Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (7/9/13): Famous 19th century house parties?

I'm in a musical mood this week.  And I was just thinking about having a small party for people to come by, play the piano, maybe sing a few songs together.  Sounds like fun!  But I know this is part of a grand tradition of party music in the home.  

In 1820s Vienna, house parties were all the rage.  People would come and listen to music and join in singing, or there would be readings of novels and poetry with plenty of lively discussion and debate.  Sometimes there would be dancing, maybe a little gossip, and this being 19th century Vienna, there would probably be pastries and coffee at some point during the evening.

These events were very popular, especially among the upper- and upper-middle classes.  

Frankly, I would have loved to attend some of these soirées  especially those hosted in honor of a particular Viennese musician of the time. 

This wave of parties held in private homes leads to today’s SearchResearch challenge. 

1.  What were these parties often called?  (Hint: it involves a famous composer.) If you figure this out, you'll know who our famous composer was. 

 2.  What kind of people would attend these shindigs? Can you find a mention (or two) of anyone famous attending? 

 3.  The famous composer of Question 1  was interested in the development of a new kind of musical instrument, even writing a major sonata to promote its adoption by the musical public.  What was the name of that instrument?

Search on… musically! 

Be sure to tell us how you found the answers to these questions! 


  1. I spent 15 -20 minutes on Onelook's Reverse Dictionary thinking this sounded like "notebook" challenge.

    Tried a few searches in Books and finally found something that looked interesting using [ "19th century" vienna evening music home party ]. A book called Mapeh in Action Iv' 2008 Ed. mentions "schubertiads."

    Search [ schubertiads ] to find a Wikipedia article on them *schubertiades

    FACEPALM - on the SERP is the picture you used for the blog post. Why didn't I start there?

    Next searched for [ schubert "new instrument" ] and found mentioned an guitarre d’amour or arpeggione and this page

    1. Schubertiades

    2. Schubert himself and Schubert's alleged, unrequited love, the Countess Karoline Esterházy (sorry ran out of time to search further for this)

    3. arpeggione

  2. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow



    [19 th century vienna music poetry gathering]

    Franz Schubert, Schubertiade

    [Image of your post] to find Franz Schubert and


    [‘schubertiads’ famous attendings 19th century]

    [‘Schubertiads’ attendees]

    [schubertiade history]

    [franz schubert schubertiads] in books

    [schubertiads aristocratic attendees]

    [shubert sonata promote instrument]


    1. What were these parties often called?

    2. What kind of people would attend these
    shindigs? Can you find a mention (or two) of
    anyone famous attending?

    A: Middele-Class Viennese families, Schubert
    and his friends and Vienna´s artists and
    intellectuals source: The Romantic Piano: The Influence of Society..

    Johann Michel Vogl, Josef Von Spaaun and others named in Who´s Who at the Schubertiad

    3. The famous composer of Question 1 was interested in the development of a new kind of musical instrument, even writing a major sonata to promote its adoption by the musical public. What was the name of that instrument?
    A. Arpeggione

  3. just a little sidenote regarding the snippet of image used:
    Wikipedia cites Julius Schmid as the painter here:
    and links to this:
    of Sheik and Ramses fame
    but this is the painter/artist Julius Schmid:
    btw, by the time the painting was done in 1897 none of those depicted were friends of Schwammerl [Little Mushroom]
    Schubert Arpeggione Sonata on arpeggione

    1. another bit seemingly at odds with Wikipedia -
      Schmid's Schubertabend was exhibited at the opening in January 1897 of the famous centennial Schubert exhibition in Vienna's Künstlerhaus.[3] In the portrait, Schubert is half turned from the piano, one hand on his thigh, with a crowd of smiling and very well-dressed Viennese grouped about him in obvious appreciation of the composer. According to the 1997 Nikolaus Dumba exhibit catalog of the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek, some of Schubert's admirers encircling him in this painting include several of his historically authentic friends: Katharina Fröhlich (1800-1879), Sophie Müller (1803-1830), Eduard von Bauernfeld (1802-1890), Johann Baptist Jenger (1793-1856), Johann Michael Vogl (1768-1840), and Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871). Schmid had done extensive historical and archival research in order to reproduce as closely as possible the known portraits of these friends, their costumes, and the interior décor and furniture of this Biedermeier salon. The painting was the template for the same scene in the 1953 Austrian film, "Ein Leben in zwei Sätzen," (also released as "Franz Schubert - ein unvollendetes Leben"). This film was one of the many fictional and saccharine portrayals of Schubert's life, in this case of his unrequited love for his real sweetheart Therese Grob, who married another in 1820. Unlike Schmid's painting, she is erroneously shown in the film's re-creation as being one of the attendees at this Vienna salon. However, no matter the number of times this smiling group of Schmid's music-loving Schubertians is used in a book, a film, an online site and a magazine or CD cover, the name Julius Schmid does not acquire any greater luster. He has essentially been forgotten.

      wiki's entry -
      "In contrast, the 1897 depiction by Julius Schmid is a somewhat more formal affair, and the people in the painting are not recognizably Schubert's friends."

