From Convivial Pastime To Nationalist Propaganda: A History Of The Secular Partsong In Germany C1780-1815
The topic of this dissertation had long been a blank spot in the historiography of German music. I seek to explore the reasons for this omission, and provide a general overview of the social, intellectual and musical factors that determined the practice of multipart lied performance in Germany in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In contrast to earlier historians, I emphasize the importance of collective performance throughout the 18th-century lied repertory, and propose that choral singing of entire lieder and particularly refrains may have been much more common than contemporary printed editions might at first suggest. This fact seems relevant, since it was precisely such choral refrains that started to call for more than one vocal part after around the mid1760s. Following the relative demise of polyphonic singing in the first decades of the 18th century, the partsong proper reappeared as late as the 1780s, in part arguably influenced by the newly-defined Volkslied which came increasingly to be viewed as inherently harmonic and polyphonic in the last two decades of the century. My central and longest chapter surveys a number of contemporary vocal treatises to explore how choral singing evolved into both a preeminent musical goal of vocal pedagogy and a powerful didactic tool in its own right. I also provide an overview of the most influential trends palpable in the early partsong repertory through brief analyses of a number of representative pieces. Given that male choral singing gained special importance with the spread of Mannergesangvereine in the later course of the 19th century, a longer section is dedicated to the factors that influenced the aesthetic views regarding men's choral singing. In conclusion I examine the connections between the partsong repertory and the early 19th-century rise of German nationalism, and identify Carl Maria von Weber's Latzow's wild hunt as the paradigmatic example of a nationalist male choir with a mesmerizing effect on the larger masses.
dissertation or thesis