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Anna Amalia (1739-1807)

The Ducal Palce in Weimar, unknown 18th Century artist The musical life of 18th century Germany was enlivened by two Anna Amalias, both belonging to the Prussian royal family of Frederick the Great. The first of them, the younger sister of the King, shared her brother's abilities as musical patron and composer. But it was their niece, later Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, who made the stronger mark with her own writing. She brought together the major musicians and poets of the day in the Weimar court, where the genre of German opera came into being under her encouragement. Of her own works the largest surviving piece is a Singspiel or musical play called Erwin und Elmire. She wrote it in 1776, setting a text by Goethe, and it shows thorough technical competance and spontaneous inventiveness. Her collection of about 2000 volumes is now in the Zentralbibliothek der Deutschen Klassic, Weimar.


Click on these works for more details below:
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Erwin und Elmire. 1776
Act 1: 1. Overture. 2. 'Geängstet'. 3. 'Liebes Kind, was hast du wieder'. 4. 'Was sind all die Seligkeiten'. 5. 'Ihr solltet geniessen'. 6. 'Erwin, o schau'. 7. 'Da hätt' ich eine niedliche Kleine'. 8. 'Da kommt sie geschlichen'. 9. 'Hin ist hin'. 10. 'Ein Veilchen auf der Wiese stand'. 11. Ich muss ihn sehen'. 12 'Ein Schauspiel für Götter.
Act II: 13. Entre Acte. 14 'Ihr verblühet, süsse Rosen'. 15. 'Inneres Wühlen'. 16. 'Auf dem Land und in der Stadt'. 17. 'Sie scheinen zu spielen'. 18. 'Sein ganzes Herz dahinzugeben'. 19. 'Mit vollen Atemzügen'. 20 'Sieh mich, Heilger, wie ich bin'. 21. 'Ha, sie liebt mich!' 22. 'Er ist nicht weit'. 23.' Vergib mir die Eile'.
Singers: Olympia, Elmire, Bernardo, Erwin. Orchestra: 2fl, 2ob, 2hn, bn, stgs, cembalo. 75 mins.

Anna Amalia was familiar with Singspiel through promoting it in her court theatre. Her own Singspiel, on a text by Goethe, is about love transcending the restrictions between different social classes. The theme of reconciliation is achieved against rustic surroundings, and in contrast to the pretentions of urban manners of the day. Her musical style draws on the Italian models of the day, fused together into a satifying dramatic whole. In 1769 German Opera's goal was expressed as to be 'created anew! ... with feeling, feeling; oh grand purpose! grand task!' This is an important early achievement in that goal.
Cambridge University Opera Society gave the first modern performance in 1999. The programme is on their web site. If you want parts, contact Peter Tregear at pjt21@hermes.co.ac.uk.


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Concerto fur Cembalo und Orchester, G major
1. Allegro, G major. 2. Andantino, C major. 3. Allegro, G major. 13 mins
2 fl, 2 ob, 2 bn, strings, cembalo
This is a chamber concerto, which could be played with a single person per part. The solo part is well integrated into the whole, and the music has an effervescent bounce. The slow movement is mainly orchestral and the finale is something of a Minuet with a Trio featuring wind solos.
Published by P.J.Tonger, Koln - Rodenkirchen, Germany


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Divertimento pour Pianoforte, Clarinetto, Viola et Violoncello, c1780
1. Adagio, B flat. 2 Allegro, B flat. 10 mins
The origins of the Divertimento are not known, but the combination of formality and warmth at the outset suggests at least an element in common with Mozart. This is probably the first chamber work featuring a clarinet. After the tutti opening phrase, the instruments are immediately allowed a degree of individual freedom, the viola leads, the clarinet answers, the piano rounds off. This music is elegant and totally charming, unpretentious and engaging.
We, the Ambache, gave the UK premiere in 1995.
Published by Ambache Editions (diana@ambache.co.uk)


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Trio Sonata in D for 2 Violins & Bass: Allegro. 5 mins
Possibly by the Aunt, the Princess of Prussia, this is a single movement for 2 violins, bass and cembalo, in lively D major style.

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