Journal Article

The Shifting Fortunes of War: Patronage of the Württemberg Hofkapelle during the Thirty Years War

Kenneth Marcus

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 25, issue 1, pages 1-21
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online January 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
The Shifting Fortunes of War: Patronage of the Württemberg Hofkapelle during the Thirty Years War

Show Summary Details


German courts have long been renowned for their support of music. How long could this support continue in times of war? This article considers the fate of the Württemberg Hofkapelle during the Thirty Years War (1618-48), a conflict that forced many distinguished Hofkapellen to close their doors for much of the war's duration. The Hofkapelle (literally ‘court chapel’ or music ensemble) was the focus of much music patronage at early modern German courts, and typically consisted of an orchestra of strings, horns, and percussion, as well as adult male singers and a boys’ choir. Based on an analysis of church council accounts that list all expenditure for court music throughout the war, the article asserts that demand for music during religious services under both Protestant and Catholic control of the duchy remained relatively constant. This demand enabled the Hofkapelle to continue musical performances, despite the enormous constraints the war placed on court expenditure.

Music patronage was significant in several ways. Payment for performers and composers could be highly competitive among German courts, with the best musicians earning salaries often far exceeding those of other officials. Foreign musicians were much in demand in Württemberg as elsewhere, such as English lutenist John Price, who founded a group of English lutenists at the Württemberg court in 1618 that lasted until the death of Duke Johann Friedrich a decade later. While the hardship of wartime effectively ended the payment of large salaries, forcing many top performers to leave, members of the court still called for music at church, even if they had to pay for performances themselves. A study of music patronage during the Thirty Years War thus reveals not only the extent to which the court sought to support the arts, but also how that support reflected the shifting fortunes of war.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.