Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Arne Spohr (Musikhochschule Köln, Germany)

… there is nobody who excels him”: the Anglo-German lutenist Christian Brade

The lutenist Christian Brade (fl.1619 – 1658) was one of the many English musicians who spent much of their professional careers on the continent during the late 16th and the early 17th centuries. He is one of the lesser-known figures among these English musicians abroad and is mostly mentioned in connection with his father, the violist and composer William Brade, with whom he shared several appointments at courts in Northern Germany and Denmark.

The present paper takes a closer look at the surviving archival documents relating to Christian Brade, some of which have as yet remained unnoticed by musicologists. They merit attention for several reasons: firstly, they reveal that he was a sought-after lutenist who was considered one of the best in Germany in the 1620s. This is evident from letters that were exchanged between Duke Friedrich III of Schleswig Holstein-Gottorf and Margrave Christian Wilhelm of Brandenburg. Secondly, much of the archival material contains valuable information on instrumental performance practice and living conditions of the English musicians abroad.

The paper surveys these documents, placing them in the context of Christian Brade’s own professional biography as well as the social history of musicians working in Germany at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War. I argue that, in view of this evidence, Christian Brade’s role in the German instrumental music of his time needs to be reconsidered.

Last updated on 10 May 2004