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6 - German-Language Music Criticism before 1800

from Part I - The Early History of Music Criticism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 August 2019

Christopher Dingle
Affiliation:
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
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Summary

In May 1722 Johann Mattheson published the inaugural issue of Critica musica, the first known periodical devoted to music criticism. Focusing on the appraisal of music theory, this journal defined the purpose of criticism as ‘for the most feasible uprooting of all coarse errors and the promotion of a better growth of the pure harmonic science’. Mattheson used the metaphor of an overgrown garden to convey his belief that critics should weed out musical faults: ‘I have become somewhat severe about the beautiful musical garden, and will not fail to uproot the old, deep-rooted, stiff, prickly, wild, barbaric briars.’ He explained that the regular rhythm of periodical publication suited his critical mission to shape wider opinion: ‘In today’s lifestyle only rarely will people read a whole book, but they will more readily read through a few pages every month. In this format the [critical] onslaught is always new, and, like a steady drip of water, is able finally to make holes here and there in the rock.’

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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