Anna Amalia of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel

Feminale of Music

You can see a painting of a woman sitting with a book in her hand and a bust beside her.

Anna Amalia of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel is a regent, patron and female composer. The art-loving musician becomes Duchess of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach through her marriage to Ernst August II. Konstantin Duke of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach. 

Anna Amalia is born on October 24, 1739 in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. In her childhood she receives instrumental lessons at an early age and learns to play the harpsichord, piano, flute, guitar and harp. Her biography can be divided into three major periods in which she influences the intellectual life of her country: as regent (1759-1775), as founder of the Weimar »Court of the Muses« (until her Italian journey in 1788) and later as the preserver of her life's work. 

During her reign, in addition to the representative public concerts at court, private musical evenings are also held in a small circle. Although there are restrictions due to financial austerity measures, such as the reduction in the size of the Court Chapel, music is always an integral part of the court in Weimar. After her son Carl August takes over the regency of the duchy in 1775, Anna Amalia is able to devote herself to her private interests. During this time she gathers a circle of artists, writers and scholars from various fields of art and science around her, with whom she regularly meets for exchange. Although she is not involved in the appointment of Schiller, Goethe and Herder to Weimar, the cultural and musical heyday of Weimar in the late 18th century can be attributed to Anna Amalia. 

In addition to composing various instrumental and vocal works, of which the setting of Goethe's »Erwin und Elmire« from 1776 and »Das Jahrmarktsfest zu Plundersweilern« (1778) are noteworthy, she also devotes herself to theoretical writings on music. Thus, two treatises by Anna Amalia have been handed down, on the one hand the music-theoretical writing and on the other hand a music-aesthetic reflection with the title »Gedanken über Musik« (Thoughts on Music). The spread of the guitar in Germany is also partly due to Anna Amalia, as she brings a guitar with her from Italy, has copies made by the guitar maker Johann Jacob Otto, and in turn leaves them to other noblemen who introduce the guitar in Dresden, Berlin and Leipzig. After 1790 Anna Amalia refraines from public appearances at court and only performes in private circles.

Music pieces

Overture from the opera »Erwin and Elmire«, published by and recorded by the Academy of Ancient Music at All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, as part of the AAM project »From Her Pen« (2018-19), which examines the work of historical female composers: Richard Egarr (conductor) and Bojan Cicic (director).

»Ein Veilchen auf der Wiese stand«, published by and played by Duo con emozione

»Erwin and Elmire«, Entr'acte with violin solo, published by KuhlauDilfeng2 and played by the Thüringisches Kammerorchester Weimar conducted by Martin Hoff.

Divertimento, for piano, clarinet, viola and violoncello, Allegro, published by Luigi Magistrelli and played by Il Cenacolo della Chimera Ensemble to be found on Clarinet Repertoire of Women Composers

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