Brandenburg-Prussia and the Central German Courts

  • Bernd Baselt
Part of the Man & Music book series (MAMU)


Such were the terms in which Michael Altenburg ol Erfurt (1584–1640), a pastor and composer, described the flourishing musical culture of central Germany before the devastation of the Thirty Years War (1618–48).1 Even later, however, when the country had recovered from the damage inflicted by the war, the population of central Germany found an intrinsic part of their intellectual identity in music, so that Wolfgang Carl Briegel (1626–1712), court Kapellmeister of Gotha, thought it proper to state proudly:

The noble land of Saxony is to be praised above others, more particularly because the Divine Service in public worship is conducted there with both choral and figural singing2 in so fine and sprightly a manner. Leaving aside the excellent music now found in the famous cities of Saxony, it is well known that there are few villages in that noble land that do not have a little organ in their church, as well as other musical instruments, with which they praise God most diligently. Young people there are very well versed in music: on Sundays and feast days music is made not only choraliter but also figuraliter, and very often in tiny villages, so that it is a joy and a wonder to hear it.3


Musical Genre Instrumental Music Musical Culture Musical Talent Vocal Music 
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Bibliographical Note


  1. Books on the development of musical culture in central Germany are listed in R. Brockpähler’s excellent Handbuch zur Geschichte der Barockoper in Deutschland (Emsdetten, 1964); this also lists about 50 cities and royal seats in which early German operas were performed and gives a short history of the development of musical culture, with a catalogue of operas. A standard work of a similar nature for sacred music is F. Blume’s Geschichte der evangelischen Kirchenmusik (Kassel, 1965), with its numerous musical examples, facsimiles and lavish illustrations. E. W. Böhme’s Die frühdeutschen Oper in Thüringen (Stadtroda, 1931) is an important study of opera sources.Google Scholar
  2. The studies of individual cities, royal seats and composers mentioned in the above notes contain detailed information on regional musical history. In particular, C. Sachs’s Musik und Oper am kurbrandenburgischen Hof (Berlin, 1910), on Prussian musical culture, and A. Werner’s Städtische und fürstliche Musikpflege in Weissenfels (Leipzig, 1911) and his Städtische und fürstliche Musikpflege in Zeitz (Bückeburg and Leipzig, 1922), on musical life in Saxony and Thuringia, are important, as are a number of dissertations submitted at Halle University on Pohle, Fasch, Erlebach and the musical culture of Gotha, Eisenach, Weimar and Rudolstadt. On musical life in Halle, W. Serauky’s monumental monograph Musikgeschichte der Stadt Halle (5 vols., Halle and Berlin, 1935–43) is distinguished from smaller, local studies by its encyclopedic nature. The extensive literature up to 1945 on the history of music in central Germany is listed in R. Schaal’s Das Schrifttum zur musikalischen Lokalgeschichteforschung (Kassel, 1947). For more recent literature, and for information on individual musicians and cities in central Germany the entries in MGG, Grove 6 and Grove O provide useful starting-points.Google Scholar


  1. Much of the music of this period remains in manuscript in Germany, in the major regional and university libraries and local archives. The standard collected editions Denkmüler deutscher Tonkunst (DDT) and Das Erbe deutscher Musik (EDM) include a large number of vocal and instrumental works by composers from central Germany, but these represent only a fraction of the surviving music from the region.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Granada Group and Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernd Baselt

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