Category: Concert life

The 1840s in Berlin: Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer

There were few signs that the Berlin of the first half of the nineteenth century would become a world capital of music by century’s end. Musicians didn’t like the city, especially the ones who had lived there, such as Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn. Berlin was conservative, unwilling to try anything new. The people were formal and […]

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“Nanté,” or Music Criticism in the 1840s

The further we go back in time, the more obvious how arbitrary our knowledge of the past is. Most information about concerts comes from the press: newspapers and music journals provide the names, dates, and programs. For the most part, the news about performers and performances centered around opera, but that started to change once […]

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Berlin’s chamber music in the 1840s

August Zimmermann’s Quartet “The great prophet of Beethoven’s last quartets is definitely Zimmermann, 40 years before Joachim!”–Ivan Mahaim As mentioned in the previous post, Ivan Mahaim’s 1964 study of Beethoven: Naissance et Renaissance de Derniers Quatuors argued that the obscure violinist August Zimmermann deserved as much recognition as Joachim for his Berlin ensemble’s performances of […]

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Berlin as a leader in chamber music in the 1830s, with the help of Ivan Mahaim

This illustration is the first section of a giant handmade chart included in the back pocket of Ivan Mahaim’s treasure-trove of a book on Beethoven’s late quartets, Beethoven: Naissance et Renaissance de Derniers Quatuors. The rows are the places of performances and the columns are the dates, starting in 1825. The numbers making up the […]

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Let there be clapping

While paging through Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music yesterday, my eye caught an unexpected entry (between “Anzoletti, Marco” and “Apponyi, Count”): Waiting to applaud until the end of the work is called an innovation of late–and this book was published in 1929! Mr. Cobbett prefers clapping and even encores of individual movements of a […]

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Looking Backward (and at the fine print)

My knowledge of the last years of the Joachim Quartet is much more extensive than of their first concerts. When I think of the year of their first season, 1869, images of Berlin in an impoverished state came to mind. For instance, when Amy Fay arrived that year from Boston to study piano, she pronounced […]

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An assessment of Joachim’s importance from 1931

The centennial of Joachim’s birth in 1931 was observed in Berlin and elsewhere with tributes recalling the important part he had played in so many aspects of musical life. Only a few years later the Nazi re-writing of Germany history began, in which Jewish artists and intellectuals were purged from the German culture they helped […]

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