Werner Reinhart

Werner Reinhart (19 March 1884  29 August 1951) was a Swiss merchant, philanthropist, amateur clarinetist, and patron of composers and writers, particularly Igor Stravinsky and Rainer Maria Rilke. Reinhart knew and corresponded with many of the great names of the early-mid 20th century in the European artistic and musical world, and his Villa Rychenberg in Winterthur became an international meeting point for musicians and writers.[1]

He was sometimes referred to as "the Winterthur Maecenas".[2] Alice Bailly named Werner Reinhart "L'homme aux mains d'or" – the man with the golden hands,[3] and her 1920 portrait of him is called "The Man with the Golden Heart".[4] Oskar Kokoschka also painted his portrait in 1947.[5][6]

Werner Reinhart inherited his wealth from the Volkart family business, based in Winterthur, but he was never much involved in running the company.[7] Reinhart and Hermann Scherchen played a leading role in shaping the musical life of Winterthur between 1922 and 1950, the emphasis being on contemporary music, and they were instrumental in numerous premieres being performed there.[8] Scherchen was one of many people whom Reinhart patronised, not least in Scherchen's case because he had to pay alimony to no less than five ex-wives.[9]

People Reinhart supported and assisted

Othmar Schoeck

Othmar Schoeck was left destitute when World War I broke out. His appointment as conductor of the St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra[10] (with special permission to remain resident in Zürich), combined with the annuity Werner Reinhart gave him from 1916 onwards, allowed Schoeck to give up his jobs as chorus director and to compose more or less undisturbed.[11] Schoeck was not given to overt signs of gratitude, but he dedicated to Werner Reinhart the following works:

Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky approached Reinhart for financial assistance when he was writing Histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale). The first performance was conducted by Ernest Ansermet on 28 September 1918, at the Théâtre Municipal de Lausanne. Werner Reinhart sponsored this performance, and to a large degree underwrote it. In gratitude, Stravinsky dedicated the work to Reinhart,[15] and even gave him the original manuscript.[16][17]

Reinhart continued his support of Stravinsky's work in 1919 by funding a series of concerts of his recent chamber music.[18] These included a suite of five numbers from The Soldier's Tale, arranged for clarinet, violin, and piano, which was a nod to Reinhart, who was an excellent amateur clarinetist.[15][19] The suite was first performed on 8 November 1919, in Lausanne, long before the better-known suite for the seven original instruments became widely known.[20] Stravinsky dedicated his Three Pieces for Clarinet (composed October–November 1918) to Reinhart, in gratitude for his ongoing support.[15][18][21][22]

Reinhart founded a music library of Stravinskiana at his home in Winterthur.[23]

Rainer Maria Rilke

In 1919, Rainer Maria Rilke travelled to Switzerland from Munich. The outward motive was an invitation to lecture in Zürich, but the real reason was the wish to escape the post-war chaos and take up once again his work on the Duino Elegies. The search for a suitable and affordable residence proved to be very difficult and Rilke lived in various places. Only in the summer of 1921 was he able to find a permanent abode in the Chateau de Muzot in the commune of Veyras, close to Sierre in Valais. It was at Muzot, in February 1922, that Rilke, in a storm of inspiration, wrote most of the fifty-five Sonnets to Orpheus and several smaller collections of poems.[24] In May 1922, after deciding he could afford the cost of considerable necessary renovation, Werner Reinhart bought Muzot so that Rilke could live there rent-free, and became Rilke's patron.[25] Here Rilke completed his greatest work, the Duino Elegies.[26]

During this time, Reinhart introduced Rilke to his protégée, the Australian violinist Alma Moodie.[27] Rilke was so impressed with her playing that he wrote in a letter: What a sound, what richness, what determination. That and the "Sonnets to Orpheus", those were two strings of the same voice. And she plays mostly Bach! Muzot has received its musical christening....[27][28][29]

