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Between Enlightenment and Romanticism in Music History:"First Viennese Modernism" and the Delayed Nineteenth Century Author(s): James

Webster Source: 19th-Century Music, Vol. 25, No. 2-3 (Fall/Spring 2001-02), pp. 108-126 Published by: University of California Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 20/03/2013 04:19
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Between Enlightenment and Romanticism in Music History: First Viennese Modernism and the Delayed Nineteenth Century

At the beginning of the twenty- rst century, the traditional periodization of European music between 1700 and 1975late Baroque; Classical; Romantic; modernseems increasingly problematic. Although my arguments against the idealizing concept of Classical Style have (I believe) contributed to a consensus on the need for rethinking the years around 1800, there is as yet no agreement on a music-historiographical alternative. My own suggestion along these lines is First Viennese Modernism, a

An earlier, more narrowly focused treatment of this topic was delivered at a conference in Vienna on Viennese Classicism, November 2000; it will appear as Die Erste Wiener Moderne als historiographische Alternative zur Wiener Klassik, in Der Begriff der Wiener Klassik in der Musik, ed. Gernot Gruber (in press). A version resembling the present one was delivered at Harvard University in May 2001; I thank Reinhold Brinkmann for the invitation and for constructive suggestions. For suggestions regarding the historiographical literature (and more), I thank Karol Berger, James Hepokoski, and Michael P. Steinberg.

concept that I nd productive regarding not only the music of the later eighteenth century but that of the early nineteenth as well.1 To give the argument in brief: although Viennese music was decisive for the history of the art during the last half of the eighteenth century and the rst quarter of the nineteenth, this was for reasons other than those usually adduced under the banner of classicism. It was not typical of the European continent as a whole, nor was the culture that sustained it. But it was modern, in every sense. Moreover, it played a crucial role in the profound intellectual-cultural shift from Enlightenment to Romanticism, a shift that resonated with the even broader historical change from the ancien rgime to postrevolutionary, industrialized,
James Webster, Haydns Farewell Symphony and the Idea of Classical Style (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 33566; for First Viennese Modernism, see pp. 35657, 37273.


19th-Century Music, XXV/23, pp. 108126. ISSN: 0148-2076. 2002 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Send requests for permission to reprint to: Rights and Permissions, University of California Press, Journals Division, 2000 Center St., Ste. 303, Berkeley, CA 94704-1223.

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bourgeois society. In Vienna, the most important decades of this development comprised not only the prerevolutionary 1780s of Haydn and Mozart and Beethovens heroic phase of 180312 (both privileged by music historians), but also the postrevolutionary, if conservative 1790s (which have received far less attention). These years between Enlightenment and Romanticism were no mere transition, however; they constituted an equally weighty phase, on the same historical-structural level, as those that preceded and followed it. Concomitantly, Romanticism as such did not become predominant in music until 1815, in Viennese music (except for the Lied) perhaps not even until 1828/30. For both reasons, it makes sense to regard the beginning of the music-historical nineteenth century as having been delayed, until around 1815 or 1830. Periods, Periodizations, and Multivalent History All the temporal spans mentioned above are examples of (music-)historical periods. Few general historians have systematically discussed issues of periods and periodizations during the last quarter-century. Although on one level this reluctance simply re ects the ever-increasing specialization of the discipline, on historiographical grounds it would seem to have been overdetermined: by the apparently simplistic, over-generalizing character of most period designations; by a desire for objectivity in historical writing following World War II, signaled in this case by the nominalistic stance that period terms and concepts are mere labels of convenience, lacking explanatory value, on the one hand, and avoiding ideological overtones, on the other; and by a preference for thickly textured history and cultural studies, in opposition to the traditional histories of events.2 In
From the vast literature I cite Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985); Philippe Carrard, Poetics of the New History: French Historical Discourse from Braudel to Chartier (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1992); William A. Green, History, Historians, and the Dynamics of Change (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1993), chaps. 2, 9; Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1995).

this shying away from periodistic thinking, the undeniable attractions of metahistory have doubtless also played a role, particularly as it intersects with the antifoundationalist intellectual climate of postmodernism.3 This marginalization of period concepts, however, is based on an illusion or self-deception. Notwithstanding the ostensible sophistication of the arguments raised against them (for example, that grand narratives in history are arbitrary, partial, self-replicating, and often tendentious), they remain central, even in the work of those who might wish to deny this. The fact that many histories instantiate older or more fundamental worldviews, literary genres, and rhetorical tropes (a position associated especially with Hayden White)4 does not affect their organizational and rhetorical dependence on stage narratives, which is to say on periods and periodizations.5 In this respect, period concepts are analogous to plot in literary theory: plot was marginalized by the New Critics and still is in many quarters, yet it remains the most important aspect of ction and drama (including opera).6 The essentiality of both plot and periodization rests in their common status

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

For example, although Michel Foucault erects strongly, indeed schematically, differentiated periods (based on his discourse-generating epistemes), he attempts not to organize them into a periodization. See The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, trans. anon. (New York: Vintage Books, 1970). 4 Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1978), esp. the intro. and chaps. 23; idem, The Content of Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1987). A striking music-historical example is Adolf Sandbergers account of Haydns compositional development, based (unconsciously) on a fairy tale or quest archetype; see Webster, Haydns Farewell Symphony, pp. 34147. 5 Carrard, Poetics of the New History, chap. 2; Berkhofer, Beyond the Great Story, chap. 5. 6 The most useful introduction to plot and narrative in literatureand not only because of its relative accessibilityremains Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (New York: A. Knopf, 1984). Regarding plot in opera, see Carolyn Abbates postmodernistically inspired dismissal in Unsung Voices: Opera and Musical Narrative in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 511, and the rehabilitation in Jessica Waldoff and James Webster, Operatic Plotting in Le nozze di Figaro, in Wolfgang Amad Mozart: Essays on His Life and His Music, ed. Stanley Sadie (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 25095, 12.


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as narrative the primary means by which we organize all types of temporal experience, including history.7 And in the long run even metahistory is likely to be a less effective cure for bad periodizing than a robustly revisionist periodization, one that acknowledges, rather than represses, the need to organize temporally our understanding of the past. For one cannot think about, still less investigate, the ceaseless, in nitely complex ow of historical events without segmenting them into time spans. A historical period is a construction. Periods dont just happen; still less are they given objectively in the historical record, as Guido Adler, the founder of style analysis in musicology, believed.8 On the contrary, a periodization is not so much true or false, as a reading, a way of making sense of complex data; periodizations serve the needs and desires of those who make and use them. The moment we inquire into the nature or limits of our chosen time spans, we almost inevitably construe them as having been determined, or at least strongly characterized, by certain classes of phenomena, such that they can be understood as effectively uni ed.9 This is so whoever we are, and whether we conceive our historical intentions as objective or interest-driven. In a late, untranslated article, Carl Dahlhaus offered a sustained meditation on music-historical periods; his conclusion reads as follows:
The analysis of the methodological structure of music-historical period concepts . . . implies that a period concept 1. belongs primarily but not exclusively to music history [as opposed to the present of the

time interval in question], as reconstructed in retrospect by the historian; 2. represents a coherence of signi cance and functionality [einen Sinn- und Funktionszusammenhang ], which is interpretable as an ideal type in Max Webers sense; 3. can be described as a network of relationships within which, without its having a center, one can move directly or indirectly from any given point to any other; 4. is a congeries [Konnex ] of features, of which the foundational relations [Fundierungsverhltnisse] are indeterminate as a matter of principle, but can be determined in a given case [kasuell]; 5. entails the expectationin anticipation of a uni ed coherence [geschlossener Zusammenhang ]that, through patient efforts of empirical research into detail, at least a portion of the constructed or reconstructed coherence of signi cance and functionality [cf. point 2] can be gradually tracked down in the documents that pertain to the past. Between the ideal type, which as an assumption-in-advance [Vorausnahme ] remains to be realized, and the historical document, which as a (possibly misleading) testimony to reality [Wirklichkeit] requires interpretation, the outlines of that which is unknown, past reality [ die vergangene Realitt], wie es eigentlich gewesen, gradually emerge.10

Thus Dahlhaus agrees that (music-)historical periods are constructions, indeed retrospective reconstructions, which we interpret as conceptually coherent even though they will scarcely have seemed so in their own time. Webers

Hans Robert Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic of Reception, trans. Timothy Bahti (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982), pp. 5362; Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, 3 vols., trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 198488), vol. I, pt. 2; vol. III, pt. 4, section 2; Berkhofer, Beyond the Great Story, chap. 2. 8 Guido Adler, Handbuch der Musikgeschichte, 2 vols. (2nd edn. Berlin: Keller, 192930), I, 69. 9 Fritz Schalk, ber Epoche und Historie, in Studien zur Periodisierung und zum Epochenbegriff [Mainz:] Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur: Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, 1972, no. 4, pp. 1238.

