„I had frequently been told, that the Bohemians were the most musical among all the nations.” Charles Burney (1773)
Yesterday, we finished recording a new CD with organ music from Bohemia, played on historical organs from the Egerland region. Not many people nowadays are familiar with the former kingdom of Bohemia, once part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, which in 1918 became part of Czechoslovakia, now Czechia. Due to my Bohemian family roots - my grandfather was born near Falkenau/Sokolov - I became increasingly interested in the musical legacy of the Egerland region. Both the quantity and quality of music manuscripts and historical organs I managed to discover was just breathtaking, so the idea of making a CD recording was born.
During the past three days, we recorded in St Anna's Church in Plan/Planá, CZ (organ built by Johann Leopold Burkhardt in 1730, II/15), Holy Trinity Church in Kappl, DE (organ built by Johann Franz Fassmann, David Schmied, Hans Adam Pleyer und Leopold Goll, 1734-38, II/12) and in St Nicholas' Church in Eger/Cheb, Czechia (organ by Martin Zaus, 1894, III/45).
A number of excellent composers were either born in the Egerland region, worked there or had otherwise professional links with West Bohemia. One of the most international Egerland musicians and composers was Franz Johann Habermann (* 1706 in Königswart/Kynžvart; † 1783 in Eger/Cheb). Habermann led a busy musical life, working in Italy, France, Spain and Prague before accepting the post of Regens Chori at St Nicolas' Church in Eger/Cheb. His compositional output was highly valued by none other than George Friedrich Handel, who copied out a number of Habermann's works by hand (Handel's copies are now at the "Bodleian Library", Oxford). A number of Habermann's works even ended up in Handel's own oeuvre - a common practice in those days - earning Habermann the title "Bohemian Handel".
Other composers featuring on the CD are Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (*1656? in Schönfeld/Krásno; † 1746 in Rastatt), whose Ariadne Musica (a collection of keyboard pieces) served the young Johann Sebastian Bach as a source of inspiration for his own collection, the Well-Tempered Clavier, as well as improvisations on works by Renaissance composers Johann Hagius (* 1530; † 1575) and Jobst vom Brandt (* 1517; † 1570). The CD is due to come out at the end of October 2017 and will be available on the Ambiente label, Germany. www.ambiente-audio.de