Saxon State Orchestra Dresden

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Logo of the Saxon State Orchestra Dresden
The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden with its chief conductor Christian Thielemann, Semperoper 2018 Matthias Creutziger

The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden is one of the leading and most traditional orchestras in the world.

Outstanding Kapellmeister and internationally renowned instrumentalists have shaped the former court and today's Saxon State Orchestra since its foundation. It was founded by Johann Walter on September 22, 1548 on behalf of Elector Moritz von Sachsen and is considered the only remaining orchestra that has played uninterruptedly for more than four and a half centuries and at the same time - as contemporary reports show - always one of the leading orchestras of the belonged to different eras. With 310 years of orchestral history, it can claim to be the oldest of all orchestras. It currently has 150 posts. The permanent place of activity of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden is the Sächsische Staatsoper ( Semperoper ) in Dresden, where it plays around 250 opera and ballet as well as around 50 symphonic and chamber music concerts per season . Her Advent concerts in the Dresden Frauenkirche and New Year's Eve concerts in the Semperoper are broadcast annually by ZDF .

The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden has been the sponsor orchestra of the Meetingpoint Music Messiaen in the German-Polish twin town of Görlitz-Zgorzelec since 2008 , and since 2010 it has been co-sponsor of the Schostakowitsch Days Gohrisch ( Saxon Switzerland ), which is the only festival worldwide that annually focuses on the work of the Russian composers, and since 2013 the Staatskapelle has been the orchestra of the Salzburg Easter Festival , the artistic direction of which is in the hands of its chief conductor Christian Thielemann .

Every year, the Saxon State Orchestra goes on concert tours to internationally renowned music festivals and to the main concert halls.

Their extensive discography dates back to 1923. Today, numerous opera and concert performances by the Saxon State Orchestra are broadcast live and recorded for DVD . As yet only orchestra, the Staatskapelle in 2007 received in Brussels the price of the European Cultural Foundation for the preservation of the musical world cultural heritage .


The court orchestra was one of the most important musical ensembles of its time. It reached its first heyday in the 17th century under Heinrich Schütz , but also reached a low point at the end of the Thirty Years' War .

The Electoral Saxon and Royal Polish Chapel existed between 1697 and 1756 under the rule of Friedrich August I and his son Friedrich August II. The name of the ensemble at that time was due to the fact that both rulers (with small interruptions) were not only electors from Saxony, but also ruled Poland as kings.

At the Saxon court in Dresden, court music was mainly under the Electors Johann Georg II. (1656–1680) and Johann Georg III. (1680–1691) already in full bloom. But under the sign of the High Baroque, it experienced a further boom. In 1697, the year Friedrich August was crowned the king, the court music deputation had been cut from over 15,000 thalers to just under 7,600 thalers compared with 1691, but then increased to almost 17,000 thalers by 1719 to 26,400 thalers. However, this also includes the budget for the Catholic court church music that became necessary after Friedrich August's conversion. The Kapellmeister was Johann Christoph Schmidt , who initially had 31 musicians ( including the Kapellknaben ) at his disposal.

It was a stroke of luck that violinist Jean-Baptiste Volumier was appointed concertmaster in 1709 and was awarded the proud annual salary of 1,200 thalers. In 1712 the young aspiring violinist Johann Georg Pisendel was hired, in 1715 the then already famous pantalonist Hebenstreit , in 1716 as second conductor Johann David Heinichen , in 1717 as third Antonio Lotti . In addition there were u. a. his wife, the soprano Santa Stella , the castrato Francesco Bernardi , called "Senesino" (for a salary of 70,000 thalers) and the Italian violin virtuoso Francesco Maria Veracini . During Heinichen's long illness until his death in 1729, the composer Jan Dismas Zelenka took his place as Kapellmeister of the Electoral Saxon and Royal Polish Chapel.

In 1716/1717 Pisendel was sent to Italy to find out about the latest violin art. There he met Antonio Vivaldi in particular , whose music he greatly admired. At the court of Dresden, people gradually considered themselves prepared for the upcoming wedding celebrations between the heir to the throne and the Austrian Archduchess Maria Josepha .

After 1763 it became the Electoral Saxon Chapel again, from 1807 it became the Royal Saxon Musical Chapel and after 1918 the Saxon State Orchestra . During the GDR era it was called the “Staatskapelle Dresden” or “Dresdner Staatskapelle” and was only given its current name after the fall of the Wall .

The orchestra began performing public concerts at the end of the 18th century; Subscription concerts were introduced in 1858.

The Sächsische Staatskapelle has been an opera orchestra since the first third of the 17th century - until 1945 and after it reopened in 1985 it played in the Semperoper .


From 1992 until his sudden death on April 20, 2001, Giuseppe Sinopoli headed the orchestra. Bernard Haitink then took over the position of chief conductor on an interim basis in 2002 , but left the orchestra prematurely in 2004. He gave his last concert as chief conductor in November 2004 as part of a tour in Vienna . In September 2007 Fabio Luisi , then chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra , took over the position of general music director. For the 2012/2013 season, Christian Thielemann was hired as the new chief conductor.Template: future / in 3 years

The Saxon State Orchestra now gives 12 to 15 symphony and special concerts per season and plays in all opera productions, almost every day. The special concerts include concerts in the Frauenkirche as well as special performance evenings. There are also matinees and youth projects.

On April 26, 2007, the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden received the “Prize for the Preservation of the World Musical Heritage” in the Palais Beaux-Arts in Brussels, which was awarded for the first time on an honorary basis by the European Cultural Foundation.

