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Title:The Tonkünstler-Societät and the oratorio in Vienna, 1771–1798
Author(s):Wuchner, Emily M.
Director of Research:Bashford, Christina
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bashford, Christina
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hitchins, Keith; Macklin, Christopher; Präger, Ulrike; Rice, John A.
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Pension society
Social welfare
Abstract:Vienna’s Tonkünstler-Societät (Musician's Society) was established in 1771 with the primary goal of cultivating a pension fund to financially assist the widows and orphans of deceased members. Founded by the Habsburg Kapellmeister Florian Gassmann, the Society generated its income by soliciting dues, collecting donations, and organizing bi-yearly academies held during Lent and Advent. These concerts typically featured newly-composed oratorios written specifically for the Society by such eminent composers as Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Salieri, and Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. The Society is considered to be one of Vienna’s earliest public concert institutes, and its bi-yearly academies are an integral facet of the organization’s identity throughout the eighteenth century. Despite its significance in eighteenth-century Viennese music and history, the Tonkünstler-Societät is often overlooked in scholarship. This dissertation explores the Tonkünstler-Societät from 1771 until 1798, primarily its founding and organization, the academies it sponsored, and the repertoire it commissioned. In Chapter 1, I consider how the Society fits into the broader networks of social welfare and concert life in Europe and Vienna. Looking at the Society in this socio-political context reveals how the group compared to other Viennese pension societies as well as its organization and financial operations. The Society generated substantial income from its academies, which attracted some of the wealthiest Viennese citizens. My work in Chapter 2 explores the Society’s performances, particularly through venues, musical ensembles, ticket sales, expenses, and concert culture. Careful study of the Society’s programming reveals that the organization had its audience in mind when commissioning and planning its repertoire. In my final chapters, I turn to the repertoire to show how the organization appealed to public preference and, perhaps, communicated its own agenda. Over the course of twenty-five years, the oratorio underwent several structural and textural changes to align with the popular operatic traditions of the period, which is seen through works including Gassmann’s La Betulia liberata, Haydn’s Il ritorno di Tobia, Maximilian Ulbrich’s Die Israeliten in der Wüste, and Leopold Kozeluch’s Moisè in Egitto. Near the end of the century, however, the Society nearly abandoned the genre altogether and instead favored miscellaneous programs with cantatas, such as Salieri’s La Riconoscenza and Franz Xavier Süssmayr’s Der Retter in Gefahr. With this dissertation, I shed new light on the Tonkünstler-Societät’s significance in eighteenth-century Viennese social and concert life, while also providing a fresh look at the oratorio genre.
Issue Date:2017-04-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Emily M. Wuchner
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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