Town in Thuringia, Germany. From the stature of medieval ‘Vimare’, with its emphasis on agriculture and craftwork, it is evident that the town church, built about 1400 and later known as the Herderkirche, did not have the status of a cathedral; however, its monastic institutions, founded earlier, probably cultivated liturgical music. The missals and song manuscripts from that period (in D-WRl) show that the medieval town, with its Kalendbrüder (male-voice and boys’ choirs), organists and Kantors (from 1429) was musically active. A musical establishment at the court came into being only after the building of the residence in 1445. Colonies of rural minstrels, common to all Thuringian towns, indicate a lively tradition of folk music, and the court probably enjoyed peasant plays, sword dances and folksong at tournaments and other such events.
The first outstanding musical achievement at Weimar was the development of the Hofkapelle at the principal residence of Torgau in the late 15th century. The Hofkantorei was resident in Weimar for months at a time and played a leading part in the music of the area. Its directors included such distinguished composers as Adam von Fulda (from 1490), Adam Rener (from 1507), Johann Walter (i), Conrad Rupsch (Luther’s musical adviser) and Paul Hofhaimer; the Kantorei benefited from the enlightened patronage of the artistically inclined Duke Frederick the Wise (d 1525). Walter’s Weimar choirbooks (which have been returned by the Jena University library to the ownership of the church in Weimar), the comprehensive choir inventory and the Weimar Song Manuscript (1537) based on Netherlandish sources, testify to the high standards of music in the town; they include works by Obrecht, Josquin, Isaac and La Rue. In the later 16th century another group of teachers and composers, including Johann Stolle, Nicolaus Rosthius and Melchior Vulpius, contributed to the development of choral music in Weimar; in addition to their own works, those of Lassus, Praetorius, Philips, Regnart, Hassler, the Gabrielis and others were performed. Vulpius taught at the Gymnasium from 1596 to 1615; the school regulations, particularly the ‘Kromayerschen Schulordnungen’ (from 1614), strictly define the use of music in schools, and reflect the ideas of the Reformation and those of the humanist and rationalist movements (Comenius and Ratichius).
In 1586 the Hofkapelle was transferred to Weimar from the residence at Altenburg, where it continued to provide music until 1602. J.H. Schein was court Kapellmeister in 1615–16. In the 17th century the excellence of the choral music and popular devotional drama also attracted prominent musicians such as Adam Drese, Heinrich Schütz and Georg Neumark to work at the pietistic and puritanical ducal court. The founding of the Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft des Palmenordens in Weimar was an important part of the literary and cultural movement of the Baroque. Music in Weimar reached a peak in the late 17th century and early 18th through such figures as G.C. Strattner, J.P. von Westhoff and J.G. Walther (town organist, 1707–48). Bach was a violinist in the Hofkapelle in 1703 (8 April – 14 August) and was court organist and chamber musician from 1708 to 1717. This period of his activity is chiefly noted for the composition of organ works (preludes and fugues and the Orgelbüchlein) and cantatas, although he also made keyboard transcriptions of concertos, including works by the young prince Johann Ernst (d 1715). Bach was succeeded by J.M. Schubart and J.C. Vogler, and Weimar has since maintained a tradition of organ music.
The transitional stages of Rococo and Sturm und Drang contributed significantly to the most important period in Weimar’s cultural history. Under the protection and encouragement of the Duchess Anna Amalia (reigned 1756–75; see fig.1), herself a composer, a social and musical circle came into being at her ‘Musenhof’ (‘court of the muses’) at the Wittum Palace, to which all the leading intellectual figures of Weimar belonged. Both there and in the castles at Belvedere, Tiefurt and Ettersburg there was diverse vocal and instrumental music with many new works, including the first performances of Die Jagd by Hiller and Weisse (1770), and Anton Schweitzer’s Alceste, to a libretto by Wieland (1773). The Kapelle that developed under Anna Amalia from 1756 (when Johann Ernst Bach became Kapellmeister) grew to become the modern Weimarer Staatskapelle (renamed in 1919). E.W. Wolf, Corona Schröter, K.S. Seckendorff, E.F. Krantz, J.G. Herder, Wieland and Goethe (director of the newly founded Hoftheater from 1791 to 1817) were the outstanding figures of the Classical period in Weimar. Opera, symphony, chamber music, concerto and choral music all flourished, and the Viennese classics soon became popular with the progressive middle classes. Goethe’s house on the Frauenplan became a centre of musical and social activity; Hummel was summoned to the house in 1819, while other guests included Zelter, the young Mendelssohn and Carl Eberwein. Among other notable musicians at that time were A.E. Müller (Kapellmeister from 1810 to 1817), A.F. Haeser (choral director from 1817), J.M. Rempt (Kantor from 1788) and J.G. Töpfer (organist from 1830).
