Personalities | Carl Heinrich Graun | Classical Era | Classical

(Kârl Hin’-rikh Groun) 1703/4–59
German composer

Graun worked in the opera at Dresden and then at Brunswick (where he wrote six operas), before becoming Kapellmeister in 1735 to Frederick, the Prussian prince. He was promoted to royal Kapellmeister when Frederick (who later acquired the title ‘the Great’) acceded in 1740. Graun was put in charge of the new Berlin court opera, for which he wrote 26 works (some, including the admired Montezuma, 1755, have librettos by Frederick himself, who was a great lover and patron of music). Graun was particularly admired for his intense, richly inventive Passion, Der Tod Jesu (‘The Death of Jesus’, 1755). His brother Johann Gottlieb (1702/3–1771), Konzertmeister at the Berlin opera, was also a prolific and gifted instrumental composer.

Recommended Recording:
Cesare e Cleopatra, RIAS Chamber Orchestra, Concerto Köln (cond) René Jacobs (Harmonia Mundi)

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