Johanna Kinkel's Chopin als Komponist and Other Musical Writings: Untapped Source Readings in the History of Romantic Music
Published online: 1 October 2003
- PDF: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40374473
In the year 1831, the music critic for Iris Ludwig Rellstab covered the Bonn Gesangverein's performance of Don Giovanni directed by the twenty-one-year-old Johanna Kinkel (then Mockel). In his review, he wrote that "the director, strictly speaking, was no director but only a surly woman one."1 Six years later, in his critique of Kinkel's Song Cycle, op. 7 (1837), his tone was more conciliatory.2 Nevertheless, it did not prevent her from later criticizing his "all too hasty," well-known condemnation of Chopin's Nocturnes.3 This occurred in her pioneering essay Friedrich Chopin als Komponist (1855), which like all of her musical writings represents an untapped, important contribution to source readings in the history of romantic music.
Kinkel grew up when the romantic movement was in its prime, retained instances of it throughout her life, did battle with Schumann and the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, attacked the great popularity of Wagner's Tannhäuser, adored Schubert's songs. As a composer, conductor, singer, and pianist of no little talent, she suffered with the time, fought against it, and understood it. But it is not only her understanding of the period that imparts a considerable interest to her writings on music, but also her innate sense of what makes a piece of music great; she had the ability, the knowledge, and the passionate desire to go beneath the surface of a musical composition in an age that concentrated on ferreting out the innumerable routes of the human heart.
There are many reasons why her musical writings have not been studied. For one thing, Kinkel's artistic reputation was not large enough to warrant an interest in her thoughts about music, as was that of, say, Clara Schumann. And even if it were, the inaccessibility of her musical writings, many of which were never published, and the lack of translations and transliterations hindered her.4 Carrying more weight, however, is her widely publicized involvement in politics.
Johanna Kinkel, whose life "was closely related to the political-social events of the Vormärz and the German Revolution,"5 was a prime example of the detrimental effects of the intimate relationship between art and politics in the romantic era. "People forgot," as the novelist Fanny Lewald wrote, "that she was an important poet and a great musician."6 It was not until the modern interest in women's creative achievements took hold that Johanna Kinkel, "the bloody republican,"7 no longer overshadowed Johanna Kinkel, the universal musician. But the writer on music, which she also was, has yet to be acknowledged (for a complete list of her writings on music, see below).
Kinkel possessed in great measure what is perhaps the most important qualification for writing about music, an unusually broad knowledge of music gained from a direct study of the scores. In response to a letter of her close Bonn friend Auguste Heinrich, in which she was asked how she had obtained her musical knowledge, and had she read Kiesewetter and Forkel, Kinkel replied that, yes, she had read them, but that "it was only through her study of the compositions of the great masters that [she] had gained a clear view of the progress of music."8 As a seasoned writer and poet, the written word was also another powerful comrade-in-arms. Music and literature dominated her creative life in equal measure as in the lives of Schumann, Hoffmann, and Wagner.
By instinct and inclination, Kinkel was a music historian; it is this quality, in particular, that gave her musical writings a new strength and originality. "The history of our music," she wrote in Chopin als Komponist, "is a foreign field. . . . It is impossible to convince someone who knows nothing about music history of the right of a composer to search in another direction for the highest beauty" (C, 212-13).9
Considering how little the German romantic musical world did to advance the disciple of music history,10 what surfaces as one of the most non-romantic traits of her musical writings is the extent to which music history functions in the critical process. In what way has a composer changed the course of music history? This question is the ultimate sieve through which Kinkel sifts musical achievements. For example, she favors Monteverdi over Palestrina because he believed that "the free use of dissonance was compatible with melodic beauty," a theory which was "highly conducive to the development of the dramatic style at the beginning of the seventeenth century." And in her rare apppraisal of the much-neglected Dufay, she singled out his use of the dissonant suspension which "introduced the charm of the second into music" (C, 215-16).
These quotations highlight Kinkel's unusual conception of the interrelationship of music history and theory which at that time were separate entities. "Music history," she wrote, "cannot be learned without a thorough knowledge of theory" (AB, 53).11 This philosophy was the natural result of her belief that a theoretical-historical approach to music was on a much higher plane than biography which was in the ascendant in the romantic era. In her novel Hans Ibeles, for example, she ridiculed Gerber's popular Historisch-Biographien Lexikon der Tonkunst (1789) in which "all the biographical entries begin with the wonderful remark—'As a child this great musician already exhibited a talent for music'" (HI, I, 25).12 More succinct is the following comment in the Chopin essay: "There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on great names, it is only the materials of music, chords and intervals that are important" (C, 216).
It was in the form of musical fiction which was popularized by Jean Paul and Hoffmann, that she made her debut as a writer on music. She was thirty-six years old when her two short stories Der Musikant and Aus dem Tagebuch einen Komponist, and the novella Musikalische Orthodoxie were completed in 1845. Of these, the novella is the most important. (Der Musikant deals with the prejudice against musicians that she witnessed in Germany; and although Aus dem Tagebuch eines Komponist includes references to Berlioz's then little-known Traité d'Instrumentation ,13 Hucbald's style of organum, and Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words, their primary function is to add to the story's spirit of jest.)
Musikalsiche Orthodoxie is a full, living expression of the main challenges that faced romantic composers in Germany as they struggled against the dominance of modern Italian opera and the virtuoso mania, as they tried to break through the exclusive terrain of Bach to Beethoven, whom they also revered, while making the difficult transition from classicism to romanticism and hence to the nationalization of German cultural life, including music.
As the story opens, the heroine Ida, Kinkel's mouthpiece, is not content with merely mastering the technical difficulties of Beethoven's Sonata in F Minor, op. 2; her performance, she complains, "lacks spirit and imagination which is fatal" (MO, 103).14 This simple but significant remark shows Kinkel as an ally of that small group of Beethoven scholars, especially Marx and Schindler, who denounced the contemporary mechanical performances of Beethoven's piano sonatas.15
But far more annoying were the demands put upon her as a salon pianist to perform the music of the Parisian piano virtuosos which "profane [her] beloved Erard," the variations, fantasies, and rondos all based upon preexisting "trivial melodies which have to be practiced ad infinitum in order to play their absurd leaps and ornaments up to speed" (MO, 103-4). Schumann also dealt a similar blow to this type of music in the NZfM, but it was the salon pianist Johanna Kinkel who had first hand knowledge of what it meant to have to perform these pieces in public.
"Salon music," the novella states, "is the opposite of genuine musical compositions which give the skillful player immediate intellectual enjoyment without drowning him in technical difficulties." Such "genuine compositions" we soon learn are the Sonatas of Beethoven, the keyboard works of Bach, the Songs Without Words by Mendelssohn, and later in the story, the music of Chopin. Trying to find a compromise, Ida finally chooses Hummel's Fantasie in E Flat Major which "combines classical form with elaborate ornaments, thereby appeasing both the Bach and Bellini enthusiasts" (MO, 112, 123). With the name of Bellini, Kinkel's intense involvement with the movement to end the dominance of modern Italian opera in Germany surfaces.
The disparaging comments about modern opera in Musikalische Orthodoxie are based upon Kinkel's perception of how the elements of music are used. "The harmonies of this school," she writes, "run around a circle of two or three closely related keys, as on a thread-mill," the accompaniment "is as nothing," and the rhythms are "dull and monotonous." Listening to the operas of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti is "to give yourself up, with half an ear, half a soul" to the "tasteless charm of seductive melody" (MO, 110). What she was looking for, but never found, was the truly German view of music as a learned, intellectually profound art.
The battle of words that ensues between the Countess and Ida aims at making a clear distinction between the German notion that one cannot enjoy music that does not challenge the mind and the Italian view that considers having to think about music as an unwanted form of labor. In defending Rossini, the Countess tells Ida, in reponse to her suggestion that she learn to study a Bach fugue in order to "experience the unending depth of music," that "there is no point in studying strenuous music when that which is easier to comprehend is just as pleasing to the ear" (MO, 111).
