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Kastner's Wiener Musikalische Zeitung

(Vienna, 1885-1888)

Prepared by Ole Hass
Online only (2013)

The Viennese journal Kastner’s Wiener musikalische Zeitung (KWM) [Kastner’s Viennese musical journal] appeared from 15 September 1885 until 20 February 1888. After a preliminary indication of weekly publication, the journal was announced to appear every eight days. The volumes are divided into “Bände” (half-volumes). With “Band” IV (second half-volume of volume 2), the supplement Musikalische Chronik [Musical chronicle] is introduced. With “Band” V (beginning of volume 3), the journal now appears twice monthly, and is given the name of the aforementioned supplement, and a new supplement, a biographical dictionary entitled Moniteur Musical, is introduced. Only nine issues of “Band” V (or volume 3) appeared, and the Moniteur Musical biographical dictionary was not published beyond the letters A and B.

The journal’s editor, Emerich Kastner, served in 1872 and 1873 as assistant to Richard Wagner, and was a dedicated admirer of the composer. His efforts to publish works on and by Wagner include Kastner’s earlier journal entitled Parsifal, and culminated with his attempt to publish a complete edition of Wagner’s letters in 1914, which remained of importance until the publication of Wagner’s complete letters (Leipzig 1967 and 1970). The journal clearly reflects the editor’s attempts to further the acceptance and appreciation of Wagner’s works and other composers of the “Neudeutsche Schule” [New German School], particularly works by Berlioz and Liszt.

Articles in KWM include the publication of many letters by Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner, but also letters of Beethoven, introduced by Theodor Frimmel. Important and frequent contributors include Arthur Seidl, writing from Leipzig, Jacob van Santen-Kolff and Wilhelm Tappert (with a special column entitled “Wagneriana”) both writing from Berlin, and Hermann Eichborn writing from Breslau.

The journal features many reviews of performances of Wagner’s works in Berlin, Vienna, Dresden, Munich, Leipzig and other German-speaking cities, as well as from the Bayreuth Bühnenfestspiele [Bayreuth stage festival] in 1886, criticizing, for the most part, the singers and their interpretations of their roles, cuts taken in the scores, and questions concerning staging and stage decoration. The first performance of Lohengrin in Paris, at the Eden-Théâtre under the direction of Charles Lamoureux in 1887, was highly anticipated, and much polemic was printed after the performances were canceled following the first performance owing to anti-German demonstrations outside the Parisian theater. Reviews of new works include Carl Goldmark’s opera Merlin, symphonic poems by Paul Geisler, and early orchestral pieces by Richard Strauss (at the time newly appointed third conductor of the Munich court opera). Gustav Mahler’s work as opera conductor in Prague and Leipzig is commented upon. While the language in the journal towards criticism of Wagner’s works is sometimes harsh, the works of Brahms are treated with respect, and the work of violinist Joseph Joachim and his string quartet is openly admired. The center of scorn comes down on what is considered populist opera programming at most opera houses, with the many repetitions of Victor Nessler’s opera Der Trompeter von Säkkingen [The Trumpeter of Sakkingen]. In Vienna, the heated dispute between the followers of Wagner and followers of Brahms took place in the daily press, and was dominated by critics Eduard Hanslick and Ludwig Speidel. On the occasion of first Vienna performances of Brahms’ Symphony no. 4 and of Bruckner’s Symphony no. 7, Kastner quotes extensively from contradictory reviews by Hanslick, Speidel, Theodor Helm, Max Kalbeck and Gustav Dömpke.