Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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W.C. Printz: Historische Beschreibung der edelen Sing- und Kling-Kunst (Dresden, 1690/R)

E. Bohn: Die musikalischen Handschriften des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts in der Stadtbibliothek zu Breslau (Breslau, 1890/R)

G. Erler: Die Matrikel der Albertus-Universität zu Königsberg in Preussen, i (Leipzig, 1910)

S. Fornaçon: ‘Martin Jahn, ein schlesischer Glaubensflüchtling’, Jb für schlesische Kirche und Kirchengeschichte, new ser., xxxv (1956), 31–43

A. Büchner: Das Kirchenlied in Schlesien und der Oberlausitz (Düsseldorf, 1971), 128ff


Jahn, Otto

(b Kiel, 16 June 1813; d Göttingen, 9 Sept 1869). German philologist, archaeologist and musicographer. After attending the universities of Kiel, Leipzig and Berlin, Jahn rapidly became one of the leading classical scholars of his day, in the study of Greek mythology, in textual criticism – he published editions of Persius and Juvenal – and in archaeology, in which he made a notable contribution to the history of Greek vase-painting. He became professor at Greifswald in 1842 and director of the archaeological museum at Leipzig in 1847, but involvement in the political unrest of 1848–9 caused his dismissal. In 1851 he edited in vocal score the second version (1806) of Beethoven's Leonore. In 1855 he went to Bonn as professor of philology and archaeology and retained this post until shortly before his death.

It is remarkable that such a dedicated career should have left Jahn any time for extended work on music, although in his youth it had rivalled his passion for the classics. While his family had wide musical contacts and he was active as a performer, he seems to have had little academic training in music, which makes his biography of Mozart all the more remarkable an achievement. The preface explains how the idea of writing it came from a conversation with Gustav Hartenstein at Mendelssohn's funeral on 7 November 1847. Jahn had apparently planned a life of Beethoven, but having realized that study of Mozart was an essential preliminary, became totally involved in the latter. (His Beethoven material passed to Thayer and the material on Haydn, about whom he also intended to write, went to Pohl.)

Apart from Baini’s study of Palestrina (1828) and Winterfeld's book on Giovanni Gabrieli (1834), no musical biography had previously been written on the scale of Jahn's W.A. Mozart. Its strength lay in its method, especially in the lucid presentation of a huge mass of material, much of it new, collected by intensive research and, above all, critically assessed. Jahn took great pains with the historical and social background. The weaknesses of his book are those inseparable from his generation, since musicology, as it is now understood, hardly existed in the 1850s. There is, for instance, little value in most of what he wrote about the origins of Mozart's style. Moreover, his view of the composer was inevitably coloured by the romantic, idealizing tendencies of the mid-19th century.

The first, four-volume edition (Leipzig, 1855–9) was replaced by his substantial revision (2 vols., 1867) which benefited much from Köchel's catalogue of 1862. This was the basis of Pauline Townsend's English translation (1882). The third and fourth German editions (1889–91 and 1905–7) were both prepared by Herman Deiters. Herman Abert's fifth edition (1919–21) attempted the most drastic revision, including much new dating and some extensive new chapters, notably on the piano concertos. Abert's daughter Anna Amalie undertook some minor revisions in the 1955 edition, which included a new separate index. It seems doubtful that Jahn's book is susceptible of the further revision needed to take full account of the subsequent mass of new Mozart research.

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