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This is an excellent book in that it is based upon documented facts. The disappointing side is that surviving documents are so sparse--we cannot safely conclude that something didn't happen just because there are no concert programs or newspaper announcements extant.
The author has made heroic efforts to track down every shred of paper which could shed light on musical Vienna in the era of Haydn, Mozart, and the young Beethoven. I know of no other book which is anywhere near as thorough or objective.
This might seem like a dry subject, but to a musician, there are some surprises: Orchestras were light on strings and generally relied upon talented amateurs, though the wind players were likely to be professionals. There were not a large number of concerts, public or private, in the Classical era, compared to the Romantic or Modern eras. There was a heavy preference for vocal music, especially Italian operas, and top singers earned ten times as much as top instrumentalists. Italian vocalists were preferred, and many who were not Italian pretended to be.
Some works which we know and love today were well represented on concert programs, such as Haydn's "Creation" or the Beethoven horn sonata, but many of the works popular then we would consider obscure. Conversely, many of the works we most admire today were not performed in their own time. Beethoven's early and/or simplistic works were wildly popular, but his masterpieces found little appreciation outside the titled aristocracy.
The beauty of this books is that cuts through the partisan opinions and sweeping generalizations to get down to enumerating concrete, specific examples. This is a basic reference for historians of music, and it deserves to be in print.
Chapter One Private Concerts
Chapter Two Public Concerts
Chapter Three Public Concert Locations
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