Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-jr42d Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-23T21:55:07.606Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

11 - Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and the Consumption of Sacred Music in Leipzig

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 May 2021

Christina Bashford
Affiliation:
Associate Professor of Musicology, School of Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Hilary J. Grainger
Affiliation:
Dean of Quality Assurance and Academic Development, London College of Fashion
Roberta Montemorra Marvin
Affiliation:
Director of the Opera Studies Forum in the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa and faculty member
Michela Ronzani
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor of Italian, Division of Liberal Arts
David C. H. Wright
Affiliation:
Formerly Reader in the Social History of Music at the Royal College of Music; retired in 2010
Get access

Summary

IN autumn 1778, Johann Adam Hiller, music director (Kapellmeister) of Leipzig's leading subscription concert series since 1763, published a booklet to accompany the forthcoming Concerts Spirituels – the biannual set of sacred music programmes performed during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent – that were to be presented by his Musikübende Gesellschaft (Music- Practising Society). The booklet is part of a very small group of documents that describe the city's public, commercial concert programming before the construction of the Gewandhaus concert hall and the founding of the Gewandhauskonzerte (Gewandhaus Concerts) in 1781. What makes it stand out, however, is Hiller's introductory essay on the texts of the works to be performed – mostly traditional Latin liturgical texts such as the mass ordinarium, Magnificat and Te Deum – in which he reflected on the role of sacred music in the concert season. These remarks were structured around an exegesis of the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca's twenty-third epistle to Lucilius, in which he comments, ‘res severa est verum gaudium’ (‘a serious thing is a true joy’). Hiller printed the maxim on the cover of the booklet and used a slight variant (‘Res severa verum gaudium’; ‘Serious thing – True joy’) as the motto for the Gewandhaus, one that was emblazoned over its stage immediately after the hall's construction and has appeared in eponymous halls ever since.

Although Hiller's booklet is recognized as the moment this adage first became associated with the Gewandhaus, less notice has been taken of Hiller's essay itself, and particularly of Hiller's choice to discuss Seneca's words in connection to sacred, rather than secular, music. And while a spectator in the Gewandhaus might interpret the motto as a declaration that the music performed in the space is – and should be – something more than mere entertainment, Hiller's original intent was more closely related to sacred music's role in public concert life:

True joy is a very serious matter, says Seneca. The conviction of the truth of this statement, and the confidence in the right-thinking of our Leipzig residents, who exceed [those of] so many German cities in their love of music, have called for the newly established Musikübende Gesellschaft to perform so-called Concerts Spirituels during Advent and Lent, in which not only serious operas and oratorios would be performed, but also other large pieces of sacred music.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×