As an antidote to Rossini, Musikalische Orthodoxie suggests Gluck because his operas, regardless of their French style, elevated the drama, which was a prime requisite of the German romantic vision of a German opera. "No educated person," the woman painter tells Ida, "will want to praise an inferior opera if you present them with an eternal dramatic work as are each of the operas of Gluck who revered the timeless laws of Greek drama." And it is to this end that Gluck invented "the truest, the simplest" musical style (MO, 157).
The novella, however, makes a stronger plea for the German romantic operas of Spohr and Weber. An unusual aspect of Kinkel's defense is that she compares these composers to Mozart and not modern Italian opera. The choruses of Spohr's Jessonda, for example, are "more noble and lively" than those in Cosi fan tutte and ldomeneo; and the music of the elves in Weber's Oberon "superior" to that of the three boys in Die Zauberflöte (MO, 152). From this and other comments in her musical writings, it becomes evident that Kinkel made a clear distinction between her favorites Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro and Mozart's other operas.
In the manner of a Bildungsroman, the novella depicts the transformation of the musical pietist and classicist, Ida, to whom there is no music worth performing after Beethoven, into a full-fledged romanticist (a transformation that Kinkel herself underwent during her years in Berlin, 1836-39). As Kinkel had done after her return to Bonn, so at the end of the novella is Ida seen playing the Nocturnes of Chopin for the first time in public; "the beautiful harmony of which penetrates the deep depths of the soul" (MO, 167).
After Musikalische Orthodoxie, Kinkel did not take up musical fiction again until the end of her life. Her next excursion into the field of musical literature was as the opera critic for the Neue Bonner Zeitung,16 from November 6, 1848 to April 11, 1849. Considering the fact that opera was accorded a prominent role in the German romantic search for a national identity, and the fact that these reviews were written while Kinkel was simultaneously turning out highly inflammatory political editorials for the NBZ which were aimed at keeping the liberal cause alive during the German Revolutions of 1848-49, it seems rather unusual that there were no political overtones in her opera critiques, not even that of Der Freischütz which was more than just an opera at that time; it was an important wave in the rising tide of German nationalism.17
Comments about Weber's orchestration and harmony, integrated with thoughts about the performance itself, form the entire subject matter of the Der Freischütz review. Greatly impressed with the orchestration of the Overture, for example, Kinkel singled out "the duet of the deep forest horns" and the "trembling string chords" after which "a clarinet sounds, clear as a star." In summary, "very few operas can equal the masterful orchestration of this piece." The newspaper also praised Weber's understanding of "the mysterious speech which lies in the modulation from the brighter to the darker keys," a knowledge that "enabled [him] to move his subject matter from the region of the ominous to the real world" (NBZ, March 5, 1849).
In her "Notizen den Gesangverein betreffend," Kinkel confessed that "we were sinning when we performed music by Auber and Boieldieu, but this happened only in the first few years [1832-34]."18 Yet here she was several years later having to review a total of eight French operas, a third of the NBZ reviews, in contrast to three Italian and three German operas. Nothing by Gluck, nothing by Spohr or Weber, except Der Freischütz, and only one opera by Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro, which she elevated to the same high level as Don Giovanni upon which the whole romantic idealization of Mozart rests: "Figaro is as much a masterpiece in its own way as Don Giovanni. . . . One can even say that it required greater skill to create the enchanting music with its inexhaustible, bubbling wit" (NBZ, January 28, 1849). Schumann was correct when in his plea for more German opera, he predicted that "French opera will soon follow the popularity of Italian opera on the German stage," as German opera "sinks lower and lower."19
No matter what nationality, Kinkel remained faithful to her standards for excellence in opera: both the drama and the music had to be good; the treatment of the elements of music, ingenious; and the music written in a credible manner. Weigl's popular Die Schweizerfamilie, for example, was criticized because the music, despite the good theatre, "was totally without imagination [and] almost too childish" (NBZ, March 8, 1849). Similarly, in the review of Zampa, Kinkel asked how Herold "could so indolently put up with the repetition of three boring triads for as many as sixteen to eighteen measures," and rhythm which was "as apathetic as the ticking of a clock," and melodies, everyone of which "could be used for gallops," which is why the opera is so popular (NBZ, February 14, 1849). That the music and the text have nothing to do with each other in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia is brought out by Kinkel's remark that the composer "allows Lucrezia, after poisoning her son, to express her despair with the most merry runs and trills" (NBZ, December 18, 1848).
In all of the NBZ reviews, Kinkel watched for opportunities to praise the music of her favorite composers. "Think," she asks, "what the German techniques of Mozart or Beethoven could have achieved with the powerful plot of Auber's La Muette de Portici," the music of which is "unnatural and displeasing" (NBZ, March 9, 1849).
It is difficult to know what were Kinkel's thoughts about the music of Lortzing's Zar und Zimmermann when in her review of March 21, 1848, she limited her remarks to the performances of the cast and the staging. Perhaps it can be inferred from this silence that there was nothing about the music that interested her.
Irrevocably caught up in the tumultuous life of her husband, the ultra-liberal Gottfried Kinkel, Johanna Kinkel was forced to leave the NBZ. In the month of November 1850, following his escape from prison, Kinkel and her family fled to London where she lived out the rest of her short life as a German exile. But her homeland had not entirely forgotten her. Within a year after her arrival, the eminent Stuttgart publishing firm of J. F. Cotta asked her to write a piano manual. Completed in 1852, Acht Briefe an eine Freundin über Klavierunterricht turned out to be one of the most unusual piano manuals of the romantic era.
Piano instruction, as Kinkel envisioned it, involved a much broader area than just the development of dexterity. It involved a knowledge of the "inner construction" of a composition, and of figured bass and theory: "How much more valuable it would be to know enough figured bass to be able to improvise a prelude or an accompaniment to a little song and to transpose in each key than to practice music as a thoughtless plaything." And, as we would expect, a study of music history, but not only "the masters of the past" but also "the composer's contemporaries and associates who form the link between one epoch and the next, as well as the works which exclusively bear his name" (AB, 55, 34, 49). In keeping with the German romantic concept of Bildung, Kinkel's ideal musician is also one who is acquainted with many branches of learning such as Mendelssohn.
Acht Briefe was perhaps the first piece of musical literature to understand the importance of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words to the history of piano music.20 This collection, she wrote, "took the first step" towards a new kind of piano music which required a relegation of the "mechanical difficulties to the background," and the employment of "condensation" rather than "the endless repetition and variation that destroys the main idea, and above all, a fine soulful execution." The piano manual also devoted considerable space to grouping the Songs Without Words into distinct categories such as those, for example, "whose chords and rhythms" suggest a "religious tone," or employ "a sustained melody with gentle modulations, which soar above vivid arpeggio-like accompaniments," and others which have a "folk character"; while the Venetian Boat Songs evoke a nocturnal atmosphere through their "choice of key and chords" (AB, 74-75).
Kinkel also maintained that "Chopin played just as great a role in the reform of piano music as did Mendelssohn," but in a different way. "Mendelssohn with his fine intellect, pruned back the excesses, spiritualizing the content, while still paying homage to the foundations of the past," whereas Chopin, "takes us into the unknown path of the romantic dawn of the most marvelous harmonies." Chopin's melodies are equally unknown, "unheard-of," unlike those of Mendelssohn "which remind us of Mozart or Beethoven" (AB, 75).
What is it that lies behind the "unheard-of" melodies and the "marvelous harmonies"? Kinkel's answer is—quarter-tones: "Chopin strives to free the quarter-tones which flit between the enharmonics like ghostly shadows." Aware of the novelty of her theory, the piano manual refers the reader to the history of harmony which exhibits a stubborn reluctance to accept the smaller intervals. Many years had had to pass, she contends, before the third, for example, "could replace the open fifths and octaves, [and] not until future generations will the dissonant minor second or augmented prime" replace the minor third, which is "the darling of our age." At present, she concludes, "we can only dimly conceive of quarter-tones because our so-called whole and half tones lie too far part, but nature possesses them, and even smaller intervals. Free the quarter-tones and we will have a whole new realm of music" (AB, 76-77).
