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Viennese Theatre, 1740-1790

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About this Collection

Introduction: German and Austrian Drama


This collection, The Viennese Theatre, 1740-1790, was previously titled: German and Austrian Drama.

During the second half of the 18th century the Viennese theater was one of the most active and influential in Europe. Austria was the center of an extensive empire, and Vienna was the cosmopolitan capital of eastern Europe. The importance of the Viennese stage during this period can be judged from the fact that its two chief theaters are still in existence and ranked among the worlds greatest: the Theater nächst dem Kärntnertor (Kärntnertortheater for short), now known as the Vienna Staatsoper, and the Theater nächst der Burg (also referred to by contemporaries as the Nationaltheater or Nationalhoftheater), the present Burgtheater. The first was opened in 1709 on a site now occupied by the Hotel Sacher, the second in 1741 on a site fronting the present Michaelerplatz. While German was the official language of the country, French was much spoken in court and official circles, and Vienna had a large Italian population as well, including such a figure as Pietro Metastasio, one of the great Italian dramatists of the 18th century. Plays in all three languages were in constant production in Vienna. The French neoclassical influence was on its way out, and fresh conceptions of the dramatic treatment of tragedy and comedy were taking hold, resulting in an outpouring of stage texts such as has rarely been seen since.

The main part of the Harvard collection of 18th-century dramatic texts published in the Austrian empire, Germany, and Switzerland in German, French, and Italian, was acquired en bloc in 1971 from the Viennese dealer Michael Krieg, whose early death a few years later removed from the European rare book trade one of its most promising young men. We continue to miss him, not only professionally but personally as well; and I must acknowledge with gratitude my debt to his provisional catalog of the collection, which was of the greatest assistance to me in my own cataloging of the individual plays. The collection is exceptionally large and gives a remarkably complete picture of what was going on in the theaters of those countries, especially Austria, during an important period of stage history. It would appear to have been formed during the last quarter of the 18th century by Rudolph, Graf von Abensperg und Traun, chamberlain of the imperial court, who had the individual plays bound in either full calf or plain board tract volumes, each with his armorial bookplate inside the front cover and with a manuscript table of contents on the front flyleaf. An earlier member of Rudolphs family was Otto Ferdinand, Graf von Abensperg und Traun, field marshal under Frederick the Great, while a collateral branch produced Rudolphs contemporary, Karl Emanuel, Graf Traun, many of whose plays are in the collection.

Included in the collection are not only great masterpieces by such authors as Goethe, Wieland, Lessing, and Schiller, but a host of minor works by lesser dramatists that give perspective to the whole. An old library like Harvard had of course a fair number of 18th-century plays on its shelves before the Krieg collection was acquired, and we have bought more as they came on the market. We continue to add to the total of about 2,500 individual items as opportunity and funds permit. (The guide contains well over 3,000 entries, but many of these are so-called analytical entries for plays gathered together in large collections such as Deutsche Schaubühne, Neue Sammlung deutscher Schauspiele, and the like.) This number, while perhaps not equaling what is to be found in the combined holdings of the Nationalbibliothek and Stadtbibliothek in Vienna, is nevertheless probably the largest in the United States. For that reason we welcomed the Research Publications (now Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of the Gale Group) project of filming the collection and making it available to a wider range of users than could be served within the confines of the Houghton Library at Harvard.

The fact that the collection is now on microfilm, however, places certain restrictions on the form and content of the catalog here published, which must be thought of first and foremost as an institutional guide to the reels of film, and only then as a general bibliographical tool for individuals interested in 18th-century drama who may not own the film. I hope, however, that both owners and nonowners will find the catalog useful for their respective purposes. All of the plays have been given full bibliographical treatment, so that the catalog contains far more detailed descriptions than have hitherto been available for so large a body of material. The great bulk of the plays are dated between 1740 and 1800, though some go back to earlier years of the 18th century. Our cut-off date of 1800 had to be arbitrarily chosen and inevitably creates some anomalies: it means that we include Schillers Wallenstein (1800) but not Maria Stuart (1801); all of the pre-1801 plays that we have of Kotzebue, but not the far greater number of those printed post-1800; and there are many other such cases. But we had to stop somewhere, and because any post-1800 date chosen would have involved similar problems of inclusion and omission, we thought it best to restrict ourselves neatly to the 18th century.

This guide copies the substance but not strictly the form of the Houghton card catalog entries. In the collation line, for example, Houghton catalog cards present the information thus: 8. 2p.l., 125,[3]p. front.,illus. 16.5 cm. In other words, the statements of format, physical extent, illustration, and size are recorded as discrete elements. In the present catalog these elements have been run together thus: 8., 2p.l., 125, [3] p., front., illus., 16.5 cm.