Carl Dahlhaus, Epochen und Epochenbewusstsein in der Musikgeschichte, in Epochenschw elle und Epochenbewusstsein, ed. Reinhart Herzog and Reinhart Koselleck (Munich: W. Fink, 1987), p. 96; rpt. in Dahlhaus, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Hermann Danuser et al., vol. I (Laaber: Laaber, 2000), pp. 30319. Wie es eigentlich gewesen (as it actually was) is the famous characterization of the goal of historical understanding propounded by the nineteenth-century German historian Leopold Ranke. Dahlhauss primary example in this article is Viennese Classicism; for a similar discussion oriented toward the nineteenth century, see Foundations of Music History, trans. J. B. Robinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 14144.


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ideal type (point 2), with its characteristic combination of empirical research and generalizing speculation, was a central aspect of Dahlhauss historiography;11 in other contexts, more plausibly in my view, he uses the concept coherence of signi cance and functionality to characterize individual artworks.12 Point 3, with its image of a network without a center, relates interestingly to his preferred metaphors for thematicist analysis, speci cally regarding subthematicism in late-style Beethoven and Wagners leitmotivic techniques.13 Point 4 means that, as a generalization applying to all periods, no assertion can be made to the effect that one domain (aesthetic ideas, compositional practice, musical institutions, economic and social circumstances, and so forth) is foundational with respect to others, but that nevertheless such a determination can often be made in a given individual case (as we will see, Dahlhaus often takes major watersheds of political-military history as foundational for music history). Point 5, nally, amounts to his thesis: the historical truth of a period emerges, if at all, through dialogue between empirical investigation and speculative re ection: a historiographical version of the hermeneutic circle.14 Recent North American musicology has produced little that can be placed by the side of Dahlhauss thoughts on period construction.15

To be sure, our survey texts still tend to be organized around the traditional style periods, but they devote little critical attention to the problematics or historiography of such divisions. Indeed the inertia (or rei cation) of the style periods themselves, which have changed little since Adler, doubtless inhibits such questionings. By contrast, in Europe both Jacques Handschins Musikgeschichte im berblick of 1948 and the majority of the relevant volumes in Dahlhauss more recent Neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft proceed on the ostensibly objective (or nominalistic) basis of simply following the centuries as determined by the calendar.16 Handschins skeptical comments on the traditional style periods have in many ways never been surpassed.17 Dahlhauss organization stands in conscious opposition to that in Ernst Bckens predecessor series, whose allegiance to the style periods is evident from the titles alone, for example, Heinrich Besselers Die Musik des Mitteralters und der Renaissance and Bckens own Die Musik des Rokokos und der Klassik .18 In place of the style periods, Dahlhaus emphasizes the social and organizational systems that shaped musical production and reception, as does Lorenzo Bianconi in his in uential Music in the Seventeenth Century.19 (One might speculate that

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Philip Gossett, Carl Dahlhaus and the Ideal Type, this journal 13 (1989), 4956. Although Dahlhauss application of the concept sometimes involved special pleadingsee Gossett, pp.5256its value as a general approach to many issues of history and analysis is not thereby compromised. 12 For example, Dahlhaus, Gleichzeitigkeit des Ungleichzeitigen, Musica 41 (1987), 30710 (a study to which I shall return); here, p. 310, col. 1. 13 Regarding Beethovenwe may ignore Wagner in this contextsee Webster, Dahlhauss Beethoven and the Ends of Analysis, Beethoven Forum 2 (1993), 21216, 22224. 14 See Beitrge zur musikalischen Hermeneutik, ed. Dahlhaus (Regensburg: G. Bosse, 1975), esp. his Fragmente zur musikalischen Hermeneutik, pp. 15972; trans. Karen Painter, Fragments of a Musical Hermeneutics, Current Musicology 50 (1992), 520. For an insightful overview of Dahlhauss historiography, see James Hepokoski, The Dahlhaus Project and Its Extra-musicological Sources, this journal 14 (1991), 22146. 15 A useful (albeit resolutely Germanic) survey is Thomas Hochradner, Probleme der Periodisierung von Musikgeschichte, Acta Musicologica 67 (1995), 5570.

Jacques Handschin, Musikgeschichte im berblick (Lucerne: Rber, 1948); Die Musik des 17. Jahrhunderts, ed. Werner Braun (Wiesbaden: Athenaion, 1981); Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, ed. Dahlhaus (Laaber: Laaber, 1985); Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989). For a (problematical) translation of the rst section of Dahlhauss superb introduction to the eighteenth-century volume, see The Eighteenth Century as a Music-Historical Epoch, trans. Ernest Harriss, College Music Symposium 26 (1986), 16; for an insightful commentary on the volume, see Eugene K. Wolf, On the History and Historiography of Eighteenth-Century Music: Re ections on Dahlhauss Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, Journal of Musicological Research 10 (1991), 23955. 17 Handschin, Musikgeschichte im berblick, pp. 1527, 27376 (the latter passage is the introduction to his single [!] chapter entitled The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries). 18 Heinrich Besseler, Die Musik des Mittelalters und der Renaissance (Postdam: Athenaion, 1931); Ernst Bcken, Die Musik des Rokokos und der Klassik (Potsdam: Athenaion, 1928). 19 Lorenzo Bianconi, Music in the Seventeenth Century, trans. David Bryant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).


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the correlation between Dahlhauss and Bianconis organization by centuries rather than style periods, and their increased attention to institutional at the expense of compositional history, is not coincidental.) The course of a given period in any domain whether the output of an individual artist, an entire artistic repertory, or even the fate of nations and empiresis usually understood in terms of the organic narrative: growthmaturitydecay. In particular, because the condition of maturity appears at the midpoint or climax, it is almost predestined to function as the foundational metaphor for historical investigations of style.20 The danger is that the idealizing tendencies of organicist thinking induce us to think of a style period in terms of any discoverable unity within it (Dahlhauss uni ed coherence)as well as whatever is conceptually most distinct from the preceding and following periods. A telling indication of this orientation is the tendency to graph the temporal course of a period by means of a sine-curve or bellshaped curve, which begins, so to speak, at 0 on the x-axis, mounts smoothly upwards to a high point, more or less in the middle (occasionally two-thirds of the way along, corresponding to the golden section and to the preferred placement of dramatic climaxes), and descends into insigni cance (illustrations are given below). The high point represents the conceptual unity of the period (everything foreign is minimized); conversely the zero-point at the beginning and end signi es the effective absence of those characteristics, compared to others proper to the preceding and following periods. Hence even an ostensibly nominalistic period construction is everything other than objective or value-free; the organic worldview is as value-laden as anything in our culture, perhaps especially when it functions covertly.21 This applies particularly to the centuries: just as, during the postReformation transition to the modern world, the traditional sense of a century as a mere

marker of chronology gradually turned into a signifying substantive (the French equivalent to the Enlightenment was, and is, le sicle des lumires),22 so Dahlhauss ideal of a musichistorical century as a neutral site where we may hope to discover wie es eigentlich gewesen is unlikely to be realized in practice. Notwithstanding the sophistication of Dahlhauss account of period construction, like most recent historians he says little about the relation between a given historical period and others. And yet the attempt to understand a given period in isolation is the historiographical equivalent of solipsism: a given period makes sense only in terms of its relations to its temporal neighbors, as an element in a periodization or multistage narrative. This is true even though periodizations are more value-laden than single periods; many depend on a small repertory of ideologically charged worldviews.23 Of these, the most important are the originary, in which phenomena are seen as having enjoyed their perfect or ideal manifestation in their earliest stage, followed by decline; the organic (just described); and the teleological, in which phenomena are interpreted in terms of the goal or end to which they are thought to lead. Obviously, each worldview valorizes one of the three possible positions within a ternary periodization: beginning, middle, end. Contiguous periods, in both verbal descriptions and visual representations, tend to be represented as overlapping, rather than merely juxtaposed. Even with respect to generally accepted period divisions, for example Renaissance to Baroque, every teacher of music history explains that the latter did not commence precisely on 1 January 1600, but arose via a complex, decades-long process of change. These overlappings doubtless relate to the most pervasive organic periodizations we know, the stages of a human life and the rhythm of the seasons, in which the boundaries cannot be precisely determined: no single year marks the

