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Berlinische musikalische Zeitung. Historischen und kritischen Inhalts

(Berlin, 1793-1794)

Prepared by Ole Hass
Online only (2011)

The Berlinische musikalische Zeitung (BEM) appeared in four-page issues from 9 February 1793 until January 1794. The last dated issue, no. 51, 4 January 1794, is followed with an index as a substitute for issue 52, and an addendum to the latter; both are undated. BEM was edited by the musical dilettante Johann Gottlieb Karl Spazier. Like the Musikalisches Wochenblatt / Musikalische Monathsschrift, BEM is an early attempt to establish a general music journal, containing essays, reviews, correspondence and miscellaneous items of interest to the musically educated general public. As such, both journals are important forerunners of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. BEM ends with an announcement by Spazier that the journal will cease because of lack of contributions from professional musicians, and public disinterest. Spazier is best-remembered today as editor of the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, and as an early reviewer of Beethoven’s works.

Spazier was the main contributor to BEM, probably supplying most reviews for Berlin: the Liebhaberkonzert [dilettante concert], the concerts at the house of harpsichordist Joseph Fließ, the Berlin Nationaltheater, and the Court Opera. Several contributions are attributed to Bernhard Anselm Weber. For example, Spazier’s review of Casimir Cartellieri’s opera Die Geisterbeschwörung is answered in a note of agreement by Weber, the conductor of the work at the Berlin Nationaltheater. Weber probably wrote the review of Reichardt’s singspiel Erwin und Elmire. Other notices of comic operas, singspiels and operettas at the Berlin Nationaltheater include those of Antonio Salieri’s Das Kästchen mit der Chiffer, Johann Baptist Lasser’s Die unruhige Nacht, Georg Benda’s Romeo und Julie, Domenico Cimarosa’s La Villanella rapita and Giovanni Paisiello’s Die schöne Müllerin. The journal also contains reports on the state of music in Halle, Hamburg, Kassel, Königsberg, London, Mannheim, Stettin and Schlesien, as well as on Italian opera and German singspiel in Vienna, and on church music in Rome. Of particular interest is a report of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro performed in Italian at the Grand Opera in Paris. A report from Bonn by Christian Gottlob Neefe includes a note on the young Beethoven’s journey to visit Haydn in Vienna.

Essays on the use and intention of musical criticism, the cause of applause, the fugue and the selection of tempos also appear to be by Spazier. Writings by Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Spazier’s mentor, include a biographical sketch of the Stockholm conductor Joseph Martin Kraus and guidelines for conductors. The essay “Geschichte der üblichsten musikalischen Instrumente” [History of the most common musical instruments] begins with information taken from Ernst Ludwig Gerber’s Lexikon der Tonkünstler, and continues with notes (some of them supplied by readers of the journal) on current important instrument builders, particularly of the pianoforte.

Advertisements, usually given in smaller font on the third page of every issue, feature offerings from BEM’s publisher (the Neue Berlinische Musikhandlung), as well as sporadic announcements by composers of their own compositions. The fourth page is usually taken up by a piece of music, many composed by Spazier himself. Supplemented songs by Reichardt include two pieces from Goethe’s singspiel Erwin und Elmire and French romances published under the pseudonym “Trahcier” (Reichardt spelled backwards).