Joseph Martin Kraus

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Joseph Martin Kraus as a student in Erfurt with the Amicist order on his lapel.

Joseph Martin Kraus , the Odenwälder Mozart (born June 20, 1756 in Miltenberg , † December 15, 1792 in Stockholm ), was a German - Swedish composer of the classical period , Kapellmeister at the court of the Swedish King Gustav III. and director of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music .


Birthplace in Miltenberg
Monument in the birth town of Miltenberg

Joseph Martin Kraus, son of the Electorate of Mainz, Joseph Bernhard Kraus and Anna Dorothea born. Schmidt was born in Miltenberg . He spent the first three years of his life in Amorbach , where his father was initially a town clerk. In 1761, after a short time in Osterburken , the family moved to Buchen (Odenwald) , where the father was given the position of the Electoral Mainz office . Even as a pupil, Joseph Martin Kraus showed a clear musical talent, which was promoted by the rector of the Buchen Latin School, Georg Joseph Pfister (1730–1807), and the cantor Bernhard Franz Wendler (1702–1782). In 1768 Joseph Martin Kraus came to Mannheim , where he attended the Jesuit grammar school and the music seminar and, in particular, enjoyed a good education in music from Fathers Alexander Keck (1724–1804) and Anton Klein (1748–1810).

In early 1773 Kraus began - probably at the request of his father - to study law at the University of Mainz . In the same year he moved to the University of Erfurt to continue his studies there. During his studies he also dealt intensively with music. In November 1775 he had to interrupt his studies for a year because of a libel case against his father. During this time he wrote the Tolon , a tragedy in three acts, and he composed church music works such as a Requiem , a Te Deum , two oratorios ( The Birth of Jesus and The Death of Jesus ) and the motet Fracto Demum Sacramento .

Silhouette of Joseph Martin Kraus from his time in Göttingen
Trunzerhaus , former official cellar in Buchen (Odenwald)

Following this break, Kraus continued his law studies at the University of Göttingen in 1776/1777 . At the same time he wrote poems, dramas and other oratorios in the context of the Göttingen Hainbund .

The contacts with his Swedish fellow student Carl Stridsberg moved him to go to Sweden. He left Göttingen on April 26, 1778 and arrived in Stockholm on June 3, 1778 . In the meantime, his pamphlet Something from and about Music was published in Frankfurt am Main : for the year 1777 , the only verifiable music- aesthetic treatise by Sturm und Drang .

In Sweden it took some time before Kraus could show his first successes. At first he lived in poverty and often had to ask his parents for support. It wasn't until the world premiere of the opera Proserpine in 1781 that he achieved his breakthrough. Kraus was appointed second court conductor, received from the Swedish King Gustav III. an annual salary of 300 ducats and was sent on a journey through Europe on October 7, 1782 to get to know the European theaters. On this trip, which took him via Dresden , Leipzig , Erfurt , Würzburg and Regensburg with a detour to his parents in Vienna , he met among others Roman Hofstetter , Kaiser Joseph II , Joseph Haydn , Christoph Willibald Gluck and Antonio Salieri , Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Prince Nikolaus Esterházy know. This is where the main part of his chamber music and symphonic works was created. Kraus' first compositional publication, the six string quartets Op. 1, the Gustav III. were published in 1784 by the publisher Johann Julius Hummel (Berlin / Amsterdam). In them, Kraus intensely, sometimes ironically and deconstructively, deals with the genre shaped by Haydn. Some symphonies, which were performed at the courts in Regensburg or Esterháza , among others, appeared under other names in collective prints from Paris in 1787 and 1788, while others were handwritten throughout Europe by the Viennese publisher and copyist Johann Traeg .

On the onward journey via Trieste and Venice to Bologna , the composer Giovanni Battista Martini had the artist Antonio Pomarolli make his portrait . Together with King Gustav III, with whom he met on the way, he traveled to Rome to see Pope Pius VI. further. Via Naples he reached Paris , where he stayed for two years. After a detour to London , where he attended the Handel "Commemoration" celebrations, he met his parents and siblings for the last time in August 1786 before returning to Stockholm.

In Sweden, where he was appointed “Ordinarie Capellmästare” and director of the Royal Academy of Music in 1787, his duties included the reorganization of music and theater in addition to composing new works. In his collection of songs, Fredmans epistlar , published in 1790, Carl Michael Bellman dedicated Epistle No. 75 ( Skratta mina barn och vänner ) to Kraus .

