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Musikblätter des Anbruch

(Vienna, 1919-1937)

Prepared by Ole Hass

Full text for the years 1919-1925 is available in the RIPM Retrospective Index with Full Text.

The Austrian journal Musikblätter des Anbruch [ANB], or from 1929 simply Anbruch, was published by the Universal-Edition in Vienna from November 1919 to December 1937. The journal contains the writings of many well-known European and foreign musical personalities, and was generally regarded by its readers as “the musical forum for contemporary music” in the 1920s and 1930s. At its inception, twenty numbers were published annually, however, in 1922, the twenty were consolidated into ten double issues. From 1923 on, only six to nine issues appeared annually, each containing one, two or three numbers.

Otto Schneider, the artistic director of the Neue Musikgesellschaft der Anbruch in Berlin is named as the journal’s first general editor, while Alfred Kalmus is listed as “verantwortlicher Schriftleiter” [responsible general editor] in the third issue (December 1919). This latter function was taken over by Paul Amadeus Pisk in October 1920 and then passed in January 1922 to Paul Stefan, who, in April 1922, became the journal’s new general editor until the journal’s demise.

Paul Amadeus Pisk (1893-1990), a student of Arnold Schoenberg and Franz Schreker and a co-founder of the International Society for Contemporary Music [ISCM] was, after Stefan, the journal’s most regular contributor. Paul Stefan (1879-1943) had been a music theory student of Schoenberg while studying law, philosophy and art history in Vienna. Also a co-founder of the ISCM, Stefan supported the society by reporting in ANB on the Society’s annual international music festivals and by discussing both the selection of the works performed and the quality of the performances. Stefan’s editorials for most issues of Anbruch deal with Vienna’s past and contemporary cultural life.

In a period of cultural and social readjustment after World War I, the ANB reported on the multitude of new experiments in music and became a voice for and of successive new generations of composers. Frequently treated in the early issues are the works of Gustav Mahler, Franz Schreker and Arnold Schoenberg. Of particular interest are the articles on Schoenberg’s compositional techniques, by the composer himself.

Among the many important contributors are Erwin Stein, Alban Berg, Theodor Adorno, Béla Bartók, Ferruccio Busoni, Hindemith, Krenek, Milhaud, Karol Rathaus, Kurt Weill and Egon Wellesz. Also of interest is the fact that many of the journal’s contributors were either students of Schoenberg (Berg, Pisk, Stefan, Stein, Wellesz), Schreker (Krenek, Pisk, Rathaus), or Berg (Adorno). Other regular contributors include Paul Becker, Rudolph Hoffmann, Rudolf Réti, Willi Reich and Hans Stuckenschmidt.

Special issues, devoted to single topics, treat a wide variety of subjects ranging from the the musical activities of the Soviet Union, jazz, and new dance movements, to music and the machine, singing and the state of modern opera. Some special issues are devoted to individual composers such as Mahler, Reznicek, Schoenberg and Schreker. The ANB regularly reports on technical developments, radio broadcasts (and the problems involved in broadcasting music) and new recordings. Also treated is the usefulness of technical resources for the appreciation of modern music and the education of the listener. For a while, the ANB had a section on Musikautomaten [music machines], in which new instruments and sound producing techniques were introduced and discussed.

Commentaries in the early thirties make reference to the rising influence of the National Socialist German Labor Party (NSDAP) on musical life. Pressure on the Universal-Edition eventually forced the journal to find a new publisher, the Vorwärts-Verlag. Thereafter, references to modern music disappear from the subtitle, which becomes Österreichische Zeitschrift für Musik [Austrian music journal], and the focus of the ANB switches to musicological research.