Music Criticism in Vienna, 1896-1897: Critically Moving Forms

By Sandra McColl | Go to book overview

Preface

ONE aspect of Viennese cultural life of the late nineteenth century which has been all too frequently glossed over is music journalism, which experienced an extraordinary flowering at that time. This is not to say that Viennese music journalism has been totally ignored, or that it has failed to be used by scholars as a resource in writing biographies of composers or tracing the reception of individual compositions. In general, however, such scholars have tended to rely on the more famous or more accessible sources, and to view the critics through eyes primarily focused on the composer or work. The present study arises from an attempt to shift the focus--to the critics. Recognizing the importance of journalism in the everyday life of musical Vienna, Leon Botstein devoted a large part of his recent monumental historical study of Viennese musical life from 1870 to 19141 to an account of the career of the critic Robert Hirschfeld ( 1857-1914). This was a significant and welcome contribution to the body of historical study of Viennese music journalism, in particular as it constituted a rare case of a study of a critic in the generation after Eduard Hanslick ( 1825-1904). The apparent domination by Hanslick of music criticism in the later nineteenth century is emphasized and even exaggerated by the almost exclusive attention paid to him by many scholars. Hanslick is, of course, perfectly worthy of such attention, but his contemporaries and successors ought not to be ignored. It is time an attempt was made to paint the whole picture in all its variety; it is time Hanslick was given his context. There have, of course, been other studies, such as Charlotte Pinter's work on Ludwig Speidel,2 but these have barely come to the notice of historians of music and, more to the point, 'intellectual' historians, in particular William M. Johnston,3 who so often regard Hanslick as virtually exclusively representing Viennese music criticism in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In his work on Hirschfeld and in his mention in various publications of other critics such as Theodor Helm, Botstein has more than made a start in the correction of this narrow focus, but the primary source material constitutes such an embarrassment of riches that there is plenty more left to be done if the climate of critical debate is to be reconstructed in its detail.

____________________
1
Leon Botstein, ' Music and its Public: Habits of Listening and the Crisis of Musical Modernism in Vienna, 1870-1914' (diss., Harvard, 1985).
2
Charlotte Pinter, ' Ludwig Speidel als Musikkritiker' (diss., Vienna, 1949).
3
William M. Johnston, The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History 1848-1938 ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972).

-vii-

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Music Criticism in Vienna, 1896-1897: Critically Moving Forms
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Contents xii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I- Papers, Critics, and Events 9
  • 1- The Papers and the Critics 11
  • 2- The Richness of Everyday Life 33
  • Part II- Politics, Civil and Artistic 85
  • 3- Civil Politics and Musical Opinion 87
  • 4- The Politics of Art In The Aftermath of Wagner 108
  • Part III- Beneath the Rhetoric 167
  • 5- The 'Canon' in the Concert Hall 169
  • 6- Opera, Drama, and The Artwork of the Future 199
  • Conclusion 223
  • Bibliography 229
  • Index 233
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