Musica Viva

(Brussels, Rome, London, and Zurich, 1936)
Complete Introduction : German | English

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

Musica Viva [MUV]—a multilingual journal publishing articles in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish—consists of three issues, published respectively in April, July and October 1936. Initiated and edited by Hermann Scherchen, the well-known conductor and advocate of modern music, the journal aims to contribute to an understanding of compositions, and to be a source of information on historical performance practice. Issues one and two are subdivided into four sections: “Melos Redivivum” [Melos revived], “Werkstatt der Lebenden” [Workshop of the living], “Spiegel der musikalischen Gegenwart” [Mirror of the musical present], and “Essai d’un catalogue de la musique orchestrale” [Attempt at a catalogue of orchestral music]. The third issue does not contain section titles but is similarly structured. Musical supplements in the form of manuscript facsimiles appear at the beginning or the end of each issue, and include a piano work by Ferruccio Busoni from Die Nächtlichen, Variations on the Theme ‘BACH’ by Hanns Eisler, two versions of a Fugue in C minor and two minuets by Mozart, and a suite for lute by J. S. Bach.

“Melos Redivivum” features articles on new compositional techniques, including writings by Hanns Eisler, Ernst Křenek and Roberto Gerhard about their own compositions, a discussion about music criticism led by Willy Tappolet, and thoughts about the music festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM, Prague, 1935) by various attendees.

The second section, “Werkstatt der Lebenden” contains analyses and commentary on contemporary compositions: Hungarian critic Alexander Jemnitz writes about Bartók’s String Quartet no. 5, Igor Markevitch about his oratorio Paradis perdu, and W. Zuckermann about the use of folk music elements in Boris Semyonovich Schechter’s Suite turkmène.

The third section, “Spiegel der musikalischen Gegenwart,” features reports of musical interest from Norway, Denmark, the United States of America, the Soviet Union (with a discussion on the Soviet concepts of social realism and formalism), and insightful articles by Scherchen on the music of the Chinese theater, Turcoman music, and the music in the Egyptian oasis Siwa.

The final section, “Essai d’un catalogue de la musique orchestrale,” contains extensive articles dealing with historical performance practice, by Charles Van den Borren on principles for the interpretation of early music, Hans Ferdinand Redlich on instrumentation of Monteverdi’s madrigals, and Paul Collaer on the instrumentation of Monteverdi’s Ballo delle ingrate and Cavalieri’s Rappresentazione di anima e di corpo. There is also a report by Walter Robert Nef on an early music festival at the Schola Cantorum in Basle in July 1936.

*Hard Bound with
23. Eine Wiener Musikzeitschrift (Vienna, 1932-1937)