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Owens, Samantha K.

The Württemberg Hofkapelle c.1680-1721

Ph.D. Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 1995
(samantha.owens@vuw.ac.nz)

Today the prosperous reign of Duke Eberhard Ludwig IV (r. 1693-1733) at the court of Württemberg is principally associated with the construction of the magnificent palace of Ludwigsburg, some fifteen miles north of Stuttgart. His quest for prestige also resulted in a major expansion of the ducal Hofkapelle, and while much is known about music at other German courts at this time (such as Dresden, Berlin, and Vienna) that at Württemberg, which was comparable in size and importance, has been largely overlooked.

This study aims to redress the situation through close examination of the wealth of archival documents dealing with the everyday life of the court musicians c1700. The original employment contracts offer insights into the duties of the Kapellmeister, while the registers of musicians record the evolution of a clear division between the ordinary Hofmusici and the more select and specialized Cammermusici.

The development of specialization came about as the direct result of foreign influence, and a period of foreign study was a prerequisite for a successful career as Kapellmeister. Although in the final decades of the seventeenth century French style had dominated the music at court, by the turn of the eighteenth century Italian music had begun to rise markedly in popularity.

Contemporary documents show that a wider selection of instruments came into regular use following the appointment of Johann Christoph Pez as Rath und Oberkapellmeister in 1706. Between 1684 and 1714 the membership of the Hofkapelle had risen from twenty-three to thirty-five. In addition to the Kapelle there was a quite diverse range of other musical groups present at the court--the trumpeters and kettledrum players, the court and regimental oboe bands, and the Bock-music, an ensemble with origins in Eastern European folk music. Again the archival documents throw considerable light on the daily lives, musical standards, and relative status of these musicians.

We are particularly fortunate that a sizeable selection of the music owned by the Württemberg court during this period of increased musical activity can now be found in a collection held by the Universitätsbibliothek in Rostock. Included are around 400 instrumental pieces dating from approximately 1680 up until the death of the Prince Regent, Friedrich Ludwig, in 1731. While the majority of composers represented are German, works of French and Italian origin are also included.

Perhaps most interesting are the compositions by two contemporary Württemberg Kapellmeister, Theodor Schwartzkopff and Johann Christoph Pez, whose obscurity is due largely to the relative inaccessibility of the Rostock collection in recent years. These works were written or at least adapted for the forces of the Württemberg Hofkapelle. Together with the archival documents these pieces furnish a fascinating picture of a once-flourishing musical establishment, one which provided entertainment for a Duke who hoped in his own corner of Germany to emulate the court of Versailles.