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Focusing Attention: Special Issues in German-Language Music Periodicals of the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020


An important feature of German-language general music periodicals during the first half of the twentieth century is the frequency with which the editors made use of special issues, most often called Sonderhefte. Such special issues served to focus the readers' attention by devoting most, if not all, of the article section of an issue to a specific composer or topic. An editor might have decided to publish a special issue for the following reasons: (i) to commemorate the anniversary of the birth or death of a major figure; (ii) to provide intensive coverage of an important topic or new field of interest; (iii) to survey musical life in a given area or country; or (iv) to introduce a group of young composers whose works were to be presented as part of a festival of contemporary music. In addition to these types of special issues, some journals offered, once a year, a Carnival issue consisting of humouristic or satirical texts.

Copyright © Royal Musical Association, 1994

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1 It should be recalled here that the first music periodical, Critica musica, was founded in 1722 by the German composer, music theorist and lexicographer Johann Mattheson (1681–1764).Google Scholar

2 As will be seen later, Die Musik became Musik im Kriege in 1943 following amalgamation with three other journals.Google Scholar

3 [Bernhard Schuster], ‘An unsere Leser’, Die Musik, 25, no. 1 (October 1932), 14.Google Scholar

4 See, for example, ‘Sonderhefte der Musik’, Die Musik, 13, no. 14 (1914).Google Scholar

5 Sonderhefte der Musik’, Die Musik, 23, no. 9 (1933). This advertisement may have been published earlier, but was found only in the June issue in the copies and microfilms consulted.Google Scholar

6 The Neue Zeitschrift für Musik might even claim to have been the first journal to introduce special issues, since the article sections of its June and October 1901 issues, without actually being called special issues as such by the editors, are completely devoted to Robert Schumann and Albert Lortzing.Google Scholar

7 It should be added that the Allgemeine Musikzeitung had been publishing annotations for the festivals of the Tonkünstlerfeste of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein since 1899, three years before Die Musik.Google Scholar

8 Das reiche Musikleben Groβdeutschlands’, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 106, no. 3 (1932), 352.Google Scholar

9 Two journals, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik and Der Merker, are available as reprints.Google Scholar

10 It should be kept in mind, however, that this article, being primarily bibliographical in nature, focuses more on the topics considered worthy of emphasis through special issues rather than on the manner in which the topics were treated.Google Scholar

11 The issue of polemics in that period is discussed in detail in Helmut Kirchmeyer, ‘Kritik und Polemik: Dokumente zur Zeitgeschichte’, Igor Strawinsky: Zeitgeschichte im Persönlichkeitsbild—Grundlagen und Voraussetzungen zur modernen Konstruktionstechnik (Regensburg, 1958), 277–460. Another interesting study, focusing on the critical reaction to new music and on conservative criticism, is Brian Irwin Chemey, ‘The Bekker-Pfitzner Controversy (1919–1920): its Significance for German Music Criticism during the Weimar Republic (1919–1932)‘ (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1973). It should be noted that polemics are a characteristic of the German press, but not of Austrian periodicals.Google Scholar

12 Another journal not devoted not the propagation of modem music, the Signale für die musikalische Welt (1843–1941), published in Berlin and Leipzig, could not be studied for the purposes of this article. Only its activity in the nineteenth century has so far been covered; see Vogler, Rudolf, Die Musikzeitschrift ‘Signale für die musikalische Welt’, 1843–1900, Kölner Beiträge zur Musikforschung, 81 (Regensburg, 1975).Google Scholar

13 Chemey, “The Bekker-Pfitzner Controversy', 3.Google Scholar

14 Concerning the ISCM, see Haefeli, Toni, Die Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (IGNM): ihre Geschichte von 1922 bis zur Gegenwart (Zurich, 1982).Google Scholar

15 Kirchmeyer, Igor Strawinsky, 321.Google Scholar

16 All three contributed frequently to the Zeitschrift für Musik. Heuβ (1877–1934) was the editor of that journal from 1920 until his death in 1934. Stege (b. 1986) was the editor of the Amtliche Mitteilungsblatt der Reichsmusikkammer and the music critic of the Völkischer Beobachter, the official newspaper of the Nazi party; he was also the journal's editor for the northern part of Germany, linger (1866–1958), who was also a composer, entered the Nazi party in 1931 and became Leiter of the Fachgruppe Musik im NS-Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur; he also served as the journal's editor for the western part of the country. A useful anthology of writings about music by a large selection of now mostly forgotten writers is Joseph Wulf, Musik im Dritten Reich: eine Dokumentation (Gütersloh, 1963; repr. Frankfurt, 1983).Google Scholar