Dahlhaus, Foundations of Music History, pp. 1318. On covert values in musicology, see Janet M. Levy, Covert and Casual Values in Recent Writings about Music, Journal of Musicology 5 (1987), 327; for organicism in particular, Ruth A. Solie, The Living Work: Organicism and Musical Analysis, this journal 4 (1980), 14756.
20 21

Koselleck, Futures Past, pp. 24647. For a systematic survey of periodizations, see Webster, The Concept of Beethovens Early Period in the Context of Periodizations in General, Beethoven Forum 3 (1994), 127.
22 23


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change from maturity to old age, no single day (despite the solstice) the onset of winter. Although in the imagination (not in reality) winter is a zero-state of dormancy, it is not a mere point in time but a period in its own right, indeed a teleologically charged one, pointing toward the renewal of spring. This orientation manifests itself verbally in the ubiquitous metaphors of decay and rebirth to describe such changes, whether for individual uvres or entire style periods. Thus for Maynard Solomon, Beethovens transitions from one period to another were marked by crises, in which the prevailing style either reaches its outer limits of development or undergoes a process of disintegration or exhaustion, while a new style, which will predominate in the succeeding period, may begin to emerge.24 For Dahlhaus, the years 17891814 constitute an overtly transitional pre-Romantic period.25 Often it is precisely the metaphorical seeds produced during the maturity of the preceding period that are thought to generate the new periods growth. All this may explain why we often construe the transitions between periods as subsidiary periods in their own right. Two familiar examples in music history (both borrowed from art history) are mannerism as linking Renaissance and Baroque, and the (now pass) Rococo as bridging Baroque and Classical. Whether such linking phases are best considered transitions or small-scale, independent periods cannot be generalized about, but can be determined only by each individual observer in each individual case, in part on the basis of prerational notions as to whether or not all periods must have approximately the same length or weight. Examples from around 1800 will be given below. A nal methodological issue involves the notion that, within a given area or culture, events in the various domains of human activity

politics, economics, mentalits, the arts, and so on; and similarly within the several arts re ect a single Zeitgeist; or, less controversially, that they participate together in a structural history, developing in temporally congruent patterns that can be related to a coherent general tendency, for example the rise of modernism around 1900. 26 By and large, Zeitgeist thinking in its cruder forms is now rejected by comparative historians, in favor of what Eugene K. Wolf has engagingly called contrapuntal history; one might also suggest multivalent, owing to the analogy with a leading current paradigm of musical analysis.27 The thesis is simply that events in different domains do not necessarily run parallel: they may differ in character or value at a given place and time; they may develop differentially, regarding both the dates of their beginning, middle, and end stages and their rates of development; and these differences apply both within a given region and across different ones.28 The watersheds between periods can occur at different times, whether in different domains in the same geographical area (the Renaissance in music both began and ended later than in the visual arts and literatureand this is not a problem, but an opportunity), or in a single domain in different areas (the musical Baroque persisted longer in Protestant Germany and the Hapsburg lands than in France or Italy). Of course, one can argue that even a single domain in a single areasay, music in Vienna 17801815was subject to heterogeneous or even opposing forces and values, such that to de ne it as the x period privileges certain

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Maynard Solomon, The Creative Periods of Beethoven (1973), rpt. in his Beethoven Essays (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 122. 25 Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, pp. 1920, 5556, and Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 6268, 33545. Dahlhaus himself (p. 63) confesses his embarrassment with the Verlegenheitsterminus Vorromantik.

Dahlhaus, Foundations of Music History, chap. 9. For accessible critiques of Zeitgeist thinking, see William Weber, Toward a Dialogue Between Historians and Musicologists, Musica e storia 1 (1993), 721 (here, 1518); Beyond Zeitgeist: Recent Work in Music History, Journal of Modern History 66 (1994), 32145. 27 For contrapuntal history, see Wolf, The Eighteenth Century, p. 240. The term multivalence was coined by Harold S. Powers in a (still) unpublished study of Verdis Otello, presented at a Verdi-Wagner conference at Cornell University in 1984. For discussion and use, see Webster, The Analysis of Mozarts Arias, in Mozart Studies, ed. Cliff Eisen (London: Clarendon Press, 1991), pp. 10199, and The Form of the Finale of Beethovens Ninth Symphony, Beethoven Forum 1 (1992), 2562. 28 Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic of Reception, pp. 3639.


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characteristics or criteria and thereby understates its complexity or perpetuates a covert agenda. On the other hand, in this context the celebration of multifariousness eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns: even if the understanding of historical phenomena that periods offer is always partial and self-interested, the only alternative isno understanding at all. As a consequence of historical multivalence (to come to this obvious point at last), a historical century need not coincide with the calendar. The nineteenth can be construed, not as having lasted precisely from 1800 to 1900 but, depending on which characteristics are taken as de ning, as having begun before or after 1800, or ended before or after 1900, and hence as having been, as a whole, shorter or longer than 100 years. Many historians have written of the long nineteenth century, beginning in 1789 or 1782 (or even around 1750) 29 and lasting until the outbreak of the First World War (this latter point is obvious, especially in the arts). But if this is true of (European) history in general, it is even truer of a single domain within it, such as European music; for example, in Dahlhauss parsing of music history the seventeenth century lasted from ca. 1600 to ca. 1720, the eighteenth from ca. 1720 to 1814, and the nineteenth, oddly (or interestingly), precisely 100 years, from 1814 to 1914. In recent German historiography, nally, much has been made of the contemporaneity of the non-contemporaneous (Gleichzeitigkeit des Ungleichzeitigen), and its converse.30 A simple example in our eld is the common notion that an artwork is ahead of its time (which admittedly makes less sense the longer
For the year 1789, see E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, 17891848 (Cleveland: World, 1962), p. 1; for 1782, see George Macauley Trevelyan, British History in the Nineteenth Century (17821901) (London: Longmans, Green, 1922), p. viii; and for 1750, Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968), p. 1. Cf. David Blackbourn, The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany 17801918 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). 30 Ernst Bloch, Nonsynchronism and the Obligation to Its Dialectics, trans. Mark Ritter, New German Critique 11 (1977), 2238; Dahlhaus, Gleichzeitigkeit des Ungleichzeitigen, Musica 41 (1987), 30710; Koselleck, Futures Past, pp. 92105.

one ponders it). As a generalized methodology it encourages historians to consider events from different times and domains as belonging together, notionally and possibly even essentially, and conversely. Although this concept is clearly usefulthere are real advantages (as well as disadvantages) to treating the musical Renaissance together with those in art and literature, despite its later dateit tends to preserve Zeitgeist thinking after all, because it still privileges the notion of a deep or real connectedness across domains and decades and therefore often ignores the variety and messiness of history wie es eigentlich gewesen. A relevant example is Dahlhauss astonishing assertion that the revolutionary stance of the Eroica [Symphony] has never been denied: in the inner chronology of world history, the work cries out to be backdated to 1789.31 This is scarcely more than the vulgar Marxism that elsewhere he took pains to disparage: it places the Eroica in the position of a mere artistic event on the ephemeral superstructure that overlay the real, material-political base represented by the French Revolution. (For music historians, why shouldnt the latter equally well cry out to be foredated to 1803?) What cries out for skepticismnotwithstanding Beethovens having toyed with the title Bonaparteis the uncritical assumption of an inner chronology of world history: of a necessary connection between a political and social revolution in France beginning in 1789, and a symphony composed and premiered in the very unrevolutionary Vienna of 180304. As this example suggests, notwithstanding his consistent problematizations of period construction,32 Dahlhaus often ends up reifying traditional watersheds of political-military history. Thus his division-points within eighteenth-century music history fall at 1745, 1763, and 1789, while his nineteenth century ts comfortably within the years 1814 and 1914
Dahlhaus, Ludwig van Beethoven: Approaches to His Music, trans. Mary Whittall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p. 16; admittedly, he attempts to relativize this salvo in Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 33639. 32 Dahlhaus, Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 18, 71 72, 13947, 22731, 33538 (plus a generalized problematizing paragraph on p. 24); Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, pp. 18, 5457, 11417, 19295, 26365, 33039.


