Joseph R. Matson - Johann Michael Vogl's alterations to Die schöne Müllerin

Abstract: In 1830 Anton Diabelli published an edition of Franz Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin with embellishments by the famous Austrian baritone Johann Michael Vogl (1768-1840). Vogl was an early promoter and performer of Schubert's music, and many of Schubert's contemporaries held his performances in high esteem. Thus, his embellishments are important to an historical understanding of Schubert's songs.

In the nineteenth century, singers varied their performances much more broadly than twenty-first century vocal practices suggest. Vogl had his own personal style of performance, but it was related to nineteenth-century vocal practices. Vogl's manner coincided with instructions for realizing ornaments and introducing free embellishments found in nineteenth-century vocal treatises. In many cases, there was not a single correct way to realize embellishments in the nineteenth century; instead, there was a range of possibilities.

Diabelli's print differs significantly from modern editions of Schubert's well-known song cycle with respect to transposition, text, declamation, melody, and even formal structure. It reveals how Vogl might have performed the songs within this cycle in the early nineteenth-century, and that period vocal practices for Schubert's Lieder are significantly different than modern practices. Understanding the possibilities of how Vogl and his contemporaries would have performed Schubert's songs in the nineteenth century results in a more historically informed understanding of Die schöne Müllerin.

© Joseph R. Matson 2009

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