  4. a) Search on: vienna 1820s performances composer
    b) I went to Wikipedia articles for Beethoven and a history of music site in Vienna (lot of composers from Vienna).
    c) I went back to my search results and went to to the Schubert Wikipedia article because I could see the text in the search results: "During the early 1820s, Schubert was part of a close-knit circle of artists:
    d) The Wikipedia article indicated the parties were known as Schubertiade.
    e) I did a define:Schubertiade search and found the Wikipedia article on it. It has the picture displayed in the blog post.
    f) Did search on sonata in Wikipedia article for Schubert to find the name of the instrument.

    1) The party is Schubertiade
    2) Attended by "wealthier friends or aficionados of Schubert's music" such as Countess Karoline Esterházy
    3) The instrument is Arpeggione (

  5. My answer is longer than 4,096 characters so I'm splitting it in two parts. Here's the first one, dealing with the answer to question #1.

    I immediately recognized the pianist on the painting to be Schubert. So my first guess would be Schubert, since I already knew he was involved in house music parties. Nevertheless, I decided to go search unbiased. So here's what I tried:

    [ private parties vienna 1820..1829 ]
    Skimmed the first result, a Wikipedia article on Johann Sedlatzek, a flutist I'd never heard about. Realized that "private parties" has a different meaning I hadn't thought about, so I decide to try a different search.

    [ "private parties" OR "house parties" vienna 1820..1829 ]
    Skimmed the first result, a doc on Schubert's life. Again, the same meaning (as in some music scores "in possession of private parties"). OK, decided to go for a more simple search:

    [ vienna 1820..1829 music ]
    Skimmed the results page to find the 7th result to be possibly interesting. Here's the snippet:

    "Vienna's new art-loving bourgeoisie | Die Welt der Habsburger‎
    There was great enthusiasm for music throughout Vienna. In 1828, the Vienna début of the 'devil's violinist' Niccolò Paganini (1782–1840) in the Redoutensaal ..."

    So, could we be talking about Paganini? Followed the link and glanced the article. There's this promising paragraph:

    "Music-making in the home enjoyed great popularity in the period between the Congress of Vienna and 1848, the year of the Revolution. Whether in bourgeois dwellings or noble or imperial palaces, ‘Hausmusik’ was a much-loved family pastime – Emperor Franz, for instance, played the cello in string quartets."

    Quickly searched
    [ Congress of Vienna ]
    just be sure it was not after the 1820s. It was in 1814/15, as per the Google Search abridged info box on the right side of the page (can't remember the name for it).
    So my next search would be:

    [ Vienna Hausmusik ]
    Results not promising at all. Changed it to

    [ Vienna Hausmusik 1815..1849 ]
    Better now. The 2nd result is a pdf on Classical Music in XIXth Century Vienna.

    Opened it, and my eyes fell immediately on the word "Schubertiads". OK, there's the answer, most likely, confirming my first guess.

    At this moment, I realize that this is a pdf of the same article I had glanced minutes ago, on So I had missed this word, having focused on the second paragraph. The whole first paragraph is quite interesting, as I realize now:

    "Amongst the composers active in Biedermeier Vienna were such famous figures as Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven, who settled permanently in the city in 1792. While Beethoven’s patrons were from the nobility, Schubert’s family and friends were solidly middle-class – the songs, the excursions to the country, and the musical soirées or ‘Schubertiads’ that are associated with his name all breathe the bourgeois spirit of the Biedermeier idyll. "

    This confirms answer to question #1: Schubertiads (or Schubertiades).

  6. Second part of my answer.

    Next search:
    [ Schubertiads ]
    First result is the Wikipedia article entitled "Schubertiade". The English article doesn't mention very many names so I immediately switch to its German version. I trust on Google Translate for that, although for names I may have to reread the original, since Translate often translates names and parts of names (e.g., Ferdinand Schnorr von Carolsfeld is translated as Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr von Carol Field). The only name I recognize here (but am not sure where from) is Sonnleithner. So I just keep opening name links and look for any name that has an *English* article on Wikipedia. Those that only have German articles won't probably be that world-famous. That's how I find my answer #2. (Check below.)

    On to the 3rd question. I just go back to the English Wikipedia article on Schubertiads, click on Schubert to read the corresponding Wikipedia article, CTRL+F [ instrument ] and find the sentence on the Arpeggione Sonata:
    "He also wrote the Arpeggione Sonata (D. 821), at a time when there was a minor craze over that instrument."
    I know what the arpeggione is and I know and love this sonata, but nevertheless follow the Wikipedia link and read this paragraph:
    "It enjoyed a brief vogue, perhaps a decade, after its invention around 1823, by the Viennese guitar maker Johann Georg Stauffer (1778-1853). The only notable piece extant for the instrument is a sonata with piano accompaniment by Franz Schubert, D.821, not published until 1871, when the arpeggione was long defunct. This sonata is now commonly played on the cello, and many other instruments have received transcriptions as well."

    So the 3rd answer is definitely found. But I also find another interesting piece of information on this last page I read:
    "More recently Nicolas Deletaille has reintroduced the instrument not only by playing the Schubert Sonata, but also by encouraging composers to write new music for arpeggione."
    And this is why I love these challenges. Even when I don't learn new search techniques I keep finding new and interesting information on subjects I cherish.

    8 min for question #1
    4 min for question #2
    <1 min for question #3
    75 minutes to write and proof-read all this — and that is the reason for me not to answer more questions here :)


    1. Schubertiads
    2. Joseph Sonnleithner (librettist of Beethoven's opera "Fidelio"); Johann Mayrhofer (47 Schubert songs and two of his operas are based on Mayrhofer’s lyric poems); Moritz von Schwind (painter; one of his works depicts a "Schubertiade")
    3. Arpeggione

  7. I now realize that I had never heard an arpeggione in my entire life (although I love Schubert's sonata). Now, after listening to several renditions of this sonata on several models of arpeggione, I realize this is the best it got so far (at least for my taste):
    Allegretto, Arpeggione sonata D821, Schubert. Alfred Lessing, Musik fur Arpeggione

    That is (cellist?) Alfred Lessing on one of the arpeggione models made by the Japanese luthier Osamu Okumura.

    If this is the best it can get, I guess I don't mind going back to listening to it on the cello.


  8. Query -Google Images - [1820 vienna austria music house gatherings]

    Checked images and found the same image presented to us for this challenge and found the link to The Vienna Review article of 2010. (Source #1)

    Answer #1 Schubertiade ( Franz Schubert was the quintessential Viennese composer, the only great master really native to this city.)

    Even found a definition for Schubertiade (Source #2)
    Noun 1)A social gathering whose primary purpose is the performance of the music of Schubert and where the music of no other composer is played.
    2) A Schubert-only concert.

    Answer # 2
    Franz Schuberts' circle of friends includes a comprehensive list of bios, paintings and drawings of his friends. (Source # 3)
    The drawing by Moritz von Schwind of 1868 from Wikimedia Commons (Source #4)
    identifies some of his close & famous friends attending a Schubertiade.

    Answer # 3
    The Vienna Review article " The second evening began with the Arpeggione Sonata. An arpeggione is an instrument that was invented in Schubert’s lifetime, a curious combination of a guitar and a cello that quickly proved unsuccessful and almost as quickly disappeared.This sonata is the only reason the arpeggione is remembered." (Source #1)

    If you would like to attend a Schubertiade Festival here's a link (Source #5)

    Source #1
    Source #2
    Source #3
    Source #4
    Source #5

    1. Thanks to remmij, Luis Miguel and RoseMary ( in order of when posts appear). I like the information and links that you share with us.

      Dr. Russell, In the title of the SearchResearch Challenge of today, says September 7 and it is August. I just noticed.

      Have a nice evening.

  9. 1) The parties were called Schubertiaten after Franz Schubert. I found this information from a Wikipedia article on Schubert that I found by doing the following search- Vienna 1820 musicians house parties
    2)Haven't gotten the answer to this yet.
    3) the arpeggionne. Found this by searching for "franz Schubert" musical invention sonata and found the answer in the All Music Guide to Classical Music on Google books.