Not satisfied with the "existing intervals," Chopin, she continues, "knocks on their mysterious door," knocks with his melodies "which creep through the semitones, groping for the finer materials and more spiritual shades of color," which would better suit his artistic vision (AB, 78-79). Confident in her belief, Kinkel will pursue the topic of Chopin and quarter-tones in the essay Chopin als Komponist.
What "arrogance" lies in the assumption that one can play Beethoven's Sonata Pathetique "without even knowing a scale," Acht Briefe protests. This strong remark is related to another premise in the piano manual, that is, that "The unique, unsurpassed major piano sonatas by Beethoven which belong to no period or fashionable trend, should be the ultimate objective of the experienced pianist, and only then if he [or she] can analytically approach their inner spirit" (AB, 84). It is only later, however, in the "Lecture on the Earliest Sonatas of Beethoven, Including opus 10," that Kinkel will tell us what is this "inner spirit."
Many years after Kinkel died on November 18, 1858, her daughter Adele von Asten-Kinkel rescued the manuscript of her mother's Chopin als Komponist and had it published in three installments in the Deutsche Revue of 1902.
This very long essay is divided into twelve sections separated only by Roman numerals.21 Of these, the majority are devoted to the various kinds of piano music cultivated by Chopin, the remainder to the development of harmony and rhythm, a survey of music history, Chopin's exclusive devotion to piano music, and performance suggestions, with comments relating to the treatment of the elements of music interspersed throughout.
From this vast amount of material emerges a new enthusiastic search for the finer points of Chopin's style. As the very title of the essay suggests, this implies a study and an assessment of his working process which is lacking in Chopin literature before 1855,22 indeed, even in that which came after it. As the acme of her writings on music, it is the springboard for any study of Kinkel's musical writings. Kinkel became acquainted with the music of Chopin in Berlin in 1838, the thought that came over her then—"that it was impossible for [her] to include him in the fashionable world of music"23—permeates the entire essay.
Totally ignoring the equating of Chopin's ornate melodies with Italian opera, the so-called Chopin-Bellini formular which dominated Chopin literature for many years, the essay concentrates upon the intervallic originality of his melodies, taking his use of the "minutely concentrated intervals," that is, the minor seconds and the quarter-tones, one step further than Acht Briefe. As an example of the minor seconds, she cites the first measure of the Nocturne in B Major, op. 9, no. 3; for the quarter-tones, the Impromptu in A Flat Major, op. 29, where "in ms. 27, the enharmonic repetition of the previous C is effected by means of a D double flat, in order to create the finest distinction [between two tones] of which our harmony is thus far capable. It is the spirit voices whispering in the spheres which only the soul can perceive" (C, 220).
This last sentence is problematical. Was Kinkel falling back upon the German romantic belief in the cosmic origin of music in order to explain quarter-tones? Or was she again trying to bring the quarter-tone into close contact with the romantic striving for a union between man and nature and the related quest for a Natur-Musik? "If once the door to the quarter-tone is opened, we will have arrived one step closer to the eternal sounds of nature" (C, 220). Further on in the essay, she overcomes the difficulty which the German romantics faced trying to reconcile their intuitive belief in the divine origin of music with reason.
"Every musician feels the difference between the keys of C sharp major and D flat major as soon as the notation comes into view although C sharp and D flat are the same key on the piano" (C, 339). The literal interpretation of the notation is most probably the foundation for perceiving enharmonics as two different sounds, the distance between constituting quarter-tones. The fact that Kinkel played a great deal of chamber music and wrote for strings, and that to a string player there is a difference in sound between enharmonics, is also something else to take into consideration.
"The most striking trait of Chopin's originality [however] is his harmonic language," as seen, for example, in his treatment of dissonance: "Chopin went beyond what hitherto represented the absolute limit of dissonance," his ambiguous chords "walk a very thin line between resolution and non-resolution," and are "always changing . . . like a subtle philosophical essay in which a logical conclusion is reached without an intermediate step." Moreover, it is "upon his deep, rich system of modulation that the future development of music rests." That passage in the Polonaise in F Sharp Minor, op. 44 (mm. 26-32), "where F sharp minor moves to B flat minor, and then four bars later to the startling key of A flat major," is, according to Kinkel, "one of the most beautiful modulations ever written." These measures also demonstrate that "the ability to group chords in a moving manner is developed in Chopin to the highest degree" (C, 101, 341, 352).
Chopin's harmony is also envisioned as an expression of the complex emotional life of the romantic era: "The thousand shades which love and hate have come to have, the whole labyrinth of our inner life . . . which gives no rest, finds expression in Chopin's treatment of harmony." With his "distant tonalities," he was able "to illuminate the rich inner spirit [whereas] simple music which employs closely related keys, depicts the outer life" (C, 219, 360). These ideas bring to mind the German romantic ideology of music as the voice of the inner life; but Kinkel turned this psychological-musical synthesis into an aesthetic based on the usage of harmony, in this case, that of Chopin.
In the section on the development of harmony, prior to Chopin, the most interesting observations are those devoted to the use of the major and minor ninth chords which Kinkel, incidentally, exploited in her songs. Very rare was her discovery of the manner in which ninths were used in Fidelio to distinguish between the "enraptured enthusiasm" (major ninth) of Marzelline and the "bitter pain" of Leonore (minor ninth), in the first trio of the opera. Our attention is also directed toward Weber's employment of the major ninth: "The major ninth is that chord whose correct use was made known to everyone through Weber . . . the magic of this composer rests mainly on its usage."24 The way in which Chopin combined a minor ninth with a "suspended fourth" in his Waltz in A Flat Major, op. 42 (m. 95), however, impressed her much more (C, 218-19).
When Kinkel wrote that Chopin was a "great innovator and the founder of a new era in music," she was also thinking of his treatment of rhythm. As the Preludes constituted "the best way to study Chopin's harmony," so did Kinkel recommend that "one should study the Mazurkas" in order to see how he "imparted a new life to the element of rhythm." The diversity with which the "single rhythmic patterns are grouped together or stated singly . . . the astonishing knowledge of how to vary the rhythms of one and the same dance piece, more than fifty ways," to such an extent that "every nuance of every mood is expressed"—these are the characteristics which Kinkel believed made Chopin's rhythms unique (C, 2, 346-47).
The flexibility and variation for which Kinkel looked in the use of rhythm, in general, was in keeping with the style of romantic music. "Our time," she wrote, "is capable of employing a broad, quicker tempo. . . . We also require finer, sharper rhythms whose ever-changing character adds to the spirit of the music" (C, 347).
The most intriguing section of Chopin als Komponist is perhaps the ninth which deals with the Etudes. Relegating the commonly addressed topic of piano technique far into the background, Kinkel tried to answer a question that has continued to prompt several different answers: What is the texture of the Etudes?25 Although she does not explicitly state that the Etudes are influenced by the harmonic counterpoint of Bach in which the figures derive their life from the harmony, this is implied in the following significant remarks: "The figures in the Etudes . . . are based upon an inner harmonic relationship. . . . The chord and the scale are the two intersecting straight lines which serve as the basis of the ornaments" (C, 342).
It is one of the finer characteristics of romantic music that the weaving together of various musical components is carried out in the smoothest, almost imperceptible manner. Kinkel sensed this even in the Etudes, and with the most novel analysis explains how this is achieved by "a nonharmonic tone in combination with an episodic melisma [slipping] in between the notes of the main motive . . . creating a charming blending." She called this technique "die Art Tongewinde" ("the art of tone tapestry"). To understand this process, "it is very instructive to place a figured bass symbol under each note in order to discover the roots out of which Chopin created the whole system of his passages" (C, 343).