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years whose signi cance derives in the main from political history; this premise encourages us to divide the century into subperiods or evolutionary stages bounded by dates such as 1830 and 1848 which are regarded as turning points in political history.33 Even the boundary between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is placed at 1814 (which I would gloss as 181415), marked by the collapse of the French empire and the Congress of Vienna. The relative autonomy of music history, of which in other contexts Dahlhaus made so much,34 is honored mainly in the breach. First Viennese Modernism In thinking anew about the history of music around 1800, the rst step must be to jettison the traditional notion regarding the eighteenth century, namely that it comprised the Baroque and Classical periods, with the former lasting until roughly the middle of the century, the latter then supplanting it and being supplanted in turn by the Romantic at the beginning of the nineteenth (see g. 1a). As is true of watersheds generally, in this construction both divides are often bridged by transitional phases ( g. 1b): Rococo or Pre-Classical in the one case, Beethoven in the other. Today this notion seems insupportable, if only because it derived primarily from a nineteenth-century Germanic hypostatization of Bach as a teleological culminationin ignorance of the chronology of his church cantatas, and without regard for the atypicality of his music and his relative isolation, or the many progressive aspects of his musical orientation and style, during the second quarter of the eighteenth century.35 Indeed, there are good reasons to maintain that, with respect to Europe as a whole, not only did the musical Baroque not last beyond

1720 or so, but that the years roughly from 1720 to 1780 constituted a period in their own right ( g. 1c). Admittedly, there is as yet no agreement on what to name it; if one did not fear that brevity equated to insigni cance, one could call it the short eighteenth century in music history. It was dominated intellectually by the Enlightenment, culturally and institutionally by the international system of court opera in Italian, and aesthetically and stylistically by two ideals: neo-Classicism (in the sense of an intended renaissance of the values and ideals of Classical antiquity, as manifested, for example, in tragdie lyrique, opera seria, and Gluck) and the galant, in a broad sense encompassing not only easy listening and social grace, but Rousseaus ideal of melody speaking directly to the listener.36 As of the 1760s was added the ideal of sensibility, as manifested, for example, in an entire subgenre of opera buffa from Goldonis and Piccinnis La buona gliuola (1760) to Figaro and beyond,37 and in the Emp ndsamkeit of C. P. E. Bachs keyboard works. Since a composite moniker covering all these aspects will not do, I suggest simply Enlightenment/galant, notwithstanding the manifold historiographical problems associated with the former concept and the fact that it was more a scienti c-humanistic movement than an artistic one.38 Furthermore, as is required of a meaningful period construction,
In a characteristically complex argument, Dahlhaus concludes that even though the galant, as a primarily social ideal originating in the seventeenth century, is problematical when employed as a global characterization of the musical style of the mid-eighteenth, it is nevertheless defensible (Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 24, 2432). Indeed eighteenth-century writers routinely used it as a general term for free styles; see Leonard G. Ratner, Classic Music: Expression, Form, and Style (New York: Schirmer, 1980), pp. xv, 16; David A. Sheldon, The Concept galant in the Eighteenth Century, Journal of Musicological Research 9 (198990), 89108. 37 Mary Hunter, Pamela: The Offspring of Richardsons Heroine in Eighteenth-Century Opera, Mosaic 18 (1985), 6176; Stefano Castelvecchi, From Nina to Nina: Psychodrama, Absorption and Sentiment in the 1780s, Cambridge Opera Journal 8 (1996), 91112; Waldoff, Sentiment and Sensibility in La vera costanza, in Haydn Studies, ed. W. Dean Sutcliffe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 70119; Hunter, Rousseau, the Countess, and the Female Domain, in Mozart Studies, ed. Cliff Eisen, vol. II (London: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 126. 38 Weber, Toward a Dialogue, pp. 1314; Berkhofer, Beyond the Great Story, pp. 22526.

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, pp. 1, 54. For example, Dahlhaus, Foundations of Music History, chap. 8. 35 Stephen A. Crist, Beyond Bach-Centrism: Historiographic Perspectives on Johann Sebastian Bach and Seventeenth-Century Music, College Music Symposium 3334 (199394), 5669. The original and stil l valuable relativization of the traditional picture of Bach was Robert L. Marshall, Bach the Progressive: Observations on His Later Works, Musical Quarterly 62 (1976), 31357.
33 34


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a. Traditional style periods.

~1750 Baroque Classical ~1800 Romantic

b. Traditional style periods with overlapping transitional periods.

~1750 Baroque
Rococo Pre-Classical

~1800 Classical
(middle) Beethoven


c. European-oriented (institutional history).

~1660 ~1720 International Italian Opera Enlightenment Galant ~1780 ? ~1815 Romantic

(late) Baroque

d. Viennese-oriented (modernism).
~1660 (late) Baroque ~1750 First Viennese Modernism
Turn 1 180915

180930 Romantic Trans.

Turn 2 182730

e. Viennese-European double perspective.

~1720 International Italian opera Enlightenment Galant mimesis ~1780 Haydns sublime Mozart reception Beethoven mimesis expression 180915 Romantic


f. Dahlhaus.
~1720 eighteenth century 1814 nineteenth century

g. Finscher.
1780 Pre-Classical Classical 1800 Romantic

Figure 1: Some periodizations of eighteenth-century music.


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in all these respects 172080 differed fundamentally from both the preceding years (which may still count as the Baroque) and the following ones. Such distinguished (and different) authorities as Dahlhaus, Leonard G. Ratner, and Daniel Heartz have urged various aspects of this interpretation,39 and on the whole it seems persuasive to me. To revert to the years around 1800, however, this construction implies that a subsequent music-historical period began around 1780 again, one that has no name. This suggests renewed attention to Friedrich Blumes notion of a single Classic-Romantic period stretching all the way to 1900 or 1914,40 except that in my view it must be seen as having begun not around 1750 but rather 1780. A long nineteenth century indeed! Notwithstanding Dahlhauss provisional objection (which admittedly he himself relativizes) that important new genres such as the Lied and the characteristic piano piece strike a fundamentally new tone after ca. 1815,41 the coherence of structural music history during the period 17801900 seems incontrovertible: see the steady expansion of both bourgeois musical life and institutions and the canon of masterworks, as well as the strong continuities affecting many other genres, form- and movement-types, multimovement cyclic patterns, tonality, thematically based logic, narrative paradigms, and so on. The aesthetic continuities were equally strong. Like Blume, Dahlhaus projects the eighteenth century forward into the nineteenth, albeit only up to 1814. In place of stylistic and generic continuities he adduces four aesthetic ones: acceptance of the organism model for

musical coherence; a belief in the originality postulate; the aesthetic of the sublime; and the presence of historical consciousness regarding past music.42 This composite is a nearequivalent to Lydia Goehrs regulative workconcept, likewise seen as having originated between 1780 and 1800. 43 This concept (in whichever guise) dominated musical aesthetics throughout the nineteenth century (and remained regulative in many respects during much of the twentieth as well). Thus systemic, stylistic/generic, and aesthetic factors all suggest the cogency of a music-historical period that bridges 1800, rather than beginning then. Although I agree with the thesis of large-scale continuities beginning around 1780 and lasting well past 1800, my own construction focuses instead on what I call First Viennese Modernism (referring to both style and period). By this I understand the music of the Viennese realmbut only that realmfrom 1740 or 1750 until 1810/15 or 1827/30 ( g. 1d). Admittedly, and corresponding to the preceding argument, within this period the phase beginning around 1780 has a special status, to which I shall turn in due course. The preconditions for Viennese musical modernism began to emerge around 1740: politically with the death of Charles VI and the accession of Maria Theresa; musically with the deaths of Caldara and Fux and the (at least notionally related) emergence of an indigenous galant instrumental music.44 This division point does not correspond with the general European style change around 1720 or 1730; indeed it corresponds to the otherwise discredited Baroque/Classical division around 1750. This is not a problem; it is simply that Baroque styles and institutions maintained themselves longer in the Hapsburg realm than in other regions as stated, until 1740.

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Dahlhaus, Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 38 (with the variant -1789 rather than -1780 and with the ensuing [sub]-period problematically rubricked as pre-Romanticism [cf. above]); Ratner, Classic Music; Heartz, Classical, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (2nd edn. New York: Macmillan, 2001), vol. 5, pp. 92429. 40 In Blumes articles Klassik and Romantik in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allgemeine Enzyklopdie der Musik, ed. Blume (Kassel: Brenreiter, 1949 68); trans. M. D. Herter Norton as Classic and Romantic Music: A Comprehensive Survey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1970), where the thesis is stated in pointed form on pp. viiviii. 41 Dahlhaus, Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, p. 65.

