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Musikalische Real-Zeitung

(Speier [Speyer], 1788-1790)

Prepared by Alexander Staub
Online only (2022)

The weekly Musikalische Real-Zeitung [RIPM code MRZ], published in Speyer by Heinrich Philipp Boßler and Johann Friedrich Christmann, appeared from 2 July 1788 to 30 June 1790. A “Probeblatt” (sample issue), appeared on 5 March 1788, numbered as “1tes Stük” (first issue), together with a flyer “Ankündigung eines periodischen Blatts für Liebhaber der Tonkunst und Tonwissenschaft” (“Announcement of a periodical for friends of the musical art and scholarship”). Its purpose was to present a sample of a weekly periodical, the Musikalische Real-Zeitung, to potential readers. Thereafter, Musikalische Real-Zeitung appeared on a regular weekly basis. There was some confusion with the dating of issues between nos. 43 and 47 (28 October and 25 November): nos. 43 and 44 appeared under the same date (28 October), nos. 45 and 46 likely followed under incorrect datings (4 and 11 November), but between nos. 46 and 47 (11 and 25 November) the correct dating was reestablished. In no. 33 (19 August) readers were notified that the paper’s commission for the Habsburg patrimonial territories (Austria) had been taken over by Franz Anton Hoffmeister in Vienna.

Each number comprises two quarto half-sheets printed in two column format, containing contributions on musical topics: reviews, historical essays, original treatises and articles taken from other periodicals, queries, miscellanea, and advertisements for newly published music prints. This was accompanied by a music supplement, Musikalische Anthologie für Kenner und Liebhaber. Der musikalischen Realzeitung praktischer Theil (Musical Anthology for Connoisseurs and Amateurs. The Practical Part of the Musikalische Realzeitung). The supplement provided popular editions of individual pieces or excerpts from larger compositions (some of them by budding composers or amateurs), as well as examples illustrating the material discussed in the treatises. There were, for example, pieces for piano by Joseph Haydn, arias and songs by W. A. Mozart, C. P. E. Bach, F. S. A. Böcklin von Böcklinsau, G. P. Weimar and A. Salieri, and pieces for organ by J. C. Kellner and J. H. Knecht.

The most frequent contributor was Johann Friedrich Christmann, who most often signed his texts as “Zx.” Other significant contributors were the theologian and organist Karl Ludwig Junker, the Heilbronn organist Johann Wilhelm Keßler, the Biberach music director Justin Heinrich Knecht, Joseph Aloys Schmittbaur from Karlsruhe, the Heilbronn physician and composer Friedrich August Weber and the Erfurt cantor and composer Georg Peter Weimar.

The layout of the Musikalische Real-Zeitung remained largely unchanged throughout the time it appeared in print. The semi-annual volume July – December 1788 comprised well-grounded reports on music life in various cities, “Kritische Briefe” [critical letters] regarding Abbé Vogler’s tone system, and, spread over several issues, “Anmerkungen über die Violin und das Violinspielen” [remarks on the violin and violin playing], communications on Russian music, and finally reviews of new compositions and literary writings. From April 1789, the paper was enlarged by a “Versuch eines ephemerischen Almanachs” [attempt at an ephemeral almanac] which listed—at first on a monthly and later on a weekly basis—the calendar dates of musical events. In the semi-annual volume of 1790, the “Ephemeriden” (Ephemerides) were discontinued at the end of March (no. 14) and replaced by a “Catalogue raisonné” containing brief assessments of new compositions (from no. 15). Reports on the statutes of the Papal Chapel and the state of music in the Hohenlohe territories were spread over several issues. Finally, it was announced that from July of that year the Real-Zeitung would be published in a new layout, implying that the periodical was merged with the Musikalische Korrespondenz der teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft [Musical Correspondence of the German Philharmonic Society].

The Musikalische Real-Zeitung is considered the leading periodical of its time, dealing with the musical life in Germany. It is characterized by its objective treatment of numerous contemporary events, precise biographical and bibliographical information and a large number of critical reviews of musical works, some of which are documented only in this anthology.