Kinkel's comments about Chopin's Piano Sonatas in B flat Major, op. 35, and B Minor, op. 58 rescued these works from the isolated, misunderstood position they occupied in the romantic era. Opposing the views of Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Niecks,26 Kinkel described them "as a pair of invaluable works," governed by "the highest artistic standards." Chopin's two sonatas also complied with her belief that the movements of the piano sonata "although differing in tempo and content must have a certain kinship of character." The term, "character," however, has to be amplified by the adjectives poetic and/or psychological but not thematic. For example, she wrote that the four movements of the B Minor Sonata are "replete with extraordinary beauty and very artistically worked out . . . and depict great pictures of fate and profound thoughts" (C, 356-58).
This sentence, however, pales in comparison to her view of the much abused Finale of op. 35. Far from calling it a "joke," as did Schumann,27 the Chopin essay stated that "The Finale which consists of an unending series of triplets played in octaves without one chord, roars past like a windstorm. It is sheer poetry, nothing could have followed the waning Funeral March better than this picture of loneliness" (C, 358). Incidentally, two years before the Finale was written, Kinkel began her lied Vorüberfahrt, op. 7, no. 3 (a setting of her own poem), with an agitated passage in octaves whose relentless unharmonized triplet figures fly past like the lonely person in the carriage.28
The section on Chopin's sonatas necessarily had to address the problem of the diminishing popularity of the sonata in the romantic era. Unlike Schumann, who felt that this demise was "natural and necessary,"29 Kinkel adopted a sociological-prophetic tone: "The world is always in a hurry nowadays," she wrote, "people resent having to give so much time to multimovement compositions of many moods. The [shorter] forms are the most favored . . . only the thinking composer will keep this worthy form alive" (C, 356). One such "thinking composer" was Brahms.
As a master pianist who performed Chopin frequently, Kinkel was well aware of how sensitive he was to the capabilities of his instrument, and that this sensitivity is not only necessary but rare. It is not even in Beethoven's piano works in which "there are sections for which no fingering is possible" and in Fidelio "where the capabilities of the singer are subjected to his imagination" (C, 355).
She also had some definite ideas about the way he should be played: "Above all, Chopin cannot endure exaggeration . . . as delicately as his compositions were conceived, so must he be performed." The player, she advises, should also "pay attention to the ornaments into which he breathed new life, thereby producing counterpoint, and to the bass and middle voices which are carefully worked out as in a sonata," distinguishing between the melodic and non-melodic elements (C, 97, 355). By and large, Chopin and counterpoint was not a subject which interested Kinkel's contemporaries.
The essay ends with an impressive challenge: "Immerse yourself in the power of feeling and thought which is Chopin's music, and it will appear to you as a Fata Morgana of the world and life" (C, 360). Plantinga's statement "that [Chopin's] music has strengths far transcending its cultural origins was at first seen by only a few such as Liszt and Schumann," should be amended.30
On December 4, 1857, Kinkel wrote to Auguste Heinrich that she "had time to take up [her] studies in music history . . . in the new reading room in the British Museum," and that she "had been hired to give some lectures on music," in English.31 These lectures were written out in the form of four unpublished papers: "Harmony," "The Earliest Sonatas of Beethoven, Including opus 10," "Mendelssohn," and "Mozart." That they were delivered to an audience of dilettantes influenced their contents and style.
Avoiding the subject of chord construction, the "Lecture on Harmony" concentrates on the psychological manifestations of harmony. "Harmony," she wrote "corresponds to our deepest feelings because the intervals act in sympathy or in antipathy with our sensations." Referring specifically to romantic music, she notes that "our present system of harmony is based upon two kinds of chords, those that repose, and those that move ahead. . . . This is why harmony is capable of exciting the mind, back and forth it swings between longing and fulfillment" (H, 24).32
The emotional power of chord color of which she spoke briefly in the Chopin essay, reappears in this lecture but this time applied to Beethoven and Gluck. In Beethoven, "the whole gamut of harmony" is employed out of which emerges "grand passions and profound thoughts. . . . [But] one of the most sublime examples of the power of harmony, as singled out by the great critic Berlioz, is the scene in Gluck's Orfeo where Orfeo overcomes [the Eumenides]" (H, 19).
The "Lecture on Harmony" also provides strong evidence of Kinkel's modern attempt to integrate the development of harmony with cultural history. This synthesis is seen, for example, in her description of the harmony in Palestrina's Stabat Mater, a highly romanticized composition in nineteenth-century German literature.33 Palestrina's "hard, rigid succession of chords," which are compared to the "stones of a mosaic," employ only "a series of major and minor thirds and perfect intervals," in contrast to "the alternation of pure and impure intervals which impart a soft blending to modern harmony." Nevertheless, Palestrina has merit "as a mirror of the firm beliefs and strict obedience of the Christians who lived in the Renaissance" (H, 24).
Included in this musical-cultural history are certain instances of German romantic thought. The nationalization of cultural life, for example, is seen in the lecture's view of harmony as essentially a German development: "Chopin excepted, harmony achieved its highest level of perfection in the hands of the Germans whose philosophical spirit was more suited to the task of exploring the subtle extracacies of harmony." Still highlighting German music, but also perhaps keeping in mind the current compositional technique whereby the vertical implications of harmony often give way to motific or linear construction,34 the lecture states that "the highest most elaborate musical art is a succession of chords in which each single part has its own melodic and rhythmic life such as in Beethoven's symphonies, Handel's choruses, and Bach's fugues." Kinkel's view of the organic nature of harmony—"Successions of chords develop in the manner of a living tree, with trunk, branches, and bough"—also reflects German romantic thought, that is, the notion of organicism (H, 6).
The new view of pure, non-textual instrumental music as being capable of expressing the world of the mind was another product of German romantic musical aesthetics. Friedrich Schlegel's oft-quoted notion of "the certain tendency of all pure instrumental music to philosophy," 35 and E. T. A. Hoffmann's vision of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as a refuge for the inwardness of the age come to mind, as well as Kinkel's "Lecture on the Earliest Sonatas of Beethoven, Including opus 10."
For example, the third movement of Beethoven's Sonata in C Major, op. 3, is described not only "in the style of a fugue," but also as a "conversation between a number of persons who look at the topic from different opposing viewpoints with the thematic fragments representing doubts, objections, and confirmations." Similarly, the Rondo of op. 10, no. 3, "seems to suggest a process of seeking, doubting, and evasions,"36 and that the "remarkable opening theme appears to ask 'why', whereupon the music that follows answers 'therefore'"; the whole movement becoming "a dispute between two persons with the pendant bass clinging to the 'why' theme to the last" (B, 22-23).37
On a purely musical level, the "Lecture on Beethoven" offers some very interesting observations such as Kinkel's view of the orchestral character of the sonatas. "To Beethoven who was an orchestral composer without equal," she wrote, "the sonatas were already symphonies . . . they are not only melodies with an accompaniment." As instruments "recede into the shadows" only to reappear again, so do the themes "disappear and then come back again." The bass and the middle parts, moreover, are "often individualized," as if each were an instrument (B, 28-29).
More intriguing perhaps is Kinkel's attempt to explain what she considered a puzzling feature of the early sonatas, that is, that "certain passages are lacking in symmetry as if they were abruptly cut off at the highest points." The reason for this peculiarity "is that Beethoven's imagination soared higher than the highest note of the piano for which the early sonatas were written" (f 3 according to her notation). "But since our present-day pianos exceed that of Beethoven's by an octave, the sonatas should be played as he heard them" (B, 38-39).38
This last sentence can perhaps be illustrated by turning to the Sonata in D Major, op. 10, no. 3, first movement, and comparing the figure in m. 104, in the exposition, with its variation in the recapitulation, m. 285. The former jumps down from an E2 to an A1 rather than moving upwards, as it should, to an A2, while the latter ascends logically from C sharp to D2. But Beethoven, according to her theory, actually heard the higher A2, which is what we should play.
In his article about Kinkel and her Bonn singing society, Henseler had written that "Johanna's god Beethoven was a Rheinish god in whom she had seen the influence of the Rheinish folk spirit as no one else had."39 What prompted him to make this statement was a comment in Chopin als Komponist: "It is in the music of Beethoven that the characteristics of Rheinish music first appear . . . the scherzi and finales of his symphonies could only have been written by one whose cradle was rocked by the jubilant songs of the Rheinish vintner" (C, 350).