Ibid., pp. 6263. Lydia Goehr, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992). 44 This reading is also found in Heartz, Viennese School, pp. xviixviii, et passim, and in The New Grove Dictionary, 2nd edn., vol. 26, pp. 55455 (this section of the Vienna article was written not by a musicologist but by Derek Beales, the distinguished biographer of Joseph II).
42 43


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Depending on the criteria, this period can be seen as having extended to either ca. 180915 or ca. 182730. The 180915 divide began with the bombardment and occupation of Vienna by the French in mid-May 1809 (and the pathos of Haydns death two weeks later, which conrmed the valedictory function of the famous performance of the Creation the preceding year). This defeat led to the collapse of the economic system and virulent in ation; one of its effects was the permanent decline of the noble patronage system for music, which until then had functioned unchallenged, concretized for us by the rapid loss in real value of Beethovens socalled annuity of 1809. 45 (For those who focus on Beethovens personal style, his adoption of a less heroic and more lyrical vein beginning around 1809 ts well into this picture.46) This phase ended in 181415, years marked politically by the Congress of Vienna and the conservative stabilization thus brought about, institutionally by the founding of what would become the Gesellschaft fr Musikfreunde, and musically by Schuberts mature Lieder beginning with Erlknig and Gretchen am Spinnrade and Beethovens temporary retreat into silence. The importance of the latter is emphasized (for us) by his subsequent turn to a very different late style. The latter, however, was contemporaneous with the triumph of Rossini; indeed by the 1820s Viennese musical life had begun to assume an entirely new character, leading to the duality Beethoven vs. Rossini (German vs. Italian-French, symphony vs. opera, art as Kultur vs. art in culture) that dominated the historiography of nineteenth-century music from Kiesewetter to Dahlhaus.47 The later potential ending-divide, 182730, is de ned more simply on the basis of the deaths of Beethoven and Schubert and Viennas eclipse as a center of European composition, not only by Berlin

and Leipzig, but even more by Paris following the restoration of 1830, symbolized by the premiere of Berliozs Symphonie fantastique in that year. Although any of these details might be disputed, the notion of a Viennese musical period lasting from roughly the middle of the eighteenth century through the rst quarter of the nineteenth is unquestionably tenable. Indeed, it may make the most sense to construe the entire span 180930 as its long nal phase (see again g. 1d). This corresponds chronologically to one of the traditional ways of parsing the Classical period, although (and this is central to my conception) my construction is geographically restricted and makes no claim to validity in other regions, let alone for Europe as a whole. From a different perspective (to be described below) the shorter period 17801815 may seem to have been decisive. In either case, however, to conceptualize these years as First Viennese Modernism requires explication, indeed with respect to each of its terms. First: Obviously, if this period is to be understood as representing modernity in any sense, then it can only be as a rst or early one, because the concept modern as such cannot be dissociated from the powerful and widespread changes in virtually all scienti c, intellectual, and artistic domains at the beginning of the twentieth century. Indeed from todays perspective one construes the period ca. 190075 as that of high modernism,48 which was followed either by postmodernism (as I believe) or by the equally troubling, eternally deferred unnished project of late modernism, in the famous phrase of Habermas.49 (Notwithstanding

Solomon, Beethoven (2nd rev. edn. New York: Schirmer, 1998), pp. 19394. 46 On this subperiod, see The New Grove Dictionary, 2nd edn., vol. 3, pp. 96, 102; Dahlhaus, Beethoven, p. 203. 47 Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, pp. 815 (The Twin Styles); for critiques, see Gossett, Up from Beethoven, New York Review of Books, 26 October 1989, pp. 2126; Lawrence Kramer, Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), pp. 4651.

See, e.g., Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991), p. 55: the evaluation of what must now be called high or classical [!] modernism. Jamesons chap. 2, Theories of the Postmodern, is a useful, skeptical introduction to the contested issue of the relations between modernism and postmodernism; regarding historical writing, see Berkhofer, Beyond the Great Story, chaps. 1, 8, 9. For a more optimistic account oriented toward music, see Kramer, Classical Music, pp. 125 et passim. 49 Jrgen Habermas, Die ModerneEin unvollendetes Projekt, in Kleine politische Schriften (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1981), pp. 44464.


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the vast literature, there has been as far as I see relatively little acknowledgment that postmodernism is not merely a sensibility, but a historical periodthe one we are living in.50 Perhaps this re ects the general recent tendency to avoid periodistic thinking, described above. In fact, however, any time or sensibility that sees itself as following and differing from that which preceded it constitutes or inhabits a distinct period.) Of course, until recently the canonical sense of twentieth-century modernism would have fatally compromised any concept of First Viennese Modernism before and after 1800. But twentieth-century modernism no longer enjoys its quasi-mythical status as the goal of postrevolutionary history in the artsa status whose authority depended on the belief that it was in the course of being realized in ones own present. As just noted, it now belongs irretrievably to the past, its hegemony broken; today, modernism functions as scarcely more than an ostensibly nominalistic style and period designation, like any other. Moreover, during the last quarter-century postmodernism has extended into almost as many intellectual and cultural domains as did modernism around 1900, so that the latter also cannot be rescued by an appeal to its supposedly exceptional status as Zeitgeist. These strictures apply above all to the heroic myth of musical modernism, with its avant-garde, scandal-ridden works of Schoenberg (and Stravinsky) that later became canonized, the teleological role of serialism as the culmination of thematic logic from Haydn through Brahms, and all the rest. Notwithstanding its promulgation by such important gures as Adorno and Dahlhaus, it now stands exposed as a classic example of bad old evolutionist thinking: nobody any longer shares Dahlhauss con dent belief in the ability to distinguish between those twentieth-century works that will last, and those, as he liked to say, that must be tossed into the dustbin of

history. 51 Even the (by modernists) once-despised Richard Strauss is now increasingly seen as a legitimate exemplar, a reading that conforms to that of Dahlhaus and other German scholars who employ the term modernism speci cally for the subperiod 18891914 (or 1918).52 Like that of modernism in general, the hegemony of musical modernism declined rapidly after ca. 1965, to be replaced by a stillexfoliating pluralism whose further course nobody even pretends to know. This change is clearly acknowledged in the recent literature.53 In Hermann Danusers volume on the twentieth century in Dahlhauss Neues Handbuch, the nal chapter is titled 19501970 and includes only a brief Ausblick on modernism, postmodernism, and neomodernism. 54 To be fair, one must add that it was published in 1984, well before the end of the chronological century; this only makes more telling Danusers clear sense that high modernism had already run its course. The rst edition (1981) of Paul Grif thss widely read volume on music after World War II was titled Modern Music: The Avant Garde since 1945, conveying the sense that high modernism was alive and well; in the second (1995) this was altered to Modern Music and After, with equally strong implications that are clearly expressed in the text (the new section devoted to modernisms afterlife is titled Many Rivers).55 A recent political-musical study by Anne

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Again, Jameson (Postmodernism, pp. 3536, 5961) gives this sense clearly.

The concept of the New Music . . . serves to make a portion of the works created during the 20th century stand out from the mass of the remaining ones (emphases added): Neue Musik als historische Kategorie (1969), rpt. Dahlhaus, Schnberg und andere: Gesammelte Aufstze zur Neuen Musik (Mainz: Schott, 1978), p. 29. 52 Walter Werbeck, Richard Strauss und die musikalische Moderne, in Richard Strauss und die Moderne: Bericht ber das Internationale Symposium Mnchen, 21. bis 23. Juli 1999, ed. Bernd Edelmann et al. (Berlin: Henschel, 2001), pp. 3137; Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, pp. 33039; Danuser, Die Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts (Laaber: Laaber, 1984), pp. 1324. 53 Including, in one form or another, by all the participants in the conference Music and the Aesthetics of Modernity held at Harvard University, November 2001 (it is planned to publish the papers in a volume edited by Karol Berger and Anthony Newcomb). 54 Danuser, Die Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts, pp. 392406. 55 Paul Grif ths, Modern Music: The Avant Garde since 1945 and Modern Music and After (London: Dent, 1981; Oxford University Press, 1995).


