On the territory of present day Slovenia, and particularly within the circle of intellectuals that formed around Baron Žiga Zois, the period of the Enlightenment gave a new impetus to literature and science, and musical life was not overlooked. During this period, the “Philharmonische Gesellschaft” (Philharmonic Society) was established in Ljubljana and very soon many respectable patricians, merchants, teachers, priests and others joined the society.
With the rapid growth of the Society its main task was to prepare statutes for its organisation, the first of which was printed in 1796.
Article 1 clearly states the essence and purpose of the Society: to ennoble the emotions with a selection of good musical compositions and to influence taste by performing these compositions well within the circle of the Society.
The statute divided members into “performers and listeners, but the two are not separated and together form a whole”.
The Society accepted as members anyone it maintained would assist in the realisation of its goals. For a new member to be admitted a two-thirds majority was needed.
What about female members?
With regard to women, the statute stated that only female musicians who could contribute to the goals of the Society could be admitted as members. They were also allowed to bring a companion with them to an Academy. This article was later softened.
A member who left the Society due to the demands of professional work became an honorary member. “Foreign music lovers, who could benefit the Society with their brilliant musical talents and merit,” also became honorary members. The most notable honorary members were Josef Haydn (1800), Ludwig van Beethoven (1819), Nicoló Paganini (1824) and Johannes Brahms (1885).
The French wars of the 1790s did not spare Ljubljana and the unsettled times continued even after the wars ended. In the period from 1809 to 1813, the time of the Illyrian Provinces, it could be said that the Society maintained a “cultural silence”, remaining loyal to Austria and the Emperor.