Civil Politics and Musical Opinion
During the fin de siècle, while Austria's foreign affairs gave no particular cause for concern, conflicting forces inside the state were hardening their fronts against each other. Pan-Germanic, pan-Slavistic and Italian Irredentist movements were preparing to tear the Dual Monarchy apart.1
Given that so many of Vienna's newspapers were owned and run by specific political parties and interest groups, it is not surprising to find that often all manner of reporting, including reporting of musical events, has a strong political flavour. The most significant issue in Austro- Hungarian politics in the 1890s was the issue of nationality, with the numerous non-German minorities of the empire seeking at most independent self-determination and at the very least the right to conduct business and to be educated in their own languages. These aspirations had been mirrored in the arts of these peoples throughout the nineteenth century, whose latter half in particular had seen the flowering of outspokenly nationalistic schools of musical composition, especially among the Slavic peoples of central and eastern Europe. Among the responses of the dominant German population of the empire in general and of Vienna in particular was a rise in German nationalism, a xenophobic reaction of a section of the populace which saw its privileges being eroded. With the rise of German nationalism, anti-Semitism, which had once been religious in origin, giving Jews a chance of assimilation into the dominant society by means of baptism, was now racially driven, leaving Jews with no escape from their minority status. A situation of Christians against Jews, which was still largely what existed in the 1880s, was now more and more one of Germans against Jews. On the Jewish side, of course, the late 1890s saw the development of Zionism; Theodor Herzl's Der Judenstaat was published in 1896.
While this chapter will deal largely with anti-Semitism, particularly in relation to Gustav Mahler, and with the response to Slavic nationalism, largely in the light of Count Badeni's language ordinances of 1897 and the prominence of Smetana, Dvořák, and, to a lesser extent, Tchaikovsky on the première list, it is well to note first some of the subtle ways in which a paper's political colouring could be impressed on readers of music____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Music Criticism in Vienna, 1896-1897:Critically Moving Forms. Contributors: Sandra McColl - Author. Publisher: Oxford University. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 87.
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