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Shref er places the divide as early as ca. 1965;56 the sociologically oriented Leon Botstein likewise concludes that heroic musical modernism died out in the mid-1970s. 57 Modern music, in this newly historicized and relativized sense, can no longer serve as a basis for rejecting concepts of earlier modernisms in music, even emphatic ones. Viennese: Strictly speaking, one should employ the ugly term Viennese-European. For a critical aspect of my construction is that the beginnings of this music were local and modest, while its long-term effects were aesthetically and historically decisive across the entire continent. To be sure, although there were important local traditions such as the sacred pastorella and Hanswurst-type dramatic productions, Viennese vocal music at midcentury depended primarily on foreign genres and styles: Italianate sacred vocal music and opera seria, and French ballet and opra comique (the latter two a hallmark of the new sensibility after 1740);58 in the later 1760s opera buffa became important as well.59 By contrast, after 1740 Viennese instrumental music was chie y local and galant in orientation; the in uence of C. P. E. Bach, for example, cannot be documented there until the late 1760s, whether in terms of the dissemination of his works or compositional reception.60 Similarly, at rst this music had little resonance elsewhere; the theorists and journalists who debated the burning issues of the day scarcely took notice of Vienna, unless it was to

complain about the mixture of high and low style in its instrumental music, which seemed to them a violation of cogency and a breach of decorum.61 Even Haydns early instrumental works conform to this picture; publications of his music abroad did not begin to appear until 1764,62 reviews and critical commentary not until 176668.63 On the other hand, as Heartz emphasizes, Vienna already boasted of noteworthy achievements in the years immediately following 1750;64 one need add only Haydns early string quartets, original and masterly despite their unassuming outward dimensions,65 and his imposing symphonic trilogy Le MatinLe Midi-Le Soir of 1761. In short, this music had no need of synthesis, as the evolutionist sense of Classical style must posit; it developed largely on its own. That growth was tremendous, in both vocal genres and the rapidly developing instrumental ones. As early as the so-called Sturm und Drang of the late 1760s and early 1770s, there must have been a conscious demand for great music; see Haydns Quartets from op. 9 through op. 20, perhaps composed for (unidenti ed) Viennese patrons,66 not to mention his astonishing Esterhzy symphonies from the same years. Even against this background, however, the 1780s witnessed a new musical culture;

Anne Shref er, Ideologies of Serialism: The Political Implications of Modernist Music, 19451965, delivered at the Harvard conference, in which 1965 marked the end of high modernism. 57 Leon Botstein, Modernism, in The New Grove Dictionary, 2nd edn., vol. 16, p. 873. 58 Bruce Alan Brown, Gluck and the French Theatre in Vienna (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). 59 Opera Buffa in Mozarts Vienna, ed. Mary Hunter and James Webster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). 60 A. Peter Brown, Joseph Haydns Keyboard Music: Sources and Style (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), chap. 7; Ulrich Leisinger, Joseph Haydn und die Entwicklung des klassischen Klavierstils bis ca. 1785 (Laaber: Laaber, 1994), chap. 7; Bernard Harrison, Haydns Keyboard Music: Studies in Performance Practice (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), chap. 5.

Ratner, Classic Music, p. xv. Joseph Haydn: Werke, XII/1, critical report, p. 25; Webster, The Chronology of Haydns String Quartets, Musical Quarterly 61 (1975), 35, n. 43. 63 Extensive quotations in H. C. Robbins Landon, Haydn: Chronicle and Works, vol. 2, Haydn at Eszterhza, 1766 1790 (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1978), pp. 12832, 15455 et passim; Gretchen Wheelock, Haydns Ingenious Jesting with Art: Contexts of Musical Wit and Humor (New York: Schirmer, 1992), chap. 3. 64 Heartz, Viennese School, chap. 2. 65 Webster, Freedom of Form in Haydns Early String Quartets, in Haydn Studies: Proceedings of the International Haydn Conference, Washington, D.C., 1975, ed. Jens Peter Larsen et al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1981), pp. 522 30; Haydns frhe Ensemble-Divertimenti: Geschlossene Gattung, meisterhafter Satz, in Gesellschaftsgebundene instrumentale Unterhaltungsmusik des 18. Jahrhundert, ed. Hubert Unverricht (Tutzing: H. Schneider, 1992), pp. 87103. 66 There are no original sources for these works surviving from the Esterhzy court, and Burney described a rapturously attended performance of Haydn quartets (presumably op. 17 or op. 20) in Vienna in 1772: The Present State of Music in Germany, vol. I (2nd edn. London, 1775; facs. New York: Broude, 1969), p. 294.
61 62


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indeed Viennese intellectual and cultural life altogether ourished under Joseph II as never before, nor would again until the later nineteenth century.67 The court assumed a far more important role in public musical life; in 1778 Joseph founded the National-Theater for German drama and Singspiel (for which Mozart composed Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail), followed in 1783 by the new opera buffa troupe (for which he composed Figaro and Cos fan tutte). A local music printing industry emerged for the rst time, led by Artaria (likewise founded in 1778), who quickly became Haydns leading publisher; it fostered tremendous growth in genres that appealed to both connoisseurs and amateurs and hence could be composed expressly for publication (primarily chamber music, but also music for orchestra and solo keyboard, as well as Lieder). Of particular signi cance, in part because it established a pattern that lasted well past 1800, was a new convergence between the activities of in uential patrons and composers own artistic strivings. As of 177980 Haydn enjoyed a signi cantly increased degree of compositional independence from the Esterhzy court (a fact whose wide rami cations have only recently become evident).68 Notwithstanding his restricted residence in Vienna of two months per year, he secured patronage from, among others, Baron Gottfried van Swieten; Hofrat Franz Sales von Greiner, whose wife presided over the leading Viennese salon and whose daughter later became famous as Caroline Pichler; Anton Liebe von Kreutzner, a wealthy provisioner to the Hapsburg court; Hofrat Franz Erhard von Kee; and Michael Puchberg, better known as the recipient of Mozarts pathetic begging letters from the late 1780s. Of course, Mozarts arrival in 1781 had already led to his and Haydns friendship, which, whatever the (somewhat contested) truth about its character or intensity, was of incalculable importance for both composers compositional development. The rest (as they say) is history. Beginning in the 1780s Viennese music witnessed a steady

rise in productivity, compositional technique, and artistic pretension. Until 1809, the systems that sustained itmodes of composition and publication, noble patrons, musical institutions (including theaters, academies and private establishments, as well as middleclass musical activity), generic preferences, and so onremained essentially unchanged, notwithstanding the death of Joseph (and hence of the opera buffa) and the increased degree of political repression under Leopold II and Francis II, motivated in the rst instance by the French Revolution. As this music developed, it generated not only increasingly impressive examples in the new instrumental styles, but also radical and programmatic masterworks such as the Seven Last Words on the Cross and the Eroica Symphony, as well as humanistically uplifting works on the largest scale, such as Die Zauber te, the Creation, and Leonore/Fidelio. Beyond that, its reception became increasingly positive and enthusiastic until, around 1800, it culminated in a pan-European triumph, symbolized by the reception of the Creation (and of Mozart, after his death). It is this double triumphcompositional and in terms of receptionthat justi es making this music, despite its local origins, the basis of a historical period. Modernismon at least four grounds: (1) Viennese instrumental music oriented toward the galant began to be critically discussed elsewhere in the mid-1760s. Although its initial reception was not only spotty but disapproving, even then it was uniformly understood as new; from around 1780 on it was almost always hailed as pathbreaking, unprecedented; in a word, as modern (cf. point [3] below). Its modernity is therefore not compelled to emerge from a retrospective assessment, as is the case with its so-called Classicism (or any classic art).69 On the contrary, except in the case of Beethoven, its later reception as Classical has precisely hindered our appreciation of it as modern.

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Derek Beales, Vienna, in The New Grove Dictionary, 2nd edn., vol. 26, p. 558. 68 Webster, Haydn, Joseph, ibid., vol. 11, p. 181.

As even Charles Rosen acknowledges in Washington Haydn Conference 1975, p. 345.