The grave of Joseph Martin Kraus at Brunnsviken , Sweden

On March 16, 1792 was on Gustav III. carried out an assassination attempt during a masked ball in Kraus' presence, as a result of which the king was critically injured and died a few days later. Kraus' last works include the funeral symphony and the funeral cantata, which were written on the occasion of the funeral for Gustav III. were listed. With several arias, ensembles, choirs and two extensive instrumental movements, performed by 104 participants, it forms one of the most comprehensive funeral music of the time.

Kraus is said to have been so shocked by the death of "his" king that, after he had written and premiered the Symphonie funèbre , already seriously ill , he could no longer recover from this exertion. On December 15, 1792, he died in Stockholm of tuberculosis , which he had suffered from since his student days. Kraus' remains are buried on the Tivoli Peninsula by Lake Brunnsviken north of Stockholm. In 1846 a grave monument was erected there with the inscription: Här det jordiska af Kraus, det himmelska levfer i hans toner ("Here [lies] the earthly of Kraus, the heavenly lives in its sounds").

Work (overview)

The compositional oeuvre of Joseph Martin Kraus includes, in addition to early church music and the motet Stella Coeli , composed in Amorbach in 1783 , a series of operas , stage and ballet music, songs , arias and cantatas in German, Swedish, Italian and French, and symphonies and chamber music works. The catalog raisonné compiled by Bertil van Boer in the 1980s (updated and renumbered in 1998) comprises more than 200 numbers.

Compositional work

Spiritual works

  • Requiem in D minor (1775) VB 1
  • Anniversary Mass for Father Alexander Keck (missing) VB 2
  • Requiem for Joseph II (lost) VB 3
  • Miserere in C minor VB 4
  • Parvum quando in D major VB 5
  • Te Deum in D major (1776) VB 6
  • Fracto demum sacramento , motet in D major VB 7
  • Proh parvule , soprano aria in C major VB 8
  • Mot en alsvädig magt , bass aria in E flat major VB 9
  • Stella Coeli , Motet in C major (1783) VB 10
  • In te Domine speravi , choir in E flat major (1785–1786) VB 11
  • Miserere (with Roman Hoffstetter) (lost)
  • Miserere nostri (1788) VB 13
  • Motet fragment in D major VB 14
  • Com! Din herdestaf att bära (“Come to carry your shepherd's staff”) (1790) VB 15
  • The birth of Jesus (lost) VB 16
  • The Death of Jesus , Oratorio (1776) VB 17
  • Five chorale preludes for organ VB 197

Operas, scenic arias and drama music

  • Le bon seigneur incidental music, VB 25
  • Listen to mina ömma suckar , aria from Visit-timman (1787) VB 26
  • Amphitryon , Intermezzi zu Molière's Comedy (1784) VB 27
  • Flintberg's bröllop couplet (1787) VB 28
  • Du liv vars oskuldsfulla blick , aria from De mexikanska systrarna (1789) VB 30
  • Äfventyraren eller Resan till månens ö (1791) VB 32
  • Olympie incidental music to Johan Henric Kellgren's tragedy, (1792) VB 33
  • Festspel för hertig Carl af Södermanland (1791) "Må sveafolk din tacksamhet" VB 34
  • Oedipe , choirs, VB 35

Ballet music


Digitization of a manuscript from around 1800, Lübeck City Library
  • La Scusa (1777) VB 43
  • La Pesca (1779) VB 44
  • The frid ett menlöst hjerta njuter (1782) VB 45
  • La Gelosia (1780) VB 46
  • La Primavera (1790) VB 47

Concert arias

  • Cantata for the birthday of Gustav III. (1782) VB 41
  • La Scusa (1777) VB 43
  • La Pesca (1779) VB 44
  • The frid ett menlöst hjerta njuter (1782) VB 45
  • La Gelosia (1780) VB 46
  • La Primavera (1790) VB 47
  • Non più fra sassi algosi in E major (1780) VB 48
  • In te spero, o sposa amata in B flat major (1782) VB 49
  • T'intendo, si mio cor in E flat major (1781) VB 50
  • Conservati fedele in G major (1782) VB 51
  • Misero pargoletto in F minor VB 54
  • Sentimi, non partir… Al mio bene in E flat major VB 55
  • Innocente donzelletta in B flat major VB 56
  • Aure belle, che spirate , Konsertaria in C major VB 57
  • Du temps qui detruit tout in G major VB 58
  • Ch'io mai vi possa in C major VB 59
  • Del destin non vi lagnate A major VB 60
  • Ch'io parta? M'accheto in F major (1787) VB 61
  • Se non ti moro al lato in E flat major VB 62
  • Ma, tu tremi in E flat major VB 63
  • Non temer, non son piu amante in B flat major VB 64
  • Fermati!… Se tutti i mali miei in E flat major VB 65
  • Son pietosa e sono amante in F major VB 66
  • Fra l'ombre un lampo solo in F major VB 67
  • Carmen Biblicum VB 68
  • My mother has gense F major VB 69
  • Kör och canon VB 70
  • Aandes said Vestenvinde VB 71


