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Hummel – Disaster at Württemberg

However, a sense of responsibility and the need to have a stable family life led Hummel to seek another Kapellmeister position and again the position at the Württemberg Court in Stuttgart became available. Although he knew the position was less than ideal from the incumbent, a good friend, he offered his services and terms, ensuring he would be in sole charge of music and have two months free each year for concert tours. He proved his credentials by conducting an opera and giving a concert in Stuttgart in October 1816. King Friedrich I, the reigning monarch, was delighted and Hummel was appointed.

But disaster struck almost immediately. Within a week the king was dead and his son Wilhelm succeeded him, and declared a period of mourning for two months requiring the closure of the Stuttgart theatres. Unfortunately for Hummel, Wilhelm was no music–lover and he re–appointed a former Theatre Director, Baron von Wächter, to the latter’s former position in November. Wächter, the son of the Danish ambassador to the Württemberg Court, was an aristocrat, haughty and – in Hummel’s view – an amateur on the subject of music. Thus the appointment unfolded with remarkable similarities to the Esterháza experience, in spite of Hummel’s greater reputation, experience and maturity.

Matters soon came to a head with conflicts about Hummel’s contractual right to tour as well as his wish for Elisabeth to sing in opera productions. She eventually sang in a few performances but Wächter refused to pay her and she refused to perform again unless she was given a contract. This, and a host of other political intrigues, made life unbearable for the Hummels and in September 1818 Hummel resigned. His resignation was refused by the king, but Hummel forced the point and it was accepted six weeks later. Inevitably, it took some years for him to receive the money owed him. Outside court circles, Hummel’s departure was much regretted as he had done much to improve musical life in Stuttgart.

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