Berlin: ‘Music in the Air’

  • Christoph-Hellmut Mahling
Part of the Man & Music book series (MAMU)


‘Music is part of the air you breathe; you absorb it through the very pores of your skin. One meets it everywhere, in concert hall, church, theatre, in the streets, in the public gardens’, 1 wrote Hector Berlioz from Berlin, when he visited the city on his travels through Germany in 1842–3. He was depicting the extensive musical life of Berlin at this period and mentioning the principal places where music was played in public and for the public, accessible to everyone. Only during the first half of the nineteenth century, however, had the phenomenon described by Berlioz developed such lively diversity.


Musical Activity Concert Hall Instrumental Music Musical Taste Royal Theatre 
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  1. 1.
    Ninth letter, to M. Demarest, in The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, ed. and trans. D. Cairns (New York, rev. 3/1975).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See A. Meyer-Hanno, Georg Abraham Schneider (1770–1839) und seine Stellung im Musikleben Berlins (Berlin, 1965), 53.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The following figures can be drawn from H. J. Meyer, Neues Konversations-Lexikon, iii (Leipzig, 2/1862), 243, and ii (Leipzig, 4/1888), 756Google Scholar
  4. B. Hofmeister, Bundesrepublik Deutschland und Berlin, i (Berlin and Darmstadt, 1975), 13, 50: c1800–172,000 (including c33,300 soldiers); 1804–182,157; 1815–193,000 (according to the municipal statutes); 1820–201,900 (including 16,071 soldiers); 1840–309,950; 1848–419,000; 1849–410,726; 1855–420,000. The Vossische Zeitung of 31 Jan 1848 speaks of ‘some 450,000 inhabitants’.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See also C.-H. Mahling, ‘Music and Places for the Performance of Music as a Reflection of Urban Social Stratification in the 19th and Early 20th Century’, in IMSCR, xii Berkeley 1977,307–11.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    F. Geyer, ‘Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Gegenwart’, Berliner musikalische Zeitung, iii (1846).Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    F. Geyer, ‘Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Gegenwart, 2’, Berliner musikalische Zeitung, iii (1846).Google Scholar
  8. 25.
    H. Kuhlo, Geschichte der Zelterschen Liedertafel von 1809 bis 1909 (Berlin, 1909), 22.Google Scholar
  9. 42.
    One such soirée was held on 11 December 1843 in the hall of the Hôtel de Russie, with ‘about a dozen artists and virtuosi’: Signale für die musikalische Welt, ii (1844), 2; see also Berliner Musikzeitung Echo iii (1853), 29.Google Scholar
  10. 46.
    Quoted from R. Elvers, ‘Hausmusik bei Mendelssohns 1821’, in Das Liebhaberorchester (Berlin, 1961), 9.Google Scholar
  11. 60.
    See C.-H. Mahling, ‘Zur Frage der “Bürgerlichkeit” der bürgerlichen Musikkultur im 19. Jahrhundert’, Musica, i (1977), 13ff; ‘Zur Beethoven-Rezeption in Berlin in den Jahren 1830 bis 1850’, Beethoven Congress: Berlin 1977 351.Google Scholar
  12. 64.
    G. Engel, ‘Bildender Einfluss der Bezirks-Concerte’., Neue Berliner Musik-zeitung, iv (1850), 129ff. The ‘Sunday audience’ mentioned here contained all classes of society, particularly the artisan and working class.Google Scholar

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© Granada Group and Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph-Hellmut Mahling

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