Prepared by Diana Snigurowicz
Published in Vienna initially as a monthly entitled Monatschrift für Theater und Musik, the journal became a weekly in 1859. At that time its name changed to Recensionen und Mittheilungen über Theater und Musik. Josef Klemm, owner of the Wallihauser publishing house in Vienna, founded the journal; however, he is not identified as a contributor and the editor is not named.
During its first period the Monatschrift contained extensive surveys of the repertory performed and the artists who appeared in Vienna’s major theatres—the Burgtheater, the Kärntnerthortheater—and the smaller houses including the Theater in der Josephstadt, the Karltheater and the Theater an der Wien. A significant feature of the journal is the wealth of biographical information it contains about many of the major artists of the day. For example, in addition to the possibility of following the career of a given singer, the journal’s reports offer detailed information about the roles performed, debuts and individual stylistic characteristics. Equally noteworthy is the attention given to the history of theatres not only in Vienna but also abroad.
Music of the earlier periods is also featured. Many concerts in the city’s churches—featuring the sacred and secular works of Bach, Handel, Haydn and other eighteenth-century composers, as well as mass and motet settings by Palestrina—are discussed in the review columns. In a series of articles, Karl van Bruyck’s deals extensively with Bach and the first publications of the Bach-Gesellschaft. In addition to reviews of performances of music by Handel and Haydn, attention is given to the Handel-Gesellschaft, the Handel-Fest and the Haydn-Gesellschaft. Performances of lieder cycles by Schubert and Schumann are discussed in the concert reviews. The Viennese reception of internationally acclaimed singers including Adelina and Carlotta Patti, Theodor and Karl Formes, Rosa Csillag, and Gabrielle Krauss, and native singers such as Louise Dustmann, Dr. Gunz, Alois Ander, and Caroline Bettelheim forms a major part of the opera reviews. The Vienna Philharmonic concerts and the string quartet concerts of Hellmesberger are regularly reported on in the Monatschrift. The study of music theory in various treatises dealing with harmonielehre, counterpoint and instrumentation is the subject of many reviews.
Several well-know Austrian and German music critics contributed to the Monatschrift: Selmar Bagge, the editor of the Deutsche Musik-Zeitung and the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung wrote on the history of music and church music and provided a detailed critical examination of Moritz Hauptmann’s Die Natur der Harmonik und Metrik; Debrois van Bruyck discussed music and the performance practice of Beethoven’s piano sonatas; Otto Gumprecht addressed the state of music in Berlin; Ludwig Nohl provided biographies; and Martin Gustav Nottebohn, a history of keyboard music.