CHRISTIAN ERNST GRAF
Christian Ernst Graf
Graaf, as he was known after becoming a Dutch citizen, held the most important music post in the Dutch Republic of the second half of the eighteenth century: he was the kapellmeister of stadtholder Willem V. His music shows a stylistic development from late-Baroque characteristics to a more classicistic, galant ...
Biography Christian Ernst Graf
Graaf, as he was known after becoming a Dutch citizen, held the most important music post in the Dutch Republic of the second half of the eighteenth century: he was the kapellmeister of stadtholder Willem V. His music shows a stylistic development from late-Baroque characteristics to a more classicistic, galant style. Though a fair amount of his work was published, it is likely, considering his position, that he wrote much more. It is only possible to reconstruct but a rough outline of his life. Graf composes instrumental music in particular – chamber works, such as string quartets, trios and quintets, and symphonies. His best-known vocal works include 'Laat ons juichen, Batavieren!' [Let us rejoice, Batavians!] (1776) and the oratorio 'Der Tod Jesu' (1802).
Christian Ernst Graf is born on June 30 in Rudolstadt, where his father supports himself as a violinist, teacher, composer and kapellmeister at the court chapel of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, in the central German state of Thuringia. Christian Graf presumably had his first music lessons during childhood from his father, Johann Graf.
1748 - 1750
Now a “Cammer Musikus” [chamber musician] in Rudolstadt, Christian Graf travels while on leave to the Dutch Republic and decides to stay, probably against his patron's will and leaving behind large debts. His attempts to secure a position in Rudolstadt fail. Via (possibly) Waalwijk and Amsterdam, where he works as a “dance master”, Graf arrives around 1750 in Middelburg and becomes the leader of its Collegium Musicum. The collegium improves considerably under his leadership and the city council places a small concert hall at its disposal. Graf's first printed opus number 'Sei sinfonie a violino primo, secundo, viola, e basso' (ca. 1760) is published most likely in Middelburg. It is in any case dedicated to the Middelburg collegium.
Graf works in The Hague as court composer of Anna of Hanover, the widow of stadtholder William IV.
He is made “Music Composer at the Court of His Illustrious Highness the Lord Prince of Orange”, the 11-year-old William V. He becomes a member and later kapellmeister of the court chapel – possibly in 1766, when William becomes stadtholder. In that function, he composes for (occasional) orchestra and chamber music for the weekly court concerts.
He changes his name to the Dutch “Graaf”.
A young Mozart composes the K 24 variations on Graaf's song 'Laat ons juichen, Batavieren!' during a visit to the Dutch Republic (1766). The piece have been composed in honour of the installation of William V as stadtholder. In subsequent years, Graaf composes a number of chamber pieces including two sets of string quartets (respectively in 1776 and 1777 – then still a young genre), a concerto for six timpani, and a duet for two violinists playing one instrument: “Duo économique pour un violon à deux mains et deux archets” [Economical duet for a violin with two hands and two bows]. Both of the latter works were undated.
Graaf publishes a music theoretical primer on basso continuo: “Treatise on the nature of harmony in the basso continuo, as well as a lesson on a short and regular figured bass”.
Graaf retires and is replaced by the violinist Jean Malherbe.
On July 17, Graaf dies of a catarrh in The Hague.
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.
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