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Musikalisches Wochenblatt

Musikalisches Wochenblatt, weekly musical journal published in Leipzig, 1870–1906, to which Schenker contributed six articles.

The Journal and its Editors

The Musikalisches Wochenblatt began publication in January 1870 under the editorship of the music historian Oscar Paul. The paper, aimed—as its masthead declared—at both “Musicians and Enthusiasts” (für Tonkünstler und Musikfreunde), featured a diverse array of articles, from reviews of concerts and new books and scores to essays on aesthetic questions and biographical portraits. Its appearance thus represented a conspicuous challenge to Leipzig’s other musical weekly, the similar yet older and more widely read Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, with which it merged in October 1906, shortly after which its name disappeared from the masthead of the “united” (vereinigte) weekly.

Paul, who taught music history and theory at the University of Leipzig and piano at the Leipzig Conservatory, was most widely known for his Lehrbuch der Harmonik (1880) and five-volume translation of Boethius’s De Musica (1872). The range of essays published in the first issue of the Musikalisches Wochenblatt reflected Paul’s diversity of interests. In his own lead article, “Das musikalische Streben in der Gegenwart,” Paul argued that present-day musicians can acquire a clear sense of the proper course for future advances only if they simultaneously endeavor to understand the musical innovations of previous eras and generations. Paul’s essay was accompanied by Wilhelm Tappert’s analytical study of the folk tune “Aennchen von Tharau,” a translation of an anonymous 16th-century treatise on mensural notation, and the first installment of a serialized analytical review of Brahms’s German Requiem. Only three months after founding the Wochenblatt, Paul retired from the editor’s post, citing health concerns. He passed his duties on to Ernst Wilhelm Fritzsch, who would edit the journal for over three decades.

Fritzsch, a Leipzig publisher, entrepreneur, and amateur musician, did not contribute any essays to the Wochenblatt, but he did recruit some of the period’s most prominent writers on music to write for it. These included Friedrich von Hausegger, Theodor Helm, Hugo Riemann, Richard Wallaschek, and even Richard Wagner. At the time Fritzsch assumed Paul’s duties, his publishing house was producing the first edition of Wagner’s collected writings, and under his direction the Wochenblatt took on a decidedly Wagnerian tone. Several of Wagner’s essays made their first appearance in the paper, and, in the years immediately following the composer’s death in 1883, essays on Wagner, his writings, and his music came to dominate its pages.

Musikalisches Wochenblatt and Schenker

In October 1891, Fritzsch’s journal published Schenker’s debut critical essay: his analytical review of Brahms’s songs, Op. 107. Over the course of the next four years, Schenker would publish five more articles, among them his most ambitious to date, in Fritzsch’s paper. These included his serialized analytical review of Brahms’s choral pieces, Op. 104, which appeared on the front page of three consecutive issues in 1892, and his 1895 University of Vienna lecture, “Der Geist der musikalischen Technik,” which was subsequently reprinted, as a separate pamphlet, by Fritzsch’s firm. The Musikalisches Wochenblatt is the only specialist music journal to which Schenker contributed during this period.

One letter survives from Fritzsch to Schenker under the journal's letterhead: OJ 11/11 (1892).

Bibliography:

Hellmut Federhofer, Heinrich Schenker als Essayist und Kritiker … (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1990) [all six of Schenker's articles]

Heinrich Schenker, "The Spirit of Musical Technique," trans. W. Pastille, Theoria 3 (1988), 86–104; rev. edn. in N. Cook, The Schenker Project (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 319–32

Rast, Nicholas, "A Checklist of Essays and Reviews by Heinrich Schenker, Music Analysis 7/2 (July 1988), 121–3

Sources:

“An unsere Leser!” Musikalisches Wochenblatt/Neue Zeitschrift für Musik: Vereinigte Leipziger musikalische Wochenschriften (4 October 1906), 1

Christa and Peter Jost, Richard Wagner und sein Verleger Ernst Wilhelm Fritzsch (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1997)

Oscar Paul, “Das musikalische Streben in der Gegenwart,” Musikalisches Wochenblatt 1/1 (1870), 1–3

Hugo Riemann, Musik-Lexikon, 4th ed. (Leipzig: Max Hesse, 1894), 796

Author: Kevin Karnes

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