This very original idea is now applied to the piano sonatas. "Beethoven's rhythms have a particular color which only a native of the Rhine could write . . . in the Finale of the Sonata in F Major, op. 10, no. 2, he showed himself [as] a true son of the Rhine . . . the spirit of the Rheinish grape-gathering festival [shines] through" (B, 36-37).
Although the lecture on Beethoven is devoted to the early sonatas, Kinkel also made a strong statement about the current neglect of the late works: "Few today can tolerate the late piano sonatas of Beethoven. It is as if they were reading an obscure metaphysical treatise. . . . If a sensitive composer, however, arduously studies them, understanding will increase with every hearing" (B, 16).
When Kinkel at last gained her much sought-after audience with Mendelssohn, in Frankfurt on July 5, 1836, the piece she selected to play for him was Beethoven's Sonata in E Flat Major, op. 7, which "seemed to please [him]" because it was "a serious work rather than a display vehicle."40 This event was the beginning of a long friendship between the two; it was Mendelssohn, for example, who helped pave the way for her in Berlin. ("The simple fact that Felix was a great admirer of your compositions . . . opened doors and gates for you," his sister Rebecca wrote to her.41)
This background helps explain the unusual personal tone of the "Lecture on Mendelssohn," in which comments about his life and also that of his sister Fanny abound—Kinkel considered her "the greatest woman musician of the period." There is, for example, a very telling picture of the high level of Fanny's famous morning concerts, in which Kinkel participated, and in which "some of the greatest performers of the age—Clara Novello, Viardot-Garcia, and Vieutemps—took their first public steps." Although Mendelssohn often conducted or accompanied the singers, these concerts, more importantly, gave him an opportunity to try out his own compositions before they were published, for example, the oratorio Saint Paul (M, 25-26).42
After his death in 1847, Mendelssohn's reputation was subject to a great deal of conflicting religious, cultural, and social criticism that took years to unravel. Informed by her own knowledge of the composer, the Mendelssohn lecture offered one of the most sensitive, unbiased, contemporary appraisals of his life. "This was a life," she wrote, that was "undisturbed by the outward storms"; only in this atmosphere "could he have flourished . . . it made him what he was and enabled him to devote himself exclusively to the most refined spheres of art." He was not a person, she continues, who could have survived "the passionate outcries of the Revolution which exploded after his death. . . . It was in the realm of music, apart from the world, that he lived as did Goethe during the French Revolution" (M, 30-31).
An anecdote about the young Felix which was told to Kinkel by his grandmother, which is related in the Mendelssohn lecture, turns the subject around to musical matters, in this case, the young composer's astonishing transposition abilities. This in itself is not new, but the way she retold the story brings the whole question of key in romantic music into focus. During the concert, she wrote, "the young Felix transposed at sight the piano part of a composition by the flautist Drouet—a semitone higher to the key of A sharp major" (M, 2). This raises the question: Did the romantics think in more than twelve keys? Judging by her own Don Ramiro, Kinkel apparently thought so. At the end of the composition, as Ramiro disappears into the darkness, the music moves into a passage that can only be analysed by applying the tones of the A sharp major scale, assuming there is one; the same scale that is a great aid to understanding the basic chords that underlie what is otherwise, an inexplicable chromaticism in Chopin's Nocturne in B Major, op. 9 (mm. 55-56).
Of the compositions discussed in the "Lecture on Mendelssohn," the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture and Antigone are given the most attention. But of these two, the observations about the lesser-known music for Sophocles' play are more interesting. (Kinkel's connection between the thematic material and the plot, and her awareness of the Overture's influence on the development of Mendelssohn's style do not add that much to what Schumann already said.43)
Kinkel used Antigone as a means of bringing the German romantic belief in the importance of a liberal education and the cultivation of the intellect into a new direct association with the education of musicians. "A liberal education," she wrote, "is especially important nowadays if a composition is not to be labeled in poor taste . . . A composer who uses a love song in a mass knows nothing about the spirit of history." This view is the basis of her subsequent comparison between Schubert's "choice of poetry [which] reflects a lack of a liberal education," and Mendelssohn "who lacked nothing in the way of one," and whose "taste and judgement had no equal" (M, 10).
Carrying these observations over to Antigone, Kinkel concludes that "it was Mendelssohn's study of the great classics and his understanding of the style of their poetry" that enabled him to "write a composition worthy of accompapying the verses of the grand tragedy of ancient Greece. . . . There is a marked difference between the choruses in Antigone and the music of the Capriccios" (M, 11).
The shortest lecture of the four, that on Mozart, deals primarily with Kinkel's great admiration of the character delineation in Le Nozze di Figaro. Through her commentary, the comic opera is elevated above Don Giovanni in a much more forceful way than her review of the work in the NBZ would allow. Beginning with the premise that there is "no composer more capable of giving expression to love, its delicate shades, its strong passion, even its errors than Mozart," Kinkel states that even if the arias of Konstanze and Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail are among the most ardent expressions of love in the annals of music," nothing can equal "Mozart's superb portrayal of love in Figaro." In the "strange, dissonant chords, marvelous modulations, and the painful charm which grips the listener," is the "unhealthy passion of Count Almaviva," while the simplest music "matches the plain, uncomplicated love between Sussana and Figaro" (MT, 19)44
As regards musical characterization, in general, the "Lecture on Mozart" states that "pleasant melodies" are given to Figaro, "so that we neither hate nor love the shy jester [who] is honest at heart," in contrast to the "crude melodies of Figaro's fellow servant, the drunkard Antonio." In summary, "with not one impressive character in it, every little wickedness, every bit of playfulness is elevated by the music." Even the Overture, "whose first four notes are already full of cunning," contributes to the musical delineation, "winding in and out like a serpent, it takes us right into a labyrinth of merry intrigue" (MT, 11).
Mozart's piano sonatas, as compared to those of Haydn and Beethoven, form a secondary topic of the lecture. Contrasting "the always present placidness" of Haydn with "the warmth of feeling in Mozart," Kinkel turns specifically to the slow movements whose "passionate tenderness" can belong to no other than Mozart, and which have nothing in common with the "quiet gracefulness of Haydn." On the other hand, the early sonatas of Beethoven show a close affinity with those of Mozart. But late Beethoven presents "an immense contrast" to Mozart (MT, 16).
Unable to compose or practice, ill and moving slowly towards an untimely death, Kinkel took refuge in the study of music history, frequenting the new reading room in the British Museum. As her surviving papers indicate, she had intended to pursue many musical topics, but only two of them went beyond the planning stage, "Zur Aesthetik der Musik" and "Musikalisches aus London." Although unfinished, they both contain enough significant material to warrant studying.
"Zur Aesthetik der Musik" concentrates on one of the salient themes of Kinkel's philosophy of music, that is, that the use of the elements of music in textual compositions must be natural. In this, there is a resemblance not only to the aestheticians of the Enlightenment who attacked Neopolitan opera for its lack of musical credibility but also to the early German romantic writers on music who opposed modern Italian opera on the same grounds.45
Kinkel, however, veers away from these two paths towards an emphasis on concrete musical examples and informative compositional suggestions. This highly original, analytical-instructional tone is seen, for example, in her discussion of appropriate melodic construction in opera. Expanding upon her statement that "the scale is the fundamental basis of all melody . . . whether we repeat it, continue it, omit tones, or break it up, it is always there," she remarks that "the best melodies [like] the waving line of a drawing," are those which have "a natural undulating character." Conversely, "the scale continued in a straight line over a full octave is completely tasteless" (A, 14).46 Turning to Weber, as a composer who satisfies all the laws of a perfect melody, Kinkel cites Agathe's theme from Der Freischütz.