  • Swiss round song in F major (1788) VB 72
  • Rheinweinlied VB 73
  • An - as him die - died in E flat major (1783) VB 74
  • To the source in E flat major (1783) VB 75
  • The world according to Rousseau VB 76
  • The hen VB 77
  • Hans and Hanne VB 78
  • To the Wind I VB 79
  • To the Wind in B flat major (1788) VB 80
  • I am a young German man in C major (1783) VB 81
  • I'm happy VB 82
  • Daphne am Bach VB 83
  • Phidile in C major (1783) VB 84
  • The rose ribbon in A major (1786) VB 85
  • Anselmuccio VB 86
  • To my girl in B flat major (1783) VB 87
  • The black Lizzie from Castile VB 88
  • The Nordic widow VB 89
  • A song about rain VB 90
  • The man in the armchair VB 91
  • The mother at the cradle VB 92
  • A lullaby: look at the cold night face VB 93
  • To the piano VB 94
  • Farewell VB 95
  • A lullaby (So ​​sleep now, you little one) (1783) VB 96
  • Health VB 97
  • Depuis longtemps (1786) VB 98
  • Dors mon enfant VB 99
  • Est on say VB 100
  • Point de tristesse (1786) VB 101
  • Sans Venus VB 102
  • Aan de lente (1786) VB 103
  • Conservati fedele (1788) VB 104
  • Notturno in G major VB 105
  • Si mio ben VB 106
  • L'istessa canzonetta alla calabrese VB 107
  • Ti sento sospiri (1788) VB 108
  • Bröder, se bålen (1789) VB 109
  • Elegie över ett barns död ( Carl Michael Bellman ) (1787) VB 111
  • Hvart hastar du VB 112
  • Stancer till Elias Martin VB 113
  • Mina Herrar, när ni skrinna (1787) VB 114
  • Öfver Mozart's död (1792) VB 115
  • Post riktigt öppnad blef VB 116
  • Se källan, se lunden VB 117
  • Yngling yarns VB 118
  • Atis and Camilla VB 119
  • Cantata on texts by Carl Michael Bellman (1792)
    • Fiskarstugan VB 123
    • Måltiden i fiskarstugan VB 124
    • Återfarten från fiskarstugan VB 125
  • The 24 januari 1792 VB 126
  • Mjölkkammaren på Haga (on Carl Michael Bellman's 52nd anniversary) VB 127

Symphonies and orchestral works

  • Symphony in A major (?) VB 128
  • Symphony "buffa" in F major (?) VB 129
  • Symphony in F major (?) VB 130
  • Symphony in C major (1780) VB 138 "Violino obligato"
  • Symphony in C major (1781) VB 139
  • Symphony in C sharp minor (1782) VB 140
  • Symphony in E minor (1783) VB 141
  • Symphony in C minor (1783) VB 142
  • Symphony in D major (?) VB 143
  • Symphony in E flat major (1783) VB 144
  • Symphony in F major (1786) VB 145
  • Symphony in D major (1789) VB 146 "Sinfonia per la chiesa"
  • Sinfonia di chiesa in D minor VB 147
  • Symphony in C minor (1792) VB 148 “ Symphonie funèbre ” (on the laying out of the murdered King Gustav III.)
  • Reichstag Music (1789, for the opening of the Swedish Reichstag) VB 154


  • Violin Consert in C major som inledning till Johann Georg Albrechtsberger's oratorio Die Pilgrime auf Golgatha , VB 151
  • Concerto for viola and cello in G major VB 153a
  • Viola Concerto in C major VB 153b
  • Viola Concerto in E flat major VB 153c


  • Violin Sonata scordatura in D minor (1777) VB 157
  • Sonata for flute and viola (1778) VB 158
  • Violin Sonata in D major (1782) VB 159
  • Violin Sonata in C major (1782) VB 160
  • Violin Sonata in E flat major (1785) VB 161