17 For a discussion of musicology (as opposed to music criticism) in the Third Reich, see Meyer, Michael, ‘Musicology in the Third Reich: a Gap in Historical Studies’, European Studies Review, 8 (1978), 349–64. Some writers, like the Liszt scholar Peter Raabe (1872–1945) and the Wagner specialist Alfred Lorenz (1868–1939), succumbed to Nazi ideology. On the other hand, there were musicologists who published in journals run by, or sympathetic to, the Nazis, yet managed to avoid the kind of writing about Jewish composers that characterized the leaders of Nazi musicology. This was the case of Karl Gustav Fellerer (1902–84), a frequent contributor to Die Musik during its last years. Another example is the distinguished editor of Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Friedrich Blume (1893–1975), who wrote ‘Musik und Rasse: Grundfragen einer musikalischen Rassenforschung’, Die Musik, 30, no. 11 (1938), 736–48. Despite the topic, there is not a single reference to the word ‘Jew’ in the 24 columns of the article. Blume also edited the series Schriften zur musikalischen Volks- und Rassenkunde, in which he published his own Das Rasseproblem in der Musik: Entwurfzu einer Methodologie musikwissenschaftlicher Rasseforschung (Wolfenbuttel, 1939).Google Scholar

18 About the periodical's history, see Alfred Heuβ, ‘Augenblicksaufnahmen der ZFM aus ihren drei letzten Jahrzehnten’, Zeitschrift für Musik, 100, no. 1 (1933), 30–3; Georg Kinsky, ‘Zur Geschichte der Gründung der Neuen Zeitschrift für Musik’, Zeitschrift für Musik, 87 (1 March 1920), 1–5; Michael Stegemann, ‘NZ: aus der Biographie einer Zeitschrift’, NZ Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 145, no. 4 (1984), 48.Google Scholar

19 The Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein was founded in 1863 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. It programmed new works as well as rarely heard older works in its festivals (Tonkünstlerfeste), which were held yearly in a different city between 1861 and 1937. In 1938, the ADMV was dissolved and its Tonkünstlerfeste were replaced by the Reichsmusiktage. On the still virtually undocumented history of this important society, see Seidl, Arthur, Festschrift zum fünfzigjährigen Bestehen des Allgemeinen Deutschen Musikvereins (Berlin, 1911), and Hans Rutz, Festschrift zum 75jährigen Bestehen des Allgemeinen Deutschen Musikvereins (Weimar, 1936).Google Scholar

20 ‘An unsere Leser!‘, Musikalisches Wochenblatt/Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 73, no. 40 (1906), 735.Google Scholar

21 For a fascinating study of the journal's conservative stance, see Sachs, Joel, ‘Some Aspects of Musical Politics in Pre-War Germany’, Perspectives of New Music, 9, no. 1 (1970), 7495.Google Scholar

22 Sachs, ‘Musical Politics’, 87–8.Google Scholar

23 Die Musik—Zeitschrift für Musik und anderes’, Zeitschrift für Musik, 100, no. 12(1933), 1274.Google Scholar

24 The word ‘steady’ ('stete') was added before ‘spiritual renewal'.Google Scholar

25 There is as yet no study of the Allgemeine Musikzeitung—which, to be strictly accurate, was called Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung from 1882 to 1924 and Allgemeine Musikzeitung from 1925 to 1943.Google Scholar

26 During the nineteenth century Breitkopf & Härtel had published a journal entitled Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1798–1848, 1863–5 and 1869–82), which is an important documentary source for musical life during that period.Google Scholar

27 Quoted in Hellmuth von Hase, ‘Allgemeine Musikzeitung’, Breitkopf & Härtel: Gedenkschrift und Arbeitsbericht (Leipzig, 1917–19; Wiesbaden, 1968), iii, 73; this statement appeared in vol. 61, no. 14 (1934). Hardly any other documentation about the Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung is available.Google Scholar

28 Altmann, one of the most prolific music writers in the German-speaking world, had so many compilations and articles to publish that ideological tendencies must not have mattered much to him.Google Scholar

29 See, for example, Adolf Diesterweg, ‘Vom Musikalisch-Hysterischen’, 47 (1920), 539; Diesterweg, ‘Futuristen-Dämmerung’, 49 (1922), 375; Gustav Ernest, ‘Noch einige Worte zum Thema “Spieltalent und Rasse'”, 50 (1923), 4; Hans Joachim Moser, ‘Atonale Geschichtsklitterung', 50 (1923), 623; Klaus Pringsheim, ‘Aus Strawinskijs Falschmünzerwerkstatt’, 51 (1924), 939.Google Scholar

