Guide to the Papers of Heinrich Sontheim (1820-1912)

AR 520

Processed by Juliane Radig and LBI Staff

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2012 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in July 2012. Description is in English.
June 05, 2013  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Sontheim, Heinrich, 1820-1912
Title: Heinrich Sontheim Collection
Dates:bulk 1840-1912
Abstract: The Heinrich Sontheim Collection contains mostly correspondence and some personal documents of the tenor Heinrich Sontheim.
Languages: The collection is mostly in German and some Hebrew.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet.
Identification: AR 520
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note
Portrait of Heinrich Sontheim (1820-1912)

Portrait of Heinrich Sontheim (1820-1912)

Heinrich Sontheim (Honas Baer Sontheimer) was born in Jebenhausen, Germany, on February 3, 1820. His father Moses Loeb and uncle Judas Wolf changed their names to Sontheimer in 1818 and Heinrich changed it again to Sontheim at the very beginning of his career. Heinrich Sontheim had ten siblings. His parents owned an inn in Jebenhausen. His talent for music and singing was discovered early and supported by Heinrich Sontheim's father from early age. Nevertheless his father sent him to serve an apprenticeship as a wagon-maker, which Heinrich didn't complete. With the assistance of a minister of Wuerttemberg, Vellnagel, Sontheim came to Stuttgart where he started to improve his singing through lessons. Although Heinrich Sontheim's father didn’t consider a career as a singer for his son he agreed to his commitment.

Heinrich Sontheim became a successful tenor in various opera houses and court theaters. He was married to Nanny Sontheim. From 1839 to 1850 Heinrich Sontheim had an engagement in Karlsruhe. Afterwards he was employed at the Württembergisches Hoftheater in Stuttgart (Court Theater of the Kingdom of Wuerttemberg) from 1851 to 1872. Meanwhile, Heinrich Sontheim had several guest performances, e.g. in Berlin and Karlsruhe. In 1872 he decided to retire but after two years Heinrich Sontheim started to sing again. Until 1882 Sontheim had guest performances in several cities, e.g. Vienna. In 1889 Heinrich Sontheim celebrated his 50th jubilee as a singer. In 1900 Sontheim performed the last time on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He died on August 2, 1912.

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Scope and Content Note

The Heinrich Sontheim collection documents the life and especially the professional singing career of Heinrich Sontheim, which lasted from 1840 to 1912.

The first series of the collection mostly holds personal papers of Heinrich Sontheim. The second series comprehends personal and professional correspondence with friends, directors, fans and others. Series III of this collection includes music sheets.

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The collection is arranged in three series.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The LBI Library holds a biography of Heinrich Sontheim written by Leo Adler: Adler, Leo, 1884-1966. Heinrich Sontheim; ein Künstlerleben. Stuttgart (Germany): Grüninger, 1916. [ML 420 S6 A3]

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Separated Material

Photographs were partly removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Heinrich Sontheim Collection; AR 520; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The folder order has been changed. Collection was divided into subseries.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Personal, 1840-1965

This series is in German and Hebrew.
0.1 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series I contains documents, pictures and personal papers of Heinrich Sontheim.

The first folder comprehends an attestation, exemption from military service, passport with the permission to travel and letters from Heinrich Sontheim's father written in Hebrew script. The second folder includes three pictures of Heinrich Sontheim and the third folder a poem written by his brother-in-law Bernhard on the occasion of his 50th jubilee as a singer at the Royal Opera of Wuerttemberg 1889. The collection comprehends in the fourth folder a Dedication on the occasion of Heinrich Sontheim's 70th birthday in 1909 written in German and Hebrew script. Series I contains in folder five a letter from Heinrich Sontheim to a newspaper in Stuttgart (Stuttgarter Tagblatt) and its editor Mueller-Palm (1886) as a reaction to a critical article.

This series comprehends a variety of clippings of Heinrich Sontheim from 1868 to 1916 in the sixth folder. Folder seven contains three drawings. Series I comprehends in the eights folder a accumulation of other papers like a "Theater-Cassarechnung", (1868), a telegram, a poem, a greeting card on occasion of his Jubilee (1839-1849), a letter from August Scherl to cantor Leo Adler (1909), other short letters and notes as well as music sheets.

12Photographsundated, 1907
13Poem by his brother-in-law Bernhard on occasion of his 50th jubilee as singer at the Royal Opera of Wuerttemberg1889
14Dedication on the occasion of Sontheim's 70th birthday1909
15Heinrich Sontheim's reaction to a critical article1886
16Life and career of Heinrich Sontheim – Newspaper clippings1868-1965
18Other Papers (Miscellaneous)1868-1909
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Series II: Correspondence, 1840-1924

This series is mostly in German and some Hebrew.
0.4 linear feet.