Piano works

  • Two new curious minuets , VB 190
  • Rondo in F major, VB 191
  • Svensk dans , VB 192
  • Scherzo con variazioni, VB 193
  • Larghetto, VB 194
  • Piano Sonata in E flat major (1784) VB 195
  • Piano Sonata in E major (1788) VB 196

String quartets

  • String quartet in F minor (1779) VB 178
  • String quartet in C minor (1780) VB 179
  • String quartet in E major VB 180, "Third Quartet"
  • String Quartet in B flat major op. 1,2 VB 181, "Viola Quartet"
  • String quartet in C major op. 1,5 VB 182, "Jagdquartett"
  • String Quartet in G minor (1782) op. 1,3 VB 183, "Fugue Quartet"
  • String Quartet in D major (1782) op. 1,4 VB 184, "Farewell Quartet"
  • String Quartet in A major (1782) op. 1,1 VB 185, "Göttinger Quartett"
  • String quartet in C major VB 186, "Spring Quartet"
  • String Quartet in G major op. 1.6 VB 187, "Scottish Quartet"

Further chamber music works

  • Flute Quintet in D major op. 7 VB 188, "Viennese Flute Quintet"


  1. Mass in E minor
  2. Entracte to Äfventyraren in A major
  3. Poeter Prisa Många Gånger in A major
  4. Lydia and Arist in E flat major
  5. Polonaise for orchestra in D major
  6. Symphony in D major
  7. 'Sigmaringer' Symphony No. 1 in A major (lost)
  8. 'Sigmaringer' Symphony No. 2 in G major (lost)
  9. 'Sigmaringer' Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (lost)
  10. 'Sigmaringer' Symphony No. 4 in C major (lost)
  11. 'Sigmaringer' Symphony No. 5 in D major (lost)
  12. Trumpet Concert (lost)
  13. Variations for trumpet and orchestra (lost)
  14. Trio for piano, flute and cello in C major
  15. Rondo Capriccio for piano in G major

Literary work

Kraus and Buchen

The city of Buchen (Odenwald) still honors its most famous son today . The local Joseph-Martin-Kraus-Musikschule, the Joseph-Martin-Kraus-Saal and the Joseph-Martin-Kraus-Platz with a fountain monument were named after him. The International Joseph Martin Kraus Society is based in Buchen. In the district museum, a memorial was set up in the Kraus family's former apartment. His younger sister Marianne Kraus became a painter and lady-in-waiting of Count Franz I of Erbach . Some of her pictures are exhibited in the museum.


  • “I have one of his symphonies from him, which I keep in memory of one of the greatest geniuses I have known. I only have this single work by him, but I know that he has also written other excellent things. "( Joseph Haydn on the C minor symphony)
  • "The man has a great style!" ( Christoph Willibald Gluck in conversation with Antonio Salieri about Kraus)
  • Gudalike Kraus - Divine Kraus! I heard funeral music that had only one flaw: it was so beautiful that while it was being played, I did not think of the funeral itself and not of Him Who was buried because of it. Forgive me for it, shadow of my king! You brought Kraus here yourself - now you can see the consequences. ” Carl Jonas Love Almquist in Drottningens juvelsmycke (1834)