30 Allgemeine Musikzeitung, 65, no. 15 (1938).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

31 There is as yet no study of the Neue Musik-Zeitung.Google Scholar

32 An unsere Leser und Freunde’, Neue Musik-Zeitung, 30, no. 23 (1909), 485.Google Scholar

33 Willibald Nagel (1863–1929), who edited the Neue Musik-Zeitung from 1916 to 1922, wrote a particularly aggressive article (in two instalments) on the occasion of the second edition (1916) of Busoni's Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst (orig. edn., 1907): ‘Ferruccio Busoni als Aesthetiker’, Neue Musik-Zeitung, 38, no. 15 (1917), 239–40; no. 16 (1917), 253–4. Nagel warns that the booklet is likely ‘to confuse even more the present-day aesthetic notions, which are already profusely obscure’ (‘die sowieso schon überreichlich unklaren ästhetischen Begriffe der Gegenwart noch weiter zu verwirren’, p. 239); later on, he describes it as a ‘silly monstrosity’ (‘törichte Ungeheuerlichkeit’, p. 254).Google Scholar

34 The history of this periodical is dealt with in detail in my Ph.D. dissertation entitled ‘Die Musik (1901–44): la transformation d'un périodique a travers trois périodes de l'histoire allemande’ (University of Toronto, 1988), and in my article ‘Le périodique Die Musik (1901–1944) et sa transformation à travers trois périodes de l'histoire allemande’, Revue de musicologie, 72 (1992), 109–44.Google Scholar

35 An die Leser und Mitarbeiter’, Die Musik, 29, no. 1 (1936), 80. This official communication concluded with ‘Heil Hitler!‘ It should be pointed out that it is one of only two such occurrences in the Nazi history of the journal.Google Scholar

36 Lexikon der Juden in der Musik, mit einem Titelverzeichnis jüdischer Werke. Zusammengestellt im Auftrag der Reichsleitung der NSDAP. auf Grund behördlicher, parteiamtlich geprüfter Unterlagen, ed. Theo Stengel and Herbert Gerigk, Veröffenflichungen des Instituts der NSDAP. zur Erforschung der Judenfrage, 2 (Berlin, 1940; 2nd edn., 1943).Google Scholar

37 The ‘Office for the Cultivation of Art Associated with the Supervisor for the Total Spiritual and Ideological Training of the NSDAP’ [German National-Socialist Party of Workers] was headed by Alfred Rosenberg (1883–1946), the chief ideologue of the party.Google Scholar

38 'Unter den Augen des Marines, der dem Führer die Reinerhaltung des nationalsozialistischen Ideengutes zu gewährleisten hat, arbeiten zu dürfen, ist uns auch künftig höchste Verpflichtung!’ Herbert Gerick, ‘Alfred Rosenberg', Die Musik, 35, no. 4 (1943), 104.Google Scholar

39 For a short account of the journal's history and contents, see Renate Federhofer-Königs, ‘Der Merker (1909–1922): ein Spiegel österreichischen Musiklebens’, Ars musica, musica scientia: Festschrift Heinrich Hüschen zum fünfundsechzigsten Geburtstag am 2. März. 1980, überreicht von Freunden, Kollegen und Schülern, ed. Detlef Altenburg (Cologne, 1980), 118–27.Google Scholar

40 Der Merker, 1 (1909/10), 2.Google Scholar

41 Theodor Haas, ‘Die Wiener Musikzeitschriften: eine kurzgefaβte Geschichte des Wiener musikalischen Journalismus von seinen Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart’, Der Merker, 10, no. 20 (1919), 671–6; no. 21 (1919), 699–702; no. 22 (1919), 733–5.Google Scholar

42 For a brief account of the journal's history, see Irmelin Bürgers, ‘Das Modell einer Musikzeitschrift: vor fünfzig Jahren erlosch der Anbruch’, NZ Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 149, no. 6 (1988), 74–5. See also Manfred Wagner, ‘Alban Berg und die Musikblätter des Anbruch’, Alban Berg Symposion Wien 1980: Tagunsbericht, ed. Rudolf Klein, Alban Berg Studien (Vienna, 1981), ii, 216–23.Google Scholar