Paul Hindemith

Paul Hindemith's Clarinet Quintet, first performed at the ISCM Festival in Salzburg on 7 August 1923, was dedicated to Werner Reinhart,[2] as was his Canon in Three Voices Sine musica nulla disciplina (1944).[30]

Reinhart told Gertrud Hindemith "there was something Mozartian" about her husband's writing Trauermusik in less than a day in London after the death of King George V, and premiering it the same evening. "I know no one else today who could do that", he said.[31]

Ernst Krenek

Ernst Krenek and his then wife Anna Mahler (daughter of Gustav Mahler) lived in Zurich 1924-25, at Reinhart’s invitation.[32][33][34] Their marriage collapsed, however, and Krenek had a brief affair with Alma Moodie. While this relationship did not last, Krenek was so grateful for Moodie’s introduction to Reinhart's assistance that he dedicated his Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 29, to her. His Kleine Suite, Op. 28 (1924) was written for Reinhart himself.[13]

Arthur Honegger

Werner Reinhart was the primary financial supporter of the Théâtre du Jorat, where Arthur Honegger’s oratorio Le Roi David premiered, and corresponded with its owner René Morax.[35]

Honegger’s Sonatine for Clarinet and Piano (1921–22) was written for Reinhart.[13]

Honegger's Pastorale d’été was played in Berlin on 9 November 1922, conducted by Bernhard Seidmann. This was financially supported by Werner Reinhart, who also urged Honegger to program Horace victorieux, a work he believed to be far more important.[36]

Anton Webern

It was thanks to Werner Reinhart that Anton Webern, who was living in political isolation in Austria, was able to attend the premiere of his Variations for Orchestra, Op. 30 in Winterthur in 1943. Reinhart invested all the financial and diplomatic means at his disposal to enable Webern to travel to Switzerland. In return for this support, Webern dedicated the work to him.[37]

Other dedications

Other associates


  1. 1 2 Volkart Foundation
  2. 1 2 Arbiterrecords
  3. Bibliothèque du Gymnase de Beaulieu
  4. DeBartha Galerie Senarclens
  5. Archived 26 September 2003 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. Oskar Kokoschka: Exile and new home 1938–1980
  7. Volkart Foundation
  8. KoelnKonzert
  9. Michael Kater, The Twisted Muse
  10. St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra website
  11. The Schoeck Home Page
  12. Musinfo
  13. 1 2 3 4 Colin James Lawson, The Cambridge Companion to the Clarinet
  14. Theodore Front Musical Literature
  15. 1 2 3 Ragtime Ensemble presents The Soldier's Tale
  16. Concert Artists Guild
  17. The composer, the antiquarian and the go-between
  18. 1 2 Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
  19. L’Histoire du Soldat
  20. A Musical Feast
  21. naxos
  22. Philharmonic Society Presents
  23. Kuko.com
  24. Bookrags
  25. Ralph Freedman, Life of a Poet
  26. untitled
  27. 1 2 R. M. Rilke: Music as Metaphor
  28. Photo and description
  29. Rainer Maria Rilke: a brief biographical overview
  30. Paul Hindemith summary
  31. Michael Steinberg, The Concerto
  32. Universal Edition
  33. Anna Mahler biography
  34. Of mountains and modernism: Othmar Schoeck
  35. Contemporary Music in a well-established Genre
  36. questia
  37. Music of the Viennese School
  38. Musinfo
  39. Jews and Geniuses: An Exchange
  40. Nick Strimple, Choral Music in the 20th Century
  41. View Mozart 2006
  42. Michael H. Kater, Composers of the Nazi Era
  43. The Past and the Present: A Visit with Elisabeth Furtwangler
  44. musinfo
  45. The free library
  46. Press ISRO (Romanian)
  47. Winterthur Libraries, Special Collections, Archives of the Musikkollegium
  48. Winterthur Libraries, Special Collections, Rychenberg Foundation


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