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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: March 2014

4 - Goethe's Hauskapelle and Sacred Choral Music

from Part I - The Ghosts of Goethe's Past

Summary

In 1807 Goethe formed a small chamber choir in Weimar, which he referred to on occasion as his “Singschule” (singing school), “Singechor” (singing choir), or “Singstunden” (singing class); in his diary he would often simply write that he spent time with “die Sänger” (the singers). Thanking Bettine Brentano for a packet of music she had sent him, he called the choir “meine kleine Hauscapelle” (my little chamber group) in a 24 February 1808 letter to her, and with irony he called the choir “meine kompendiose Hauskapelle” (my compendious chamber group) in a 22 April 1814 letter to his friend and musical advisor Carl Friedrich Zelter (MA 20.1:343). Years later in the Tag- und Jahreshefte he once again and more seriously referred to it as his “Hauskapelle” as he recalled its most successful season, 1810-11.

That the name recalls an earlier Hauskapelle, which Goethe created in the fictive world of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, is not accidental:

Serlo, ohne selbst Genie zur Musik zu haben, oder irgend ein Instrument zu spielen, wußte ihren hohen Wert zu schätzen; er suchte sich so oft als möglich diesen Genuß, der mit keinem andern verglichen werden kann, zu verschaffen. Er hatte wöchentlich einmal Konzert, und nun hatte sich ihm durch Mignon, den Harfenspieler und Laertes, der auf der Violine nicht ungeschickt war, eine wunderliche kleine Hauskapelle gebildet.

(MA 5:282)