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(2) With the exception of Handels oratorios in England, this music (in its post-1780 phase) is the earliest repertory that has enjoyed an unbroken tradition of performance and study from its own day to ours. Put another way, it was an essential component of the original canon of masterworks created in the late eighteenth and (especially) early nineteenth centuries, against which, in turn, twentieth-century modernism was created.70 These links constitute the primary justi cation for claiming that this repertory was modern in an emphatic sense, even while denying an analogous status for other new musics of the past such as the ars nova of the fourteenth century or the seconda prattica the nuove musiche around 1600.71 A telling (if amusing) indication of this linkage was the function of the Classical troika, Haydn-Mozart-Beethoven, as model and hoped-for legimitization of the Second Viennese School, Schoenberg-Berg-Webern. (3) It was in Vienna before and after 1780 that the rst quasi-autonomous instrumental music developed. Like many others before him, E. T. A. Hoffmann called Haydn and Mozart the creators of modern instrumental music (die Schpfer der neuern Instrumentalmusik); like nobody before him, he also called them and especially Beethoven the rst musical Romantics (which is to say, moderns) and thus recruited them for the future canon of absolute music.72 Haydn and Beethoven were the rst composers systematically to exploit what later came to be called musical logic.73 WithOn the formation of the canon, see William Weber, The Rise of Musical Classics in Eighteenth-Century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual and Ideology (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992); Marcia Citron, Gender and the Musical Canon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). 71 Dahlhaus, Neue Musik als historische Kategorie, p. 71; cf. the text corresponding to n. 76. Thus I would reject the implication conveyed by Leo Schrades title Monteverdi: Creator of Modern Music (New York: Norton, 1950). 72 In his famous review of Beethovens Symphony No. 5 (1810), rpt. in Hoffmann, Schriften zur Musik; Nachlese, ed. Friedrich Schnapp (Munich: Winkler, 1963), p. 35; trans. in Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, ed. Elliot Forbes (New York: W. W. Norton, 1971), pp. 15152. (The comparative neuer is aptly translated as modern in this context.) 73 Not, of course, that Mozart lacks logic, but his seems to be of a different kind; at any rate, it has not been a topic of musicological discourse in the same way. This issue warrants a separate study.

out employing the term, Charles Rosen brilliantly describes Haydns modernity: This sense that . . . the development and the dramatic course of a work all can be found latent in the material, that the material can be made to release its charged force so that the music . . . is literally impelled from withinthis . . . new conception of musical art changed all that followed it. 74 One can go further: like Beethoven, Haydn composed music about music: works that not only are music but also problematize it. For Beethoven this assertion may count as self-evident; for Haydn it will suf ce to cite the tonally ambiguous opening of the String Quartet, op. 33, no. 1 (and its consequences), and the nale of op. 33, no. 2; the latter, far from being merely the joke that has lent the work its nickname, is a profound essay in what it means to end, or to begin, a musical composition in the rst place.75 Selfre exivity of this kind is a hallmark of modernism in the artswith the proviso, as Reinhold Brinkmann has recently pointed out, that mere self-re exivity is not enough; to be genuinely modern such phenomena must take on historical; i.e., broad and lasting, signi cance (cf. point [2]).76 (4) Most importantly, this music coincided with the beginnings of modern (i.e., postrevolutionary) history. 77 Nineteenth-century German historians named the eighteenth, emphatically, die neueste Zeit (as opposed to the mere Neuzeit, equivalent to our early modern history, which had begun around 1500).78 Ever since, historians and literary-cultural scholars

Rosen, The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven (New York: Viking, 1971), p. 120. 75 On No. 1, see Webster, Haydns Farewell Symphony, pp. 12731 (earlier discussions rely on a banally corrupt text that vitiates Haydns point); on No. 2, the most interesting of many discussions are perhaps Wheelock, Haydns Ingenious Jesting with Art, chap. 1; Gerhard J. Winkler: Opus 33/2: Zur Anatomie eines Schlueffekts, HaydnStudien 6 (1994), 28897. 76 Brinkmanns point was in response to a paper by Danuser on the self-re exive category of operas about opera, delivered at the Harvard conference cited in n. 53. 77 As was emphasized in Karol Bergers lead paper at the same conference (from which some of the following references are drawn). 78 Koselleck, Futures Past, pp. 23166.


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have conceptualized the (later) eighteenth century as having constituted the decisive phase in the creation of our world: Mircea Eliade and Marcel Gauchet as the disenchantment of the world, the supplanting of faith by reason;79 Ernst Robert Curtius and Jacques Le Goff as the nal dying-out of medieval mentalits under the pressure of the Industrial Revolution;80 Foucault as the age of normalization;81 Reinhart Koselleck as the Janus-faced Sattelzeit (saddle-period; i.e., cusp) in which many of the essential historical terms and concepts of modernity assumed their present guise;82 Hans Robert Jauss, in terms more explicitly relevant to this study, as the beginning of literary modernism.83 Similarly, Kants critical philosophy and its subsequent dialectical historicization by Hegel, whose joint foundational role into our own day is undeniable, spanned precisely the fty years 17801830. During the same years, music realized its new destiny as the highest and most Romantic of the arts, while yet, in distinction to genuine Romanticism, maintaining its traditional aesthetic function as mimesis; the age of absolute music dawned only later.84 As Dahlhaus emphasized, Hoffmanns apotheosis of the troika as Romanticsthat is, as moderns represented the transfer of a sensibility that had developed a half-generation earlier, in Protestant Germany, in a literary-aesthetic context,

Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Pantheon, 1954); Gauchet, The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion, trans. Oscar Burge (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997). 80 Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), pp. 1924, 58596; Le Goff, Limaginaire mdival: essais (Paris: Gallimard, 1985). 81 Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), pp. 17094. 82 See Kosellecks intro. to Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, ed. Otto Brunner et al., vol. I (Stuttgart: E. Klett, 1972), p. xv; compare Das achtzehnte Jahrhundert als Beginn der Neuzeit, in Epochenschwelle, ed. Herzog and Koselleck, pp. 26982. 83 Hans Robert Jauss, Der literarische Prozess des Modernismus von Rousseau bis Adorno, Epochenschwelle, pp. 24368. 84 Dahlhaus, The Idea of Absolute Music, trans. Roger Lustig (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), chap. 2.

to music from Catholic Austria: Not until Beethoven did the symphony become that which it had always claimed to be, but without actually being so.85 (He should have written Haydn, meaning the Haydn of the London symphonies, especially since he dismisses Mozarts G-Minor Symphony merely on the grounds that it scarcely . . . penetrated the consciousness of the musical public; this does not affect the larger point.) Musics role in these developments was not a matter of mere contemporaneity, but of cultural deeds no less signi cant or in uential than those of Kant and Hegel. Adornos writings on Beethoven have been seminal in this regard,86 although his underestimation of Haydn and Mozart, for whom he proposed no link to Kant comparable to the one he posited between Beethoven and Hegel, is no longer sustainable. The Kantian interpretation of Mozart and Beethoven as critical composers (Haydn still being marginalized) was rst argued seriously in English by Rose Rosengard Subotnik; she speculates interestingly that Adornos relative lack of interest in Haydn and Mozart may have derived from what seemed to him their excess (as it were) of perfection, their total integration of sound and meaning.87 What is missing from these and similar accounts is an adequate sense of how this music became something that could be placed alongside philosophy.88 As I have argued elsewhere, it did so most obviously by means of a new dynamic sublime (precisely in Kants sense), which was apotheosized in Haydns Creation

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Dahlhaus, E. T. A. Hoffmanns Beethoven-Kritik und die sthetik des Erhabenen, Archiv fr Musikwissenschaft 38 (1981), 7992 (here, 90), and cf. Romantische Musiksthetik und Wiener Klassik, ibid., 29 (1972), 289300. 86 Adorno, Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998). 87 Rose Rosengard Subotnik, Developing Variations: Style and Ideology in Western Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), chaps. 4, 7 (originally publ. 197982); the speculation is found on p. 50. The same applies to Dahlhaus, esp. regarding Mozart; see Webster, Dahlhauss Beethoven, pp. 21112. 88 Notwithstanding Subotniks claims for Mozarts last three symphonies (Developing Variations, chap. 6). But see Peter Glkes suggestive comments about Haydn in Nahezu ein Kant der Musik, Musik-Konzepte 41 (1985), 6773.


