Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

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Capital city of Lower Franconia, Germany. The history of music in Würzburg falls into two periods, the earlier dominated by the rule of the prince-bishops, the more recent by state and municipal institutions. The turning-point was the secularization of 1802. The institution of the prince-bishops, who also wielded secular authority as dukes of Franconia, meant that sacred and vocal music predominated. Only in the 18th century was there a short phase when secular and instrumental music in the Italian style flourished at the episcopal court. After secularization, two new institutions were established where music was cultivated, the Königliche Musikschule and the theatre, which still to a large extent determine the musical life of the city.

After the introduction of the Roman rite by St Boniface the Germanic choral dialect gained an increasingly strong hold until the 17th century when the special form of it known as the Mainzer Choral was made statutory for Würzburg in the definitive form given in the Agenda ad usum ecclesiarum metropolitanae Moguntinae et Cathedralium Herbipolensium et Wormatensium (1671). The choral singing was particularly fine in St Burkard, the cathedral, the Stift Haug and the Benedictine church. The printer Georg Reyser issued his Missale Herbipolense (1481) and Agenda Herbipolensis (1482) in Würzburg; these may be the earliest printed collections of choral music in Germany. Polyphony was first introduced by Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1573–1617) in the cathedral, where Orlande de Lassus's Opus musicum was taken as the chief guide. Lassus's Lectiones sacrae novum of 1582 are dedicated to Echter von Mespelbrunn. After the Thirty Years War the musicians of the cathedral and the court usually worked together, especially under the bishops of the Schönborn family. The outstanding figures among the locally born musicians were Heinrich Pfendner (c1590–c1631) and Philipp Friedrich Buchner (1614–69).

The musical ensemble at the court of the prince-bishops was first mentioned in the 17th century; numbers were few and they were employed principally in church services. Trumpeters and drummers were available for festive occasions. The impetus given to religious and cultural life by the prince-bishops Johann Philipp Franz (1719–24) and Friedrich Carl von Schönborn (1729–46), which included the building of the Residenz Palace, allowed the court ensemble to come into its own, and it reached its peak under Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1755–77). He had Italian operas and ballets performed in the Weisser Saal of the Residenz and, after 1770, in the theatre he had built in the Residenz. As well as local musicians, many of whom studied in Italy at the court's expense, Italian singers and instrumentalists were employed (notably Giovanni Benedetto Platti and Domenico Steffani). The relations of the prince-bishops with Vienna and Italy are illustrated by the surviving scores, in which the works of the Italian composers of the 18th century and their German imitators predominate. The number of musicians employed, already reduced by the end of the 18th century, decreased even more after secularization, and the ensemble was dissolved in 1814.

The Stadttheater received its name in 1843, when the city bought the theatre founded by Count Soden in 1803–4. It had been devoted primarily to plays, the operas performed being ones that imposed only small demands. Friedrich Witt, one of its early musical directors, also made a reputation as a composer. Wagner worked there in 1833 for a short time, during which he completed Die Feen. After the building was destroyed in 1945 the theatre was able to keep going only on a makeshift basis. The completion in 1966 of a new building with 770 seats made it possible to produce operas and plays in a suitable setting once more, under the Intendant Joachim von Groeling, and the conductor Max Kink. The Philharmonisches Orchester Würzburg (formerly the Städtisches PO) is connected with the theatre, and also gives an annual series of subscription concerts and matinées. Concerts are also organized by private musical societies: the Musikalische Akademie Würzburg, formerly the Gesellschaft der Freunde des Bayerischen Staatskonservatoriums (founded 1960), which also provides scholarships for gifted students, and the Bach-Gesellschaft (founded 1966), which subsidizes among other things concerts of the Bach Choir (founded by Günter Jena). The Würzburg Mozart Festival was inaugurated in 1921 by Herman Zilcher, then director of the conservatory; its concerts are held each summer in the Residenz with the participation of Bavarian Radio, the Frankfurt RSO, the Bamberg SO, the Stadttheater, the Hochschule für Musik and internationally renowned ensembles and soloists.

The Collegium Musicum Academicum Wirceburgense was founded at the university towards the end of the 18th century as an association of musical academics. It soon developed, under the direction of Franz J. Fröhlich, into a teaching institution for members of the university, and in 1804 was established as the Akademisches Musikinstitut with open entry, the oldest of its kind in Germany. Its connection with the university ceased in 1820, and it was subsequently renamed the Königliches Musikinstitut. In 1875, after reorganization by Karl Kliebert, the institute expanded considerably, and in 1923 became the Bayerisches Staatskonservatorium der Musik. From 1945 to 1965 it had temporary accommodation in private houses, and then under its director Hanns Reinartz moved into a spacious modern building that contains two concert halls, seating 860 and 220. In 1973 it was renamed the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik. The institute hosts two biennial festivals: the Tage der Neuen Musik (established 1977) and the Tage Alter Musik (established 1982). In 1963 the Städtische Sing- und Musikschule was founded in the city, and in 1975 the Hermann-Zilcher-Konservatorium, which trains music teachers and professional musicians. Music was taught as an academic subject at the university by Oskar Kaul from 1922 to 1945. A chair was not established until 1960, the first holder being Georg Reichert. Composers active in Würzburg include Berthold Hummel (b 1925), Klaus Hinrich Stahmer (b 1941) and Heinz Winbeck (b 1946).


MGG2 (F. Dangel-Hofmann)

J.G.W. Dennerlein: Geschichte des Würzburger Theaters 1803–1853 (Würzburg, 1853)

K. Kliebert: Die Königliche Musikschule Würzburg 1804–1904 (Würzburg, 1904)

O. Kaul: Geschichte der Würzburger Hofmusik im 18. Jahrhundert (Würzburg, 1924)

E. Federl: Spätmittelalterliche Choralpflege in Würzburg und in mainfränkischen Klöstern (St Ottilien, 1937)

O. Kaul: Musica Herbipolensis: Aus Würzburgs musikalischer Vergangenheit, ed. F. Dangel-Hofmann (Marktbreit, 1980)

K.H. Stahmer: Musik in der Residenz: Würzburger Hofmusik (Würzburg, 1983)

D. Kirsch: ‘Zur Geschichte der Würzburger Hofmusik im 19. Jh.’, Mainfränkisches Jb für Geschichte und Kunst, xlviii (1996), 199–232


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