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Walter Rummel (Composer, Arranger, Piano)

Born: July 19, 1887 - Berlin, Germany
Died: May 2, 1953 - Bordeaux, France

Walter Rummel was a German composer and pianist. His father was the then-well-known British pianist Franz Rummel, his mother, an amateur pianist performer, was a daughter of Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph, and Walter himself was born and raised in Berlin. He studied piano under Fabian in Washington, and went thence to Berlin, where he was trained by Leopold Godowsky (piano) and Hugo Kaun (composition). He held American citizenship, although his career was entirely in Europe.

In 1908 Walter Rummel proceeded to Paris, where he belonged to the 'Inner Circle' of Debussy. As a pianist he has toured all countries of Europe, becoming well known by his cycles of 'one composer' recitals which he repeated in many capitals. He focused especially on Germanic piano literature, but also admitted pieces by Liszt, Ravel and Heitor Villa-Lobos. As a friend of Debussy, he was active champion of his music, premiering 10 of his piano works. He performed as soloist under the baton of many familiar names, as Henry J. Wood, Felix Weingartner and Reynaldo Hahn. He married (1912) the French pianist Thérèse Chaigneaau, and appeared with her in recitals for two pianofortes in 1913. A pianist of strong creative power and fine artistry, he specialised in Bach, and has transcribed and arranged several cantatas by Bach, as well as many pieces by Bach's forerunners. His reputation declined due to unfortunate judgement in the late 1930's and early 1940's, where he performed in Germany and the countries it occupied during the war. Eventually Germany gave the ultimatum that they wouldn’t protect him unless he gave up his American citizenship. He did so in 1944. He continued to perform into the 1950's, dying eventually of spinal cancer in 1953.

As a composer Walter Rummel combines the charm of Debussy with the romantic dreaminess of Robert Schumann, and a strong influence of Wagner and César Franck. His songs were once very popular, sung by Maggie Teyte, John McCormack, and more recently, Jessye Norman. Lost works include a violin sonata, string quartet, and piano concerto. Seven of his songs are recorded on Dante label.


'Invocation to Wagner' (violin & orchestra)
Invocation to the God of the Earth. (alto and orchestra)
From the Depths (string quartet)
'To a Memory' (violin sonata)
Etain's Song from the 'Immortal Hour' (Boughton, 2 flutes & strings)

More than 40 songs published by Augener and G. Schirmer, including Ecstasy, June, Three Songs of Ezra Pound; many old Troubadour songs.

Numerous transcriptions of Bach chorales published by J & W Chester. Several Transcriptions and Attangements of 'Old Masters'

Numerous works for piano solo published by G. Schirmer, Leuckert and Augener, including: 6 Viking Nature Studies; Little Fairy Suite; Prelude in B-flat Minor.

Source: Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition; Author: H.J. Kalccsik); MusicWeb; Classical Composers Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2006)

Walter Rummel: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Piano Transcriptions of J.S. Bach's Works


Chorale Melody


Piano transcription of the chorale Ach wie nichtig, ach wir fluechtig from Cantata BWV 26

Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig


Piano transcription of the chorale Ertoedt’ uns durch dein’ Güte (Mvt. 5) from Cantata BWV 22

Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn


Piano transcription of the chorus Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir (Mvt. 1) from Cantata BWV 130

Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir


Piano transcription of O Gott, du frommer Gott! from Cantata BWV 94

O Gott, du frommer Gott (Melody 3)


Piano transcription of Vater unser im Himmelreich BWV 760

Vater unser im Himmelreich


Piano transcription of Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan from Cantata BWV 99

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan


Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier BWV 731
Das alte Jahr vergangen ist BWV 614
Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn BWV 4
Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten BWV 78
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen BWV 12
Mein Glaeubiges Herze, frohlocke, sing, scherze BWV 68
O Menschen, di ihr taeglich suendigt BWV 122
Das Brausen von den rauhen Winden BWV 92
Die Welt ist wie ein Rauch und Schatten BWV 94
Zu Tanze, zu Sprunge BWV 201
Wir muessen durch viel Truebsal BWV 146
Dein Name gleich der Sonnen geh BWV 173a]
Lass dich nimmer von der Liebe beruecken BWV 203
Stuerze zu Boden BWV 126
Dich hab’ ich je und je geliebt BWV 49
Esurientes implevit bonis BWV 243
Gelobet sei mein Gott BWV 129
Die Seele ruht in Jesu Haenden BWV 127
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her BWV 248


Links to other Sites

Walter Rummel - Classical music composer



Walter Rummel's biography is found in Slonimsky, MGG, Grove 3-5, and The New Grove II.
Charles Timbrell: "Prince of Virtuosos: A Life of Walter Rummel, American Pianist" (Scarecrow Press, 2005)
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Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 16:19