In the early 1980s the late Richard Beattie Davis took his new wife, Gillian, to seek out the birthplace of the Bavarian composer, Adolph von Henselt (1814-1889) in whom he had had a life-long interest.

On the first trip to Schwabach we went to the police station and were unable to find any information, except for the fact that there was a `Henseltweg` which we photographed. Around the corner we found the plaque which commemorated Henselt`s birth, but the house was unoccupied and in disrepair with animals inhabiting the courtyard. We photographed this, but when we returned to England, we found that there was something wrong with the film. In 1986 we returned and parked directly below the flat of the Henselt scholar, Dr.Oskar Stollberg, but, alas, we didn`t know that at the time. In 1987 we managed to meet the new curator of the Stadtmuseum, Jürgen Söllner who arranged for us to meet Dr.Stollberg and exchange information about our respective collections. On October 31st. 1988 a planning meeting was held with various interested parties to discuss what could be arranged in Schwabach to mark the anniversaries that would arise in 1989. At that point nothing had been considered, but the fact that someone from England had made enquiries was the catalyst for the first Henseltfest. The unofficial committee was made up of Herr.U.Distler, Herr.R. Mari, Dr.Oskar Stollberg, (German Henselt scholar) Herr. Jürgen Söllner, (town museum curator) Herr.Wolfgang Dippert, (town archivist) Richard Beattie Davis (English Henselt scholar) and his wife, Gillian.

In September 1989, Herr. Jürgen Söllner came to England to collect original Henselt letters and first editions from the Davis collection to put on display for the 1st. Henseltfest.

In May and October 1989 celebrations were held in Schwabach to commemorate the 175th. anniversary of Henselt's birth, also the 100th. anniversary of his death. Thanks to the Oberbürgermeister, Herr. Hartwig Reimann and inestimable help from Jürgen Söllner and Wolfgang Dippert, a splendid exhibition and concerts of Henselt's music were mounted. They published an informative and still much sought after catalogue of documents, memorabilia and a provisional listing by Richard Beattie Davis of Henselt's works. This collected together a great deal of information, hitherto scattered around the world.

Unofficial meetings continued over the next 12 years. The house where Henselt was born was sold by the city and became a ballet school. In 1991 and again in 1994 the Davis`s met in Schwabach with Dr.Stollberg, Jürgen Söllner and Wolfgang Dippert. In between times Jürgen Söllner travelled to England for an annual exchange of ideas. Richard Beattie Davis started to donate his collection of Henselt first edition scores and original letters. In 1997 there was a further meeting in Schwabach, after the death of Dr.Stollberg who left all his Henselt research materials and music to the archive. Plans were discussed for another Henseltfest. The Lions Club of Schwabach then commissioned Clemens Heinl to produce a statue.

On May 20th. 2000 a crowd gathered in the Martin-Luther-Platz to watch the Oberbürgermeister, Herr. Hartwig Reimann and Richard Beattie Davis unveil the Henselt statue. Speeches were made and Richard Beattie Davis donated a special 1st. edition score of the `Piano Concerto` in honour of the event. In the evening there was a musical performance, exhibition and reception in the Burgerhaus. The following day there was a Church recital and a `songspiel` presented by the children of Schwabach. In his closing speech, Richard Beattie Davis said the following "Over twenty years after our initial visit, more knowledge and growing interest with this 2000 symposium will further add to the appreciation of this great man's work and help to place him in the correct context of his relationship to Russian music."

In October 2001 the Davises went to Schwabach to meet Herr. Lucien Schiwietz from `IME`, Bonn, and his wife, Lilli, to discuss the proposed International Henselt Seminar to be sponsored by IME.


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