Admitting that musical credibility is difficult to achieve in vocal ensembles, "Zur Aesthetik der Musik" cites as an exception Fidelio, and, in particular, the previously-mentioned duet between Marzelline and Leonora and the music prefacing the grave duet of Act II (no. 12, mm. 80-81), both of which, she discovered, are held together by the motific link of a minor second, C- and G-, respectively. Beethoven, she explains, used "that frightful motive" to depict "what is taking place in Leonora's heart before Rocco utters the words 'Here is the cistern of which I have spoken'" (A, 13).47
Another original aspect of the essay on the aesthetics of music is the long illustrated discussion of the unique bond between rhythm and character portrayal in Don Giovanni. From the many examples given, a few might be cited. In the rhythm of the Champagne Aria (Act I, sc. 3), she writes, "is the complete ruthlessness of Giovanni's wild egoism," while Elvira's affected nature is suggested by a dotted quarter followed by an eighth, two sixteenths, and an eighth; and Leporello's "craftiness and triviality" by a repeated eighth-eighth-note-rest pattern. But Don Octavio's "heavy half notes [are] tragic" (A, 7-9).
Taking up the subject of musical credibility in German romantic opera, Kinkel's main target is Wagner whose use of "ear-splitting sounds to express sadness and terrible events" was not necessary: "No, the art of music has means at hand to elevate the deepest pain and yet remain true to the text" (A, 10). But then, Kinkel had always had a deep aversion to Wagner (by "Wagner" is meant only the operas up to and including Tannhäuser which were the only works she knew).
"There is a noticeable discrepancy between Wagner's theories and his music," she wrote in the earlier Chopin als Komponist, in which she also questioned his seemingly self-appointed role as the Messiah of opera: "Only the collected efforts of all the great musical geniuses of an era can pave the way for the music of the future" (C, 94).48 As a conversation with Karl Schurz indicates, Kinkel was even more unsympathetic towards the Overture to Tannhäuser with its "wild outbursts and sinister ravings in the violins, sounding above the pious tones," and its "grabbing after sensual effects, and contempt of the holy laws of harmony." Despite their common political views and their mutual friendship with Schurz, Kinkel wanted nothing to do with Wagner when he was in London, in 1855.49
In stark contrast is her attitude toward Schubert, as expressed in "Zur Aesthetik der Musik"; Schubert in whose setting of Heine's Das Fischermädchen, the bond between the metre of the poetry and the rhythm of the music is "absolutely natural" (A, 5).
As an aside, Schumann is not mentioned in the lecture on the aesthetics of music, nor anywhere else in Kinkel's writings, for that matter. This utter silence seems at odds with her daughter's remark that "Schumann's piano music was highly treasured by her mother,"50 and Schurz's comment that "it was Johanna who introduced [him] to the music of Schumann and Chopin which she performed with the utmost perfection."51 Perhaps the answer to this puzzle lies in the NZfM episode.52
A composer whom Kinkel did write about, and who has not been mentioned thus far, is Handel. Frequently included in the Bonn Gesangverein's repertoire were three of his oratorios, Israel in Egypt, Joshua, and Solomon. Of these, she was particularly fond of the last, indeed preferred it to the "oratorio of all oratorios," as Hoffmann described the popular Messiah.53 In a letter to a certain pastor, she revealed her unusual awareness of the outstanding tone painting in Solomon, a characteristic that later impressed Paul Henry Lang. In Kinkel's description of the unequaled nature imagery in the Nightengale Chorus, and the way that Handel used melodic construction to distinguish between "the false and the true mother . . . even before we know of Solomon's judgement,"54 are to be found strong traces of Lang's commentary.55
It was Handel who brought the past and the present of Kinkel's life together in the unfinished autobiographical essay "Musikalisches aus London." Looking back to her youthful thwarted wish to hear Handel performed in England (her mother objected to her going to London to study music under the auspices of two English gentlemen, one of whom was a friend of Weber), life finally granted her desire, but not the way she would have wanted. Strange and unfamiliar were her new London surroundings, even stranger was the way she heard Handel performed. Clara Novello's performance of the Messiah, that is her abuse of the Baroque practice of improvised ornamentaion, bothered her: "In the course of twelve years, these innocent runs, turns, and trills have so combined into one inexplicable melody, that there is hardly anything left of the original melody." More importantly, "the tasteless bad habits of the modern Italian school of opera have been taken up by the soloists and transferred to Handel . . . with the so-called 'sigh-cadenza' attached to each concluding chord, a la Somnambula" (ML, 12-13).56
Above all, "Musikalisches aus London" is a social history of music in England as seen through the eyes of the new immigrant Johanna Kinkel. Always ready to condemn prejudice against musicians, it vexed her to the extreme that the English gentry should apply their class consciousness to performers. "In the evening gatherings of the highest nobility," she wrote, "the musicians stand in a corner of the hall, separated by a barrier, and are not allowed to mix with the other guests." But substituting for the barrier, "one English noblewoman placed a red silk cord from one end of the hall to the other which separated the musical rabble from the nobility" (ML, 17).
"Musikalisches aus London" also delivers a harsh warning against seeking employment in London as an immigrant musician.57 Only if you are socially adept and extremely well-recommended, and have sufficient funds to augment your income for a number of years—you may succeed—is the moral of a number of stories in the autobiographical sketch. One of these, in particular, the account of a South German piano virtuoso who having exhausted all of her funds is forced to give lessons for only one shilling per hour, only to die in poverty, two years later, darkens the picture that Kinkel drew of the immigrant female musician in London.
But it was a life that she well knew: "The celebrated director of the Bonn Gesangverein," her daughter wrote, "now had to take pupils at a London boarding house for a small honorarium, and the long journies in bad weather brought her home ill in the evening."58 (The "small honorarium" is consistent with the statement in the essay that women music teachers received far less than men.)
It has long been thought that the novel Hans lbeles was Kinkel's last creative effort, but it may be that "Musikalisches aus London" followed it. Irregardless, they are both related, especially in the way that the theme of women and music is treated so vigorously, their musical education, their conflict between a musical career and the requirements of family life, their social position, everything that she herself experienced as a woman musician in the romantic era. Although the story is set in London, what she had to say about this topic has universal application.
There are several women musicians in Hans Ibeles, all drawn from life unlike their idealized sisters in German romantic literature, singers, for the most part, with bewitching voices, immortalizing the great mythic women opera stars of the era; no composers, no Hulda Saintford who was "so conversant with the learned style of music that her intellectual as well as her profound nature made the study of counterpoint easily conquered," no Countess who wants to understand a fugue even if she must master "the study of intervals which is the foundation of the pyramid whose summit the fugue is": women who represent a victory over the prevailing idea that the disciplines associated with composing were beyond their comprehension (HI, II, 46-47).59
But the sum of joys received by music often seems insignificant in comparison to the griefs and torments of a musical career such as that which the once famous singer Madame Gerard gave up for marriage only to find it a violation of her former independence as an individual; or that of the unknown woman pianist and composer who rejects the offer of hearth and home without love although the alternative is abject poverty. There is also much that has to be endured by the sensitive woman musician who has to earn a living teaching music in an age which considered "in all cases, that men were better music teachers than women . . . even in the prospectuses of many London schools, among the fees is listed, 'piano lessons by a master, one guinea an hour, by a lady, only five schillings'" (HI, I, 383).
Hans Ibeles, however, is full of other illusions to music, to Beethoven's orchestral works, Handel, Mozart, Schubert, even to Felician David's Le Desert and Radziwill's Faust, examples of the romantic interest in the melodrama. And through its hero Hans Ibeles, many of the modern musical theories of Kinkel are recapitulated, for example, his opposition to the use of the metronome and strict counting. "Away with the one-two-three-four," Ibeles angrily tells the head of a boarding school for girls (HI, I, 294). The rubato of Chopin comes to mind.
