Eduard Hanslick – Viennese Temperament in Front of the Stage

zuspätkommende„The foreign fairy child music needs to dress up with so many earthly costumes and needs so much stiffening once it decides to meet so many people that any moment of disturbance “from our world” could easily break its unselfconsciousness and take us out of our illusion.” [1]
Temperament in the auditorium seems to be a common thing in Vienna of 1853/54. That is why the Imperial Opera House had to counteract. What the music critic Eduard Hanslick (1825 – 1904) described in his wonderful ironic way as “aesthetic police” to safeguard the pureness of the music enjoyment.

Hanslick was born in Prague and his musical talents were nourished. But they were not sufficient enough to become a musician so he had to study law. 1846 he came to Vienna proceeded with his studies and wrote reviews of music performances. After three years as jurist in Klagenfurt he came back to Vienna and worked in the cultural ministry. More and more he went into music aesthetics. Among others he was as a member of the jury at the World Exhibition in Paris responsible for music. 1861 he became the first professor for music at the University Vienna after the reform of the university in the 16th century. Being polemic and using his power he could influence the fate of musicians. Dr. Clemens Hellberg, head of the management of the „Wiener Philharmoniker“, mentioned at the symposium to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Hanslick: “The critic spread anxiety. And this lead to the fact that some artists did not play in Vienna any longer.” [2]

But the Hanslick descriptions of the Viennese “temperament” of the audience are no bad but best cabaret.
“The general manger of the Imperial Opera House did ban repetitions of musical parts of the operas and he could so eliminate the „da capo“ the greatest enemy of the dramatic connection. When Arnold (in Wilhelm Tell) seeks bloody revenge for the murder of his father and is on his way to the Rütli than the audience used to clap till he had to start with the most peaceful face again, listen to the report of the murder of his father again, get shocked again and seek revenge again.”
And there was this “second ban deserving thanks too. The ban to call upon a singer on the stage. How often did we see the hero knifed before our eyes coming back with great Hurrah making compliments! That should not damage our enjoyment any longer!”
And the “entering the stall during an act was banned … Raoul whispers in his first romance:”Quietly did I tell” – you prick your ears expecting the wonderful orchestrated entry of the A-major-accord – when all out of a sudden the peloton fire of ten folding seats answers you.”
Many more of these tragic & comic experiences that now were removed by peace describes Hanslick. And he closes that one species was overlooked in this aesthetic police codex – the early home returners – “whose heart was never warm but whose soup was always about to get cold.”

As I am no opera fan I cheated with the photo (People coming late can only enter during the break). Experts will know this – I took the photo in the Burgtheater. This is already part one of my cultural quiz in the next post here.

Hanslick-Sources:
Universität Salzburg > Lexikon Literatur in der Wiener Moderne > (University Salzburg > Encyclopaedia Literature of the Viennese Modernity) > Eduard Hanslick (in German)

aeiou Austria Encyclopaedia > Hanslick, Eduard

[1] „Eduard Hanslick. Sämtliche Schriften. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe“ (Eduard Hanslick. Complete Works. Historical-Critical Edition) Band I, 2, Aufsätze und Rezensionen 1849 – 1854, (Volume I, 2, Essays and Reviews 1849 – 1854) published and annotated by Dietmar Strauß, Böhlau Verlag, Wien, Köln, Weimar, 1994, Seiten 342 – 344 (Mai 1854)

[2] Foyer „Das Hanslick-Symposium in Wien vom 9. und 10. Oktober 2004“ (The Hanslick-Symposium in Vienna 9 – 10 October 2004) by Markus Gärtner in „Die Tonkunst online“ (The Art of Music online”) , issue 0411, 1.November 2004

Viennese History – Viennese Stories

Vienna KaisermuehleNot only two female singers and two male singers survived the horrible fire in the Viennese Ringtheater in December 1881 but columns were under the survivors too. These theatre columns were still usable and cheap. That’s why they were included into the building of the church Kaisermühlenkirche at the Schüttauplatz. A place from where one easily can walk to the ”coldest part of Vienna”. Where a special track commemorates the ice extraction out of the Old Danube and the name reminds us of the discovery of the „Franz Josefs Lands“ in the Northern Arctic Sea.

Two clocks “survived” the fire of the Viennese Ringtheater too. They can be seen in the Clock Museum of the Wien Museum. As is the famous watch and clock collection of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. Continue reading

Johann Schmid, „Schmid Hansl“ – Wienerlied (Viennese Songs) from 8 pm to bis 4.00 am

schmidhansl1.jpgThe story of “Hansl Schmid, the Last Master of the Viennese Songs” („Hansl Schmid, dem letzten Herrn des Wienerliedes“) shows that you can answer the question in a flexible way whether one should earn ones living with his/her creativity or whether one should live with his/her creativity and be successful without any super star contest.

In 1897 Johann Schmid was born in Ottaktring. Together with friends his parents rent the restaurant in the Türkenschanzpark. Johann grows up with concerts of military musicians, Deutschmeister, dragoons, 84er. 1908 his parents give him a piano and he becomes an opera lover: from Walküre till the Tote Stadt. Although very musical Johann studies at the commercial college. Continue reading