A History of the Oratorio: Volume 3 by Smither Howard E

A History of the Oratorio: Volume 3 by Smither Howard E

Author:Smither, Howard E.
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Published: 2012-08-31T16:00:00+00:00

Secular Sponsors and Concerts

Oratorios in German formed an integral part of the burgeoning concert life, both private and public, in eighteenth-century Germany.96 Concerts typically included oratorios during Lent, and sometimes during Advent, but occasionally outside these seasons as well. In Frankfurt, for instance, Telemann’s oratorios were performed in concerts of his Collegium musicum as early as 1718.97 Long after his departure from that city, in 1721, his oratorios continued to be heard there—until at least the 1750s—and the German oratorios of other composers (including Graun, Homilius, and Georg Anton Kreusser, 1746–1810) were also performed in Frankfurt’s Lenten concerts.98 In Schwerin, during the reign of the pietist duke Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (r. 1756–85), secular music was prohibited at court, and Concerts spirituels were held twice each week. The concerts included numerous oratorios, mostly of the lyric type, composed by A. C. Kunzen, Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727–89), Carl August Friedrich Westenholz (1736–89), Ernst Wilhelm Wolf (1735–92), Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752–1814), J. G. Naumann, Friedrich Ludwig Benda (1752–92), and A. Rosetti.99 In Magdeburg Johann Heinrich Rolle (1716–1785), the city’s music director since 1751, founded a public concert series in 1764; the sixteen concerts per year took place in the Seidenkramer-Innung, where Rolle presented his nearly twenty dramatic oratorios between 1766 and 1785.100 Many other German cities could be cited for concert performances of German oratorios, especially in the last quarter of the century, but the following account will treat three major ones: Hamburg, Leipzig, and Berlin.

Hamburg was an important center for the performance of oratorios in public concerts.101 During Telemann’s Hamburg period (1721–67), oratorios were frequently heard under his direction, at first in the Drillhaus, which served as a concert hall until 1761, and then in the new Concertsaal auf dem Kamp.102 Passion oratorios were usually given several performances each year during Lent: most frequent among them were settings of the Brockes Passion by Telemann and Handel,103 settings of Ramler’s Tod Jesu by both Telemann and Graun, and Telemann’s Seliges Erwägen.104 Oratorios on other subjects by Telemann and his contemporaries were also performed occasionally throughout the year. Telemann usually repeated in public concerts his numerous oratorios composed for the Kapitänsmusiken,105 and those for other special occasions, such as funerals, memorial services, weddings, special civic events, dedications of buildings, and ceremonies at the Gymnasium, many of which are listed in newspaper notices.106 Hamburg’s first subscription concert series that was open to the public, under the direction of the composer Friedrich Hartmann Graf, began in 1761 with the opening of the new concert hall. Graf’s advance anouncement of the concerts states that they take place every Monday afternoon at five o’clock and calls special attention to “the spiritual pieces, which are set for Advent and Lent.”107 In the season 1761–62, Graf included Italian, Latin, and German oratorios, among them Graun’s Tod Jesu and the premier performance of Telemann’s last oratorio, Der Tag des Gerichts (1762).108

In 1768 C. P. E. Bach succeeded Telemann in Hamburg and continued many of the same traditions of composition and performance.


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