F: Simply wonderful – the Witches' Ride by Engelbert Humperdinck – from the fairy tale opera Hansel and Gretel!
M: That was the work with which Engelbert Humperdinck celebrated his great breakthrough as a composer in 1890. After Mozart's Magic Flute, it’s the most frequently performed opera in the world.
F: A few words about Siegburg's most famous son. Engelbert was born in 1854 in the building that now houses this museum. Hence its name, "Humperdinck House". At the time, Engelbert’s father was a secondary school teacher, and the boy was born in the teacher's flat attached to the school. He left Siegburg in 1872 to study music in Cologne. When his parents moved to a town called Xanten on the Lower Rhine, he followed suit by registering there as a resident. But Humperdinck maintained an attachment to the town of his birth. In his later years, he wrote the dream fairy tale "Die Zeitlose" (The Timeless), in which he travels back in time to his childhood and to the town of Siegburg. He died in Neustrelitz in 1921.
M: The series of portraits on the wall show him at various ages.
F: You’re now standing in Engelbert Humperdinck's salon – more or less. If you look at the large photograph on the partition wall, you can see him with his wife, Hedwig Taxer. In front of them stands an ornate, bell-shaped Mand Olbrich grand piano with Art Nouveau decoration that belonged to the composer. It was the salon’s crown jewel. The other grand piano – the one Humperdinck did most of his work on – is on the ground floor. It’s the one you saw earlier.
M: Incidentally, the German term for this type of grand piano is “Glockenflügel”. Glocke means bell, and if you look at the piano from above, its shape resembles a bell.
F: You’ll find out more about Engelbert Humperdinck in the next room.
Foto: © Dagmar Trüpschuch