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.
This Memoir is available in these Formats: Print