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Musikalische Korrespondenz der teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft

(Speyer, 1790-1792)

Prepared by Alexander Staub
Online only (2022)

The weekly journal Musikalische Korrespondenz der teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft [MKF] appeared from 7 July 1790 to 26 December 1792 as the continuation of the Musikalische Real-Zeitung [MRZ], which was discontinued after the appearance of issue no. 26 on 30 June 1790. The periodical was published by Heinrich Philipp Boßler and Johann Friedrich Christmann initially in Speyer; in the summer of 1792 (no. 30, 25 July 1792) a relocation of the publishing house to Darmstadt was announced. The collaboration with the Vienna-based publishing house of Franz Anton Hoffmeister regarding sales and distribution ended with the first issue.

Each issue comprises two half-sheets in quarto format printed in two columns. Despite the altered title the program of the periodical remained largely the same, its intent being to provide amateurs and professional musicians with significant information on musical topics. Concerning its contents, the journal focused on contributions on literature and musical history (reviews, treatises, advertisements for newly published music, and anecdotes), and news and reports from other cities and other countries (inventions, instrument making, queries, biographical notes, and issues of cultural history). A music supplement was included, titled “Notenblätter zur musikalischen Korrespondenz der teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft.” Like the “Anthologie” published in the preceding Musikalische Real-Zeitung, this supplement provided examples illustrating the material discussed in the treatises as well as excerpts of newly announced compositions, including those by budding composers and amateurs, and special editions of successful music editions. Issue no. 10 (8 July 1790) contained the announcement that henceforward the compositions provided in the music supplements would undergo critical revision according to the strict principles of Georg Joseph Vogler’s harmonic system. Among the complete prints we find, for example, keyboard pieces by J. Haydn and J. F. Christmann, arias and songs by W. A. Mozart, C. P. E. Bach, F. S. A. Böcklin von Böcklinsau, J. F. Christmann, G. P. Weimar and D. A. v. Appel (Capelli) as well as pieces for organ by J. C. Kellner, C. L. Juncker and J. H. Knecht.

Apart from the pastor, writer and composer Johann Friedrich Christmann the main contributors to the journal were the composer and encyclopedist Ernst Ludwig Gerber, the Biberach music director Justin Heinrich Knecht, the Heilbronn physician and composer Friedrich August Weber, the composer and organist Georg Joseph Vogler, the theologian and organist Carl Ludwig Juncker, and the mayor of Heilbronn Christian Ludwig Schübler.

The format of the Musikalische Korrespondenz is very similar to that of the preceding Musikalische Real-Zeitung, and it remained more or less unaltered during the time it appeared in print. The mid-year issue of 1790 opened with an enlightened vision by Boßler and Christmann: The appended “Plan und Einladung zur teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft” [Proposition and invitation for a German Philharmonic Society] contained the concept for the founding of a public society for lovers of music history and music to be established in January, 1791, under the name “Teutsche Filarmonische Gesellschaft”. Its goal was the dissemination of musical treatises and practical music by means of a lending library. Disappointed by the lack of response to the “Musischen Vereinigung” [Music association], in no. 20 (17 November 1790) Boßler announced the prolongation of the subscription to the library’s catalogue until Easter 1791 so that the necessary number of 200 subscribers might still be achieved. Neither the catalog nor the society were realized.

The Musikalische Korrespondenz contained well-informed reports on the situation of music making in various cities, on innovations in instrument making, including details on organ dispositions, and follow-ups to articles begun in the Musikalische Real-Zeitung, for example the “Kritische Briefe an einen jungen Tonsezer” [Critical letters to a young composer, parts 3–6] about Vogler’s tonal system, or the “Sazungen der päbstlichen Kapelle” [Statutes of the papal chapel]. A “Versuch einer kurzen Geschichte der Musik” [Attempt at a brief history of music], six “Belehrende Briefe” [Instructive letters] by Justin Heinrich Knecht, the essay “Von einigen neuern französischen Theaterstüken mit Musik” [On several recent French theatre plays set to music], the “Nachricht von der Fürstl. Schwarzenburg-Rudolstädtischen Hofkapelle und den daselbst gewöhnlichen Musiken” [News on the Prince of Schwarzenburg-Rudolstadt’s court chapel and its repertoire], and “Hrn. Abt Voglers ästhetische-kritische Zergliederung des wesentlich vierstimmigen Singsazes des von Hrn. Musikdirektor Knecht in Musik gesezten ersten Psalms” [Abbé Vogler’s aesthetic-critical analysis of the mostly four-part vocal setting of the first psalm composed by music director Knecht] appeared spread across several issues, which also contained critical reviews of compositions and literary works as well as anecdotes, biographical essays and excerpts from letters.

The “Catalogue raisonné” that briefly listed new compositions was continued as well. Considerable space was required for detailed review essays of new publications on music, see for example the contributions “Evangelischer Kirchengesang. Aus des Herrn v. Stetten Kunstgeschichte in Beziehung auf Augsburg” [Protestant Church Music. From Mr. von Stetten’s history of art specifically in the city of Augsburg], on Burney’s “A general history of music,” “Von der Orchestik oder Tanzkunst der Griechen aus Potters gr. Archäologie” [On the art of orchestral and dance music practiced by the Greek from Potter’s Greek archeology], and “Ueber eine interessante Stelle von Leibniz zur Theorie der Musik gehörig” [On an interesting passage in Leibniz regarding the theory of music]. In the coverage of individual musicians, the blind glass harmonica player Marianne Kirchgeßner was given a prominent position, for from 1791 Boßler accompanied her for many months on her concert tours across Europe as a paternal confidant and impresario.

Like the Musikalische Real-Zeitung before it, the Musikalische Korrespondenz may be considered the leading periodical on music in Germany at the time. It captivates by its objective treatment of numerous current events, precise biographical and bibliographical information and numerous critical reviews of works (some of which are only documented in the accompanying editions). The journal’s decline was strongly influenced by the uncertainties of the First Coalition War: The escape from Speyer and resettling of Boßler and his publishing house in Darmstadt, interruption of the postal routes, interrupted paper supplies.

Instead of the accompanying music edition, the last issue of the Musikalische Korrespondenz der teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft contained a portrait of the Kassel organist Johann Christoph Kellner (engraved by Friedrich Jakob Boßler), together with the notification: “Die Fortsezung dieser Blätter wird nun auf bessere Zeiten verschoben, und indessen unsern geehrten Mitarbeitern und Beförderern unsers zu Verbreitung nüzlicher Kenntnisse abzwekenden Unternehmens der verbindlichste Dank gesagt von den Herausgebern“ [The continuation of this journal will have to be postponed until better times: meanwhile the publishers of this enterprise for the dissemination of useful knowledge wish to express their deep gratitude to the venerated contributors and supporters].

This RIPM Index was prepared from a copy of the journal held by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München.