• Sulzbach family life before Herbert

    On 5 January 1886 Emil Sigismund Sulzbach, aged 30, married Julie Marckwald, who was ten years younger than him. He had been a partner in the family banking business in Frankfurt am Main for the previous seven years and her family lived in Berlin. They set up home in Frankfurt.

    Their eldest son, Ernst Rudolf, was born in April 1887 and their daughter, Lili Theodore Louise, on the last day of 1889.

    Two years later Emil and Julie bought land in Frankfurt from Albert Katzenstein and commissioned Franz von Hoven, an independent architect who was active in the city's artist society, to design them a villa. They were joining the flow of other well-to-do families – many of them liberal Jews, like themselves - who were building houses and settling in what was to become a very affluent area in the western part of Frankfurt. Their neighbours were mostly bankers, lawyers and jewellers.

    The new house, at number 57 Friedrichstrasse, was an imposing and handsome four-storey mansion, set behind tall ornate railings. It had large windows and stood in spacious grounds which would soon be landscaped with trees, wide lawns, and a narrow iron footbridge straddling a small stream. Indoors, the typically heavily furnished rooms were capacious but unpretentious, with the Persian carpets, family portraits, pianos and books of a successful banker's family.

    Two years after first acquiring this land, Emil Sulzbach retired from his position at the bank (at the age of 38) in order to devote himself to music. He was a composer of songs and also an accomplished pianist, having studied with Wilhelm Lutz and Iwan Knorr.

    Herbert Sulzbach was born into this wealthy, philanthropic and cultured home on Thursday 8 February 1894, to adoring parents, a seven year old brother, and a five year old sister. He was to have an extraordinarily privileged childhood, and to him this home in Friedrichstrasse always stood for happiness, security, and prosperity.

    'These were the normal carefree years of childhood, but there was also an apparently carefree Europe. What an amazing youth, because of my beloved parents.'

    (photo: an early picture of the rear of 57 Friedrichstrasse, before the garden was landscaped.)

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