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Music at German Courts, 1715-1760

Music at German Courts, 1715-1760: Changing Artistic Priorities

Samantha Owens
Barbara M. Reul
Janice B. Stockigt
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 506
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  • Book Info
    Music at German Courts, 1715-1760
    Book Description:

    What was musical life at German courts really like during the first six decades of the eighteenth century? Were musical ensembles as diverse as the Holy Roman Empire's kaleidoscopic political landscape? Through a series of individual case studies contributed by leading scholars from Germany, Poland, the United States, Canada, and Australia, this book investigates the realities of musical life at fifteen German courts of varied size (ranging from kingdoms to principalities), religious denomination, and geographical location. Significant shifts that occurred in the artistic priorities of each court are presented through a series of 'snapshots'- in effect 'core sample' years - which highlight both individual and shared patterns of development and decline. What emerges from the wealth of primary source material examined in this volume is an in-depth picture of music-making within the daily life of individual courts, featuring a cast of music directors, instrumentalists, and vocalists, together with numerous support staff drawn from across Europe. Music at German Courts serves to illustrate the extraordinary diversity of eighteenth-century German court music establishments without losing sight of what these Kapellen had in common. SAMANTHA OWENS is Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. BARBARA M. REUL is Associate Professor of Musicology at Luther College, University of Regina, Canada. JANICE B. STOCKIGT is a Principal Fellow of the University of Melbourne, Australia. Contributors: DIETER KIRSCH, URSULA KRAMER, MICHAEL MAUL, MARY OLESKIEWICZ, SAMANTHA OWENS, RASHID-S. PEGAH, BÄRBEL PELKER, BARBARA M. REUL, WOLFGANG RUF, BERT SIEGMUND, JANICE B. STOCKIGT, MICHAEL TALBOT, RÜDIGER THOMSEN-FÜRST, ALINA ZORAWSKA-WITKOWSKA, STEVEN ZOHN

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-931-2
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Michael Talbot

    To anyone who comes from one of Europe’s older monarchies – I am thinking here of such states as Spain and Denmark – it seems almost axiomatic that there is only one court, a royal court, per realm. As if by definition, the principal seat of this court is always in, or adjacent to, the capital city. Such states, and the linguistic and cultural communities that they govern, can be described as monocentric. All of them exhibit – even today, when some have become republics – a clear-cut difference between metropolitan and provincial, centre and periphery.

    Two major European communities...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Samantha Owens, Barbara M. Reul and Janice B. Stockigt
  6. Editorial notes
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  8. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xviii-xx)
  9. 1 ‘Das gantze Corpus derer musicirenden Personen’: An Introduction to German Hofkapellen
    (pp. 1-14)
    Samantha Owens and Barbara M. Reul

    What was musical life at German courts really like during the first six decades of the eighteenth century? Securing a permanent post in a court music establishment could mean job security, as well as a steady income and a host of other benefits – such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann had enjoyed in Weimar and Köthen and in Eisenach respectively prior to their appointments in the Freie Reichstädte (Imperial Free Cities) of Leipzig and Hamburg. And yet despite the fact that the political landscape of what we now call Germany featured countless small-to-medium-sized courts similar to those...


    • 2 The Court of Saxony-Dresden
      (pp. 17-50)
      Janice B. Stockigt

      Dresden – seat of two successive Saxon electors from the house of Wettin and elected kings of Poland – exemplifies a brilliant European court whose cultural climate and musical excellence was, by the mid-eighteenth century, equal to the best then offered. Developments of this era owed much to the personalities, tastes, and change of confession of the rulers whose leadership covered the years of the snapshots.¹ For more than fifty years the music of Dresden reflected first the preference for French culture of Saxon Elector Friedrich August I (1670–1733; as king of Poland titled August II ‘the Strong’). On...

    • 3 The Saxon Court of the Kingdom of Poland
      (pp. 51-78)
      Alina Żórawska-Witkowska

      From 1573 onwards, the rulers of the Polish–Lithuanian real union (the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania) were appointed in elections. Each monarch’s court would become dissolved upon the king’s death, and the royal collections of art, books, and music were handed down to the king’s heirs. As a result, a new monarch had to organize a new court and accumulate new collections; on the other hand, he would typically inherit from his predecessor some of the personnel, including musicians. This was the case with the two Saxon electors, Friedrich August I (also known as August...

