by Heriberto Cruz Cornejo





munch by chute

Desmond Chute. Portrait of Gerhart MünchCourtesy of Massimo Bacigalupo, 2017 








In 1933, Olga Rudge listened to the German pianist Gerhart Münch play Bela Bartok in Venice and recommended him to Ezra Pound as a major drawing card (Conover 126). A friendship then started between Münch and Pound, which would last for decades. Gerhart lived in Italy from 1933 to 1937: next to Olga, he was the main protagonist of the first two seasons of the Rapallo concerts Pound organized and promoted (1933-35). Studying Pound’s life and work in this period has made it possible to have a sidelight on Gerhart’s life and activities as well. Münch returned to Germany in late 1937 and stayed there for ten years. This time of his life has never been studied before. Now, thanks to the collaboration between Roxana Preda (UK) and Tarsicio Medina (Mexico), it has been possible to corroborate dispersed documentary sources and provide a glimpse into Münch’s life after Rapallo, so as to answer a few pressing questions: Why did Gerhart return to Nazi Germany in 1937? Was he successful as a pianist and composer in his homeland? What were his compositions and what happened to them? What did he do during the Second World War and how did he survive it? The Pound-Münch correspondence housed at the Beinecke Library, as well as documents in Germany and Mexico, such as relevant musical reviews of the period and Vera Lawson’s wartime memoir, Germany 24 Hours a Day, have made this reconstruction possible.

This article is divided into three parts: “The return to Germany, 1937”; “The pre-war period, 1938-1939”; and “The World War and after, 1939-47.” In a second installment of this investigation, we hope to go into greater detail on Münch’s life after he left Germany in 1947 until his death in Mexico in 1988.


A large part of Gerhart Münch’s musical and literary works have been published by Maestro Tarsicio Medina, a former piano student and now Münch’s heir and promoter. Medina’s editions of the works housed at the Muench-Medina Archive (Morelia, Mexico) include more than 100 music scores, various cd-s, the poem collection Labyrinthus, and Metaphysiche Marginalia und andere Schriften, both in a German-Spanish edition. Vera Lawson’s Germany 24 Hours a Day is forthcoming in 2017. The author of this article would like to thank Maestro Medina for the unpublished texts and illustrations from this archive that he agreed to make available, as well as for the copyright permissions for the texts and performance recordings included here. Thanks as well to Roxana Preda for her editing help, and to Maria Prause, who introduced me to the work of R. Preda. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Walter Baumann, who deciphered the Gothic script and translated the German musical reviews discussing Münch’s performances before the war.