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both artistically and culturally-politically. 89 Indeed, the sublime was exploited by all three composers, most obviously by Haydn from 1791 to 1802 and Beethoven from 1803 to 12, during which the sublimity of Mozarts Requiem, Don Giovanni, and La clemenza di Tito was grasped as well, and the musical sublime rst theorized by C hristian Friedrich Michaelis and Hoffmann.90 And, to repeat, the triumph of this music was pan-European; the Haydn-MozartBeethoven style was imitated virtually everywhere until the rise of musical Romanticism in the emphatic sense, which, however, occurred only after 1810. The vast majority of Fields and Dusseks Romantic piano music originated in the second decade of the century; the same applies to Webers Lieder and piano works; the Lied is commonly regarded as having become a Romantic genre with Schuberts works of mid-decade. Hence, although this climactic phase does not yet have a name, it must be understood not as a mere transition, but as a period in its own right (see g 1e). It grew out of the Enlightenment, whichVienna still lagging behind other centers in this respectremained a decisive force at least up to 1800, as works like Die Zauber te and the Creation abundantly testify. Again like the Kantian period in philosophy, it links the Enlightenment with Romanticism, rather than dividing them. Neither the traditional black-and-white division of a Classical from a Romantic period of music history ( g. 1a) nor a straightforward periodization
Webster, The Creation, Haydns Late Vocal Music, and the Musical Sublime, in Haydn and His World, ed. Elaine Sisman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), pp. 57102. Kramer (Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge, pp. 8586) had already pointed out elements of blockage and aporia in Haydns Chaos, which in Kants account are necessary prerequisites for, or initial stages of, the experience of the sublime, and their resolution by the Creation of Light. 90 Sisman, Mozart: The Jupiter Symphony No. 41 in C Major (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), chap. 2, and Learned Style and the Rhetoric of the Sublime in the Jupiter Symphony, in Wolfgang Amad Mozart, pp. 22126, 23336; Michael Fend, Literary Motifs, Musical Form, and the Quest for the Sublime: Cherubinis Eliza ou le Voyage aux glaciers du Mont St Bernard, Cambridge Opera Journal 5 (1993), 1738; Michela Garda, Musica sublime: Metamorfosi di unidea nel Settecento musicale (Milan: Ricordi, 1995). On Michaelis, see Webster, The Creation, pp. 6164, 6869.

according to centuries la Dahlhaus ( g. 1f) can do justice to the character and effects of the music of the period 17801815. The concept of musical modernism is far more adequate to all this than either Classicism or Dahlhauss pre-Romanticism, whereby the fact that this modernism ourished in a relatively conservative (not reactionary) intellectual-social context doubtless contributed to its staying power in the long term. Haydn, Beethoven, and the Delayed Nineteenth Century In conclusion, I would like to explore brie y the later stages of First Viennese Modernism, those that impinge speci cally on the beginning of the music-historical nineteenth century. In particular, this construction seems tailor-made for understanding Beethoven, both compositionally and in terms of reception, without having to enter the tired debate as to whether he was a Classical or a Romantic composer. The key decade is the 1790s, which have been notably marginalized in the dominant narratives in comparison with both the 1780s (Haydns supposed mastery of Classical style with the String Quartets, op. 33) and the rst decade of the 1800s (the triumph of Beethovens heroic style). The argument (naturally) has three aspects. First, for Beethoven, the recent music of Mozart and Haydn was, precisely, modern: the newest and most imposing of all. In the central genres string quartet and symphony, it required at least a decade of strenuous effort (17931802) for him to make them his own.91 It was only on the basis of later developments, chief among them the reception of his own music, that Haydn and Mozart were turned into classics (a fate that soon thereafter befell him as well). One thinks of Adornos notion of the ageing of the new music, although he meant this in an entirely different sense.92 Of course, the

A cogent recent account is Lewis Lockwood, Beethoven before 1800: The Mozart Legacy, Beethoven Forum 3 (1994), 3952. 92 Theodor W. Adorno, Das Altern der Neuen Musik (1956), rpt. in Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann et al., vol. 14 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1980), pp. 14367.


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avant-garde aspects of Beethovens own behavior and style (which I would be the last to deny) were ipso facto modernist; indeed the pattern of reception, from incomprehension to canonization, is yet another similarity between the rst and second Viennese modernisms. Second, there is a strong analogy, based on their shared evolutionist orientation, between the insupportable marginalizations of Haydns music before 1781 (on the grounds of its supposed immaturity) 93 and of Beethovens early musicagain, taken to be that of the 1790s. In Beethovens case, the concept of Viennese modernism centering around 1800 permits us to judge these works without recourse to the shopworn notion of a merely preparatory phase in his personal development, teleologically subordinate to the new path around 1800 and the heroic style after 1803; and to free ourselves from the burden of concepts like imitation and in uence and the search for models for particular works. It also permits us to jettison the tired historiographical notion of a Classical style that he had to overcome, not to mention the silly and in part fabricated stories of his troubled relationship with Haydn.94 Instead, we may judge his works of the 1790s more simplyand more productivelyas among the most prominent, novel, and successful of their (very advanced) milieu. Third, the relationship between Haydn and Beethoven in the 1790s was a complementary one, in a positive sense, particularly when viewed in the context of Viennese musical life, many of whose systems and institutions, as noted above, functioned continuously until 1809. (I can only touch on the outer aspects of this relationship here; a fresh study of their compositional relations during this decade is sorely needed.) They often met and not infrequently collaborated in concerts. As had been the case for Haydn and Mozart during the 1780s, many leading Viennese patrons favored both composers, often in the same genre or genres in

more or less the same yearsalmost as if some of them had been carrying out a common project. Moreover, this support took place in, precisely, a modernist climate, in which these patrons certainly expected, and may well have demanded, ever newer works of ever higher artistic pretension. As Tia DeNora has persuasively argued, at least one cause of Beethovens artistic radicalism may have been precisely the need to both arouse and satisfy such expectations.95 (Might his angry outbursts at Prince Lichnowskys palace have been in part staged? Certainly Haydns triumph with the Creation was in substantial part arranged by Swieten and his colleagueswithout, of course, compromising Haydns artistic integrity.) Both composers produced an unbroken series of masterworks, together covering every important genre except opera, until Haydn had to lay down his pen in the winter of 180203. In his recent contributions to the debate on Classical style, Ludwig Finscher has proposed that Viennese Classicism should apply only to Haydn and Mozart, only to their instrumental music, and only during the two decades from 1780 to 1800. 96 Not only does this construction create an oddly hump-shaped miniphase that no longer even pretends to any status as a period (see g. 1g), it ignores the HaydnBeethoven relationship of the 1790s, even though the latter is analogous to the HaydnMozart relationship in the 1780s that he regards as fundamental, and even though it too falls within his two-decade period. I prefer the much longer span from around 1750 to 1809 15 or 182730 ( g. 1d), even though on one reading the years from 1780 to 1815 occupy a central and perhaps even privileged position within it ( g. 1e), and on another (as outlined above) the years 1809 to 1830 constitute its long, honorable fading into Romanticism.

JAMES WEBSTER First Viennese Modernism

Webster, Haydns Farewell Symphony, pp. 35766. Webster, The Falling-out Between Haydn and Beethoven: The Evidence of the Sources, in Beethoven Essays: Studies in Honor of Elliot Forbes, ed. Lewis Lockwood and Phyllis Benjamin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Department of Music, 1984), pp. 345.
93 94

Tia DeNora, Beethoven and the Construction of Genius: Musical Politics in Vienna, 17921803 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), pp. 58, 14346. 96 Finscher, Haydn, Mozart und der Begriff der Wiener Klassik, in Die Musik des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 23639; repeated in substance in Klassik, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allgemeine Enzyklopdie der Musik, 2nd edn., vol. 5, cols. 23638.


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Before and after 1800 Beethoven gradually made the new Viennese modernism his own and then developed it decisively further. His heroic music entered directly into the heritage of the musical sublime that Haydn had created in his London symphonies and especially his late sacred vocal music; it is this renewed and sustained tradition that suggests reading the period 17801815 altogether as the age of the Kantian sublime in music.97 Indeed Viennese music celebrated a triple climax from 1780 to 1815: Haydn and Mozart in the 1780s; Haydn (and Beethoven) in the 1790s; Beethoven alone in the last fteen years of the long eighteenth century. (In the other way of construing the end of this period there followed a fourth climax, with late-style Beethoven and Schubert.) Although modern as early as the 1750s and emphatically so by the 1780s, this music continually remodernized itselfwithout compromising its already astonishing level of qualityand thereby achieved a stereoscopic depth and multifariousness in the aesthetic domain that was the counterpart to its multilayered historical signi cance, described above.
Rather than in terms of Adornos sense of a BeethovenianHegelian age (cf. above).

This double conjunction enabled it to become a style in the emphatic sense. Neither Beethovens heroic manner nor the ensuing lyrical phase beginning in 1809 (mentioned above) fundamentally changed this style; many authorities, of whom I cite only Rosen, agree that even his late music exhibits a deep continuity with not only his own earlier music, but that of Haydn and Mozart as well, and a correspondingly sharp difference from all other music after 1815, let alone after 1830.98 To recast a saying of Goethe, although his music could outdo that of Haydn and Mozart, it could not surpass it. Still, what Beethoven did accomplish was more than enough. By means of an achievement that may indeed be called heroic, he prevented this music from ageinginto our own dayand thereby guaranteed its status as the rst genuinely modern music. Only after 180915, with the decline of the social and economic practices and musical institutions that had sustained Viennese modernism until its European triumph, or just before 1830, with the deaths of its last two great gures, could the music-historical nineteenth century commence.

Rosen, The Classical Style, pp. 37987.


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