In this connection, a word of explanation of the elements of the collation line may be in order for those not accustomed to them. The majority of works described here are in octavo form (8.), with comparatively few quarto (4.). The formula "p.l." stands for "preliminary leaves", i.e., unnumbered leaves (if any) at the beginning of the book. This is followed by the total of pages bearing numbers (125 in the above example). If there are unnumbered pages or leaves at the end of the book, they are recorded in square brackets in the case of pages where no blanks intervene, or a formula such as "3l" in the case of leaves where blank pages do intervene. Statements of illustrative material are "front." for frontispiece, "illus." for illustrations occurring in the text, "pl." (singular) or "plates" (plural) for plates outside the text, and, occasionally, "port." for portraits, if one is present.

In the guide, the umlauted vowels ä, ö, and ü are filed as though the umlaut were not there, rather than as ae, oe, and ue. However, the user is encouraged to check for a specific author under both the single umlauted vowel and the expanded umlaut. Words preceding a title proper may also cause anomalies of filing. "Gotth. Ephr. Lessings Theatralische Bibliothek," for example, will be found filed under "Gotth." Rather than "Theatralische" in the list of Lessings works.

Separate Author, Anonymous Works, and Title listings [in the print guide] provide multiple access points to the microfilm collection of German and Austrian Drama, while a complete Reel Contents List gives a comprehensive survey of what each reel contains. We hope these various facets of the guide will help to make the wealth of source material in the collection easily accessible to those who use it.

James E. Walsh
Keeper of Printed Books
The Houghton Library
Harvard University

Organization of the [Printed] Guide

The The Viennese Theatre, 1740-1790 collection on microfilm consists of 3,074 plays and libretti on 113 reels. This guide to the collection is divided into four sections enabling the user to conveniently access each entry from several vantage points.

Reel Contents List

The first section is the Reel Contents List. It is arranged numerically by reel contents, reflecting the order in which the items have been filmed. The sequential entry numbers are located on the left, and the reel number is found at the top of the page. Each reel listing corresponds with that found on the beginning frames of the appropriate reel in the collection.

Reel 1

1 Der frantzösische Betrug, der spanische Aberglaube, die engelländische... [Germany?] Jm Jahr 1701.

2 [Bernardoni, Pietro Antonio, 1672-1714]
Tigrane, re dArmenia. Dramma per musica rappresentato nel felicissimo... Vienna dAustria, Appresso
gli heredi... [1710].

3 Bosellini, Francesco, d. 1742.
La distruzione dHai, componimento sacro per musica cantato nellaugustissima... Vienna dAustria,
Appresso Gio. Pietro van Ghelen... [1728].

4 Catena, Giovanni Battista.
Bersabea, ovvero Il pentimento di David. Azione tragico-sacra per musica... Vienna, Appresso Gio.
Pietro van Ghelen... [1729].

5 [Salvi, Antonio, 1664-1724]
Arminio. Da cantarsi nel teatro privilegiato da S.M.C. e Cat. in Vienna... Wien, gedrukt bey Johann
Peter... [1740].

Author/Anonymous Works Listing

The Author/Anonymous Works section of the guide lists full bibliographic citations in alphabetical order. The reel and item numbers are provided in italic print at the end of each entry.

ADDISON, Joseph, 1672-1719.
Cato. Ein Trauerspiel von Addison. Aus dem
(In: Theater der Britten. Berlin u. Leipzig,
1770. 16 cm. 1. Th., p. [331]-448)
Anonymous prose translation.
Reel 37, No. 1479

ADDISON, Joseph, 1672-1719.
Cato, ein Trauerspiel des Herrn Addisons. aus
dem Englischen ins Deutsche übersetzt...
[Germany, ca. 1755?]
8, 119p., 17 cm.
Signatures: A-G8, H4,
Verse translation; the anonymous translator in his
preface refers to the earlier translations of the two
Gottscheds; he also discusses the problems of trans-
lating from English into German.
No. 1962 in a collection of German plays.
Imperfect: edges cropped.
Reel 51, No. 2027

Title Listing

An alphabetical Title Listing follows the Anonymous Works Listing. These abbreviated entries include the same reel and entry number format.

A. W. Ifflands dramatische Werke ... Leipzig, 1798-
1802. Iffland, August Wilhelm, 1759-1814.
Reels 83-85, No. 2837

Abällino, Zschokke, Heinrich.
Reel 58, No. 2282

Die Abbassiden, ein Trauerspiel in fünf Aufzügen.
... Wjen, Zu finden beym Logenmeister, 1775.
[Kepner, Johann Friedrich, 1745-1820]
Reel 24, No. 1070

Abdalah, oder Keine ... Wjen, gedruckt ... 1771.
[Weidmann, Paul, 1744-1801]
Reel 103, No. 3142

Die Abendmusik.
Reel 33, No. 1415

Das Abendständschen, oder der lächerliche Liebhaber,
ein Lustspiel von einem Aufzuge aus dem Holländ-
ischen übersetzt. [Uhlich, A.G.]
Reel 33, No. 1416

Identical texts were not filmed a second time; instead, cross reference notes appear on the film, directing the user to an alternative duplicate text.