Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music



First Advisor

Ellen Exner


This study of Carl Friedrich Zelter’s Kantate auf den Tod Friedrichs marks the first scholarly and musical exploration of the piece since the eighteenth century. A handcopied score of the cantata was converted into modern notation in 2009 using the program Sibelius. This version of the score, as well as instrumental parts, was used for the lecture-recital that grew from the study of this work. The manuscript’s present-day owner, Renate de La Trobe of Hamburg, Germany, granted access to a fair copy of the original score with a dedication in Zelter’s own hand. A member of Mrs. de La Trobe’s family received a copy of the score from Zelter himself in the eighteenth century.

Carl Friedrich Zelter was a German composer, conductor, and pedagogue who spent his entire life in the city of Berlin and played a central role in shaping public musical life in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Kantate auf den Tod Friedrichs represents a pivotal moment in Zelter’s life. Prior to the funeral cantata’s composition, Zelter’s father had no enthusiasm about his son’s artistic pursuits; a relationship oddly parallel with that of Frederick the Great and his father, but less violent. Kantate auf den Tod Friedrichs may not have received the acclaim Zelter had hoped for at the time of its premiere in 1786, but it found favor with his father, who counted Frederick as his greatest hero. Georg Zelter did not live to hear his son’s speech at the 1809 commemoration of Frederick’s death, but the pride, passion, and love that Carl Friedrich Zelter poured into his cantata most definitely convinced Georg that his son’s musical talents were put to productive use.

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Music Commons