An emperor as composer - Die Welt der Habsburger

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An emperor as composer - Die Welt der Habsburger
An emperor as
composer
Leopold I adored opera, commissioned a new theatre,
encouraged music at the Viennese court – and also
composed himself.
Leopold I loved magnificent festivities and opera productions –
his first thought concerning his Imperial residence was not the
construction of an imposing palace but that a theatre should be
built. In 1659 he decided to have a new ‘comedy playhouse’
built. Lodovico Burnacini designed and took a year to build a
suitably grand theatre equipped with the latest stage machinery
and elaborate sets, adapting an old ballroom at the Hofburg for
the purpose. The rapid pace of the construction work was
guaranteed by the Emperor’s keen interest and the ample
funds that this interest guaranteed. Nonetheless, the theatre
needed renovating only a few years later.
Leopold I placed music at the centre of the cultural life of his
times, spending the sum of 60,000 gulden yearly on his Court
musicians. During his reign 400 new works were composed at
the Viennese Court; the reign of his father, Ferdinand III, had
seen only 16 new operas and oratorios. The operas performed
were almost exclusively Italian; the Court showed far less
interest in German-speaking theatre. For a long time it had
been mainly Italian comedians and poets who were summoned
to court to write libretti and plays.
Like his father, the Emperor was not only a lover of music but
also composed himself. His compositions included more than
150 arias on Italian texts, a number of German-language
oratorios and musical comedies as well as many religious works
such as requiems which were performed at the funerals of his
first and third wives and at his own obsequies.
Author
Julia Teresa Friehs
Literature
Grasberger, Franz: Ein Goldenes Zeitalter der Musik, in:
Koschatzky, Walter (Hrsg.): Maria Theresia und ihre Zeit. Eine
Darstellung der Epoche von 1740–1780 aus Anlass der 200.
Wiederkehr des Todestages der Kaiserin, 2. Aufl. Salzburg/Wien
1979, 379–386; Hadamowsky, Franz/Witeschnik, Alexander: 100
Jahre Wiener Oper am Ring, Katalog zur Jubiläumsausstellung in
sämtlichen Redoutensälen der Hofburg, 17.5.–28.9.1969, 17–115;
Prawy, Marcel: Die Wiener Oper. Geschichte und Geschichten, Wien
1969, 25–39; Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H.:
Die Wiener Hofburg – Lernbehelf für Guides, 2. erw. Aufl. Wien
2002, 53; Schrögendorf, Konrad/Weys, Rudolf (Hrsg.): Burgtheater.
Eine Chronik in Bildern. Ein Führer durch Haus und Geschichte,
Wien 1985; Vocelka, Karl/Heller, Lynne: Die Lebenswelt der
Habsburger. Kultur- und Mentalitätsgeschichte einer Familie, Wien
1997, 52–66, 263–270;