Johann Voldemar Jannsen

PoemsJohann Voldemar Jannsen

Short stories


About J. V. Jannsen

Johann Voldemar Jannsen (l6./4. V 1819 – 13. /1. VII 1890) was one of the founders of Estonian press and the Song Festival tradition, a cultural figure and writer during the Estonian Age of Awakening, and the father of Lydia Koidula and Harry Jannsen. Jannsen’s works represent Estonian literature’s transition from religious to secular, from the borrowed to the original and from folkloric oral tradition to a written language. His mission was to shape the self-awareness of Estonians as a nation, based on the principles of equality between nations and races, humanism and the ideology of Christian democracy.  

Jannsen was born in Vändra manor, son to a miller and an innkeeper in Tõrvaaugu. He studied in the Vändra sacristan school (Küsterschule) and parish school. He worked as a coachman for Carl Körber, a minister and man of letters, who taught him music and German. From 1838, he worked as a cantor and schoolmaster’s aid in Vändra; from 1842, as a sacristan and parish school teacher and from 1850–63, he was a teacher at the village school in Ülejõe, Pärnu. The newspaper Perno Postimees ehk Näddalileht that Jannsen founded and was the editor of from 1857–63 established a consistent Estonian journalistic tradition. In 1863, he relocated to Tartu where he became Estonia’s first professional journalist. He worked as the editor of Eesti Postimees and its special editions (1864–80), published the agricultural magazine Eesti Põllomees kõige eesti põllomeestele (1869–1880), founded the Vanemuine Singing and Acting Society in 1865 and led it until 1879. As the organizer of the first (1869) and second (1870) Estonian Song Festival, the founder of the Estonian Farmers Society in Tartu (1870) and a supporter of the Estonian Alexander School movement, Jannsen incited Estonians’ national sensibilities and their demand for culture.

As an enlightener of the people, he spread geographical, political and agricultural knowledge, promoted education and temperance, condemned superstitious beliefs and indirectly, occupation as well, and combated poverty and emigration. Instead of ‘maarahwas‘ (‘countryfolk’), he started using the ethnonym Estonians. In Tartu, his daughter Lydia Jannsen (Koidula) assisted him in his writing and editing. In the 1870s, during the rift in the national movement, Jannsen remained conservative, distancing himself from the radical Carl Robert Jakobson. The Livonian Knighthood secretly started supporting him financially but despite Realpolitik he still remained true to his ideals about the young nation and his personal opinion. In turn, Jakobson’s activities in undermining the Baltic Germans’ position were well received by the czar government. In 1880, Jannsen withdrew from the public due to paralysis. He passed away in Tartu and is buried in Tartu-Maarja Cemetery with a monumental bust marking his grave (by August Weizenberg). In his birthplace Vändra, there is a memorial stone for him and three streets are named after him in Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu.

Jannsen was a Pietist Lutheran and his songbook Sioni-Laulo-Kannel I–III (1845, 1853, 1860) that he compiled and fluently translated became hugely popular. His chapbook Laupäwa-öhtune Küllalinne (‘Saturday Evening Guest’, 1853) expresses enlightenment ideas. In addition to several religious books, he has also written for children. From his more than 200 pieces of prose, village stories and tales of historical figures, often humorous, form the majority. Jannsen was widely published: in yearbooks containing fiction, folk calendars, both of his newspapers and their special editions, and the anthology Püssipappa essimessed Külla-Juttud külla rahwale (1854). Six of his stories are considered originals as he often adapted from German folk literature. Jannsen’s folk tale style is rich, narrative, conversational and humorous, at times realistic, with comical characters and narrative digressions. His expressive phraseology, proverbs, sayings, comparisons, metaphors and personification techniques influenced Estonians’ sense of literary style. Some of his adaptions could even be considered to have the value of originals. Jannsen’s stories were very popular and helped shape the nation’s reading habit. In the 1880s, Finland’s largest magazine Kyläkirjaston Kuvalehti published translations of his works. A selection of his stories were re-published in the editions of J. V. Jannseni Kirjad (‘Writings of J. V. Jannsen’, 1881–1911).

Jannsen created a few simple comedy plays that were staged from 1873–1888 in Vanemuine Society. Jannsen’s voluminous collections of lyrics offered choirs a more secular repertoire: Eestirahwa 50-aastase Jubelipiddo-Laulud (‘Song Festival Songs for Estonia’s 50th Anniversary’, 1869) and Eesti Laulik (‘Songbook of Estonia’, 1860, 5th edition in 1880, with sheet music in 1862). Among other Estonian translations those books also include works by J. W. Goethe, F. Schiller, L. Uhland, G. A. Bürger. He himself conducted choirs in Pärnu and later in Tartu and the manuscript of his Partitur ehstnischer Chorgesänge has been preserved. Jannsen is the author of the lyrics of the Estonian national anthem Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm (‘My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy’).