43 Berg's activities as a music journalist are documented in Rosemary Hilmar, ‘Bergs musikschriftstellerische Tatigkeit in den Jahren 1918 bis 1925‘, Alban Berg: Leben und Wirken in Wien biz zu seinen ersten Erfolgen als Komponist, Wiener Musikwissenschaftliche Beiträge, 10 (Vienna, Cologne and Graz, 1978), 152–61.Google Scholar

44 For a list of names of 414 musicians and 119 musicologists who left Germany and Austria following the advent of the Nazi régime, see Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration nach 1933, ed. Werner Röder and Herbert A. Strauss (Munich, 1980–3), iii, 193–6.Google Scholar

45 There seems to be no study of the history of Der Auftakt.Google Scholar

46 Hans Mersmann, ‘Zehn Jahre Melos’, Melos, 9, no. 2 (1930), 58.Google Scholar

47 Concerning the history of Melos, see Laaff, Ernst, ‘Das neue Melos’, Melos, 35, no. 5 (1960), 178–80; Laaff, ‘Zehn Jahre Wiederaufbau der Zeitschriften im Schott-Verlag’, Festschrift für einen Verleger: Ludwig Strecker zum 90. Geburtstag, ed. Carl Dahlhaus (Mainz, 1973), 283–6; Hans Oesch, ‘Das Melos und die Neue Musik’, ibid., 287–94; Heinrich Strobel, ‘50 Jahre Melos’, Melos, 37, no. 6 (1970), 221–3.Google Scholar

48 Category 2, devoted to groups of composers, will not be discussed here since it does not lead to different conclusions.Google Scholar

49 The issues of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, at least at that time, consisted of a rather limited number of pages whereas Die Musik was much more substantial.Google Scholar

50 There is, however, a special issue about the publishing house's founder, the businessman Emil Hertzka; see Anbruch, 14, nos. 4/5 (1932).Google Scholar

51 Hermann linger, ‘Beethovens Mutter: zur Auffindung ihres Grabes’, Zeitschrift für Musik, 102, no. 11 (1935), 1216–29.Google Scholar

52 It should be pointed out that illustrations were still infrequent at that time; they were generally published on separate pages (Bildbeilagen) rather than incorporated within the relevant articles.Google Scholar

53 No festivals were held between 1915 and 1919.Google Scholar

54 Individual topics (dance; aesthetics) are set off by semicolons; related topics grouped together (film music, radio, recording) are separated by commas.Google Scholar

55 The expression ‘mechanical music’, translated from ‘mechanische Musik’, was used from around 1927 onwards to refer to instruments like Carl Robert Blum's Musik-Chronometer, Jörg Mager's Sphärophon and Leo Theremin's Vox, which paved the way for electroacoustic music.Google Scholar

56 See my article ‘Le répertoire d'opéras du XXe siècle des scènes de langue allemande entre 1925 et 1930: étude statistique’, Revue de musique des universités canadiennes, 5 (1984), 198221.Google Scholar

57 This mobility can be seen easily by leafing through the annual Neuer Theater-Almanach published in Berlin by F. A. Günter & Sohn.Google Scholar

58 David Drew, ‘Musical Theatre in the Weimar Republic’, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 88 (1961–2) 95CrossRefGoogle Scholar

59 For statistics on the modem and the standard repertoires, see (among others) Wilhelm Altmann, ‘Opemstatistik August 1930 bis Juli 1931‘, Zeitschrift für Musik, 98, no. 11 (1931), 948–68.Google Scholar

60 This issue is filed under the category dealing with music in a given country.Google Scholar

61 See Kirchmeyer, ‘Kameval um Strauβ und Schönberg: zum Kapitel “Neue Musik und Pathologie‘”, Igor Strawinsky, 424–46 especially 424–38Google Scholar

62 Mephistopheles, ‘Richard auf Naxos und Ariadne bei Wertheim: eine tragi-burlesk-seriös-komische Gemischtwarenhandlung in zwei Etagen, mil verlarvtem Tiefsinn und unverlarvten Blödsinn, ohne Hugo, aber mit Hautgout’, Die Musik, 12, no. 9 (1913), 146–55.Google Scholar

63 Mephistopheles, ‘Aus meiner Disharmonielehre: im Auftrag des Kunterbuntprofessors Arnold Häβlichberg mitgeteilt’, Die Musik, 10, no. 10 (1911), 224.Google Scholar

64 See Petschnig, Emil, ‘A. Schönberg, der Psychopath’, Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung, 51, no. 48 (1924), 875–6; no. 49 (1924), 895–7.Google Scholar