  • Karl Friedrich Schreiber: Biography about the Odenwald composer Joseph Martin Kraus. Book 1928, new edition: Book 2006, ISBN 978-3-923699-26-1 .
  • Bertil H. van Boer: The works of Joseph Martin Kraus. Systematic-thematic catalog raisonné. Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, Stockholm 1988.
  • Bertil van Boer: Dramatic Cohesion in the Music of Joseph Martin Kraus. Lewiston 1989, ISBN 0-88946-440-5 . (= Studies in History and Interpretation of Music, Vol. 15)
  • Bertil van Boer (Ed.): Gustav III and the Swedish Stage. Opera, Theater, and Other Foibles. Lewiston 1993, ISBN 0-7734-9314-X . (= Studies in History and Interpretation of Music Number, Vol. 40.)
  • Bertil van Boer: The Operas of Joseph Martin Kraus. In: Gustavian Opera - Swedish Opera, Dance and Theater 1771–1809. Stockholm 1991, ISBN 91-85428-64-7 .
  • Bertil van Boer: Gustavian Opera: An Overview. In: Gustavian Opera - Swedish Opera, Dance and Theater 1771–1809. Stockholm 1991, ISBN 91-85428-64-7 .
  • Bertil van Boer: The Case of the Circumstantial Meeting: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Martin Kraus in Vienna. In: Eighteenth-Century Music. Cambridge 2004.
  • Walter M. Brod: The composer Joseph Martin Kraus (1756–1792) as a student in Erfurt, 1795. In: Einst und Jetzt, Vol. 30 (1985), pp. 149 ff.
  • Gerhard Kölsch: The "Portrait of a Musician" by Johann Georg Schütz - an unknown portrait of the composer Joseph Martin Kraus? In: Musik in Baden-Württemberg, Vol. 14. 2007, pp. 215–231.
  • Irmgard Leux-Henschen: Joseph Martin Kraus in his letters. Stockholm 1978.
  • Franz Menges:  Joseph Martin Kraus. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-00193-1 , p. 690 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Friedrich W. Riedel (Ed.): Joseph Martin Kraus in his time. Papers of the 2nd International Kraus Symposium in Buchen 1980. Munich / Salzburg 1982, ISBN 3-87397-504-1 .
  • Friedrich W. Riedel (Ed.): Joseph Martin Kraus and Italy. Contributions to the reception of Italian culture, art and music in the late 18th century. Munich / Salzburg 1987, ISBN 3-87397-507-6 .
  • Friedrich W. Riedel: Joseph Martin Kraus. A Swedish court conductor from Miltenberg. In: 750 years of the city of Miltenberg 1237–1987. Contributions to the history, economy and culture of a Franconian city. Miltenberg 1987.
  • Friedrich W. Riedel (Ed.): Spiritual life and spiritual music in the Franconian area at the end of the Old Kingdom. Investigations into church music by Joseph Martin Kraus and its spiritual and musical environment. Munich / Salzburg 1990, ISBN 3-87397-509-2 .
  • Friedrich W. Riedel: “The heavenly lives in its tones.” Joseph Martin Kraus, a master of classical music. Mannheim 1992, ISBN 3-920671-04-X .
  • Helmut Brosch: Joseph Martin Kraus Memorial. A guide through the music history collections of the Buchen District Museum. Book 2003, ISBN 3-923699-23-9 .
  • Sascha Wegner: “Ha! you have to take the Gözen by the head, shake them by the trunk and laugh mockingly! ”An experiment on music and enlightenment using the example of Joseph Martin Kraus . In: Ulf Bohmann, Benjamin Bunk, Elisabeth Johanna Koehn, Sascha Wegner and Paula Wojcik (eds.): The promise of rationality. Visions and revisions of the Enlightenment . Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7705-5321-1 , pp. 217-241

Web links

Commons : Joseph Martin Kraus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Joseph Kraus: Open to the unpredictable. In: [Die Zeit] , November 27, 2008, No. 49, accessed on January 1, 2009.
  2. ^ Exhibition: Joseph Martin Kraus, Life and Work. Lower Saxony State and University Library, Göttingen 2006
  3. Matthias Luserke: Sturm und Drang. Authors, texts, topics . Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 978-3-15-017602-3 , pp. 66 .
  4. Sascha Wegner: “Ha! you have to take the Gözen by the head, shake them by the trunk and laugh mockingly! ”An experiment on music and enlightenment using the example of Joseph Martin Kraus . In: Ulf Bohmann, Benjamin Bunk, Elisabeth Johanna Koehn, Sascha Wegner and Paula Wojcik (eds.): The promise of rationality. Visions and revisions of the Enlightenment . Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7705-5321-1 , pp. 217-241 .
  5. s. Hartmut Biermann : The Italian journey of Joseph Martin Kraus: Notes of an art historian. In: Friedrich Wilhelm Riedel (Ed.): Joseph Martin Kraus and Italy - Contributions to the reception of Italian culture, art and music in the late 18th century. Munich / Salzburg 1987. ( Studies on the regional and social history of music , Volume 8). Pp. 18-26.
  6. After Eugène Scribe's work Gustave III. Verdi wrote the opera Un ballo in maschera for François Esprit Auber .
  7. ^ Sascha Wegner: Between funeral and passion music. The funeral cantata for Gustav III. by Joseph Martin Kraus . In: Axel Schröter in collaboration with Daniel Ortuño-Stühring (Ed.): Music, Politics, Aesthetics. Detlef Altenburg on his 65th birthday . Sinzig 2012, ISBN 978-3-89564-149-7 , pp. 687-708 .
  8. ^ Sascha Wegner: Symphonies from the spirit of vocal music. For the final design in the symphonic in the 18th and early 19th centuries . Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-476-04615-4 , pp. 1-40 .
  9. Übers .: Lars Burman in: The Queen's Jewelery. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2005.