Kirchenmusik im Biedermeier. Institutionen, Formen, Komponisten. Wissenschaftliche Tagung 10. bis 11. Oktober 2008, Ruprechtshofen, N. Ö. Edited by Andrea Harrandt and Erich Wolfgang Partsch. (Publikationen des Instituts für österreichische Musik - dokumentation, no. 35.) Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2010. [279 p. ISBN 9783862960118. i48.] Music examples, illustrations, index.
The collection of essays Kirchenmusik im Biedermeier originated from the Sixth Biedermeier-Tagung der Benedict Randhartinger-Gesellschaft, held October 10-11, 2008, in Ruprechtshofen. As explained in the volume's foreword, the choice of topic for the conference grew out of the recognition both of Randhartinger's own interactions with many church compositions of this period in the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle and of the paucity of research on church music in the Biedermeier (p. 7). The volume provides an important contribution to the study of Roman Catholic church music in Austria and surrounding regions in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Peter Hrncirik's widely ranging and insightful opening essay, "Tendenzen der Kirchenmusik im Biedermeier. Historische und stilidiomatische Aspekte," lays the groundwork for the study of church music in the Biedermeier and also for the more focused studies contained in the remainder of the volume. Hrncirik begins with the question, "Is there a Biedermeier style in church music?" (p. 10; translations throughout this review are my own), and his essay both answers the question positively and defines characteristics of such a style. He argues that church music of the Biedermeier must be understood not only as a counterpoint to romanticism, but also in relation to both Viennese classic and empfindsam styles (see pp. 11, 15, 18-19, 23). Hrncirik not only introduces readers to important composers, institutions, and trends in Biedermeier church music, but also positions these within the broader social and intellectual history of the early nineteenth century. Drawing upon the imagery of Friedrich Sengle, Hrncirik describes church music in this period as "ein hoffnungsfroher Inselarchipel spiritueller Erbauung im Sturmmeer des ungnädigen Weltgetriebes" (a hopeful island archipelago of spiritual devotion in the stormy sea of the unkind hustle and bustle of the world, p. 12). He presents a concise yet insightful summary of the principal influences on church music in the period, including philosophical and theological conceptions of the sacred arts (for example, the writings of François René Chateau - briand, Johann Michael Saliers, and E. T. A. Hoffmann); renewed interest in the historical inquiry, research, and publication of church music; the revival of church works of earlier periods in performance; and the use of earlier works as models and inspiration for new compositions. Hrncirik further summarizes the "organizational, pedagogical, socioeconomic, and liturgical aspects" (p. 29) of Bieder - meier church music. Moving on to aspects of musical style and performance, he concludes with a valuable summary of many of the essay's important ideas about the musical styles of church music in the Bieder - meier under the headings "Stylistic Aspects" (p. 34) and "Attempt at the Con - struction of a Compositional Vocabulary" (p. 37).
After Hrncirik's detailed introduction to and characterization of church music in the Biedermeier, the remainder of the volume presents case studies of Biedermeier musicians (Randhartinger, Joseph Eybler, Anton Diabelli, Carl Czerny, the Maschek family, and Tirolean church music composers), locales (the pilgrimage church Maria Taferl and Atzenbrugg/ Heiligeneich), and compositional approaches (operatic music parodied for the church and songs of pilgrimage in Lower Austria). The essays treat topics not only in Vienna and the surrounding area, but also in Tirol, Lower Austria, southern Germany, and the Czech Republic.
One example of the best of the research found in Kirchenmusik im Biedermeier is Christian Fastl's "Zu Joseph Eyblers Kirchenmusik," which provides an overview of Eybler's church compositions, probes their significance within compositional trends of the early nineteenth century, catalogues and characterizes Eybler's mass settings, and offers a detailed introduction to a single work, the Missa Sanctorum Apostolorum in E-flat major of 1825. …