Wöchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen die Musik betreffend

(Leipzig, 1766-1770)

Prepared by Ole Hass
Online only (2012)

The Wöchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen die Musik betreffend [WNA] appeared weekly in Leipzig from 1 July 1766 to 24 December 1770. In order to align the end of the third volume with that of the calendar year, an “Anhang” [supplement] of twenty-six issues was added. For the fourth and last volume, the title of the journal was simplified to Musikalische Nachrichten und Anmerkungen. Most of the eight page issues contain one or two main articles, usually published in installments, followed by short reviews and a piece of music. The last issue of every volume contains lists of that year’s articles, reviews and pieces of music as well as a name and subject index.

Johann Adam Hiller, the editor, initiator and almost sole contributor to the WNA, was, at the time of the journal’s publication, conductor of the “Großes Konzert” in Leipzig (later to become the concerts at the Gewandhaus). According to his introduction in the first issue, Hiller intended his journal for the musical dilettante and hoped to assemble in the journal what could later be seen as a history of contemporary music. Because of WNA’s mixture of essays, music reviews and musical correspondence, it is seen by many as the first forerunner of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1798-1848) which came to be viewed as the model for nineteenth-century general music journals.

Hiller offers the readers insight into the development of music theory, after Rameau, with reviews not only of new treatises by Joseph Riepel, Georg Friedrich Lingke and Georg Andreas Sorge, and of letters by the physicist Leonhard Euler, but also with translations and summaries of works by the French writers Charles-Henri Blainville, François Jean Chastellux, Jean Lerond d’Alembert, Jean-François Marmontel and, most importantly, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, including extensive excerpts from his Dictionnaire de musique. In an serialized text published over many installments “Versuch einer musikalischen Bibliothek” [Creating a music library], Hiller recommends and comments on an extensive list of writings on music and compositions he considers as the foundation of an amateur’s music library.

Operas discussed by Hiller include works by Johann Adolph Hasse, Baldassare Galuppi, Georg Benda and Johann Agricola, as well as his own Singspiele such as Lottchen am Hofe and Lisuart und Dariolette, with which he hoped to foster the development of opera in the German language. The WNA also contains biographical sketches on musical personalities of the recent past and present, such as the Berlin concertmaster Franz Benda, the Dresden composer Johann David Heinichen, the Dresden violin virtuoso Johann George Pisendel, the viola da gamba player Ernst Christian Hesse, the composer Johann Otto Uhde, and the organist Andreas Haferodt. Also of interest are the annotated inventories of court musicians in Dresden, Berlin, Vienna, Bayreuth and Mannheim.

Contributions not by Hiller are either sent in by readers, like the review from Gotha of Georg Benda’s opera Xindo riconosciuto, or are copied from other journals such as the Hamburgische Unterhaltungen, the Berlin Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek, the Jenaische gelehrte Zeitung, the Bremer Beyträge and the London Gentleman’s Magazine. One such "borrowing" is the extensive series of articles devoted to musical life in eighteenth-Century Russia by Jacob von Stählin. It initially appeared in Beilagen zum neuveränderten Rußland.