    • 4 The Court of Brandenburg-Prussia
      (pp. 79-130)
      Mary Oleskiewicz

      The Prussian Hohenzollern kings were descendants of the ‘Great Elector’ Friedrich Wilhelm I of Brandenburg (r. 1640–88) and his first wife, Luise Henriette of Orange (1627–1667). Under Elector Friedrich III – crowned as Prussian King Friedrich I in 1701 – and his second wife, Sophie Charlotte (d. 1705), music rose to a central place in Hohenzollern court life.

      Under Friedrich Wilhelm I (r. 1713–40), music was all but exiled to the military. Yet chamber music continued to be fostered by Queen Sophie Dorothea (1687–1757), daughter of King George I of England, who supported her children’s musical...

    • 5 The Palatine Court in Mannheim
      (pp. 131-162)
      Bärbel Pelker

      The relocation of the Palatine court by Elector Carl Philipp (1661–1742, r. from 1716) from Heidelberg to Mannheim, in 1720, marked the beginning of courtly musical life for the new residential town. It was, however, during the reign of his successor, the music-loving Elector Carl Theodor (1724–1799, r. from 1743), that between the years 1747 and 1778 a Hofkapelle of a unique character developed. To this day, it is identified internationally as the ‘Mannheim School’. As this chapter will show, this Hofkapelle was not the result of an amalgamation of the Innsbruck and Düsseldorf Hofkapellen, as is commonly...


    • 6 The Court of Württemberg-Stuttgart
      (pp. 165-196)
      Samantha Owens

      The years 1715 to 1760 represent a rather unsettled period in the musical life of the south-west German court of Württemberg, based primarily at palaces in Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg. Nevertheless, the surviving archival documentation, held by the Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart and covering the reigns of three successive dukes – the Lutheran absolutist Eberhard Ludwig (r. 1693–1733), his cousin, the Catholic convert Carl Alexander (r. 1733–37), and the latter’s son, the undeniably extravagant, opera-loving Carl Eugen (r. 1744–93) – illuminates many of the central themes of Western musical history. These include the emergence of the orchestra, the rise in...

    • 7 The Court of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg
      (pp. 197-222)
      Bert Siegmund

      For over three hundred years, Gotha was the residential town of the dukes of Saxony-Gotha and Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg as well as Saxony-Coburg and Gotha. Saxony-Gotha was founded in 1639, with Duke Ernst I (1601–1675), later known as ‘der Fromme’ (the Pious), elevating Gotha to the rank of residential town on 9 April 1640. Throughout his reign, this prince focused on promoting the overall welfare of Saxony-Gotha and its subjects, eliminating the devastation wrought by the Thirty Years’ War, and establishing a functional state. He thought of his court primarily as a ruler’s household and led a virtuous existence that served...

    • 8 The Courts of Saxony-Weißenfels, Saxony-Merseburg, and Saxony-Zeitz
      (pp. 223-256)
      Wolfgang Ruf

      Over 350 years ago on 1 May 1657, in accordance with a directive in the will of Elector Johann Georg I (1585–1656), the three duchies of Saxony-Weißenfels, Saxony-Merseburg, and Saxony-Zeitz were established for the collateral lines of the Albertine-Saxony dynasty in order to provide for the sons born after the actual successor (see the genealogical overview in Table 8.1, p. 250 below): the so-called secundogeniture principalities.¹ At that time, Dukes August of Saxony-Weißenfels (1614–1680), Christian of Saxony-Merseburg (1615–1691), and Moritz of Saxony-Zeitz (1619–1681) each received small portions of the electorate of Saxony to govern autonomously for...


    • 9 The Court of Anhalt-Zerbst
      (pp. 259-286)
      Barbara M. Reul

      Anhalt-Zerbst, a principality situated about 90 km north-west of Leipzig, is best known as the childhood home of Catherine the Great of Russia (1729–1796) and the workplace of its long-time Hofkapellmeister Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688–1758). This chapter presents a systematic re-evaluation of the expansion of the Anhalt-Zerbst Kapelle between 1715 and 1760.¹ It will draw heavily from extant account books (‘Kammerrechnungen’), intact for the period 1662 to 1790, and numerous other hitherto unknown primary sources held at Dessau and Zerbst/Anhalt.² First to acknowledge publicly the importance of Hofmusik was Prince Carl Wilhelm (b. 1652, r. 1676–1718) in...

