Here are excerpts from the Foreword to Lotte Lehmann’s autobiography, Midway in My Song, or On Wings of Song, published in 1938. Her post script to the foreword is even more famous. Below that, you’ll find the Foreword to her 1945 book on song interpretation, More Than Singing

“Perhaps it is too early to write my memoirs….before one is ready to forsake the “well-trod stage”…I have tried to relate my life from the cool heights of objectivity. But I must confess that there are many things that I have put away in the storehouse of my thoughts because I feel that they are meant only for me…Only poetry could be the right expression for them….This book represents to me a restful pause for breath—looking back into the valley. I want to go on. Ahead of me I know lies still a goodly climb. I am now so much one with my art that I could not imagine my life without it. I shall continue to work for music even if time forces me to retire….I am too serious a servant of my art not to step back happily and willingly, when that time comes. [Lehmann’s emphasis] Even then there will be much for me to do…I can think of no better profession than teaching. [She ends the foreword writing…] [this book]…was not meant to be a document of vanity; it was meant to be a greeting to those who will come and be victorious.”

At the end of the autobiography, written when she still had many years left on the opera, concert and recording arenas, she wrote:

“…I am far from putting finis to this book…I still see heights before me…I have so much to say to the world—so much to give…Songs keep pouring in as if from inexhaustible springs.To master them, to give my soul to them—what finer task is there in life?”

Postscript to Midway in My Song

Here is the Postscript that Lehmann added to her autobiography Midway in My Song. Remember that the Nazi regime had years before forbidden Lehmann to sing in the Third Reich.

Postscript May, 1938

“This book of my memoirs was written before Germany annexed Austria.

My blood is German, my whole being is rooted in the German soil. But my conception of art is different from that of my country.

I cannot serve politics. I can only serve that which always has been and still is the mission of my life. I cannot paint political boundaries on the measureless ways of the art world. I will not, and cannot probe whether the people to whom I give my art are good or bad, believers or unbelievers; nor does it interest me to what race they belong or to what politics they subscribe. I want to be an artist— nothing else. I want to live in my world which is more beautiful and loftier than all man-made countries or all states, my world of music. I want to sing the songs that I love, without questioning to what race the composer belonged. God put music into my heart and a voice into my throat. I serve Him when I serve music. I no longer understand the land of my birth.

And I who was born a German, and who was bound to Austria with the bonds of deepest love—I stand now at the door of America. I want to become an American citizen.

Lehmann becoming a US citizen

I am sure that I shall find my third home here and that I shall not again need to wander. I want to become a good American. But that which was my beloved Homeland will live on for me in my songs.”

In the Foreword to Lotte Lehmann’s book More Than Singing, The Interpretation of Songs, published in 1945, she wrote:

“….I have tried through these years of German dissolution under the Nazi regime to hold fast and help to preserve that which once so beautified and ennobled the land of my birth… Music which speaks an international language which is understood by all—the language of the heart, the language of the soul, the language of eternal and indestructible beauty… American has, during this bitter time of war, never forgotten that this German art stands above the confusion of the present time… This is a sign of such great understanding, such great generosity of spirit, that I bow before it, filled with gratitude and humility….”for breath—looking back into the valley. I want to go on. Ahead of me I know lies still a goodly climb. I am now so much one with my art that I could not imagine my life without it. I shall continue to work for music even if time forces me to retire….I am too serious a servant of my art not to step back happily and willingly, when that time comes. [Lehmann’s emphasis] Even then there will be much for me to do…I can think of no better profession than teaching. [She ends the foreword writing…] [this book]…was not meant to be a document of vanity; it was meant to be a greeting to those who will come and be victorious.”

Along these same lines, at the end of LL’s autobiography, written when she still had many years left in the concert and recording arenas, she wrote:

“…I am far from putting finis to this book…I still see heights before me…I have so much to say to the world—so much to give…Songs keep pouring in as if from inexhaustible springs. To master them, to give my soul to them—what finer task is there in life?”

WordPress Lightbox