Among the outstanding treasures of the Saxon State Library is the music collection of the Dresden Court Ensemble, the forerunner of today's Saxon State Orchestra. Although much of the precious legacy of the Ensemble from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries was destroyed by wars -- the Prussian, Napoleonic, and Second World War -- enough prominent material exists to document the historic importance of the Ensemble. Three factors contribute to the Ensemble's fame and historic significance. First, the collection represents the musical culture of a European princely court, including music for Evangelical and Catholic liturgies, for Opera (predominately Italian, but with German and French works), and for court concerts and festive celebrations. Second, the collection documents the high musical standards that the Court Ensemble set for all of Europe throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Third, the collection shows that as early as 1710 the Dresden Court Ensemble consisted of a group of strings and winds that today would be called an "Orchestra," with oboes, horns, trumpets and drums, played by talented musicians, including numerous foreign virtuosi.
The musical items displayed in this exhibition can only suggest the rich musical environment of the Saxon Court, its remarkable international texture, and its significance in the development of European musical traditions.
Depiction of a courtly procession with the Elector Augustus and members of the Hofkapelle
The Dresden court had a long tradition of fancy-dress festivals, in which members of the Hofkapelle performed as musicians and dressed in lavish costumes as actors. This painting, originally a scroll later bound in book form, depicts an electoral wedding. Elector Augustus is preceded by enchained figures representing Death, the Devil, Justice, two Heralds, and the Muses, while members of the Hofkapelle follow with their instruments.
Daniel Bretschneider Contrafactur des Ringrennens und anderer Ritterspiele auf Christians fürstlichem Beilager am 25. April Anno 82 in Dresden (Contrafactum of the Ring Competition and other Knightly Games at the Princely Consummation of Christian's Marriage on April 25 of the Year 82 in Dresden) Dresden, ca. 1582, part four Gouache painting (80)
Rare edition of German-language compositions by the second Italian director of the Hofkapelle
This four-part and five-part Magnificat is extremely rare in its complete form. Its composer, Pinelli, was the second Italian director of the Dresden Hofkapelle. On display is page 2, with engraved portrait of the composer.
Giovanni Battista Pinelli Deutsches Magnificat, "Tenor" (German Magnificat, "Tenor") Dresden, 1583, p. 2 Paper (82)
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