Berlinische Musikalische Zeitung

(Berlin, 1805-1806)
Complete Introduction : German | English

Prepared by Martina Lang
1 volume (1990)

Although the Berlinische Musikalische Zeitung [BMZ] ran for only eighteen months, it occupies a secure position in musical history as Berlin’s first important music journal, and as the product of a distinguished composer and critic, Johann Friedrich Reichardt. In the BMZ’s first issue, Reichardt described his concept of the role and function of criticism and stated his intention to create a journal that would provide “fairness for artists” and “instruction for friends of music.” Reichardt also wished to devote “attention to the historical and theoretical-practical aspects of music.” The journal fulfilled these goals by offering a mixture of forthright reviews of musical performances, and broader, more theoretical discussions of music and musical life.

Reichardt appears to have edited the journal, although several contributors may have assisted him with editorial responsibilities. The BMZ reflects Reichardt’s high level of erudition, his receptiveness to new developments in music, and his keen powers of observation. In his contributions he championed the music of Mozart, Haydn, and Gluck, and encouraged the development of a German national style, especially in operatic and song composition.

Reichardt gathered a relatively small group of like-minded scholars and musicians to serve as regular contributors. Georg Christian Schlimbach, who offered the greatest number of items, was a cantor and organist. Schlimbach wrote extensively on church music, Luther’s musical contribution, the role of instrumental music and instrumentalists in the church, the Così fan tutte libretto, the Berlin organist and teacher Abbé Vogler, and the technique of organ playing. The theologian Karl Gottlob Horstig wrote on German folk song, while Johann Friedrich Werneburg, a professor of mathematics and philosophy at the University of Göttingen contributed a series of articles on the role and philosophy of music criticism. Achim von Arnim, presented his view of folk music in an 1805 series immediately before publishing Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Jacob Salomon Bartholdy, an uncle of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, contributed an article on Silesian folk music. Christian Friedrich Michaelis, professor of metaphysics and aesthetics at the University of Leipzig, and one of the first authors to apply Kant’s aesthetics to music, expressed his ideas in articles on the beautiful and the sublime in music.

Many issues contain reviews of published music in which piano and vocal music predominate. Reviews of musical performances treat not only local events in Berlin but also those in Germany and Austria— Hamburg, Leipzig and Vienna in particular— Italy, France and England.