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Gottfried Heinrich Stolzel

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Biography

Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (13 January 1690 in Grünstädtel – 27 November 1749 in Gotha) was a prolific German baroque composer.

Stölzel grew up in Schwarzenberg, Saxony in the Erzgebirge. From 1707 he was a student of theology in Leipzig, and of Melchior Hoffmann, the musical director of the Neukirche. He studied, worked and composed in Wrocław and Halle. Then an eighteen-month sojourn in Italy from 1713 — where he met Antonio Vivaldi in Venice — rendered him au courant with the latest musical taste. After working for three years in Prague, he became briefly court Kapellmeister in Bayreuth and Gera. Then in 1719 he married, and the next year took up an appointment in Gotha, where he worked until his death for the dukes Frederick II and Frederick III of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, composing a cantata each week.

From 1730 the Kapellmeister of the court at Gotha also wrote for Sondershausen. Stölzel supplied numerous festive occasional pieces and arias for court performance; the archive at Schloss Sondershausen retains many of his manuscripts, found in a box behind the organ in 1870. Half of Stölzel’s output, never engraved, is lost. Stölzel’s immediate successor at the court in Gotha, Georg Benda, bears most of the responsibility in losing many of Stölzel’s works. In 1778 Benda wrote: “… Only the best works of my predecessor, which could be used even today for church music, are saved, because already a long time ago I separated them from useless junk and kept them in my own house.

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