Published in Cologne from July 1853 through June 1867, the Niederrheinische Musik-Zeitung provides a barometer of the public’s shifting musical taste, and reveals how the “music of the future” gained acceptance with an audience rooted in the tradition of Beethoven and Mendelssohn. The eight-page weekly was founded and edited by Ludwig Friedrich Christian Bischoff. Trained in philology at the University of Berlin, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars from 1813-1815, and a teacher in Switzerland and Germany, Bischoff founded the Rheinische Musik-Zeitung in 1850 before turning his energies to the Niederrheinische Musik-Zeitung.
The journal offers many detailed reports of concert and operatic life in all major German-speaking centers: Berlin, Barmen, Bonn, Cologne, Cresfeld, Darmstadt, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Elberfeld, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Munich, Nürnberg, Stuttgart and Vienna. Reviews of performances of works by established composers—Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Schumann—are many in number. The journal also offers many reviews of the works of contemporary composers including the operas and music dramas of Wagner up to the first performances of Tristan und Isolde; the Hungarian Rhapsodies, choral music and symphonic poems of Liszt; chamber and choral music by Brahms; the many facets of Berlioz’s symphonic and choral output; Verdi’s middle operas; Meyerbeer’s French grand operas and comic operas; the oratorios, symphonies and operas of Anton Rubinstein as well as his virtuoso skills as performer and conductor. Performers are also an important component of the reviews, and the reader encounters many famous German singers including Karl and Theodore Formes, Aloys Ander, Caroline Bettelheim, Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Therese Tietjens and Johanna Wagner. Among the many pianists the names of Hans von Bülow and Carl Reinecke stand out. Reports from foreign centers such as Paris and London greatly enlarge the critical scope of the journal.
The 1850s and 1860s were important decades for the advancement of knowledge in the field of musicology, and the NMZ offers its share of reports on the singular work of Friedrich Chrysander and his pioneering editions of Handel’s choral works, the first publications of the complete Bach edition created by the Bach Gesellschaft, and the history of the German chorale.