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Bernd Koska, Die Geraer Hofkapelle zu Beginn des 18. Jahrhunderts

(The Gera Court Chapel in the Early 18th Century)

Contrary to the majority of the numerous Central German court chapels we know only the barest facts about the music ensemble of the Reussian court at Gera. This is due primarily to the source situation which at first sight appears hopeless: Following a town fire in 1780 and the devastations of World War II only a handful of musical and archival sources can be traced. Despite this situation this volume manages to assemble the few surviving fragments in a vivid portrait of musical life at the court of Count Heinrich XVIII.
New findings and insights primarily concern Emanuel Kegel, whose appointment as kapellmeister in 1698 marked the revival of the court chapel, and Kegel’s son and successor Ludwig Heinrich Kegel (in office 1726–1736). The study also throws light on a number of musicians who were active in Gera only briefly but who became important elsewhere; this concerns in particular Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Johann Friedrich Fasch and Johann Sebastian Bach.
As a result of this study it becomes apparent that the Gera court chapel had its heyday in the second decade of the 18th century, when it commanded a surprisingly large number of excellent musicians and boasted exceptional achievements particularly in the field of musical theatre. Similarly remarkable was the Reussian residences’ pioneering role in the propagation of such newly invented instruments as the clarinet, the oboe d’amore and the French horn.
The three major areas addressed in this study are the directors of the court chapel and their compositions, the other court musicians, and the ensemble’s repertoire. The book is supplemented by an appendix containing significant source material and detailed biographical information about the musicians. It is scheduled to appear in summer 2013 as vol. 3 of Forum Mitteldeutsche Barockmusik.

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