Lilian’s Recollections of
Grandfather Leo Glaubauf
‘Grosspapa’ was very much part of our upbringing and we loved him very dearly.
Paul, Peter and I shared one big nursery during our early childhood. When we had gone to bed, Grandfather would be with us. He always told us stories about real people, which we loved. But before telling us the story he would look into our eyes to see whether we had been good and truthful, and at the same time we felt able to confide in him if something had upset us.
Grandfather and his Band
When we were 8-10 yrs old grandfather started the
of us playing the violin. Back in his native
The day came when Grandfather said, “I cannot teach you any more, and will find you a proper teacher.” And the 3 children started with a close friend of his. Paul was always miles ahead and was able to pick up any music and play it. When one day he brought home the Beethoven Violin Sonatas and with Peter accompanying him, he began to tackle the Kreutzer Sonata, Grandfather tried to stop him (“that’s much too hard for you”) but he soon relaxed and sat back with great happiness to enjoy their playing.
We played a lot of wonderful trios – Peter on the
piano, Paul and I playing violins. These evenings filled with music were the
happiest times for the 3 of us, with Grandfather sitting in front of the
fire, listening. Sometimes our parents would come in, and Mutti would pick
up the violin and join in. The great favourites were the Bach Double
Concertos, which we played many times. These happy times with grandfather
listening meant a lot to all of us, and it was only when I left
Our home in the Schellinggasse consisted of seven rooms. At one end was Papa’s music room where he taught singing. There were 2 grand pianos in the room. At the other end in our “kinderzimmer” was an upright piano for us. Mutti used both rooms, depending on whether she worked with Papa, Paul, or others. The 2 rooms were well apart from each other, so that we could make music in both rooms at the same time without disturbing each other.
In the evenings Paul would relax at the piano after his studies at the Academy, just playing often for hours. I often sat quietly listening, into the darkness, filled with admiration for Paul, this wonderful musician brother of mine. When he noticed I was there, he would ask me, “What composer next? What sonata now?” I was absolutely in heaven, Paul just had such music in his finger tips.
At home one day, Paul stormed in to the room and said angrily to me, “I wish you could play the viola. I have a quartet tonight and our viola player is ill. Look, it’s quite easy, all you have to do is to learn to read the viola clef.” And he showed me how. “And this quartet has a little viola solo at the beginning of the second movement. Now practice these few bars, you will be quite alright.” And I practised, and I played, and I was thrilled. It was my beginning of playing the viola, which opened a completely new era of music making for me. There were few viola players about and I got as much chamber music as I wanted, and I was overjoyed. I remember one evening we were playing quartets and I was busily tackling a difficult viola part. At the end of the quartet a deep voice behind me said, “Beautifully played”. And there was Papa, standing behind me, sharing my happiness that I could be part of this quartet. Playing chamber music at home became a way of life, and was to remain the greatest treat for me always – whether Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms.
My parents, Max and Lili
Mutti was one of the much loved Viennese lieder singers of her day. She had a very pure soprano voice, and her teacher had been Papa. Her singing filled our home with the sound of beautiful lieder. It was a great treat to listen to her practising her programme for a concert. With her voice production and expression she would make you feel you were living in the song. I remember one evening sitting in a corner of the room while she was singing Schubert’s ‘The Erlkönig’ with Paul accompanying, and feeling shivers go down my spine. Afterwards I was still shaking and too frightened to go to the bathroom lest I met the Erlkönig.
Papa had been one of 12 children, and left his home in
Amongst his pupils Papa had some superb singers. And we children were never allowed to go near the music room in case we made a noise. But being three of us, we plucked up courage, and when someone as special as Klara Quartin came for her lesson, we had a plan. In the waiting room next door to the music room was a small, square table covered by a heavy tablecloth which reached the floor.
As soon as Klara had arrived and gone into the music room for her lesson, the three of us crept in to the waiting room and under that tablecloth, our hearts pounding. There we stayed on many occasions to listen. My father did not find out for quite a long time. One lovely summer’s day, Klara sang Mozart’s Queen of the Night aria from ‘The Magic Flute’. Her coloratura singing was quite out of this world. When the aria ended, we suddenly heard shouts of ‘bravo, bravo!’ All the windows were open, and quite a crowd had gathered in the street below who were clapping. From the opposite side of the road came more shouts of ‘bravo, bravo!’ where the Director and staff of Radio Wien had their offices and were hanging out of the windows. The three of us children joined in the scene, overcome by this unique performance.
My father, in addition to his Viennese pupils, taught
a great many in
Papa could never refuse to teach anyone with a
beautiful voice, even if they were without means to pay. Nor could he be
persuaded to teach anyone who did not have a good enough ear. One young
Hungarian girl came with her mother from
One day Papa asked me if I would like to have a singing lesson. “Oh no, I have no voice and I cannot sing,” I said. Papa just smiled. He must have known that I had not got the courage to open my mouth and sing, least of all with my mother about. One day he succeeded in getting me into the music room. His face and his happiness, when I sang a few notes, I shall never forget. I suddenly discovered I had a voice. And I refused to believe Papa when he told me I’d just sung the high B. How lucky I was to be given these wonderful singing lessons by dear Papa. Little did I know then, what singing would mean to me one day. It was not until I got married, that I discovered the unbelievable joy to sing to others, to sing to my dear Denis. My singing filled both our hearts with great happiness.
Grandfather Leo Glaubauf with Paul
Mutti with Paul, Lilian and Peter
Lilian, Paul (at the piano), Peter at the back, and Grandfather in front