The Staatskapelle Berlin at 450 – A Review

The Development of Court Music from the Ensemble of the Elector of Brandenburg to the Court Orchestra of the First King of Prussia

Venue:           Staatsoper im Schiller Theater

Date:              16th– 18th October 2015

Call for Papers:

Deadline: 28th February 2015


The Staatskapelle Berlin celebrates its 450th anniversary in 2020, thus making it one of the oldest orchestras in the world. In advance of this occasion, the Staatsoper is holding a series of annual symposia devoted to the history of the Staatskapelle Berlin and its international significance. The symposia will go beyond considering the Staatskapelle as an institution in itself to looking at its position within the musical life of Berlin and comparing it to that of orchestras from other European cities.

The first symposium in October 2015 traces the development of the orchestra from its founding in 1570 under Elector Joachim 2nd of Brandenburg (1505-1571) until the accession of King Friedrich Wilhelm 1st of Prussia (1688-1740) in 1713. Björn Priebe has described the reorganisation of the Prussian court orchestra under King Friedrich 1st of Prussia (1657-1713) as a ‘turning point in the music history of Brandenburg-Prussia’[1]. There has, however, been little research on the orchestra thus far, aside from Curt Sachs’ 1910 monograph Music and Opera at the Electoral Brandenburg Court. [2]

In light of this, fundamental questions about the music of the Brandenburg-Prussian court need to be raised and discussed anew. We would especially welcome proposals for presentations on the following topics:


  • Musical precedents and influences on the development of the orchestra at the Electoral Brandenburg and Royal Prussian courts
  • The responsibilities of the orchestra at court
  • The impact of the orchestra at court and its involvement with the city of Berlin
  • Individual singers, instrumentalists, choirs, composers or works of relevance (e.g. Johannes Wesalius, Elias Göttling, Johan de Vaulx, Johann Eccard, William Brade, Jean-Baptsiste Volumier, Reinhard Stricker)
  • The significance of the English mode of instrumental playing for the orchestra in the 17th century
  • The extension of the orchestra under Elector Johann Sigismund
  • The Great Elector and his personal interest in music
  • The influence of Queen Sophie Charlotte’s network of musicians on the Prussian court orchestra and its repertoire
  • The repertoire at the Brandenburg-Prussian court in comparison to other German and/or European courts


Abstracts (max. 2000 characters) for 20 minute papers along with the technical requirements for the talk and a short CV with contact details should be sent by 28th February 2015 to Lena van der Hoven ( Contributions from both the humanities and social sciences are welcome (Musicology, Theatre Studies, History, Cultural Studies, Sociology). Early career researchers in particular are encouraged to contribute. The chosen speakers will be informed by 1st May 2015 and the conference programme published online at





[1] Priebe, Björn (1996): Die Musik am Hofe Friedrichs III. Ein Beitrag zur Berlin-Brandenburg. Musikgeschichte. In: Musikwissenschaftl. Lehr- u. Forschungsmaterialien d. Uni. Potsdam, Band 2,2, S. 1–51, hier S.11.

[2] Sachs, Curt [1977 (1910)]: Musik und Oper am kurbrandenburgischen Hof. Nachdr. d. Ausg. Berlin 1910. Hildesheim u.a.: Olms.