Neue musikalische Rundschau

(Munich, 1908)

Prepared by Peter Sühring
Online only (2014)

The Neue musikalische Rundschau (NRU) was published in Munich from June to December 1908 by the journal’s own publishing company, the Verlag der Neuen musikalischen Rundschau. The journal was published as twenty fortnightly issues and one double issue (no. 20/21). During its short run the journal became the "official organ" of the Munich Association of Musicians. This suggests that the Association had initiated the early termination of its own journal, possibly for financial reasons, without having an alternative publication. Why the journal was suddenly stopped at the end of December is not clear, as there is no editorial announcement to this effect.

Each issue consists of an average of twenty-four pages with some exceptional issues of eighteen and thirty pages. The main contributions are printed in single column format, while shorter, current reports under the headings "Vermischtes" [Miscellaneous], "Aus nah und fern" [From near and far] or "Personalien" [Particulars] appear in two-column format. Two issues were published with supplements: 1.) a photograph of the Vienna Brahms Memorial, and 2.) two facsimiles of letters from Mendelssohn to Carl Klingemann. From the beginning NRU included a cover page and approximately five pages of advertisements from firms active in the music industries.

The founding editor was the Austrian writer on music Otto Keller (1861 1928), a pupil of Eduard Hanslick and Anton Bruckner. Keller resigned as editor in October, publishing a parting statement to this effect in issue 9. He then became temporarily music editor of the Bavarian Courier, a newspaper particularly patriotic tending to a separatist stance. His earlier and later activities took place in Vienna and Salzburg. He wrote several books on the history of music, monographs about Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Franz von Suppé, and a history of the operetta. Apart from reports on the musical life of Munich, he wrote for NRU articles on Brahms and August Schmidt in Vienna, biographical sketches about the Russian pianist Sofie Menter, the singers Ernestine Schumann-Heink and Lilli Lehmann, the violinists Jenö Hubayand Pablo de Sarasate and the Dresden composer Francois Schubert. Keller also wrote a lengthy contribution about Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Initially Keller prepared the majority of the book reviews.

Keller was succeeded by Eugen Schmitz (1882-1959), who was later active in Dresden, where he served as Professor at the Technical University of Dresden, and at the Dresden Conservatory of Music. Schmitz was head of the music library of publisher C. F. Peters in Leipzig from 1939 to 1953. Beginning with the fourth issue he wrote, apart from reports on the musical life in Munich, articles about Verdi's importance in Italy, he organized an opinion poll among music critics of other journals about the reform of concert life and documented its results, wrote about operatic esthetics of Ignatz Franz Mosel and an introduction to the letters of Mendelssohn to Klingemann.

The intention of the journal’s editors was not limited to the current music life of Munich, but was addressed to the entire German-speaking areas in central Europe. This is evident from the start, as correspondents were sought as contributors from the regions between Hamburg and Vienna, Zurich and Prague. However, the articles about the musical life of Munich quantitatively took up a large amount of space. Correspondents and reports from non-German-speaking countries are rare.

The editor’s original intention was to publish fewer reviews of recent concerts and operas, but this could not be sustained. The urge to give critical remarks about individual artists active in operatic and concert performances increased during the journal’s run. The intention of the editors, not wanting to be tendentious or partisan, was to report on the different directions of the current music scene. A strong conservative or chauvinist and cultural-imperialistic attitude by a number of the contributors cannot be overlooked. In the years before the outbreak of the First World War, the opinion was widely held that only German music had quality of content and formal progressiveness, particularly embodied in the works of Richard Wagner, and that fine musician of other nations would be developed by the imitation of the German example. Typical of the over estimation of Wagner and of the genius-cult organized around him is the fact that during a so-called "rehabilitation" of Mendelssohn, the editor of the journal said that he, Mendelssohn was not a genius (like Wagner), only a talent. On the other hand, there is criticism of the musical overproduction by a plethora of German Wagner imitators and even occasional positive responses to Italian, French or Russian music (Verdi, Puccini, Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov). That European music after Wagner was in a crisis is mentioned repeatedly. There is great uncertainty that the works of Richard Strauss or Gustav Mahler could overcome the crisis, or that they were not simply an expression of the actual crisis. This was discussed on the occasions of various early performances of Mahler’s Symphony no. 7.

The content of each issue is weighted very differently. In addition to historically oriented persons, biographical contributions include remarks about various musical genres. Music reports from Munich and other cities with a very diverse musical life take up a large amount of space. Reviews of books about music and sheet music, under the heading "Besprechungen" [Reviews] appeared only sporadically, especially at the beginning of the journal’s run.

For non-European music and ethnomusicology in its beginning stages there are two very different approaches. One, represented by a series of articles by the Berlin music journalist and ardent Wagnerian Max Chop, occupies a culturally chauvinistic position and assesses the allegedly poor quality of Asian music by comparison with the standards of European musical art and uses derogatory and discriminatory expressions, describing the music reproduced on recordings and by performing musicians without personal ethnological field experience. While the series of articles by Paula Karsten, based on empirical research in the respective countries, is an objective and reasonable description of the instruments, their use and the sounds produced, free of questionable value judgments.

Max Chop (1862 1929), who wrote from Berlin, was a music journalist and writer on music history in generally understandable representations of problematic standards (Wagner). He wrote basic items about the crisis-ridden development of the modern music and found that new ways were given by Reger and Delius. Paul Ertel (1865-1933), who wrote concert criticism from Berlin, where he was music critic for the Berliner Lokalanzeiger, was a composer and music publicist. For the NRU he wrote only one report and participated in the survey of music critics. Edgar Istel (1880-1948) was a composer, music lecturer and critic, who lived in Munich and later in Berlin, from 1920 in Madrid and from 1938 in the USA. For the NRU he wrote only in its last issue an article about the German Christmas Play. Adolf Kohut (1847-1917), who wrote from Berlin, was a general cultural, political and historical journalist, who published as well books on the history of music and singing, including biographies. In NRU he published two memories of female singers. Victor Lederer (1881 1944), who wrote from Vienna, was a Doctor of Music, music journalist and writer about musical life in Vienna and Prague, author of a book about the pre-Christian origin of polyphony. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia he was interned in Terezin, deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. He wrote with wit and charm in a typical Viennese style und gave a detailed analysis of Mahler’s Symphony no. 7 on the occasion of its first performance in Prague. Ferdinand Scherber (1874-1944), who wrote from Vienna, was a composer, music librarian (1900-1912 employee and head of the music collection of the Wiener Hofbibliothek) and writer about music. In NRU he wrote one report from Vienna in October 1908. Otto Schmid (1858-1931), who wrote from Dresden, was a music historian and publicist, who published studies on the history of music in Dresden. For the NMR he wrote ten reports from Dresden. Alfred Schnerich (1859-1944),who wrote from Vienna, was an art and music librarian, a researcher in the field of sacred music, especially religious works written by Haydn. For NRU he wrote an article in preparation for the one-hundredth anniversary of Haydn’s death. Arthur Seidl (1863-1928) lived and worked from 1903 in Dessau and Leipzig as music dramaturge, music editor, feature writer and teacher. He wrote one report from Dessau.