The Paul Stoecklin (1916-1999) collection comprises of more than 600 songbooks dating from the 17th to the 20th century. Stoecklin himself reveals in his «eclectically edited» biography, as he calls it, something of his life: The Paul Stoecklin (1916-1999) collection comprises of more than 600 songbooks dating from the 17th to the 20th century. Stoecklin himself reveals in his "eclectically edited
I spent six semesters studying German, French and Latin philology and, with mounting interest, musicology and ethnology. During my studies, however, I increasingly sensed a certain lack of connection between the life I was living and practical activity. Concurrent with my mental development and growing maturity, I became aware of my real calling: artistic expressions across a range of genres, including drawing, painting and printing on the one hand, and playing the piano and singing on the other, as well as, at the age of 16, reaching a kind of high point by teaching myself how to bash away at the organ. Although it was made crystal clear to me that, on purely financial grounds, a vocational apprenticeship was out of the question, this elemental urge of mine to seek artistic expression refused to go away. So long as my father was able to live in a household with the two younger sons, he and I came to an understanding regarding the rent I would pay. By spending countless hours tutoring in German, French and Latin, writing book and concert reviews and doing editing work, I somehow managed to keep my head above water.
For all three brothers, our quarters in a holiday camp proved a blessing in disguise; at selected locations in cantons Graubünden and Valais and, later, together with other students, in a remote house in the Valais, we lived, cooked and kept house, coming into contact with the locals in a natural way and establishing highly agreeable relationships with them.
My goal, which was to conclude my lengthy studies with a dissertation on my research of Valais folk songs and folk music that I had concluded in spring 1939, did not meet the approval of my musicology supervisor, Prof J. Handschin. I had to find a way out and – despite the temptation of becoming a secondary school teacher in appreciably less time – opted for a two-year course in primary school teaching at the cantonal teacher training college in Basel. Despite the increasingly challenging conditions – including mobilisation due to the threat of invasion – I qualified in spring 1941. My career began forthwith. After so much theory, the first earnest efforts to establish a favourable educational atmosphere and cater to the manifold needs of the pupils and, when necessary, implement effective and supportive interventions. I spent a year alongside Vicariates at the Mädchen- und Knabenprimarschule Basel-Stadt. In spring 1942 I landed a full-time employment contract teaching a class of girls at the Mädchenprimarschule Sevogel; I became the school's principal in 1950 until the school district was restructured in spring 1957. On 3 April 1944 the board of education certified me for teaching girls at primary school level and teaching at primary level in secondary schools. Years of training in singing, recorder, piano and organ at music college – the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis – and through private tuition meant I could immerse myself in musical activities.
While the demands made of me through my involvement, commencing 1951, in the School Singing Committee and the Recorder Playing Committee were bearable, my duties as a permanent member of the committee set up to create a new primary school song book, commencing 1946, were onerous in the extreme. In my possession was a collection of old song arrangements, song books and sheet music that I had scraped together, partly through begging and partly through donations: this served as a private "reference library" with which I could quickly and reliably separate the usable from the unusable and distinguish between good and even better editions.
Following my attendance of a voice and breathing course led by Prof O. Fitz in Vienna in 1953/54, I participated in a voice training course at the Albert Greiner Institute in Augsburg, initially as a guest in autumn 1955, then in the early part of 1957 as a regular participant on a sabbatical. At the suggestion of my colleague (Anna Hunger, who went on to become my wife in July 1957), in September 1956 I also took part in the three-week voice training course in Basel led by Prof J. Lautenbacher from Augsburg.
I would also like to mention a few individual contributory factors that did much to round out my musical education. At the Musikschule Basel I enjoyed learning Solfege under H. Schindler and, from the age of eleven, the piano under D. Meerwein, S. Breil and H. Vogt. I was able to practise and play the church organ during the holidays in Cantons Graubünden and Valais, the first time on 19 July 1931 in St. Niklaus; opportunities also came up later in Basel – in St. Marien, Vincentianum, St. Clara – and in Arlesheim, Pfeffingen, Mariastein and other places. Singing was something I began while still young – I was a solo soprano in a boys' choir, then I joined a choral group under A. Wenzinger and I. Lohr. I spent two years as a member of the Basel Bach Choir and attended two holiday courses run at Rigi-Klösterli by Schola Cantorum (leaders A. Wenzinger and M. Hamm-Stoecklin). I was a pianist in a variety of duos and trios involving musicians such as U. Belussi, M. Gardelli, M. Gyr, concertmaster Silzer, A. Gyr and F. Haff. My assuming charge of the erstwhile college choir between 1939 and 1941 led to my first attempts at conducting; this activity culminated in my gaining a diploma in choral conducting from Augsburg at the end of March 1957.
Where I felt most at home, though, was in the world of the folk song, commencing 1938. Frequent holiday stays, military service and research in the field with support from the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde allowed me to collect an appreciable body of audio recordings of Swiss-German and French folk songs sourced in the Valais – a fact of which I am proud, leastways in my capacity as collector.