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Count of Eulenburg, Sigwart

Category: Musician or composer

 
 

Sigwart Botho Philipp August zu Eulenburg, Count of Eulenburg (10 January 1884 in Munich to 2 June 1915 in Jasło) was the second son of Philip, Prince of Eulenburg (1847–1921) and his wife Auguste, born Countess of Sandels (1853–1941) and a German late romantic composer who fell in the First World War.

Life

Sigwart showed his musical talent at a young age, Already at seven he composed songs by ear and at eight years old he began music lessons in Munich and Vienna, devoting himself to musical composition and improvising at the piano, often when the emperor visited them at Liebenberg.

Emperor Wilhelm even commissioned the eleven-year-old boy to compose variations on the Dessauer March, a composition for orchestra that was performed in the music salon in Vienna with Sigwart himself conducting.

From 1898 he began to take lessons on the organ in Bunzlau with the city's cantor Wagner, who permitted him to select music for the church services. It was during this time that he published his first compendium of songs that he had written as a twelve-year-old, as well as a composition for orchestra that was performed in the hall of the music society in Vienna. In 1899 he left Bunzlau and returned to Liebenberg, receiving private tuition, completing his Abitur at the Friedrich-Wilhelm Gymnasium in Berlin.

 

Eulenburg studied History and Philosophy in Munich from 1902 onward, taking courses in counterpoint with Professor Ludwig Thuille and orchestral studies with the renowned Court Kapellmeister Zumpe. His vacations were spent at home in Liebenberg or travelling to cultivate his love for nature. At the invitation of Cosima Wagner, he was able to spend one summer at the Wagner festivals in Bayreuth with access to all the performances and sometimes standing in to conduct rehearsals.

Sigwart withdrew for a period in 1912 and 1913 to his family residence Hertefeld Castle by the Rhine to work on The Songs of Euripides, accepted as a work in the spring of 1913 by the Staatstheater Stuttgart. After a labour of one and a half years, it was to be the only opera he composed, its completion coinciding with the birth of his only son Friedrich Max Donatus Sigwart on 19 February 1914.  A few months later Sigwart volunteered for active service first in Flanders and France, where he still managed to complete his Sonata for Piano, the Kreigssonate (op. 19) and thereafter in Galicia, where his regiment was transferred in April 1915.

Death

 

By now a lieutenant and bearer of the Iron Cross, he was wounded by a shot that pierced his lung.

He died on 2 June 1915 in a field hospital in Jaslo.

He lies buried on the estate of Liebenberg. His widow survived him by eight years, his son Friedrich, also a brilliant young musician, was accidentally killed in 1936 during a reserve duty training exercise at the age of 22.

Communications after death

Between 1970 and 1972 three volumes of communications between Sigwart, his sisters Lycky and Tora and sister-in-law Marie appeared in publication under the title Brücke über den Strom, published in English as Bridge over the River. They contain notes of the three women of messages he transmitted to them over the following years describing his experiences on the other side of the so-called threshold of death.

 

Introduction

Sigwart, a promising musician, was born in Munich, Germany, in 1884. Even in his earliest youth he showed a strong musical talent, and at the age of eight he composed songs that he accompanied himself, as well as little pieces for the piano. Later, he studied music and, besides other musical works, composed an opera that was performed with great success half a year after his death.

At the beginning of the war he enlisted in the army as a volunteer with the fire of enthusiasm with which, at that time the youth of all Europe could still be aroused. After Sigwart's boot training in the cavalry, he had to spend idle time in the rear of the Western Front to his great disappointment. Half a year later he managed to be transferred to the Russian front where, during an attack in Galicia on May 9th, 1915, he suffered a bullet wound in the lungs and succumbed on June 2nd, 1915.

 

Sigwart was intimately connected with one of his sisters during his lifetime, and it was with her that he tried to communicate immediately after his death. Finally, after almost two months striving, he was able to convince her of his identity. The sister experienced her brother's initial attempts to reach her in the form of an inner unrest, which eventually culminated in the strong feeling that her brother Sigwart expected something of her, but she could not bear the thought of associating his memory with mediumistic or spiritistic practices. After some time, however, an inner awakening enabled her to establish contact with her brother in full consciousness.

She described the experience thus to another sister: “In the seclusion and quietness of these past days I have come to recognize what Sigwart expects of me, which is not to guide my hand and influence it externally; rather, I myself must open a door in my mind; then I shall hear the words I have to write down."

The difference between this kind of communication and those of mediums cannot be emphasized forcefully enough. This was confirmed by a message from Sigwart himself on July 28, 1916, almost a year later, which read in part: "You know well that my kind of communication can never be as perfect as a message written verbatim on paper via a medium. My kind of transmission, however, is far more sublime than that of automatic writing. For the latter any average medium has the ability, whereas here a certain degree of spiritual development is necessary, or else it would be impossible."


 

On first receiving these communications, the recipients sought out Rudolf Steiner to question him as to their authenticity. He advised them to take careful notes and these they made available to be published many years later.

In the end the letters were published by Dr Steiner’s Anthroposophic Press.  They were published in German first and then translated.  The first edition appeared first in the form of a transcript published privately in limited numbers in 1950.  They were then translated from the German by Joseph Wetzl and published in 1974. 

 

The sister described her subsequent meeting with Dr. Steiner in her own words thus:

"For an hour and three quarters he scrutinized page after page in my presence; he cast light on some, for me, incomprehensible passages, explained what Sigwart meant by them, and asked me questions. Many times Rudolf Steiner nodded and exclaimed approvingly, 'Very well described! Well expressed! Characterized exactly! Yes, those musical performances, they are realities!' I waited in vain for the negation of any of the messages; none came! As a parting word Dr. Steiner said, 'Yes, these are exceptionally clear, absolutely authentic communications from the spiritual world. I see no reason for dissuading you from listening to them further.' He added that transmissions of this kind are very rare. I felt that Dr. Steiner experienced real joy, and was glad with us and for us." It naturally became a question as to whether it was advisable to publish these intimate messages. After years of deliberation, all the personalities concerned with the German edition of them felt that the times and conditions of our era demanded that these communications be made known.

The relationship to Anthroposophy continued in the family subsequently and Sigwart's older brother, the later Prince Friedrich Wend zu Eulenburg was one of the influential signatories to the petition to release the priests of the Christian Community, who had been interned by the Gestapo in 1941.

Thus we partook in his life of spirit. His love built the bridge of light across which we met him joyfully. May his words resound also within other souls and give them the certainty that an intimate bond connects us with the departed ones and their world. Whoever seeks in humility and bows in reverence may also hear in time the faint call that sounds to him in love from the beyond.

M. and L.

Whitsuntide 1950

 

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