Composer Quarters

Written January 12, 2019

In early December 2018, I had the opportunity to travel to Hamburg. While in Germany, I didn’t do much but to explore the the historic town and dig for records. Hamburg is home to the grand concert hall Elbphilharmonie, which I did not get a chance to visit. I did hear that there was a great view of the harbor from atop the roof. Hamburg paved the way for bands like The Beatles early on in their career and prolific composers like Brahms and Mahler.

I was curious and found out that Hamburg has an area in town close called the Composers Quarters and here is my experience.

They call it six museums in one but in reality they it’s 2 museums featuring 6 or 7 composers including Georg Philipp Telemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Adolf Hasse, Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler.

Starting in the late 16th century and 17th century, many of these composers were responsible for the music that were heard in several of the churches around Hamburg. Brahms gained international fame outside of Hamburg, but the city pays much tribute to him as it was his home town and made him an Honorary citizen. Brahms was also baptized at St. Micheal’s church and one of the most beautiful baroque style churches in Hamburg. I recommend stopping there to take a look at the architecture, statues and the crypt in the basement where Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s grave remains.

Out of all these composers, I found Teleman the most interesting as he was not only a composer and a director of music for Hamburg, but a publisher and entrepreneur. Geared towards the middle class, he had his own Newsletters/journals that were published and sent around Europe of his original compositions. Some of his subscribers were students around the world learning from his Self published works. He gained a subscription fan base and would always keep the readers wanting more in the next issue. Teleman also used this technique in another published journaled called Musique De Table to foreshadow sales of his original works. He had 206 pre orders for one piece of work prior to publishing, which was a lot spanning all across Europe. Subscribers were mentioned in the masthead and came from Russia, Portugal, Paris, Spain and cities in Germany.

The museum was very informative and interactive but very long and lots of reading. If you do decide to check out the composers quarters, be ready to listen to lots of full length audio, iPad animations and replicas of original printed works. The museum is for those who are highly curious about the relationship between composers and the city of Hamburg and is recommended to those who are classical and baroque music lovers. The workers at the museum are highly educated in all the composers and speak many different languages that will guide you through your experience.

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