Joachim's Centrality to Nineteenth-Century German Concert Life
Joseph Joachim’s importance as a performer extended far beyond the violin world; so far, this paper argues, that there was no one person more important to so many facets of nineteenth-century musical life in Germany. During the transformation of Berlin into a musical capital of the world, Joachim presided over the Königliche Akademische Hochschule für Musik while navigating other bureaucracies and the Kaiser’s court. He cultivated royalty and statesmen and called upon them to contribute to musical projects and to serve as honorary members of boards and societies. With the help of the Mendelssohn family, Joachim secured endowments for the Mendelssohn Prize and the Joachim Prize, which helped fund students and provide them with instruments. Joachim also played an important role in the early years of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He was involved in the planning, and once the concerts began, he participated not only as a soloist but as a conductor. Several of his students became concert masters and many played for decades in the string section. In addition, Berlin became famous for chamber music because of Joachim’s Quartet, which gave a series of subscription concerts for thirty-eight years. Several chamber groups led by former students kept the tradition going well into the twentieth century. For over fifty years Joachim championed the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. Through his involvement in creating multiple monuments, museums, and festivals for these composers, he also raised their national and cultural status. Last but not least, Joachim’s image as a performing musician made the profession more dignified, intellectual, and idealistic. As a revered public figure, he raised the class and social connotations of being a musician.
Sanna Pederson, who specializes in German music history and culture in the nineteenth century, has been the Mavis C. Pitman Professor of Music at the University of Oklahoma since 2001. Her most recent work focuses on chamber music in Berlin from 1870-1910, and specifically the concerts of the Joachim Quartet. Other interests include the aesthetic theories of Richard Wagner, about which she contributed to The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia. Other papers and publications are about romanticism, the term absolute music, and the history of musicology. Earlier research focused on the reception of Beethoven, on which she has published with regard to nationalism, gender studies, narrative theory, and historiography.