Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung

(Leipzig, 1798-1848)
Complete Introduction : German | English

Prepared by Ole Hass
14 volumes (2009)

The Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung [AMZ], created in 1798 by the publishing house of Breitkopf & Härtel, appeared weekly from 3 October 1798 to 27 December 1848. Until 1808 the publishing year begins in October and ends in September. Vol. 12 begins in October 1809 but continues to the end of December 1810, and from 1811 the publishing year corresponds to the calendar year. Most of the AMZ’s issues contain eight pages printed in double-column format; the numbering is assigned to the columns rather than the pages, and numbering starts anew with each publishing year. The first forty-two volumes contain advertising supplements, titled the Intelligenz-Blatt, which appear between seven and twenty-seven times a year; its columns are numbered independently until Vol. 41 when the supplement is incorporated into the pages of the journal Other supplements include pieces of music and illustrations. A portrait of a musical personality, starting with that of J. S. Bach, appears as a supplement with each volume.

The layout of the journal is remarkably consistent: (1) a lead article, on the aesthetics or the theory of music, or a detailed review or analysis of a major new piece of music; (2) a section of “Recensionen” [reviews], of printed music; (3) “Nachrichten” [reports] on musical life in Leipzig and other cities; (4) a group of “Kurze Anzeigen” [short announcements], containing short reviews of printed music, and (5) a miscellaneous section, first called “Miscellen”, then “Mancherley” [both “various”], “Kurze Nachrichten” [Short news], and “Feuilleton.”

Friedrich Rochlitz was active as the editor until 1818, creating the first music journal of international esteem. AMZ become the organ of the new middle class’s public opinion. After Rochlitz’s voluntary resignation as editor, he contributed on an occasional basis. Other editors include the journal’s publisher Gottfried Christoph Härtel from 1818 until his death in 1827; historian and composer Gottfried Wilhelm Fink 1828 to 1841; Hermann and Raymund Härtel 1841 and 1842; cantor Moritz Hauptmann in 1843; and the pedagogue Johann Christian Lobe 1846 to 1848.

In addition to a large number of reviews, Rochlitz’s important contributions to the AMZ include an extensive biographical sketch on the musical biographer Ernst Ludwig Gerber, narratives such as “Der Besuch im Irrenhause” [A visit to an asylum], and texts for a cantata, oratorio and lieder, and a series entitled “Bruchstücke aus Briefen an einen jungen Tonsetzer” [Fragments from letters to a young composer], in which Rochlitz discusses various aspects of musical composition. In addition to the creation of the AMZ, Härtel is remembered today for the publication of the Leipziger Literaturzeitung [Leipzig journal for literature], initiation of complete editions of various composers’ works, and for using the process of lithography in printing music. Fink’s time as editor is marked by the aggressive stand he takes against romanticism, well reflected in his editorials at the beginning of every volume.

Throughout its run the journal featured essays by important writers on music. Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni regularly reported on his own work in experimental acoustics and on new instruments, especially efforts to improve the glass harmonica, the Euphon and Clavicylinder. Hans Georg Nägeli, an important figure in the development of musical life in Switzerland, wrote about singing, vocal pedagogy, the lied, and explained his system of teaching voice according to the principles of the pedagogue Heinrich Pestalozzi. Gottfried Weber reviews various works by Carl Maria von Weber, while the latter reviews E. T. A. Hoffmann’s opera Undine. Christian Friedrich Gottlob Wilke, organist, cantor and teacher writes on a variety of topics concerning the organ, including adjudication, registration, tuning, and advice on its upkeep. In 1836, he contributes an account of organ building in the preceding fifty years. Raphael Georg Kiesewetter provides a series of articles about the musical treasures of Viennese libraries and private collections. Adolf Bernhard Marx contributes reviews of Andreas Kretzschmer’s book, Ideen zu einer Theorie der Musik [Ideas for a theory on music] and Johann Anton André’s Lehrbuch der Tonsetzkunst [Instructional book in composition], explains his own composition manual, Ueber das Studium der Komposition mit besonderer Beziehung auf die Kompositionslehre [On the study of composition with special reference to composition teaching], and discusses the form of the symphony-cantata, with respect to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Marx’s essay on J. S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy prompted a reply by the Bach authority Friedrich Konrad Griepenkerl and another response by Marx providing an early discussion of performance practice.

The AMZ’s reviews span from the time of Haydn’s last works to the early works of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. In reviews of larger works, especially symphonies, operas and oratorios, the authors often state the basis of the review: analysis of the full score, a piano arrangement or a vocal score, or, impressions gained from hearing the piece in performance. Often the reviews are illustrated with musical examples giving the major themes of works, and, in the case of operas and oratorios, complete numbers in vocal score or excerpts with instrumentation. Among the main review contributors are Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Johann Spazier and E. T. A. Hoffmann.

One of the AMZ’s major achievements is its reception of Ludwig van Beethoven’s works. Beginning in 1799, the journal features negative reviews of several of Beethoven’s compositions, including the Variations for pianoforte and violoncello on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” (from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte) and the Variations for pianoforte on “Mich brennt ein heisses Fieber” (“Un fièvre brûlante”) from Grétry’s Richard Coeur de Lion. An anonymous reviewer (M....) criticizes the harshness of Beethoven’s modulations in these early works (1799), and a number of similarly derogatory reviews also appear in 1799. However, later in the same year an appraisal of Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas, op. 10 reads more positively about Beethoven’s compositional style. The complexities of certain of Beethoven’s early works inspired the idea of repeat performances. In 1804, Rochlitz writes about the need for a second audition of Beethoven’s Second Symphony. E. T. A. Hoffmann contributes important reviews of Beethoven’s compositions—the Fifth Symphony, the Overture to Coriolanus, Pianoforte Trios, Op. 70, the Mass Op. 86 and the Egmont Overture. A six-part article in 1815 by Amadeus Wendt examines Beethoven’s Fidelio, and W. C. Müller provides a biographical sketch in the year of his death.

Other important composers whose works are discussed throughout their careers are Carl Maria von Weber, Louis Spohr, Gioacchino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti. Two composers whose names are linked to musical life in Leipzig, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann are well documented in the AMZ.