Sacred music at the Dresden court

When in 1697 August the Strong converted to Catholicism and was elected King of Poland, the conditions for church music at the Saxonian residence changed drastically. The Protestant service at the court chapel, once the domain of Johann Walter and Heinrich Schütz, continued with only few musical activities and in 1737 was transferred to the Sophienkirche where it remained until 1918. Only on April 5, 1708, was Catholic service established permanently at the Dresden court with the consecration of the remodeled old opera house at the Taschenberg as court church. Whenever the king was present, the court chapel was responsible for the church music, while on other Sundays and holidays the music was performed by a small ensemble established for this purpose in the fall of 1709.

A great advance was achieved in the fall of 1717 with the arrival of an Italian opera ensemble led by Antonio Lotti (ca. 1667-1740), who on holidays and special occasions also were responsible for the church music. After their dismissal during the Easter holidays of 1720 the kapellmeister Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729) together with Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) and Giovanni Alberto Ristori (1692-1753) were given the task to compile a repertoire of Catholic church music from their own works as well as Italian, Bohemian, and Viennese compositions, which they performed with the available forces. The Catholic court service and church music was in particular supported by the electoral princess and later queen Maria Josepha. When in February 1734 Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783) was established as the new kapellmeister, the ordering of music at court was changed in significant details: In 1733 the ensemble at the Hofkirche had been reduced to six choir boys, and from then on the court chapel was responsible for the church music on every Sunday and holiday of the church year. The church composers Zelenka and Ristori were later replaced by Johann Michael Breunig (1699-1755; installed 1746) and Johann Georg Schürer (ca. 1720-1786; installed 1748). On the feast of St. Peter and Paul 1751 the new Catholic court church built by Gaëtano Chiaveri was consecrated, and henceforth every composer at Dresden had to grapple with its notorious acoustics.

(translation by Stephanie Wollny)

om102 / Volume 6
Johann Georg Schürer (1720–1786)
Missa d-Moll
in D minor
for soloists and choir (SATB), 2 Trp, Tmp, 2 Corni da caccia, 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bsn, Str and Bc
Edited by Klaus Winkler
om115 / Volume 7
Antonio Caldara (1670–1736)
Motetti a due o tre voci, op. 4 (Bologna 1715)
for two and three vocal parts and Bc
Edited by Annegret Rosenmüller
om24 / Volume 3
Giovanni Alberto Ristori (1692–1753)
Divoti Affetti alla Passione di Nostro Signore
Ten duets for Passion
for soloists (SA) and Bc (theorbo, Org)
Edited by Bernhard Schrammek
om32 / Volume 4
Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745)
Miserere d-Moll (ZWV 56)
in D minor
for soloists and choir (SATB), 3 Tb, 2 Ob, 2 Vl, 2 Va, Vc and Bc
Edited by Stephan Thamm
om63 / Volume 5
Antonio Lotti (1667–1740)
Dixit Dominus
for soloists and choir (SATB), Trp, 2 Ob, Str and Bc
Edited by Christin Seidenberg
om98 / Volume 8
Baldassare Galuppi (1706–1785)
Miserere Es-Dur
in E flat major
for soloists (SA) and choir (SATB) and Str
Edited by Susanne Cox
om8 / Volume 2
Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741–1801)
for soloists and choir (SATB), 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bsn, 2 Hn, Str and Bc
Edited by Wolfgang Eckhardt
om9 / Volume 1
Joseph Schuster (1748–1812)
Stabat Mater
for soloists and choir (SATB), 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bsn, 2 Hn, Str and Bc
Edited by Matthias Liebich
om147 / Volume 9
Joseph Schuster (1748–1812)
Messe Nr. 13 A-Dur
for soloists and choir (SATB), 2 Tr, Timp, 2 Hn, 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bsn, Str and Bc
Edited by Klaus Winkler