Because of its "historical" value, it was necessary, Schoolfield wrote, to include "the literarily unsatisfying" Hans Ibeles in his study of the musician in German literature. The deprecating character of this remark repeats itself in the assertion that "Johanna Kinkel . . . reveals precious little respect for music or its practitioners in her shorter musical tales."60 It might be better to translate "disrespect" into the biting wit which was a natural feature of her literary style, indeed, of German romantic literature, in general.61
I have rerooted Kinkel's musical fiction towards the larger sphere of the world of German romantic musical thought; only by placing these works in this context can their real importance come to light. This could not have been done, however, without a mastery of the contents of her other musical writings,62 especially that work which became a personal memorial for a lifetime of thought about music—Chopin als Komponist.
In judging Kinkel as a writer on music, it is useful, if not necessary to keep in mind that she wrote about music without the benefit of any kind of systematic training. At the core of her musical writings were her own instincts, but these were sharp and timeless. There is also an impressive futurological aspect associated with her writings on music. Based upon her ideas of how music evolved, she envisioned the unfettered intervallic, rhythmic, and harmonic freedom that was to become an irrevocable component of the new world of music that was around the corner.63
Alphabetical List of Johanna Kinkel's Musical Writings: Manuscript Numbers refer to the Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn
- Acht Briefe an eine Freundin über Klavierunterricht (Eight Letters to a Woman Friend on Piano Instruction), 1852; reprint, Straubenhardt, Hungary, ed. Gertrude Zimmerman, 1989. Eng. versions: Piano Playing, Letters to a Friend, trans. Winifred Glass and Hans Rosenwald (Illinois, 1943); "Eight Letters on Giving Instruction on the Piano," incomplete, trans. unknown, MS 52395.
- Aus dem Tagebuch eines Komponist (From the Diary of a Composer), in Gottfried und Johanna Kinkel, Erzählungen (Stuttgart, 1849).
- Chopin als Komponist, Deutsche Revue (1902); Jan. 93-106; Feb. 209-23; March 338-69.
- Der Musikant, in Gottfried und Johanna Kinkel, Erzählungen (Stuttgart, 1849).
- Hans lbeles in London. Ein Familienbild aus dem Flüchtlingsleben (Hans Ibeles in London, A Family Picture from the Life of a Fugitive), 2 vols. (1860); reprint (2 vols. in 1), with a forward by Ulrike Helmer, Frankfurt; Edition Klassikerinnen (1991).
- "Lecture on the Earliest Sonatas of Beethoven, Including opus 10 [ca. 1857]," MS S2397.
- "Lecture on Harmony [ca. 1857]," MS S2394 (31c).
- "Lecture on Mendelssohn [ca. 1857]," MS 52398. German version, Deutsche Revue (1903).
- "Lecture on Mozart [ca. 1857)," MS 52396.
- Musikalische Orthodoxie (Musical orthodoxy), in Gottfried und Johanna Kinkel, Erzählungen (Stuttgart, 1849).
- "Musikalisches aus London. Auch eine Seite des Londoner Lebens. Betrachtungen einer deutschen Musikantin [ca. 1857-58]," ("A German Woman Musician Looks at Musical Life in London"), MS 52391.
- Neue Bonner Zeitung Opera Reviews, November 6, 1848 to April 11, 1849.
- "Notizen des Gesangverein betreffend" ("Notes Concerning the Gesangverein"), MS S2400.
- "Reminiscences of Felix Mendelssohn" (my title), Kinkel's diary entries of July 5 and 12, 1836, in Adeline Rittershaus, "Felix Mendelssohn und Johanna Kinkel. Ungedrückte Tagebüchber und Briefe," Neue Freie Presse (Morgenblatt, Feuilleton), Vienna, April 19, 1900, no. 12806.
- "Zur Aesthetik der Musik [ca. 1857-58]," ("On the Aesthetiks of Music"), MS S2394.
1Paul Kaufmann, "Johanna Kinkel, Neue Beitäge zu ihrem Lebensbild," Preussische Jahrbücher 221 (1930), 292.
2This review is contained in Else Thalheimer, "Johanna Kinkel als Musikerin" (Ph. D. dissertation, Bonn University, 1922), p. 62.
3See Frederick Niecks, Frederick Chopin (1902); reprint, New York: Cooper Square Publications, 1973, II, pp. 269-70.
4Unless otherwise indicated, all the translations here are my own.
5Fritz Böttger, ed., Frauen im Aufbruch. Frauenbriefe aus dem Vormärz und der Revolution (Berlin, 1977), p. 400.
6Fanny Lewald, Zwölf Bilder nach dem Leben (Berlin, 1888), II, p. 2.
7Term quoted in the December 1848 issue of The Examiner, an English publication based in Bonn. See Adolf Strotmann, Wahrheit ohne Dichtung (Hamburg, 1851), II, p. 92.
8Adelheid von Asten-Kinkel, "Johanna Kinkel in England," Deutsche Revue 26 (1901), 72; letter of April 22, 1851.
9Johanna Kinkel, Chopin als Komponist, Deutsche Revue 27 (1902): Jan. 93-106; Feb. 209-23; March 338-69. Quotations from Chopin als Komponist are cited in the text with the abbreviation C.
10See Leon Plantinga, Schumann as Critic (New Haven, 1967), p. 81.
11Johanna Kinkel, Acht Briefe an eine Freundin über Klavierunterricht (1852); reprint, Straubenhardt, Hungary, ed. Gertrude Zimmerman, 1989, p. 53. Quotations from Acht Briefe are cited in the text with the abbreviation AB.
12Johanna Kinkel, Hans Ibeles in London. Ein Familienbild aus dem Flüchtlingsleben (Stuttgart, 1860). Quotations from Hans Ibeles in London are cited in the text with the abbreviation HI.
13It was Mendelssohn who introduced Kinkel to the works of Berlioz. In a letter dated April 2, 1843, in reponse to one of Kinkel in which she asked him to recommend a good book on orchestration, he singled out the orchestral treatise by Berlioz "which Schumann told him about." See Adeline Rittershaus, "Felix Mendelssohn und Johanna Kinkel. Ungedrückte Tagebücher und Briefe," Neue Freie Presse, April 19 (1900), 1.
14Johanna Kinkel, Musikalische Orthodoxie in Gottfried and Johanna Kinkel, Erzählungen (Stuttgart, 1849), p. 103. Quotations from Musikalische Orthodoxie are cited in the text with the abbreviation MO.
15See Ignace Moscheles, ed., The Life of Beethoven, Including the Biography of Schindler (1841); reprint, London, 1841, p. 27.
16In March 1848, Gottfried and Johanna Kinkel, and Karl Schurz took over one of Bonn's leading newspapers, the Bonner Zeitung as an organ of the liberal party, renaming it Neue Bonner Zeitung. At first Johanna was the music and drama critic, but during her husband's participation in the Baden uprising, and subsequent imprisonment, the task of editor also fell into her hands. I wish to thank Yale University for providing me with the microfilm of this very obsolete newspaper. Quotations from and all references to the Neue Bonner Zeitung are cited in the text with the abbreviation NBZ. Dates of the reviews are given in the text.
17The nationalization of Der Freischütz was strongly criticized by Ludwig Börne. See Linda Siegel, Music in German Romantic Literature, 1983, pp. 158-62.
18"Notizen den Gesangverein betreffend [1832-48]," Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, MS S2400. This work is basically a record Kinkel kept of the activities of the Gesangverein.
19F. R. Ritter, trans. ed., Music and Musicians. Essays and Criticisms by Robert Schumann (London, 1880), p. 17.
20Although not exactly the same, this topic was also discussed in Jules Benedict's A Sketch of the Life and Works of the Late Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (London, 1850). See Wilfred Blunt, On Wings of Song (London, 1974), p. 83. Whether Kinkel was acquainted with this work is not known; and even if she was, it is a question whether her English was good enough at that time to have read it.
21The contents of the twelve sections: I, a defense of short compositions and Chopin's exclusive devotion to piano music; II, Waltzes; III, performance suggestions; IV and V, Nocturnes; VI, the development of harmony prior to Chopin; VII, Impromptus and Ballades; VIII, Preludes; IX, Etudes; X, the development of rhythm, and Mazurkas; XI, a brief history of music, including the current influence of folk music, Polonaises; XII, Sonatas.
