Christian A. Bachmann
This article is the first part of a short series that deals with the representation of music and musicians in cartoons and early comics. European magazines such as Charivari (Paris), Punch (London), and Fliegende Blätter (Munich) published caricatures and picture stories about the virtues of music and her practitioners throughout the 19th century and beyond. Preoccupied with making their readers laugh, artists such as Grandville or Wilhelm Busch have often depicted the failing musical aspirant who makes his instrument and his audience churn. The rise of and constant debate about Wagnerian ‘modern music’ spurred the idea of oversized instruments, powered by steam engines that, accordingly, made the very same noise rather than delightful music. With the ascent of Franz Liszt and other virtuoso musicians in the 1830s and 1840s, a new stereotype entered the stage of the satirical magazines. The ideas, characters, motifs, and techniques developed for representing music and musicians were by no means limited to Europe, but also carried over to the United States where they were adapted for an American magazine readership and became part of the ideas and techniques on which the early newspaper comics were based. Unsurprisingly, because artists like Frederick Burr Opper and Frank M. Howarth, both of whom drew pictures stories about musicians, started out with their careers in US-magazines like Puck and Judge, before moving on to work for the newspaper industry around the turn of the century.