23. Eine Wiener Musikzeitschrift

(Vienna, 1932-1937)
Complete Introduction : German | English

Prepared by Ole Hass
1 volume 1 volumes* (2006)

Described as the only truly independent music journal of the period, 23. Eine Wiener Musikzeitschrift [DWM] was published in Vienna from January 1932 to September 1937 by Willi Reich, Ernst Křenek and Rudolf Ploderer. The editors of the journal aimed to expose the decadence that, they believed, pervaded the work of contemporary music critics. The journal appeared irregularly. Over six years, thirty-three consecutively numbered issues were published in twenty single, double, or triple issue installments. The journal is not subdivided into sections, but rather consists, in the main, of a loose succession of articles. The title refers to paragraph 23 of the Austrian press law, regarding the right to correct false statements in the press. According to Reich, he had been in contact with his teacher, Alban Berg, about the idea of starting a journal that could be for the musical world, what Karl Kraus’s journal Die Fackel [The torch] was for Vienna. Kraus was well-known in Vienna for quoting and ridiculing other journalists and public speakers in his journal, and Reich, Berg, and Schoenberg revered him for the clarity of his thinking and for his uncompromising stance. In the article, "Ein untrüglicher Prüfstein" [An unfailing criterion], Reich refers to the sparseness of Karl Kraus’s endeavors in "musical criminology" and promises that DWM will specialize in just that. The musical essayist and critic Reich, the owner, publisher, and general editor of DWM contributed many articles to the journal treating composers of the New Viennese School. Křenek’s writings for DWM are about his own compositions and modern music in the context of society. The theme of personal freedom recurs throughout Křenek’s compositions and writings. When Goebbels refused Wilhelm Furtwängler’s plea to the German Nazi government to employ more Jewish musicians, Křenek wrote a rebuttal in DWM against the fascist propaganda for "pure German music." Under the pseudonym "Austriacus," Křenek took up the case in DWM for Austria’s independence from Germany’s fascist politics, continuously criticizing the writings in the Viennese musical press that sympathized with the German government.

Little is known about Rudolf Ploderer, the third founder of DWM, who was a lawyer and a friend of Alban Berg. Of special interest are Ploderer’s review of Richard Eichenauer’s fascist book on Musik und Rasse [Music and race] and his report on and comparison of lectures on new music by Křenek, Schoenberg, and Hanns Eisler. Many articles came from Theodor Adorno, arguably the most famous defender of twelve-tone music. His articles in DWM appear under the pseudonym "Hektor Rottweiler" and deal with the crisis in music criticism, Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, and music pedagogy.

The journal’s first years focus on the correction of erroneous statements in other music publications. The main targets are the influential music critic Julius Korngold and his disciples, Josef Reitler and Kurt Roger, of the Neue freie Presse. It is shown repeatedly that Julius Korngold used his influence to further the career of his son, the prodigy composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Reacting to such comments, the elder Korngold filed a suit against Reich after the publication of the first issue of DWM, which was eventually resolved in Reich’s favor. Many articles deal with J. Korngold’s demonstrative and disruptive behavior at concerts and his sometimes sparse research on the subjects of his criticisms; other DWM articles point to the influence of J. Korngold on Reitler and Roger. The journal’s writers also accuse music critic Joseph Marx of a conflict of interest for his reviews in the Neues Wiener Journal about the compositions of his own students at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst. Marx is also charged with the inability to write logically.

In January 1934 Reich began contributing to other Viennese journals. This move, and the perceived conflict of interest that it might create on the part of the readers, led him to alter the journal’s editorial policy, from that of critical gadfly to that of a mainstream music journal. Within the context of the new editorial policy, Ernst Křenek presents his concept of a studio for the rehearsal and performance of new music, and in a long article on Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, discusses his detailed German edition of the work. Alfred Orel discusses Arnold Schering’s book Beethoven in neuer Deutung [Beethoven newly interpreted] and Adorno writes on the crisis of music criticism. While most of the articles of the beginning years of 23 are unsigned, signatures become more common after this shift in focus in 1934.

*Hard Bound with
Musica Viva (Brussels, Rome, London, and Zurich, 1936)