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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Musical Dilettante? Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1739- 1807), Composer at the Weimar Court
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: August 2012
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: NUI, Maynooth
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): c.100
Approx. Word Count: c.18,000
Thesis Location / Link: NUI Maynooth
Persons / Composers: Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1739-1807)
Genres / Musical Instruments: German Singspiel, German Opera
Related Institutions: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Germany
Related Places: Weimar, Germay
Time Frame: 1750-1820
Key Issues / Concepts: Dilettantism, Music and Gender, Alternative Music Histories
Abstract: Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1739-1807) played a pivotal role in the
establishment and development of the Weimar Court as a centre of artistic activity, known
as the ‘Weimar Musenhof’. While the period known as ‘Weimar Classicism’ is
synonymous with literary developments during the ‘Goethezeit’, Anna Amalia’s main
interest, both personally and in relation to courtly life was in music. She was the first
women to compose German opera and in close collaboration with Johann Wolfgang von
Goethe and as patron for librettists and singspiel composers she furthered the development
of music theatrical life during the late eighteenth century in Germany. Despite having
transcended musical and gender expectations during her lifetime she was considered a
musical amateur or dilettante; in line with the understanding of roles of women during the
classical era, female musical activity and creativity was then regarded as dilettantish.
This study sets out to illuminate and contextualize Anna Amalia’s achievement as a
composer and her influence on musical life at the Weimar Court, with the aim to broaden
her reception as a female musician of the late eighteenth century in present musicology.
Anna Amalia has occupied a marginal position both as a composer and as subject of
enquiry in music scholarship. Existing research by German music scholars validates
further enquiry into Anna Amalia as musical figure of the eighteenth century and inclusion
in international musicology. This thesis offers new perspectives to music and gender
studies and examines German language primary and secondary sources that have not been
available in translation to music scholars, aimed to identify possible limitations
encountered by music scholars in the English and German speaking worlds in examining
Anna Amalia’s musical legacy.

Contact Details

Current Institution Affiliation: NUI Maynooth
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