took up an entire wall....leading to all the works that Franz Liszt had done for piano. I had never envisioned that a composer could write so much material! A wall of vaults stood before me, and in each vault three foot solid in density of material scores carefully wrapped, each attached a number and letter. The catalog files were a stack. None of these files were digitalized...there was no such thing as digital in 1977. In the corner of the room stood three giant cameras and light tables carefully arranged as well as a photocopier. There was only one, and it had seen its day. A comment was rolled forward that "nothing" in the archives could be photographed or copied without a large documentation forwarded and handled by the office of culture of the DDR-a large and daunting administration. A mention that only a portion of the archives had been photographed on film was another note..and that photocopier was out of ink and paper, another note. (it had been for over a year since of course this was the DDR and photopaper and ink for the photocopier were western establishments of the Zerox corporation-they were extremely hard to come by) My father prepared a list of the compositions that were to be brought forward from the archives. The rule was 3 documents max were to be viewed at once....for the viewing room, a small room with a long table that was dimly lit by a skylight. We took our presence at the table as the first 3 documents were brought in..our white gloves prepared to cover our hands.
Set on the table were the 1st Piano Concerto of Franz Liszt in its original. These were the composers original manuscripts and they were very gently treated as if gold. My father made notes as he very slowly moved through these carefully scrolling forward and then marking on a sheet of seperate paper (provided by the archives, as we were not allowed any other material with us during our viewing) versions and revisions that had been made. The scrollwork of the master Franz Liszt was being passed into my hands holding the originals. I felt what a genius had composed these scores to look and see as well as feel the tremendous intensity of the work and intelligence behind this could be remembered until this day. Genius..not a cooporative work ethic were the contents of these scores laid before me. They were the work of one single man during a time of great significence..and I was holding these plain and unwrapped right in front of me.
We spent hours! Each document viewed, notes taken and the next being brough in. This was increadible! I had never seen such brilliance in these scores....and this was the tip of the iceburg.
The day passed..and at 3pm the archives closed for another day. Mr hans Werner was there to greet us at the end of the day and we went and had dinner that night at the Elephant.
Mr Werner discussed some activities that I may be interested in during my stay. That I am an artist was of special significance. He questioned if I knew the writings of Johann Goethe. He was pleased to hear of my interest and told me of a "Color Theroy" that I may be interested in seeing at the archive. "This is special...." he mentioned. After dinner we retired to the room upstairs. Until late that night my father was busy writing in a journal that he kept. I broke out my sketchbook and did a few drawings, usual for me at that time.
The next day we headed back to the archives at 7am. My father went to the room to analyze more of Liszts scores. Hans Werner was there smiling. He intoduced me to another older gentleman who took me into another room at the archives that included all the standing works of Goethe. He spoke broken English but conveyed that there was one book I should be interested in..a "Color Theroy" or Farbesladen. He took a book out of a case, it was a 1810 edition with hand colored plates of the master. He smiled and gave me the white gloves. Carefully I went through this volume and asked..is there more? His eyes grew large and he huffed and then smiled and took me to another room where he produced from a case the "Original" Color Theroy in German manuscript of the author Goethe. It was much larger and had many notes and scribbles as well as a stack of color plate, each done by the master. "This is Book One" he smiled. I sat there carefully looking at the schematic of greatness that was before my eye, turning each page of the manuscript over carefully, before turning to the next-The museum guide right at my shoulder and with stern observation that I was extremely careful. He explained to me some things about the revolutionary color theroy in what English he could muster. "There is a Second Book!" he exclaimed. After seeing the very thin Book I in its German publication...and the finalized version, I had viewed the original at five times the thickness (unpublished) 100s of pages....and then there was a book two. Goethes color theroy was a landmark at its time-totally revolutionary thought that brought light to partical-wave theroy in science and art. That it challenged Newton was one concept....that those plates and that writing was just an introduction to something else was another story...There was a Second Book of the Color Theroy. My guide smiled and took me to another room stacked with shelves and produced some hand colored plates..of the kind..that only a 20th century physicist (might) understand. Light was no more a 'wave' according to these diagrams...I couldnt read the manuscript, but was admiring the sheer genius of Goethe from what I could see. Over 1000 pages here....and more to come!
I was asked back with a smile, Book Two of the Goethe Theroy was not available to be seen at this time in its entirety. That I saw some of the plates and manuscript (unpublished at this time..and I think to this day is a miracle?)
From Wikipedia on the Color Theroy of Goethe:
Theory of Colours (original German title, Zur Farbenlehre) is a book by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published in 1810. It contains some of the earliest published descriptions of phenomena such as coloured shadows, refraction, and chromatic aberration.
Its influence extends primarily to the art world, especially among the Pre-Raphaelites. J. M. W. Turner studied it comprehensively, and referenced it in the titles of several paintings (Bockemuhl, 1991). Wassily Kandinsky considered Goethe's theory "one of the most important works."
Although Goethe's work was never well received by physicists, a number of philosophers and physicists have been known to have concerned themselves with it, including Arthur Schopenhauer, Kurt Gödel, Werner Heisenberg, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Hermann von Helmholtz. Mitchell Feigenbaum had even said, 'Goethe had been right about colour!' (Ribe & Steinle, 2002).
In his book, Goethe provides a general exposition of how colour is perceived in a variety of circumstances, and considers Isaac Newton's observations to be special cases. Goethe's concern was not so much with the analytic measurement of colour phenomenon, as with the qualities of how phenomena are perceived. Science has come to understand the distinction between the optical spectrum, as observed by Newton, and the phenomenon of human colour perception as presented by Goethe - a subject analyzed at length by Wittgenstein in his exegesis of Goethe in Remarks on Colour.
My interests were now in depth..
The Archives were closed..it was 3pm.
We met Mr Werner and he was happy to hear of my experience with Goethe....my father had a stack of notes and was throughly extatic at his find rambling on about Liszt and what he had seen.