Fliegende Blätter für Musik

(Leipzig, 1855-1857)
Complete Introduction : German | English

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

The journal Fliegende Blätter für Musik. Wahrheit über Tonkunst und Tonkünstler [FBM] [Musical leaves. Truth about the art of music and artists.] was published in Leipzig by Baumgärtner’s Buchhandlung from 1855 to 1857. The journal aimed “to foster and spread knowledge of the sources of and solutions to problems in music, by bringing an understanding of music to a wide audience.” The editor and sole contributor, Johann Christian Lobe (1797-1881), was a self taught musician and worked as flutist, violist and composer before turning to writing about music. From 1846-48, as editor of the renowned journal Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Lobe’s stature and influence in the German musical world is made clear in his essays about conversations with eminent composers of the time, such as Weber, Mendelssohn, Lortzing and Zelter. All of Lobe’s articles in the FBM are written in the first person, thus emphasizing the subjectivity of his perspective.

Articles, some of which are titled “Briefe” [Letters] treat various musical topics and often appear in series devoted to a single subject. Lobe announced seven topics for these letters, but not all of them were treated before the demise of the journal. The first series of six letters is titled “Technische Konstruktion der Instrumentalwerke” [Technical construction of instrumental composition]. Here, Lobe explains the use of motives and themes and the larger structure of cadences and periods—using as examples the finale to Haydn’s Symphony No. 2 and a string quartet and quintet by Beethoven—and then encourages his readers to profit from this knowledge when listening to music.

In “Ästhetische Briefe” [Letters on aesthetics], Lobe gives an historic overview of the idea of “the beautiful” and then defines the beautiful in music as being composed of three elements: clarity of form, naturalness of content and realism of expression. These criteria reflect a standpoint combining Classical and early Romantic ideals. The composers most referred to and appreciated by Lobe are Haydn, Mozart (especially his operas), Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Carl Maria von Weber (especially Der Freischütz and Euryanthe). Lobe also writes approvingly about Spontini’s opera Die Vestalin [La Vestale], Berlioz’s Overture to Die Vehmrichter [Les Francs juges], Auber’s opera Maurer und Schlosser [Le Maçon], Joseph Weigl’s opera Die Schweizerfamilie, and Méhul’s operas Je toller, je besser [Une Folie] and Joseph und seine Brüder [Joseph]. Lessons in harmony, part writing and voice leading are presented as a series of letters on the writing of four-part compositions for men’s choirs.

In his “Briefe über Rich. Wagner an einen jungen Komponisten” [Letters on Rich. Wagner to a young composer], Lobe writes sympathetically about Wagner’s operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. Lobe also attempts to clarify the structure of Liszt’s symphonic poems in the article “Briefe über Liszt’s symphonische Dichtungen.”

*Hard Bound with
Schlesische Theater-Zeitung (Breslau, 1863-1864)