9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


“So ist denn dies der Tag”  The Erbhuldigung of Prince Elector Carl Heinrich of Mainz

Kathryn Welter

The city of Erfurt, long known for its university, its intellectual life, and its strong musical traditions within its Catholic and Protestant churches, also claims fame for its position as an outpost of the bishopric of Mainz in the early modern period. Histories of the city, particularly those of Byer, Biereye, and Werner deal admirably with a variety of topics, however, the musical history of the city is shortchanged. To date we know very little about documented musical events and civic ceremonies that took place in this famous Thuringian city. The documents recording the 1679 Erbhuldigung, or ceremony of homage, in Erfurt to the newly-appointed Prince Elector, Carl Heinrich of Mainz thus provide an important historical description of civic ceremony, give clues to musical performance practice of the period, and provide evidence of what may be the first notated composition of Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706), “So ist denn dies der Tag.”

In his first year as organist at the Predigerkirche, Erfurt’s principal Protestant church, Pachelbel was selected for the prestigious honor of composing for the Erbhuldigung. The extant documents describing the event include speeches, descriptions of the event, two engraved prints picturing the indoor and outdoor ceremonies, and the texts and music to two songs of homage, both by Pachelbel The paper examines the iconographical evidence of the event, both pictorial and documentary, using this evidence to describe the performance practice required for such celebrations. In addition, it places the Pachelbel arias in the context of a mid-seventeenth-century German song tradition characterized particularly by a group of Nuremberg composers. The use of concertato style, instrumentally-conceived melodies, and simple harmonies evident in the Erbhuldigung arias is indicative of Pachelbel’s aria composition style in general.

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Last updated on 22 March 2000 by Yo Tomita