Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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Österreich, Georg

(b Magdeburg, bap. 17 March 1664; d Wolfenbüttel, 6 June 1735). German music collector, singer and composer. The son of a brewer, he began his musical education with the Magdeburg Kantor Johann Scheffler, spent two years (1678–80) at the Thomasschule in Leipzig under Johann Schelle and continued his studies at the Johanneum in Hamburg. There he began his professional career as alto and later tenor soloist in the city's Kantorei, interrupted by a year at the university in Leipzig (1683–4). From 1686 to 1689 he worked as a tenor at the court in Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; during this time he lived with the Kapellmeister Johann Theile, receiving lessons in composition from him and in singing from the two Italian castratos in residence at the court. He himself became Kapellmeister in 1689 to Duke Christian Albrecht of Schleswig-Holstein and moved to Gottorf Castle with his new bride, Magdalena Darnedden, daughter of a Brunswick brewer.

Music flourished at Gottorf under Österreich until the death of Christian Albrecht in 1694, whereupon many musicians were dismissed by his successor, Frederick IV. Österreich took a temporary position as Kapellmeister in Coburg (1695–7) but returned to Gottorf when the duke promised to employ more musicians. After Frederick's death in battle in 1702, however, he moved to Brunswick, living off the income from the brewery inherited from his father-in-law. He soon became involved again at the court in Wolfenbüttel as opera singer, singing teacher, acting Kapellmeister in Georg Schürmann's absence and eventually (?1724) court Kantor, the position he held until his death. His daughter Sophie Amalia (bap. Brunswick, 20 June 1696) was a singer in Wolfenbüttel until her marriage on 18 October 1729; the biographical information given by Walther must have been supplied immediately before this event.

At least 47 compositions by Österreich survive, of which 28 are sacred and 19 secular. A further 13 sacred works in a manuscript attributed to Georg's brother Michael (b Magdeburg, 4 Oct 1658) may also be by Georg – one piece in the manuscript names Georg as the composer, whilst another exists in a variant version ascribed to him. Österreich's sacred works contain examples of all the principal forms and styles of German sacred music at the close of the 17th century. The earliest date from his first period at the court of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, including two Psalm settings in Latin, but most come from his period as Kapellmeister at Gottorf (and briefly at Coburg) between 1689 and 1702. Some are settings of single texts, taken from the Bible (Wir haben nicht einen Hohen Priester), some set contemporary poetry (Wie eilstu edler Geist, a sacred ode by the poet, composer and physician Johann Phillip Förtsch) or chorales (Herr Jesu Christ mein Lebens Licht), whilst others show the characteristic amalgamation of complementary texts found in much Lutheran church music of this period. The latter include Aller Augen warten auf dich (which follows the order biblical verse–aria–chorale–biblical verse, repeated) and extended multi-sectional works such as Alle Menschen müssen sterben. Several developments may be noted in the compositions dating from the mid-1690s onwards including the increasing prominence of the trio of two oboes and bassoon, the use of all violins in unison, the tendency towards distinct formal sections (including non-strophic aria movements with obbligato instruments), the use of extended fugal sections for chorus and the occasional appearance of secco recitative. Notable features of the works include the vivid portrayal of biblical scenes and references, such as the setting of ‘Tue ein Zeichen’ in Weise mir Herr deinen Weg, employing unison strings and dramatic pauses, and the depiction of the valley of the shadow of death in Alle Menschen müssen sterben, set for two bassoons, two basses and continuo. For the extended funeral motet on the death of his employer Frederick IV in 1702, Plötzlich müssen die Leute sterben, Österreich employed an unusually large continuo section including a ‘Violono maggiore’ and a ‘Contra Fagott’, the latter being possibly the earliest documented use of this instrument in a sacred work.

