Berlin Classical Period

To speak of a “Berlin Classical Period” is unusual. For to regard the musical culture of the age of Frederick II as classical contradicts its common assessment as part of the so-called pre-classical era. With a view to the Viennese classical idiom the continuous appreciation, after the Seven Years’ War, of the music of Graun and Hasse is traditionally seen as “stagnation” (E. Bücken), a denial of musical progress. Indeed, the hesitant reception of the Mannheim and south German instrumental music asks for an explanation. It is for this reason that – with the exception of the works of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – to this day scholarly interest in north German music has been comparatively low. It is hardly incidental that the significance of north German musical culture is mainly seen in its theoretical and aesthetic reflections, while the object of these reflections is largely excluded.

Even if the terms “classicism” and “classical” rarely appear, the corresponding receptive mode and criteria for the classical acceptation of certain composers are easily found. In any case the combined evidence from musical and literary sources allows us to determine north German musical culture in the 1740s and 1750s as “Berliner Klassik”. The starting point and focus of the debate are the eighteenth-century transmission and reception of the music of Carl Heinrich Graun, which – frequently together with that of Johann Adolf Hasse – is determined by a trend towards canonization. With this, one cannot help noticing a close affinity to the age of enlightenment under Frederick II and to sentimentality as a mode of listening. Besides, the process of establishing the model character of Graun’s compositions was accompanied by deliberations on a national musical culture. The term “Berliner Klassik” appears justified inasmuch as the Graun brothers were central figures in the music reception of their time, while the masters of neighboring towns and residences in turn derived their classical status from the Prussian capital’s musical life.

Series A, symphonies
om23 / Volume 2
Johann Gottlieb Graun (1701/2–1771)
Sinfonia D-Dur
in D major
for 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bsn, 2 Hn, Str and Bc
Edited by Ekkehard Krüger and Tobias Schwinger
Series A, symphonies
om22 / Volume 1
Johann Gottlieb Graun (1701/2–1771)
Sinfonia A-Dur
in A major
for 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Hn, Str and Bc
Edited by Ekkehard Krüger and Tobias Schwinger
Series A, ouvertures
om18 / Volume 2
Johann Gottlieb Graun (1701/2–1771)
Ouverture D-Dur (GraunWV D:XII:9)
in D major
for Str and Bc
Edited by Ekkehard Krüger and Tobias Schwinger
Series A, ouvertures
om17 / Volume 1
Johann Gottlieb Graun (1701/2–1771)
Ouverture G-Dur (GraunWV A:XI:5)
in G major
for 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bsn, 2 Hn, Str and Bc
Edited by Ekkehard Krüger and Tobias Schwinger