Music at the Ludwigslust court

Reaching back into the sixteenth century, the history of courtly music of Mecklenburg and especially of the later Duchy (after 1815 Grand Duchy) of Mecklenburg-Schwerin for a long time was determined by a noticeable discontinuity. After a brief heyday under Duke Johann Albrecht I (reigned 1547–1576), the founder of the court chapel at Schwerin, and intermittent revivals in the late seventeenth century and again after 1701, the foundations of a continuous courtly music life were laid only when Duke Christian Ludwig II (reigned 1747–1756) reorganized the chapel, which became famous beyond the region within only a few decades. This was owed not only to the fact that the court chapel soon reached excellent standards, but primarily to the highly individual musical profile it could boast from about 1770 with its concentration – remarkable for a court of this size – of creative personages composing a great number of works written specifically for the ensemble.

In 1747 Christian Ludwig appointed Adolph Carl Kunzen (1720–1781) as the first kapellmeister of his revived chapel. In 1754 he was followed by J. W. Hertel, who also provided the music for the secondary court at Schwerin. The move of the ducal household to Ludwigslust (1764/1767) followed a decision of the pietist Duke Friedrich der Fromme (Frederick the Pious, reigned 1756–1785) and entailed elaborate plans for leading an ‘alternative’ courtly life and culture. An essential part of this programme was a kind of music that would not primarily serve courtly representation and entertainment but rather was subjected to the ideals of a Christian education and religious edification and therefore was mainly determined by sacred compositions. Thus Ludwigslust became known as the place “where especially religious music has its most famous abode” (J. A. P. Schulz, 1786). In the first two decades at Ludwigslust the capellmeister office was held by C. A. F. Westenholtz (1736–1789).

Apart from its kapellmeisters the court chapel, which in the 1780s employed about 35 members, in this time counted among its musicians several excellent composers, for example the young J. G. Müthel, the violinist F. L. Benda, the bassoonist F. A. Pfeiffer and J. M. Sperger, a virtuosic double bass player from Vienna who found employment at Ludwigslust in 1789. And finally we should not forget the famous external musicians who frequently provided the court at Mecklenburg-Schwerin with new compositions, for example J. G. Naumann and J. F. Reichardt. Antonio Rosetti, who contributed a number of large-scale vocal works for the sacred concerts that were continued for a while under Duke Friedrich Franz, marked the culminating point in the reputation of courtly music at Ludwigslust.

(Karl Heller, translation by Stephanie Wollny)

Musik am Ludwigsluster Hof om152
Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727–1789)
Konzert für Oboe Es-Dur
for oboe, strings and bc
Edited by Karl Heller
om83 / Volume 1
Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727–1789)
Missa alla papale
for choir (SATB), instruments and Bc ad lib.
Edited by Franziska Seils
Musik am Ludwigsluster Hof
om149 / Volume 5
Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727–1789)
Konzert für Oboe C-Dur
for oboe, strings and bc
Edited by Karl Heller
om179 / Volume 7
Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727–1789)
Cembalokonzert c-Moll
Cembalo concerto in c minor
for Cemb. concertato and strings
Edited by Karl Heller
om79 / Volume 2
Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727–1789)
Orgelkonzert G-Dur
Organ concerto in G major
for Org, 2 Hn, 2 Fl and Str
Edited by Karl Heller
om126 / Volume 4
Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727–1789)
Drei Violinsonaten
in C major, D major and B flat minor
for Vl and Bc
Edited by Stefan Fischer
om101 / Volume 3
Carl August Friedrich Westenholtz (1736–1789)
Violoncellokonzert G-Dur
Cello concerto in G major
for Vc, Str and Bc
Edited by Karl Heller and Stefan Fischer