A. M. (Translated by A. S.)

Writing in Estonian

J. V. Jannseni toimetatud väljaanded Perno Postimees ja Eesti Postimees koos kaasannetega nagu Eesti Põllomees jt on leitavad andmebaasist DEA (Digiteeritud eesti ajalehed):
Sannumetoja sel aastal 1848: Ehk: Uut ja wanna Ma-rahwa römuks ja öppetusseks. Tartu: J.V. Jannsen, 1848, 252 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Teine Sannumetoja aastal 1849: Ehk: Uut ja Wanna Ma-rahwa römuks ja öppetusseks. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1849, 216 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Kolmas Sannumetoja aastal 1850: Ehk: Uut ja wanna Ma-rahwa römuks ja öppetusseks. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1850, 279 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Neljas Sannumetoja aastal 1851: Ehk: Uut ja wanna Ma-rahwa römuks ja öppetusseks. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1851, 253 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Wies Sannumetoja aastal 1856: Ehk: Uut ja wanna Ma-rahwa römuks ja öppetusseks. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1856, 187 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Kues Sannumetoja aastal 1857: Ehk: Uut ja wanna Ma-rahwa römuks ja öppetusseks. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1857, 167 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Seitsmes Sannumetoja aastal 1860: Ehk: Uut ja wanna ma-rahwa römuks ja öppetusseks. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1860, 141 lk. [Kättesaadav:] 

Sannumed pagganattest, nende ebba ussust ning önnetumast ellust. Pernu: F. W. Borm, 1845, 26 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Laupäwa-õhtune Küllalinne, mis Johann Jannsen wäljaannud: Essimene öhto. Pärnu: W. Borm, 1853, 76 lk. [Jutud.]
Püssipappa essimessed Külla-Juttud külla rahwale: Essimenne öhtu: mis Johann Jannsen wäljaannud. Tartu: J. V. Jannsen, 1854, 120 lk. [Kättesaadav:; Tartu: Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum, Digira, 2014,]
Sioni-Ohwri-Altar: Ued Laulud ja Palwed, Issanda auuks ja ussowendade kassuks. Essimenne jaggo. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1859, 96 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1870, 1873, 1881.]
Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher, Kolmas Sioni-laulo-Kannel ehk 355 uut waimolikko laulo, isseärranis Kristusse rigi kaswamissest Kolmaino Jummala auuks ja Ristikoggodusse kassuks. Tõlkinud J. V. Jannsen. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1860, XIV, 653-958 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1863, 1864, 1871, 1873.]
Eesti laulik: 125 uut laulo neile, kes hea melega laulwad ehk laulo kuulwad. Essimenne jaggo. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1860, 191 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Sioni-Ohwri Altar: Laua-rahwa Laulud ja Palwed, Issanda auuks ja ussowendade kassuks. 2. jaggo. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1862, 116 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1874, 1881.]
Eesti Lauliko wisi-ramat: 120 uut laulo-wisi. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1862, VI+79 lk. [Noodid. Kättesaadav:]
Korilaulja koddo ja kirrikus Eesti lauloseltsidele. 1. ja 2. anne. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1866–1867, 54 lk. [Noodid.]
Eestirahwa 50-aastase Jubelipiddo-Laulud. Tartu: Tarto Wannemuine-selts, 1869, 12 lk. [Laulusõnad. Kättesaadav:]
Eestirahwa 50-aastase Jubelipiddo-Laulud. Tartu: Tarto Wannemuine-selts, 1869, 78 lk. [Noodid. Järgmised trükid: 1865, 1871, 1880. Kättesaadav:]
Laste Palwe-ohwrid: Piltidega. Tartu, H. Laakmann, 1870, 29 lk. [Laulud. 2. trükk: 1879.]
Eesti Laste Rööm: Hea lastele pühhade kingitusseks. Essimenne and. Tartu, 1872, 21 lk. [Kättesaadav:]
Albikära Ants. Tartu, Tallinn: Loodus, 1939, 7 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: TEA, 2011, 30 lk.]
Pappa Jannseni postipaunast: “Perno Postimehhest” wälja walitsenud ja rodosse seadinud P. Rummo. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1969, 133 lk.
Näidendid. Koostanud Külli Laugaste. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 1993, 118 lk.
Mis “Postimees” uudist kaasa on toonud: Jutud, laulud, “Postimehe” uudiseid. Koostanud Hilve Rebane. Tallinn: Tiritamm, 1998, 155 lk.
Diarium: Johann Voldemar Jannseni Pärnu päevik. Das Pernauer Tagebuch von Johann Woldemar Jannsen. Koostanud Malle Salupere. Pärnu: Pärnu Muuseum, 2011, 195 lk.

Collected works
J. W. Jannsen’i kirjad [proosa, publitsistika]:
1. järg: 1.-5. anne. Tartu: W. Just, 1881-1885, 400 lk.
2. järg: 1.-5. [kaanel 6.-10.] anne. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1886-1889 [kaanel 1882], 80+80+242 lk.
3. järg: 1.-5. [kaanel 11.-15.] anne. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1891-1898, 407 lk.
4. järg: 1.-5. anne. Jurjev: H. Laakmann, 1899-1911, 505 lk.