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

By Sandra McColl | Go to book overview

2
The Richness of Everyday Life

With the exception of July, when the Court Opera was closed and the concert season well and truly over, Vienna offered plenty of choice for a music critic, even more so in the coldest months of the year when audiences braved the elements to attend concerts. A look through the specialist music journals from November to April demonstrates the overwhelming amount and variety of musical activity in the city which was believed by its residents to be the centre of the musical universe. There were important anniversaries to keep, great men to bury, a resident opera company with a wide repertory, and a seemingly endless procession of singers, instrumentalists, and ensembles, some local, some visiting. All this went on in the capital of an empire where the protocols and rituals of civic life filtered through to all forms of public activity. The Viennese knew how to make a fuss of someone and most especially had an amazing talent for funerals. They had a proud sense of history, of a cultural tradition to which each generation would seek to add its own chapter. The period from October 1896 to the end of 1897 probably contributed a page or two to one of these chapters. When viewed very closely, however, like a drop of pond water through a microscope, Vienna can be seen to be teeming with life and activity. The journalism of the day provides an ideal tool for the reconstruction of 'the richness of everyday life'.1

This chapter represents an attempt at recording the most significant details of the musical activities in this period. It is divided into three main sections, dealing with commemorations and funerals, concert life, and operatic and theatrical musical life. It will also include critical assessments of performers, since Chapters 3 to 6 are more concerned with musical compositions.


Tributes Florid and Floral: Significant Commemorations

Franz Schubert was born in Vienna on 31 January 1797. The hundredth anniversary of his birthday was celebrated in grand style. On 20 January, the emperor himself opened a Schubert exhibition--a display of portraits, letters, musical manuscripts, furniture, even the original house number

____________________
1
Gilbert and Inglis, Australians 1838, p. ix.

-33-

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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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