Divided into two subseries, Personal and Professional.

Scope and Content:

Series II comprehends Heinrich Sontheim' personal and professional correspondence. It contains letters from 1840 to 1912. The personal correspondence is with Heinrich Sontheim's friends and the condolence to Nanny Sontheim (1912) after Sontheim's death. The professional correspondence contains letters referring to his work as a singer (Kammersaenger).

Subseries 1: Personal, 1848-1924

This subseries is in German.
0.15 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 comprehends the personal correspondence of Heinrich Sontheim with friends and fans. There is no exchange of letters with any family members.

Folder nine in Subseries 1 contains the correspondence with Nicolaus Rothmuehl who was also a singer (tenor) at various opera houses in Europe and a close friend of Heinrich Sontheim. Therefore their conversation was personal, about their families as well as about their careers (e.g. Rothmuehl's appearance in operas written by Richard Wagner) or compliments about their performances. This folder includes also small letters and notes Heinrich Sontheim wrote to Rothmuehl.

The following folder number ten comprehends letters from N. Marquardt (1868-1871) another friend of Heinrich Sontheim. He writes compliments about Sontheim's success and his performances ("Die Juedin") as well as other concerts.

The eleventh folder in Subseries 1 includes fan letters written to Heinrich Sontheim. Some just contain positive responses to Sontheim's performances. Others are correspondences between Heinrich Sontheim and his supporters. Folder twelve contains various kinds of letters from friends to Heinrich Sontheim (1843-1894). The thirteenth folder comprehends notes and short letters written to his wife, Nanny Sontheim, after Heinrich Sontheim's death. Folder fourteen contains letters and postcards written by Leo Adler or referring to Adler who was the author of a biography of Heinrich Sontheim (1910-1924).

19Nicolaus Rothmuehl1891-1903
110N. Marquardt, Stuttgart1868-1871
111Fan letters1848-1912
113Condolence notes to Nanny Sontheim, widow1912
114Leo Adler, author of a biography of Heinrich Sontheim1909-1924

Subseries 2: Professional, 1840-1910

This subseries is in German and Hebrew.
0.25 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 contains the professional correspondences of Heinrich Sontheim which mostly deals with performance inquiries and contracts.

The fifteenth folder comprehends one letter written by Adolph Kohut dealing with the granting of a doctorate to Cosima Wagner, widow of Richard Wagner. The following folder number sixteen includes letters from the director of the Court Theater of the Kingdom of Wuerttemberg (Die königlich Wuerttembergische Hof-Theater-Intendanz), which mostly concern salary and performance inquires. Just as the letters in folder seventeen written by the director of the Court Theater of the Grand–Duke of Baden deal with this issues. The eighteenth folder comprehends correspondence and clippings referring to the duel between Heinrich Sontheim and the husband of Mrs. Leisinger, a singer at the Court Theater of the Kingdom of Wuerttemberg as well: Heinrich Sontheim refused to appear next to Mrs. Leisinger during a performance for private reasons – an incident that was discussed by several people in letters to Sontheim. This series comprehends in folder nineteen several letters written by Feodor Wohl (1873-1878). The folders twenty to twenty-four are about contract negotiations like payment and length of employment. The following four folders largely relate to performances and possible job offers, including guest performances at the Royal Saxony Orchestra Theater (Königlich Sächsische musikalische Kapelle des Hoftheaters).

Folder twenty-nine includes single letters Heinrich Sontheim received or wrote as well as professional correspondence (with Mr. Scholl, Mr. Schoetter). Some letters and notes in this folder are in Hebrew script.

115Adolph Kohut1910
116Director of the Court Theater of the Kingdom of Wuerttemberg1855-1863
117Director of the Court Theater of the Grand – Duke of Baden1854-1869
118L’Affaire Leisinger: Challenge to a duel1862
119Feodor Wohl, impresario1873-1878
120Contract negotiations1890
121Contract negotiations1880
122Contract negotiations1870
123Contract negotiations1860
124Contract negotiations1850
125Leopold Sonnemann, founder of Frankfurter Zeitung1869-1870
126Director of Royal Saxony Orchestra Theater1865
127Joseph Strauss, agent (opera)1840-1849
128Editor of Tages-Presse Wien1849-1877
129From Heinrich Sontheim1853-1890
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Series III: Music Scores, 1840-1900

This series is in German.
1 oversized folder.


Scope and Content:

Series III contains printed and hand written music scores written by Heinrich Sontheim himself or by other composer like Franz von Suppe, Leopold Adler, Franz Jaeger, A. Kuechler, Foh Feyhl, Joseph Abenheim, Gustav Burwig and August Conradi. Some of the music scores were especially written for Heinrich Sontheim.

OS 92Music scores1840-1900?
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