Dresden – City of Music

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After the death of August the Strong, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his famous Mass in B minor (the so-called Missa). Having submitted this work at the royal court in Dresden, Bach received the longed-for news that he could call himself Composer of the Court Orchestra. However, he was not invited to live and work in the Residence City of Dresden. In the following 24 years he visited Dresden at least on seven occasions. He gave concerts in the old St Sophia’s Church and the newly consecrated Church of Our Lady.

In September 1719 Georg Friedrich Händel arrived in Dresden in order to recruit singers for his new opera project, the Royal Academy of Music.

The composer of the Freischütz, Carl-Maria von Weber, worked here as Director of the Court Orchestra. He was interestingly a cousin of Johann Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s wife Constanze (née Weber). Weber was given his first music lessons by Johann Michael Haydn, Joseph Haydn’s brither, in Salzburg.

In 1789 Mozart was on his way to Berlin when he took part in a competition on the Silbermann organ in the Catholic Hofkirche (Court Church).

Felix Mendelsohn Bartholdy directed the Royal Orchestra in Dresden during a performance of his oratory ‘Paulus‘ (‘St Paul‘). Richard Wagner was among the spectators, in 1843 he had taken over leadership of Dresden’s Court Orchestra.

The Church of Our Lady hosted a concert by Richard Wagner celebrating the 100th anniversary of the completion of the church. Wagner also initiated the transfer of Carl Maria von Weber’s coffin from london to Dresden. It was Dresden where Wagner composed his early work such as The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin and Tannhäuser. In 1846 he directed the Court Orchestra when Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was performed. Major parts of the lyrics were written by Schiller in 1785 for the Dresden Masonic Lodge when living in Dresden Loschwitz. Gottfried Semper and his friend Richard Wagner played an active part in the Dresden Uprising. The wanted Wagner found shelter and support at Franz Liszt’s house in Weimar on his flight to Switzerland.

Dresden Loschwitz was also home to the pianist and composer Clara Wieck, who later became Richard Schumann’s wife. But what about the relationship between Clara and Johannes Brahms? It is a fact that Brahms was in love with Clara, several letters prove this. Brahms was also a friend of Richard Strauss‘. Although Strauss started his career as an assistant under Cosima Wagner at the Bayreuth Festival (Bayreuther Festspiele) and then served as director of the Court Orchesta in Munich, the Berlin Philharmonics and the Viennese Court Opera, his now famous operas Salome, Elektra and The Knight of the Rose (Der Rosenkavalier) were first performed at the Semper Opera in Dresden.