Prepared by James Deaville
The Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung [AWZ] was published in Vienna and edited by violinist and conductor August Schmidt from its inception until 1847, and in its final year by Ferdinand Luib. Published three times weekly during its eight-year run, the journal was Vienna’s sole periodical devoted exclusively to music. Schmidt’s self-avowed goal in establishing the AWZ was to create a journal “to represent the interests of music and musicians in Vienna.”
As editor of the AWZ, Schmidt attracted important critics as collaborators, including Eduard Hanslick and Alfred Julius Becher. Wagner knew and appreciated Hanslick’s extended analysis of Tannhäuser, which appeared serially in eleven issues in 1846. Becher, a composer and writer, was an exceptionally prolific contributor; his reviews and articles appear in no less than ninety-eight issues of the journal. The scope of Becher’s writings is extensive covering choral music, music festivals, concerts of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and the Concerts Spirituels, newly-invented musical instruments, performances by many artists active before mid-century including pianists Anton Rubinstein, Sophie Bohrer, Theodore Döhler and Theresa Wartel; violinists Antonio Bazzini and Henri Vieuxtemps; the violoncellist Servais; harpists Parish-Alvars and Bochsa; and the singer Anna Bishop. In 1842 Becher contributed, in serial form, a detailed analysis of Rossini’s Stabat mater, and in 1846 a study of Berlioz.
The rich concert life of Vienna occupies a prominent place in each issue demonstrating the great variety of concert offerings in the 1840s. Choral music was performed at the meetings of musical associations such as the Singakademie, at concerts sponsored by musical and artistic societies, and in churches. A number of now little-known oratorios and some more enduring examples of the genre were performed at these gatherings including Franz Hözl’s Noah, Schneider’s Das Weltgericht, Assmayr’s Sauls Tod, Ferdinand Hiller’s Der Zerstörung von Jerusalem, Mendelssohn’s Paulus, Spohr’s Des Heilands letzte Stunden, and A. B. Marx’s Oratorium aus der heiligen Schrift. Chamber music was widely practiced, and, in addition to concerts in Vienna, the journal reported extensively on chamber music concerts in Prague, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Leipzig. Of particular interest in Vienna are the quartet soirées given from 1845 through 1848 and held in the hall of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde under the direction of violinist Leopold Jansa.
The important contemporary movement toward the development of independent orchestras, and, consequently, the establishment of philharmonic societies and concert series is demonstrated through reports and reviews from a number of European centers. The activities of the intrepid concert-giver Franz Liszt also receive ample attention.
The popularity of German, Italian and French operas (and dramas) in the Austrian capital is revealed through reviews of productions at the Imperial Operahouse (Hofoperntheater), the Theater an der Wien, the Josephstadt and Leopoldstadt theaters. Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix, La Figlia del reggimento, Don Pasquale and Maria di Rudenz, and Verdi’s Nabucodonosor performed by leading artists of the international Italian operatic stage— Marietta Alboni, Giorgio Ronconi, Nicola Ivanoff, Eugenia Tadolini, Pauline Viardot-García— are among the many popular foreign operas discussed. German operas by Mozart, Weber, Lortzing, Marschner, Meyerbeer and Nicolai performed in Vienna and in other German cities also receive attention as do those performing them (Maria van Hasselt-Barth, Jenny Lutzer, Draxler, Joseph Erl, Mme Palm-Spatzer, Joseph Staudigl, Clara Stöckl-Heinefetter, etc.). Interest in the history of music is reflected in reviews of Kiesewetter’s life of Guido of Arezzo and his study of Petrucci, as well as in Kaltenbrunner’s work on Austrian lieder. Theoretical topics are treated in reviews of Simon Sechter’s study of thoroughbass and A. B. Marx’s Allgemeine Musiklehre, Lehre der musikalischen Composition, and analysis of his Compositionlehre.