Carl Heinrich Graun – Montezuma
(b. Wahrenbrück, 1704/1705 – d. Berlin, 8 August 1759)
Opera in three acts
Frederick the Great succeeded impressively in justifying his own politics in advance and bringing them to the stage in an artistically entertaining way with his libretto for the Italian Baroque opera “Montezuma” by the composer Carl Heinrich Graun.
The composer and singer (tenor) Carl Heinrich Graun was born between August 9, 1704, and August 7, 1705, in Wahrenbrück (Brandenburg); he was the son of August Graun, a general acolyte, and his wife Anna Margareta, born Schneider. His date of birth cannot be determined precisely due to the loss of the Wahrenbrück church records. The boy attended the Dresden Kreuzschule from 1714 and received his vocal training from ‘Kreuzkantor’ Johann Zacharias Grundig and organist Emanuel Benisch. His teacher for keyboard instruments was the organist and composer Christian Petzold, and for composition and presumably also string instruments the Court Kapellmeister Johann Christoph Schmid. In 1724 Graun was appointed tenor to succeed Johann Adolph Hasse at the Court in Brunswick, in addition to holding the post of Vice-Kapellmeister at the opera house on Hagenmarkt. In 1725, he began his career as a soloist at the Brunswick Opera. In 1726/27 he composed his first two German-language operas “Polydorus” and “Sancio und Sinilde”. His opera “Lo specchio della fedeltá” was created in 1733 for the wedding of Crown Prince Friedrich to Princess Elisabeth Christine, and as a sign of gratitude, Graun was appointed Vice-Kapellmeister in the chapel of the Prussian Crown Prince and later King Frederick the Great in 1735. With the crowning of Friedrich the Great, Graun was appointed Conductor. He developed Damenization, a chromatic syllabic system that replaced solmization. Among his pupils were Friedrich the Great, Franz Benda and Johann Philipp Kirnberger. Graun died in Berlin on August 8, 1759. The Graun catalog of works records 152 compositions, including 32 operas, 52 secular cantatas, 26 secular songs, four passions and 10 trios. An exhibition on the life and work of the Graun brothers can be seen in the district museum in Bad Liebenwerda, and the Gebrüder-Graun-Prize is also awarded.1 To this day, the Graun-Gesellschaft Wahrenbrück e.V. exists, dedicated to the work and life of Graun. …
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