At least eight of Österreich's secular works date from his years at Gottorf and Coburg, and their style is closely related to that of the sacred music of the same period. The compositions include birthday odes and other occasional works, including the cantata Entweiche Sorgennacht which appears to celebrate the marriage in 1695 of Princess Sophia Amalia of Schleswig-Holstein (after whom Österreich may have named his own daughter) with August Wilhelm of Brunswick, a union that had an obvious parallel in Österreich's own career. Only two secular works date from his first years back at the court of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel after 1702, and one of these, Durch Klippen, Berg und Stein, re-uses material from Entweiche Sorgennacht. Most of the later secular works date from after 1717, including four cantatas for New Year's Day. Many are written for soprano solo and may have been intended for performance by his daughter (who is cited as the composer as well as the performer of the 1717 cantata for New Year's Day). These later cantatas show the clear distinction between arias (da capo) and recitative (secco) that was by then standard in secular vocal music composed under Italian influence (although one da capo aria with the final section written out in full can be found in three different secular works from the 1690s, the earliest of which is Gläntze du erwünschtes Licht dating from 1695). Italian music and musicians were an established feature of court life at Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, which Österreich had already experienced in the late 1680s. Similarities exist between the style of the late cantatas and the corresponding output of Österreich's colleague at the court, Georg Schürmann.

Österreich is primarily important not as a composer, however, but as the original assembler and main copyist of the ‘Bokemeyer’ collection of manuscripts, one of the two main sources of German Protestant vocal music of the later 17th century (the other being the slightly earlier collection of Gustav Düben). Although a considerable quantity of material has been lost, the collection still contains over 1800 compositions by German and Italian composers, mostly in score, and 24 theoretical treatises. Like Österreich's own compositions the collection reflects a shift in interest during his career from sacred to secular music. Over half the collection consists of sacred music and appears to have been assembled before Österreich's departure from Gottorf in 1702, whilst the second part of the collection dates from his return to Wolfenbüttel and consists principally of secular cantatas. Although music by Italian composers forms a substantial portion of the earlier part of the collection (some 237 sacred works survive attributed to named Italian composers), the later segment is overwhelmingly Italian in origin, consisting principally of cantatas and arias. Many of Österreich's copies are unica, including three acts of Albinoni's opera Engelberta, five cantatas by Alessandro Scarlatti, three sacred concertos by Buxtehude, and many of the compositions by other north German composers such as Georg Böhm, Nicolas Bruhns and Vincent Lübeck. His collection of treatises includes copies of theoretical works by Carissimi, Johann Theile and Christoph Bernhard, as well as one of his own, Aufsatz von den gedoppelten Contrapuncten (MS, D-Bsb), by his own admission a compendium of other theorists' ideas. Österreich sold his collection in 1718 to his friend and former student Heinrich Bokemeyer, who added further material. The collection is now housed in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in Berlin.


(in D-Bsb, mostly autograph)


Ach Herr wie sind meiner Feinde, 1699, T, tpt, 3 str, bn, bc; Alle Menschen müssen sterben, 1701, motetto concertato, SATBB, 3 ob, 4 str, 2 bn, bc; Aller Augen warten auf dich, concerto, SATB, 4 str, bc; Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand, SSATB, 4 str, bc; Dixit Dominus, motetto concertato, STB, 3 str, 2 ob, bc; Du Tochter Zion freue dich, 1689, SATB, 5 str, bc; Fahr hin o Welt, SATB, 4 str, bc; Freue dich sehr o meine Seele, 1697, motetto concertato, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Gottes Ruhm muss stets erschallen, aria, S, vn, ob, bc; Herr Jesu Christ, 1704, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Herr Jesu Christ mein Lebens Licht, 1698, corale concertato, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Ich bin die Auferstehung, 1704, motetto concertato, SSAATTBB, 2 ob, 2 fl, 4 str, bn, bc; Ich habe einen guten Kampf gekämpfet, SATB, 3 str, bc; Ich weiss dass mein Erlöser, 1690, T, 4 str, bc; Ich will den Herren loben, 1688, SATB, 4 str, bc