22Chopin studies: Schumann (NZfM, 1835-41); Heinrich Heine (1837), J. A. Davidson (1838 and 1843), Liszt (1852). The avoidance of technical terms or historical comments in this literature serves to highlight the major strengths of Kinkel's essay. That Kinkel knew of Liszt's work is evidenced by her quoting (but in German) his term "musikalische Kabinettstücke" (C, 348). With this word she had no quarrel.
23Fritz Böttger, ed., Frauen im Aufbruch, p. 411 (letter to Angela Oppenhoff, December 6, 1858).
24Weber's use of the major ninth, as stated by Kinkel, is supported by John Warrick, Carl Maria von Weber, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1976), p. 368.
25On the texture of the Etudes, some answers: "The fundamental texture of Chopin's music is accompanied melody" (The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, IV, p. 300); "Chopin's coloristic invention is at its highest in the Etudes . . . this coloristic imagination is fundamentally contrapuntal in nature—or rather that the counterpoint is fundamentally coloristic, the interweaving of different kinds of texture" (Charles Rosen, The Romantic Generation [Cambridge, 1995], p. 380).
26For example, see F. R. Ritter, Music and Musicians, p. 266; and Niecks, II, p. 228.
27F. R. Ritter, Music and Musicians, p. 280.
28See Linda Siegel, ed., Johanna Kinkel Lieder, vol. II (Hildegard-Theodor Presser, 2003).
29F. R. Ritter, Music and Musicians, p. 260.
30Leon Plantinga, Romantic Music (New York, 1984), p. 203.
31Adelheid von Asten-Kinkel, "Johanna Kinkel in England," Deutsche Revue 26 (1901), 188.
32Johanna Kinkel, "Lecture on Harmony [ca. 1857]," Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, MS 52394 (31c). Quotations from the "Lecture on Harmony" are cited in the text with the abbreviation H.
33For example, see Ludwig Tieck's Musikalische Leiden und Freuden, in Linda Siegel, trans. ed., Music in German Romantic Literature, p. 33 and 129.
34This technique is quite pronounced in Kinkel's Don Ramiro (see Linda Siegel, "Johanna Kinkel's Don Ramiro and the Development of the German Ballad," paper presented at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, December 16, 1997).
35Peter Firchow, trans. ed., Friedrich Schlegel's "Lucinde" and Other Fragments (Minneapolis, 1971), p. 239.
36For a modern echo of this description of the Rondo, see William Kinderman, Beethoven (Berkeley, 1995), p. 42.
37Johanna Kinkel, "Lecture on the Earliest Sonatas of Beethoven, Including opus 10 [ca. 1857]," Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, MS S2397. Quotations from the "Lecture on the Earliest Sonatas of Beethoven" are cited in the text with the abbreviation B. Kinkel's use of the term "why" theme, finds a later parallel in Kurth's application of the word "Fragemotiv" to describe not only certain motives in Wagner but also in earlier instrumental music such as in the second movement of Beethoven's Sonata in E Flat Major, op. 18a. See Ernst Kurth, "Die psychologischen Grundlagen der romantische Harmonik," chap. 2 in Romantische Harmonik und ihre Krise in Wagners Tristan (Bern, 1920), p. 478.
38Although not as specific, Schindler had also noticed that the piano for which many of the sonatas were written was a detriment to Beethoven's musical vision. But this is really brought out in the later third edition (1860) of his biography of Beethoven. See Donald W. MacArdle, ed., Beethoven as I Knew Him: A Biography by Anton Schindler (Dover, 1996), p. 402. Reprint of the Chapel Hill edition, 1966.
39Theodor Anton Henseler, "Johanna Kinkel und ihr Gesangverein," in Das musikalische Bonn im 19. Jahrhundert (Bonn, 1959), p. 138.
40Adeline Rittershaus (see note 13 above), p. 2.
41Eva Weissweiler, Komponistinnen aus 500 Jahren (Frankfurt am Main, 1981), p. 226.
42Johanna Kinkel, "Lecture on Mendelssohn [ca.1857]," Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, MS S2398. Quotations from the "Lecture on Mendelssohn" are cited in the text with the abbreviation M.
43See Schumann's "Der Sommernachtstraum" in Martin Kreisig, ed., Gesammelte Schriften über Musik und Musiker von Robert Schumann (Leipzig, 1914), II, p.155.
44Johanna Kinkel, "Lecture on Mozart [ca. 1857]," Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, MS S2396. Quotations from the "Lecture on Mozart" are cited in the text with the abbreviation MT.
45See Linda Siegel, "Ludwig Börne as Music Critic," The Musical Quarterly 75 (1990).
46Johanna Kinkel, "Zur Aesthetik der Musik [c.1857-58]," Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, MS S2394. Quotations from "Zur Aesthetik der Musik" are cited in the text with the abbreviation A.
47The notes -D which occur in the duet O Namenlose Freude (Act II, sc. l) appear to be another example of the minor second motive; perhaps amidst Leonora's joy, a shadow of the unhappy past comes back.
48Although the term "das Kunstwerk der Zukunft" is not italicized in the Chopin essay, Kinkel was probably referring to Wagner's The Art-Work of the Future (1849).
49Karl Schurz, Lebenserinnerungen (Berlin, 1911), II, p. 48.
50Adelheid von Aston-Kinkel, "Johanna Kinkel in England," p. 65.
51Karl Schurz, Lebenserinnerungen, p. 47.
52Angered by the chauvinistic tone of Oswald Lorenz's review of her song cycle op. 7 (NZfM 20, 1837, 77-78), Kinkel finally found a way to revenge herself when Schumann, curious to know who the mysterious "J" was who wrote the music, finally located her, and wrote to her asking her to send the journal a new composition for him to review personally. What she sent him was her "wildest Trinklied" for men's chorus. "If only I could have seen the faces [of his staff] when they tried to sing it," she wrote to Angela Oppenhoff. (See Fritz Böttger, Frauen im Aufbruch, p. 410-11, and Schumann's letter to Henriette Voigt dated Leipzig, June 11, 1838, in Else Thalheimer, "Johanna Kinkel als Musikerin" [Ph. D. dissertation, University of Bonn, 1922], p. 55.) Schumann's subsequent review was anything but enthusiastic. The "inappropriate" choice of the "dark, almost wild key of g minor for such a text," he wrote, "may be considered as a sign of the times" (Martin Kreisig, ed., Gesammelte Schriften über Musik und Musiker von Robert Schumann, II, 332-33).
53David Charlton, ed., E. T. A. Hoffmann's Musical Writings (Cambridge, 1989), p. 369.
54Adelheid von Asten-Kinkel, "Johanna Kinkels Glaubensbekenntnis," Deutsche Revue 27 (1902), p. 64.
55Paul Henry Lang, Handel (New York, 1977), p. 470.
56Johanna Kinkel,"Musikalisches aus London. Auch eine Seite des Londoner Lebens. Betrachtungen einer deutschen Musikantin [ca. 1857-58]," Kinkel Archives, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, MS S2391. Quotations from "Musikalisches aus London" are cited in the text with the abbreviation ML.
57Kinkel's description of the struggle of German musicians living in London finds a parallel in Ludwig Spohr's Selbstbiographie (Kassel, 1960).
58Adelheid von Asten-Kinkel, "Johanna Kinkels Glaubensbekenntnis," p. 70.
59Johanna Kinkel, Hans Ibeles in London. Ein Familienbild aus dem Flüchtlingsleben, 2 vols. (Stuttgart, 1860).
60George Schoolfield, The Figure of the Musician in German Literature (Chapel Hill, 1956), xiv and p. 68.
61See Glyn Tegai Hughes, Romantic German Literature (London, 1979), pp. 53-54.
62I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn for furnishing me with copies of Kinkel's unpublished musical writings and for giving me permission to use this material in this article.
63Johanna Kinkel (Mathieux, nee Mockel) died in London in Saint John's Wood, Hyde Park. Whether the fatal fall from the window of her second-story bedroom was accidental or suicidal has never been solved.
Last modified on Friday, 05/10/2018