Marx, Adolf Bernhard

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Marx, Adolf Bernhard

Marx, Adolf Bernhard, eminent German music theorist and writer on music; b. Halle, May 15, 1795; d. Berlin, May 17, 1866. Intended for the law, he matriculated at the Univ. of Halle, but also studied music with Turk, and gave up a subsequent legal appointment at Naumburg to gratify his love for art. He continued the study of composition in Berlin with Zelter. In 1824 he founded the Berliner Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung (with the publisher Schlesinger), which he edited with ability, proving himself a conspicuous advocate of German music; however, the publication ceased in 1830. After taking the degree of Ph.D. at the Univ. of Marburg (1827), Marx lectured on music at the Univ. of Berlin; was appointed a prof. in 1830; became music director of the scholastic choir there in 1832. He was co-founder (with Kullak and Stern) of the Berliner Musikschule (1850), retiring in 1856 to devote himself to literary and univ. work. He was a close friend of the Mendelssohn family, and advised young Mendelssohn in musical matters. While Marx was greatly esteemed as a music theorist, his own compositions were unsuccessful. He wrote a Singspiel, Jery und Bately, after Goethe (1824), an oratorio, Mose (1841), instrumental works, songs, choral works, etc.


Die Kunste des Gesangs, theoretische-praktisch (Berlin, 1826); Über die Geltung Händelscher Sologesänge für unsere Zeit: Ein Nachtrag (Berlin, 1828); Über Malerei in der Tonkunst: Ein Maigruss an die Kunstphilosophen (Berlin, 1828); Die Lehre von der musikalischen Komposition, praktisch-theoretisch (Leipzig: Vol. I, 1837; 9th ed., rev., 1887; 10th ed., 1903; Eng. tr., 1852; Vol. II, 1837; 7th ed. rev., 1890; Vol. III, 1845; 5th ed., 1879; Vol. IV, 1847; 5th ed., rev., 1888; Eng. tr., 1910); Allgemeine Musiklehre (Leipzig, 1839; 10th ed., 1884); Die alte Musiklehre im Streit mit unserer Zeit (Leipzig, 1841); Die Musik des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts und ihre Pflege: Methode der Musik (Leipzig, 1855; 2nd ed., 1873; Eng. tr., 1855); Ludwig van Beethoven: Leben und Schaffen (Berlin, 1859; 7th ed., 1907–10); Vollständige Chorschule (Leipzig, 1860); Gluck und die Oper (Berlin, 1863; 2nd ed., 1866, as Gluck’s Leben und Schaffen); Anleitung zum Vortrag Beethovenscher Klavierwerke (Berlin, 1863; 5th ed., 1912; Eng. tr., 1895); Erinnerungen: Aus meinem Leben (Berlin, 1865); Das Ideal und die Gegenwart (Jena, 1867); L. Hirschberg, ed., Musikalische Schriften uber Tondichter und Tonkunst (Hildburghausen, 1912–22; a collection of most of his major articles from the Berliner Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung); S. Burnham, ed. and tr., Musical Form in the Age of Beethoven: Selected Writings on Theory and Method (Cambridge, 1997).


G. Selle, Aus A.B. M.’s literarischen Nachlass (Berlin, 1898); B. Moyer, Concepts of Musical Form in the Nineteenth Century with Special Reference to A.B. M. and Sonata Form (diss., Stanford Univ., 1969); M. Zywietz, A.B. M. und das Oratorium in Berlin (Eisenach, 1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire