Anja Bunzel, Johanna Kinkel's Lieder Compositions as a Socio-Political and Cultural Mirror of Her Time: A Reflective Interpretation (PhD, NUI Maynooth, 2016)

These details defined Wed May 28 10:39:07 2014, last updated Fri Mar 29 19:09:46 2019  edit
 Author:  Bunzel, Anja 
 Title:  Johanna Kinkel's Lieder Compositions as a Socio-Political and Cultural Mirror of Her Time: A Reflective Interpretation 
 Degree, institution:  PhD, NUI Maynooth 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2016 
 Supervisor(s):  Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley, Dr Laura Watson 
 General specialism:  Musicology 
 Content, timeframe:  1800-1900 
 Content, key terms:  Persons:
Genres, instruments: 
Johanna Kinkel (1810-1858)
Germany: Bonn, Berlin; Britain: London
Lied, piano teaching, voice teaching

Throughout her life, Johanna Kinkel (1810-1858, née Mockel, then Mathieux, then Kinkel) was overshadowed by her second husband, Gottfried Kinkel (1815-1882), who was an influential German political propagandist in the nineteenth century. When Gottfried Kinkel was arrested following a revolutionary battle in 1849, Johanna was not allowed to visit him as her influence was considered harmful for his peace of mind and for his political indoctrination. Does this ban imply that Johanna Kinkel was a political activist? Or was it a general measure of antagonistic attitudes towards unconventional women of the time?

Johanna Kinkel largely ignored social conventions. Other than such female contemporaries as Fanny Hensel (1805-1847) and Bettina von Arnim (1785-1859), who influenced Kinkel’s personal development while she lived in Berlin from 1836-1839, Kinkel not only composed more than 80 Lieder, a typical feminine musical genre of her time, but also produced three operas, three cantatas, and two comprehensive exercise books for children and adults. In addition to this compositional bequest, Kinkel wrote a large-scale novel, Hans Ibeles in London, novellas, poems and music-historical lectures. She is also the only published nineteenth-century female composer to have produced settings of her own poems, settings which were well-received by such popular critics as Ludwig Rellstab (1799-1860, Iris im Gebiete der Tonkunst), Gottfried Wilhelm Fink (1783-1846, Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung) and Robert Schumann (1810-1856, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik).

Kinkel’s 20-year activity as a conductor of the Bonner Gesangverein is a further example of her courage to question gender conventions within the field of arts. In 1840, Johanna, together with Gottfried Kinkel, founded the male-dominated literary and political association, Maikäferbund, which included 30 members among which she was the only woman. Johanna Kinkel also set foot in another masculine domain, when, in 1849, she took over the editorship of the Bonner Zeitung, Bonn’s only democratic newspaper of the time.

Kinkel’s emancipatory personality developed after her marriage to Johann Mathieux in 1832, which proved to be a psychological torture for the young Catholic-born woman. Johanna filed for divorce and escaped to Berlin in 1836. It was not until 1840 that Johann Mathieux agreed to a divorce. Also in 1840, Johanna began a relationship with Gottfried Kinkel, a Protestant theologian. She then converted to the Protestant faith and finally married Gottfried in 1843.

This dissertation seeks to examine the relationship between Johanna Kinkel’s artistic and theoretical oeuvre and her unconventional emancipatory personality, her biography as a wife to a revolutionary as well as her great socio-political engagement. Major research questions are the following: To what extent do Kinkel’s theoretical, pedagogical and music-historical writings reflect her rather unconventional socio-political views? How do Kinkel’s Lieder contribute to the socio-political discourse of the nineteenth century? Do Kinkel’s Lieder take on an autobiographical perspective and do they reveal a similar unconventional tenor that sounds in her writings? In other words, to what extent could Johanna Kinkel’s Lieder be considered a cultural and socio-political mirror of her time?