Transatlantic relations in German and Austrian musical life around 1900

Das Panel wird gefördert durch die Stiftung Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Germany and Austria had become a promised land for so many US American musicians that we can speak of a mass migration phenomenon: In an upcoming book on American students migrating to Europe, Veronika Keller has identified around 3500 musicians with an American background, more than half of them female, who studied at German conservatoires between 1843 and 1918. Meanwhile, private teachers like Franz Liszt in Weimar or Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna also attracted large numbers of American pianists. Considering the sheer number of musicians involved and the fact that studying in Europe seemed to be an essential requirement for a successful career in America (see Kira Thurman, Singing Like Germans, 2021), studying this phenomenon will broaden our understanding of musical life on both sides of the Atlantic.

As previous research has shown, the prevailing European view of Americans at this time was one of fascination with a strong undercurrent of suspicion (see Andrei S. Markovits, Uncouth Nation, 2007). Contemporary reports of Americans studying in Germany, however, provide a much more harmonious perspective: Amy Fay’s (1844-1928) bestselling book Music Study in Germany, first published in 1880, paints a rather idyllic image of Germany while the pianist and composer Mabel W. Daniels (1878 – 1971) starts reporting about her time as a student in Munich with no less than “Here I am in my Mecca” (An American Girl in Munich, 1905).

To path the way to a deeper understanding of this complex time of musical migration and cultural interaction, our panel will bring together researchers from a DFG-sponsored project on “Transatlantische Beziehungen und anti-amerikanische Vorbehalte im Musikleben des Deutschen Kaiserreichs und der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie 1880-1915”, located at the Musikhochschule Lübeck, with scholars at other institutions working on related topics.

Dr. Marten Noorduin (Musikhochschule Lübeck) will give an overview of anti-American sentiments around 1900, and show through examples how these affected the experiences of those in this network; Meriel Vehring (Musikhochschule Lübeck) will present case studies that demonstrate the benefits that American pianists had back in the United States having had studied in Germany and Austria; and Dr. Tobias Faßhauer (Universität der Künste Berlin) will explore the positive image of ‘Americanism’ through the example of the John Philip Sousa’s concert tours of Germany in 1900 and 1903 and their influence on European compositional practice. Prof. Dr. Christiane Tewinkel (Musikhochschule Lübeck) will join the panel for the open discussion.


16.00–16.20 „Amerika, blamiere dich morgen weiter“: Anti-American bias in Weimar around 1880", Marten Noorduin (20 min)

16.20–16.40 „Das einzige Musikgenie Amerikas“. John Philip Sousa und die Frage nach dem Amerikanischen in der Musik", Tobias Faßhauer (20 min)

16.40–17.00 "Max Pinner: Beweggründe und Identitätsmerkmale einer transatlantischen Karriere", Mehriel Vehring (20 min)

17.00–17.30 Paneldiskussion, Moderation: Christiane Tewinkel