    • 10 The Court of Sondershausen
      (pp. 287-304)
      Michael Maul

      While the Sondershausen Hofkapelle undoubtedly counts among the smaller court orchestras of central Germany, it was nevertheless an ensemble that could call upon a long tradition – one that continues to the present day. Yet tracing the Kapelle’s early history up until the second half of the eighteenth century is at times problematic. Not only does the information provided by the extant primary sources vary widely in terms of its quality and comprehensiveness, but documentation is extremely sparse for the first half of the eighteenth century. Virtually no archival material exists to document the appointments and activities of individual musicians,...

    • 11 The Court of Würzburg
      (pp. 305-330)
      Dieter Kirsch

      A principal difference between ecclesiastical governments and secular ones is the lack of dynastic succession. The consequences arising from this circumstance are illustrated, pars pro toto, by the Würzburg Hofmusik, an institution that continued to exist into the nineteenth century. The continual succession of rulers from different backgrounds prevented the ongoing pursuit of any specific long-term goals over the course of several reigns. This tendency was strengthened by the cathedral chapter, which, as the governing body, tended to let itself be guided by experiences gathered under the immediate predecessor when selecting a new ruler. Consequently, the prince-bishops who succeeded one...


    • 12 The Court of Hesse-Darmstadt
      (pp. 333-364)
      Ursula Kramer

      The period between 1715 and 1760 – the focus of the present volume – virtually coincides with that of the employment of Christoph Graupner (1683–1760) at the court of Hesse, from his initial engagement as a musician in Darmstadt in 1709, followed by his promotion to first Hofkapellmeister just two years later. His fifty-one years of service covered the reigns of two landgraves : Ernst Ludwig (1667–1739) for the first thirty years, and his son Ludwig VIII (1691–1768) for the remaining twenty-one until Graupner’s death. Considering its size and compared to other Hofkapellen, in the period immediately...

    • 13 The Court of Baden-Durlach in Karlsruhe
      (pp. 365-388)
      Rüdiger Thomsen-Fürst

      In 1535, the margraviate of Baden was divided into two territories: Baden-Durlach and Baden-Baden, which were Protestant and Catholic respectively. Initially, the Protestant branch of the house of Baden resided in Pforzheim, but in 1565 they transferred their seat to Durlach. In 1715, in the wake of the extensive devastation of Durlach during the War of the Palatine Succession (1688–97), including the destruction of its residential palace, the Karlsburg or ‘Carolsburg’, a new town was founded and a new palace built on the Rhine plain near Durlach, in what is today Karlsruhe. Similar action had been taken in the...

    • 14 The Court of Brandenburg-Culmbach-Bayreuth
      (pp. 389-412)
      Rashid-S. Pegah

      Although state archives – most importantly those in Bamberg and Berlin – continue to house a vast number of archival documents relating to the Bayreuth court, scholars who focus on the Franconian Hohenzollern residence struggle with the loss, if not the destruction, of a great many fundamental primary sources after 1801, including payments and employment records.¹ In addition to documentation kept in Bamberg and Berlin, records are dispersed amongst civic archives and university libraries in Bayreuth and Erlangen. Of special significance are manuscripts and archival documents held by the Historischer Verein für Oberfranken, whose founding members were able to obtain...

    • 15 ‘Die vornehmste Hof-Tugend’: German Musicians’ Reflections on Eighteenth-Century Court Life
      (pp. 413-426)
      Steven Zohn

      As much as the extant records of German Hofkapellen tell us about courtly musical life during the eighteenth century, they tend to provide only the official view of musicians’ experiences: a decree is handed down, a violinist hired or dismissed, a grievance filed, a judgement rendered, and so on. That we know comparatively little about how court musicians regarded their duties, colleagues, and surroundings should not be surprising, given that most were understandably hesitant to speak candidly about the environment in which they earned their living, and thereby risk offending an aristocratic, noble, or royal employer. Yet a variety of...

  14. Index
    (pp. 427-484)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 485-485)