Instrumental music at the Dresden court
In the eighteenth century the Saxon-Polish court was one of the most important musical centres in Europe. The starting point of this rise is marked by the year 1709, when the Hofkapelle was reestablished as a purely instrumental ensemble – after a number of political entanglements and financial difficulties this proved to be a promising decision. This first Dresden orchestra in the modern sense continued a tradition of more than a century and a half and formed the basis for the successful development not only of instrumental music but of opera and sacred music as well. At first primarily influenced by the French style, after the arrival, in 1717, of an opera troupe the Hofkapelle increasingly opened up to the modern Italian style. The coexistence of French- and Italian-trained musicians naturally caused some friction, but in the long run this situation constituted a promising starting point for the development of what later was to be called the “vermischter Geschmack” (mixed style). Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Dictionnaire de Musique (1768) called the Dresden Hofkapelle “the first in Europe”, describing it with regard to disposition and discipline as the paradigm of an ideal orchestra.
Not only the kapellmeister and Kirchen-Compositeurs (responsible mainly for opera and sacred works) excelled as composers of instrumental music, but many regular members of the orchestra contributed their own pieces to the repertoire as well. To this were added scores and printed parts that some of the musicians acquired during their travels, as well as works that renowned kapellmeisters of other orchestras composed for the court at Dresden. A central role in training the orchestra was played by its concertmaster Johann Georg Pisendel (1687–1755).
While only few of the instrumental works performed by the electoral Saxon Hofkapelle during the first 150 years of its existence have been preserved, the repertoire from the eighteenth century has mostly survived intact. The manuscripts kept at the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden document important developments in European instrumental music and provide a unique look both at the historical performance practice of the Hofkapelle and the collecting activities of some of its members as well as of the court itself. With the series “Instrumental Music at the Dresden Court” we intend to present to a wider audience ambitious works by well- and lesser known members of the Dresden Hofkapelle as well as compositions that through their transmission reveal close ties with the Saxon residence.
(Gerhard Poppe, translation by Stephanie Wollny)
Concerto da camera F-Dur
in F major
Sei Sonate a tre
Partie à deux Choeurs
in F major
Concerto da camera B-Dur
in B flat major
in A major
in A major
Concerto in D major
in E minor
Concerto grosso B-Dur (HWV 312a)
in B flat major, first edition
Violin concerto in D major
Konzert für zwei Cembali und Orchester D-Dur