Laetatus sum in his, 1687, ATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Levavi oculos meos, 1688, SATB, 5 str, bc; Plötzlich müssen die Leute sterben, 1702, actus funebrus, SSATBB, 2 vn, 2 ob, 3 str, violono maggiore, bn, contrafagotto, bc; Ruhe sanft in Gottes Hand, 1701, aria, SATB, 3 str, bc; Seelig sind die Todten, SSATB, 4 str, bc; Sie ist fest gegründet, 1691, SSATB, 5 str, bc; Und Jesus ging aus von dannen, 1693, dialogo, SSATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Unser keiner lebet ihn selber, SSATB, 4 str, 2 fl, bn, bc; Unser Leben wäret siebenzig Jahr, SSATTBB, 10 str, bn, bc [wrongly attrib. J.P. Förtsch]; Valet will ich dir geben, corale, SATB, 3 str, bn, bc; Weise mir Herr deinen Weg, 1695, motetto concertato, SATB, 2 ob, 2 vn, 3 str, bc; Wie eilstu edler Geist, 1694, ode, SSATB, 4 str, 2 ob, bc; Wir haben nicht einen Hohen Priester, 1695, motetto concertato, SSATTBB, 6 str, bn, bc

Attrib. Michael Österreich, possibly by Georg: Ach bleib bei unss, 1693, ATB, 3 str, bn, bc; Das Wort ward Fleisch, 1694, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Des Menschen Sohn wird seine Engel senden, 1693, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Es ist hier kein Unterschied, 1693, ATB, 3 str, bn, bc; Et cum spiritu tuo, SATB; Ich habe einen guten Kampf gekämpfet, concerto, ATB, 4 str, bc; San, 1691, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; San, 1692, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; San, 1693, SSATB, 2 tpt, 4 str, bn, bc; San, 1694, SSATB, 2 tpt, 4 str, bn, bc; Sende dein Licht und deine Wahrheit, 1690, TTB, 3 str, bn, bc; Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel, 1693, SSAT, 4 str, bn, bc; Zweyerley bitt ich von dir, 1690, SSB, 4 str, bc

3 works of uncertain attribution, see Kümmerling


Die Schönheit die ein Hertz, cant., S, ob, 3 str, bc; Durch Klippen, Berg und Stein, 1711, S, 2 ob/fl/vn, va, bn, bc; Entweiche Sorgennacht, ?1695, S, 3 str, bn, bc; Erklähret Euch ihr Gottheits schwangern Blicke, cant., S, bc; Frohlocket ihr getreuen, 1719, cant., S, 2 vn, 2 ob, va, vc, bc; Gläntze du erwünschtes Licht, 1695, aria, S, 3 viols, bc; Gnädigste Fürstin, der Cimber Vergnügen, 1694, ode, T, 4 ob, 5 str, bn, bc; Ist wohl dein Helden Mut, 1697, duett, TT, b viol; Meine Sonn ist gantz verschwunden, cant., S, 3 str, bn, bc

O du hochdurchleucht'ges Paar, Taffel-Music, 1693, SSATB, 4 str, bc; O höchst beglückte Tages Blicke, 1717, S, 2 ob, 3 str, bc [for New Year's Day; possibly by S. A. Österreich]; Seelge Fürstin ruhe wohl, SATB, 3 viols, bc; So müss demnach die Zeit verschwinden, 1718, cant., S, 2 vn, 2 ob, va, bc; Verknüpftes Götter Paar, 1698, S, tpt, ob, 3 str, bn, bc; Welt gepriesnes Fürsten-Kind, 1711, SS, 4 str, bc; Wenn heute Land und Lufft erschallen, 1721, cant., S, 2 ob, 3 str, 2 bn, bc; Wie kömbt es doch dass Phöbus, 1695, SATB, 4 str, bn, bc; Wie süss ist es geliebt zu sein, cant., S, 2 ob, vc, bc; Zeige dich erwünschtes Licht, 1698, ode, S, 3 viols, bc



A. Soltys: ‘Georg Oesterreich (1664–1735): sein Leben und seine Werke’, AMw, iv (1922), 169–240

F. Krummacher: Die Überlieferung der Choralbearbeitungen in der frühen evangelischen Kantate (Berlin, 1965)

H. Kümmerling: Katalog der Sammlung Bokemeyer (Kassel, 1970) [incl. complete list of works]

G. Webber: North German Church Music in the Age of Buxtehude (Oxford, 1996)

P. Wollny: ‘Zwischen Hamburg, Gottorf und Wolfenbüttel: neue Ermittlungen zur Enstehung der “Sammlung Bokemeyer”’, Schütz Jb, xx (1998), 59–76


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