Kelsey Draper

Degree Name



Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature



Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Robert McFarland

Honors Coordinator

George Tate


This thesis discusses Elsa Bienenfeld’s role as a modern music critic and cultural journalist and shows how she defended modernism by encouraging her Viennese readers to embrace it. The purpose is not to create a mere biographical sketch, but to demonstrate how Bienenfeld shaped and influenced the public’s perceptions of the budding modern music movement in Vienna. Chapter 1 introduces the problem of modern music and provides the historical context for Elsa Bienenfeld’s life. Chapter 2 introduces modermism as a movement in the city and reviews the development of music out of the classical and romantic periods into modernism. Chapter 3 is a biographical sketch of Elsa Bienenfeld based on details from her university education, documentation of her career, and archival records of her residence and death places. Chapter 4 moves into a discussion of Bienenfeld’s own genre of modernism, cultural journalism, and talks about the pervasive influence of the newspaper in turn-of-the twentieth century Vienna (and Europe). The final chapter is an analysis of newspaper reviews authored by Bienenfeld, focusing on the reviews in which she discussied the premieres or early performances of significant works of modern music.