The musical element in the Viennese Volksstueck and in the dramas of Grillparzer

Saverio-Zellinger, Emil Francis
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Music and Song form an essential part in the daily life of the Viennese. Italian music, which was introduced in Vienna as early as the sixteenth century by the Austrian Court, by wandering minstrels, or by theatrical troupes, was welcomed everywhere and by everyone for its strong emotional force and beauty of melody. While at the Vienna Hofoper Italian operatic music prevailed by preference, the Italian songs of the commedia dell’arte were received enthusiastically by the populace of the gay capital. Such was the popularity of the songs of the commedia dell’arte that they became an important factor in the development of the Viennese Volksstück. At first one finds the musical element used sparingly in the course of this development, but, internal evidence in the texts of later plays shows a rapid increase in the use of music in the Volksstück. The present study necessarily involves a discussion of the questions, what are the functions of the musical element in the dramatic works of Viennese playwrights, and wherein lies the artistic worth of music to the play? … The present abridged translation of the author’s fuller study endeavors, therefore, to give, in a brief introductory form, the underlying factors which in a certain measure account for the particularly favorable conditions, which existed in Vienna, to encourage musical tradition, and, at the same time, to cause its application to the drama. Further, it endeavors to show that the musical element was not regarded by the playwrights of the Viennese Volksstück after Stranitzky) as an occasional and altogether unmotivated filler of their plays, but as an element with a specific dramatic purpose, e. g. to characterize, to interpret a certain action, to take the place of “asides,” and the like. It concludes by attempting to estimate in what respect Grillparzer follows the general custom of his contemporary Viennese playrights in his use of the musical element, and wherein consists his contribution to artistic progress in the technique of the drama