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

By Sandra McColl | Go to book overview

4
The Politics of Art in the Aftermath of Wagner

What in 1883 seemed an impassable gulf was in 1897 no longer a problem.1

Thus Arnold Schoenberg in 1947, referring to the oft-mentioned and much-discussed rift between Wagner and Brahms, and between parties of their supporters, which accounted for much of expressed musical opinion in the Vienna of his youth. It is true that Wagner, having died in 1883, had become so established in the repertory of opera houses that he was by 1897 'part of the classical past, an aspect of history and, like Brahms, a vindicated classical master'.2 In addition to this, the only major work of Wagner not to have been performed in Vienna by 1897 was Parsifal, which was to remain the property of Bayreuth until 1913. Indeed, the last major Wagner première in Vienna had been that of Tristan und Isolde on the emperor's name-day in 1883.3 Nevertheless, in 1897 the anti- Wagnerians of old, Eduard Hanslick and Ludwig Speidel, with their younger colleagues Richard Heuberger and Max Kalbeck--in short, the critics immortalized in the silhouette cartoons of Otto Böhler--were all still active.

Furthermore, there also remained the traditional 'New German' association of Wagner with Liszt, whose Christus was performed complete in Vienna for the first time on 18 December 1896, occasioning an opportunity for critics to write at length about him. In addition to the old 'New German' associations, there were also the post-Wagner composers whom the Wagnerians (with some concordance from the anti-Wagnerians) adopted as Wagner's successors, most notably in Vienna Bruckner and Wolf. Finally, there were the many young composers, Richard Strauss among them, who professed Wagnerian inspiration and influence and whose works came to the notice of Viennese critics.

____________________
1
Arnold Schoenberg, "Brahms the Progressive", in Style and Idea: Selected Writings by Arnold Schoenberg, ed. Leonard Stein, translations by Leo Black (1st pbk. edn. with revisions, London: Faber & Faber, 1984), 398.
2
Botstein, "Music and its Public", 1027, referring to articles by Hirschfeld in NMP of 1896 and 1897.
3
For an account of its reception see S. McColl, "The Viennese Première of Tristan und Isolde: A Survey of its Critics", Miscellanea Musicologica, 18 (forthcoming).

-108-

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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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