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Faculty of Music

When Franz Liszt took up the post of Kapellmeister of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1848, Weimar had just entered a new phase of its cultural history. The writers who had contributed to its reputation as the 'New Athens' - notably Goethe, Schiller and Herder - were increasingly stylised as the protagonists of a Golden Age, and their works were regarded as an invaluable part of the local and national heritage. 
This new era, later called the "Silver Age," was characterised by a tendency towards commemorative practices, partly due to the significant centenary celebrations that marked its beginning: 1849 commemorated Goethe's centenary, while 1859 marked the centenary of Schiller's birth. In 1850, the Herder monument was erected in front of the town church, and in 1857, the Goethe and Schiller monument was unveiled. Equally significant were the celebrations organised upon Carl Alexander assuming power as Grand Duke in 1853, the official date of which coincided with Goethe's birthday. 
For all these events, Franz Liszt wrote several compositions, which were employed during the inauguration of monuments or at celebrations in the court theatre. These compositions, mostly vocal pieces for choir, were often published in commemorative media, such as the Festalbum for Goethe’s centenary in 1849. However, they were also frequently reused and revised for similar occasions. Liszt later reworked some of these compositions into his symphonic poems, which, in a certain sense, can be seen as part of the celebratory agenda of those years.
The aim of my project is to explore the functions of such 'occasional music' within the rituals of the celebrations and the ways in which it helped to shape the cultural memory of Weimar between the Goethe and Schiller centenaries. This attitude was also reflected in Franz Liszt's efforts to rejuvenate the town's reputation as a cultural centre, as evidenced by his proposal for a Goethe Foundation and his involvement in the Neu-Weimar-Verein.
Michele Calella studied musicology at the University of Pavia-Cremona and the University of Regensburg. In 1997 he obtained his doctorate at the University of Münster with a dissertation on ensemble in the tragédie lyrique of the late ancien régime. From 1997 to 2001 he was an assistant at the Philipps University in Marburg, and from 2001 to 2005 he was an assistant and later a senior assistant at the University of Zurich. He has been Professor of Musicology at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and, since 2010, Professor of Historical Musicology at the University of Vienna. In 2020 he received the Westrup Prize of the journal Music & Letters for an article on Franz Liszt. His last book Musikwissenschaft: Eine Einführung, will come out in late spring 2024. His research interests include Italian opera of the 18th century, instrumental music of the 19th century (especially Franz Liszt), and the history of musicology.
Wednesday, 21 February, 2024 - 17:00