The Romantic age in Weimar was ushered in by Hummel (court Kapellmeister from 1819 to 1837), H.-A.-B. Chelard (Kapellmeister 1840–52) and above all by Liszt, in Weimar from 1842 to 1861 though permanent Kapellmeister only after 1848. The leading patron at this time was the Grand Princess and Grand Duchess Maria Paulowna, daughter of the Tsar of Russia and a pupil of Hummel. Liszt described Weimar as the ‘magnetic mountain’ of the fairy tale, and indeed his presence there made the town the centre of the German avant garde. His home was a mirror of the European musical panorama, and was frequented by such musicians as Wagner, Raff, Brahms, Cornelius, Smetana, Borodin, Glazunov, Rubinstein and Bülow, while students and young virtuosos gathered at his second house, the Hofgärtnerei (now the Liszt Museum). The Hofkapelle became one of Germany’s leading ensembles, giving premières of Lohengrin (1850; fig.3) and Cornelius’s Der Barbier von Bagdad (1858), as well as the second production (after Dresden) of Tannhäuser (1849) and revivals of notable contemporary works, such as Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini (1852). Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila received its première there in 1877. In 1872 Carl Müller-Hartung founded the Ducal Orchestral School, the first such institution in Germany. It was renamed the Orchestral and Musicians’ School in 1877, received encouragement from Liszt and Bülow and acquired a department of opera in 1885 and a department of drama in 1898. In 1930 it was given the status of a Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, and in 1956 was renamed the Franz Liszt Hochschule. Shortly afterwards it became the venue for international summer courses which still enjoy great prestige. Composers’ congresses were also held in the town. Richard Strauss was Kapellmeister from 1889 to 1894, during which time the first performances were given of his Guntram (1894) and Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel (1893). Strauss also conducted the première of his Don Juan in 1889. Busoni gave piano masterclasses in the Tempelherren-Haus in the Weimar Park in 1901–2.
After World War I Krenek, Stravinsky, Vogel and Hindemith revitalized Weimar’s musical life, with many premières given under the auspices of the Bauhaus festivals. The Staatskapelle (Hofkapelle) conductors Peter Raabe (1907–20), Ernst Praetorius (1924–33), Paul Sixt (1933–45) and Hermann Abendroth (1945–56) maintained the orchestra’s fine tradition. After World War II the Hochschule für Musik and the Deutsches Nationaltheater also continued to flourish. The original theatre was built in 1825 under Goethe’s supervision; the theatre was rebuilt in neo-classical style in 1926 and destroyed in 1944. In 1948 the company was the first to reopen in postwar Germany. Rebuilding took place in 1975 and 1997–8. The town has become the leading musical and cultural centre of Thuringia, with music congresses, festivals, castle concerts and jubilee celebrations among its musical activities. Many musicians and composers have been active in creative and pedagogic work in Weimar, including Ottmar Gerster (director of the Musikhochschule, 1948–51), Alfred Boeckmann, Johann Cilenšek (director of the Musikhochschule, 1961–72), Herbert Kirmsse and the organist J.-E. Köhler (organist at the Herderkirche, 1934–75, and lecturer at the Musikhochschule, 1934–80). The Ottmar Gerster Music School and the special music school in Belvedere provide a musical education which can lead on to studies at the Hochschule. Church music forms a significant part of the town’s musical life. Musical directors at the Nationaltheater have included Hermann Abendroth, Gerhard Pflüger, Lothar Seyfarth, Rolf Reuter, Peter Gülke, Hans-Peter Frank and G.A. Albrecht. Weimar was designated the 1999 cultural capital of Europe in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Goethe’s birth, the 240th anniversary of Schiller’s birth and the tenth anniversary of German reunification.
MGG2 (W. Huschke)
E.Pasqué: Goethes Theaterleitung in Weimar (Leipzig, 1863)
E.Pasqué: ‘Die Weimarer Hofkapelle im 16. Jahrhundert bis zum Dreissigjährigen Kriege’, MMg, xxix (1897), 137–44
La Mara [M. Lipsius], ed.: Aus der Glanzzeit der Weimarer Altenburg: Bilder und Briefe aus dem Leben der Fürstin Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein (Leipzig, 1906)
P.Raabe: Festschrift zur 50-jährigen Jubiläum der Hofkapelle in Weimar (Weimar, 1909)
W.Bode: Der weimarische Musenhof, 1756–1781 (Berlin, 1916)
A.Aber: Die Pflege der Musik unter den Wettinern und wettinischen Ernestinern (Bückeburg and Leipzig, 1921)
E.Herrmann: Das Weimarer Lied in der 2. Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts (diss., U. of Leipzig, 1925)
L.Schrickel: Geschichte des Weimarer Theaters von seinen Anfängen bis heute (Weimar, 1928)
E.W.Böhme: Die frühdeutsche Oper in Thüringen (Stadtroda, 1931/R)
K.E.Roediger: Die geistlichen Musikhandschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Jena (Jena, 1935)
C.Rücker: Daten zur Musikgeschichte der Stadt Weimar (Weimar, 1935)
H.Rutz: 75 Jahre Allg. Deutsch. Musikverein 1861–1936 (Weimar, 1936)
C.Rücker: Die Stadtpfeiferei in Weimar (Weimar, 1939)
G.Kraft: Die thüringische Musikkultur um 1600 (Würzburg, 1941), i
W.Lidke: Das Musikleben in Weimar von 1683 bis 1735 (Weimar, 1954)
G.Kraft: Musikgeschichtliche Beziehungen zwischen Thüringen und Russland im 19. Jahrhundert (Weimar, 1955)
G.Kraft: Weimar und die Musik (Weimar, 1956) [exhibition catalogue]
G.Kraft: ‘Die künstlerisch-musicalische Arbeit im ehemaligen Konzentrationslager Buchenwald’, Thüringer Heimat, i (1959)
G.Kraft: ‘Tradition und Fortschritt: zur Chronik der Staatskapelle Weimar’, Festschrift 100 Jahre Abonnementskonzerte der Weimarer Staatskapelle (Weimar, 1963)
W.Huschke: Das Musikleben in Weimar zur Klassik (diss., U. of Halle, 1976)
W.Huschke: Musik im klassischen und nachklassischen Weimar (1756–1861) (Weimar, 1982) [incl. further bibliography]
H.John: Musikstadt Weimar (Leipzig, 1985)
P.Gülke: Fluchtpunkt Musik (Kassel, Stuttgart and Weimar, 1994)