Between Representation, Entertainment, and Music Cultivation: Public Concerts in the Hotel Stadt Paris in Late Eighteenth-Century Berlin
In March 2010 I will participate in a panel at the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
(ASECS) on The “Wirtshaus”. Comparative perspectives on the hotel in the Eighteenth Century.
The following is the proposal for my paper:
For the emergence of a public sphere for music in late eighteenth-century Berlin, hotels and restaurants played a crucial role. It was here that the first truly public concert series in the Prussian capital found a home. While previous music societies were meeting primarily in private homes, concert series such as Johann Friedrich Reichardt’s Concerts Spirituels and Johann Friedrich Carl Rellstab’s Konzert für Kenner und Liebhaber met in the music room of the luxurious Hotel Stadt Paris, which—until 1802—was Berlin’s sole formal concert venue. As my discussion demonstrates, the concerts that were hosted here were modeled closely after music events at court, both in terms of their exclusive and representational character as well as in terms of the audience behavior as it is described in contemporaneous sources. Yet at the same time the concert performances in the Hotel Stadt Paris were an expression of an emerging concert culture in which the choice and presentation of repertories reflected a growing need for audience education and cultivation. While the introductory comments in the program notes and the selection of rare and noteworthy works that were presented in the Hotel Stadt Paris were at first greeted enthusiastically by Berlin music lovers, the high profile venue and demanding music programs soon went out of fashion and were superseded by numerous concert events in less formal restaurants and coffee gardens. My paper focuses on the critical discussion that surrounded the concert events in the Hotel Stadt Paris and carves out the important role that this discourse had on the broadening of musical culture in late eighteenth-century Berlin.