For a recording of Anton Bruckner's 9th Symphony , the Staatskapelle Dresden under the direction of Fabio Luisi was awarded the ECHO Klassik as Orchestra of the Year on October 18, 2009 . However, they returned this award to the organizer on April 20, 2018.

Capell Compositeur

In continuation of its fruitful collaboration with well-known composers such as Johann Adolf Hasse , Carl Maria von Weber , Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss , the Saxon State Orchestra has been awarding the title “Capell-Compositeur” or “Capell-Compositrice” for one season since 2007. This residency includes various work performances (partly composition commissions and world premieres), composer talks and an extensive portrait concert.

Capell composers of the Saxon State Orchestra

Salzburg Easter Festival

Since the 2013 season, the Sächsische Staatskapelle has been the residence orchestra of the Salzburg Easter Festival , as the successor to the Berlin Philharmonic . Every year an opera production and several orchestral concerts are on the program in Salzburg. The Easter Festival has been under the direction of Christian Thielemann since 2013 , who also conducts most of the Salzburg program.


Concert tours have taken the Sächsische Staatskapelle to various German cities, to Japan , Switzerland , the Netherlands , Austria , Great Britain , Spain , the USA , Greece , Hungary , France , Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong as well as to the festivals in Lucerne , Edinburgh , London Proms , Salzburg , Prague , Bucharest and the Canary Islands .

Chamber music

In addition to the actual orchestral work, the orchestra members also play the chamber music of the Saxon State Orchestra , which goes back to the Tonkünstler-Verein founded in 1854 . The Chamber Music organizes 8 chamber evenings and 4 performance evenings (small orchestra in front of the decorative curtain) in the Semperoper per season. All musicians (including the conductor) only receive a fracking fee of 10 €.

Chapel for kids

Since 2004 the members of the Staatskapelle have organized several music education programs per season on the stage of the Semperoper and on the Semper Zwei studio stage. The puppets Alma and Emil guide you through the program and explain different musical epochs, styles or instruments.

Without tailcoat on tour

Since 2016, several chamber ensembles of the Staatskapelle have been playing music of various genres in one evening in different pubs in Dresden Neustadt . In 2018, this format was held for the first time as part of the Salzburg Easter Festival in the Linzer Gasse in Salzburg.


Well-known band masters and conductors

450 years of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden: special stamp from 1998

The most important band masters and conductors in the history of the band:

Honorary conductors

  • from 1991: Sir Colin Davis (1927-2013)
  • from 2016: Herbert Blomstedt

More recently, the orchestra has also been conducted by Carlos Kleiber , Georges Prêtre , Sir John Eliot Gardiner , Daniele Gatti , Herbert von Karajan , Myung-Whun Chung , Kent Nagano , Charles Dutoit , Daniel Harding , Nikolaus Harnoncourt , Sylvain Cambreling and Michail Pletnjow .

Well-known soloists and instrumentalists

Members of the Saxon State Orchestra, some of whom also appear as soloists, were:




Double bass player





  • François le Riche
  • Johann Christian Richter


  • Johann Gottlieb Kotte (around 1817)




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Composers and works

Various works were dedicated to the Staatskapelle, others were premiered by it. These include works by Vivaldi about Wagner , Schumann , Liszt , Strauss , Hindemith , Weill , Blacher and others. a. to more recent compositions by Geissler , Kochan , Zimmermann , Matthus , Rihm , Kantscheli and Ruzicka .

Richard Strauss in particular was associated with the ensemble, which is still often regarded internationally as the “Strauss Orchestra”, for over 60 years as a composer , conductor and friend, especially his “personal conductorSchuch , who promoted him; nine of his operas were premiered in Dresden (including Salome , Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier ). He dedicated the Alpine Symphony to the Dresden Chapel.


The orchestra's discography shows a large number of recordings of the symphonic and operatic repertoire with renowned conductors since the early 1920s. In the studio of Luke church in Dresden numerous recordings were made for the DDR label Eterna , today the church for taking the Staatskapelle is used. In 2007, the ECHO Klassik award was given to an edition by Hänssler that made archived opera and concert recordings from early record times accessible to the public again today. In addition, the Staatskapelle was and is still a contractual partner of major record labels.


  • John Hunt: Saxon State Orchestra Dresden. Complete discography. Hunt, London 2002, ISBN 1-901395-10-3 .
  • Eberhard Kremtz: The Staatskapelle Dresden and its conductors , in: Dresden and advanced music in the 20th century. Part I: 1900-1933 , ed. by Matthias Herrmann and Hanns-Werner Heister, Laaber 1999, pp. 237–246 ( Musik in Dresden 4), ISBN 3-89007-346-8 .
  • Eberhard Kremtz: The Staatskapelle and its chief conductors from Karl Böhm to Kurt Sanderling (1933–1966) , in: Dresden and advanced music in the 20th century. Part II: 1933–1966 , ed. by Matthias Herrmann and Hanns-Werner Heister, Laaber 2002, pp. 177–188 ( Musik in Dresden 5), ISBN 3-89007-510-X
  • Michael Heinemann : Staatskapelle and New Music. In: Dresden and advanced music in the 20th century. Part III: 1966-1999. Edited by Matthias Herrmann and Stefan Weiss, Laaber 2004, ( Musik in Dresden 6), ISBN 3-89007-511-8 , pp. 243-268.
  • Hans-Günter Ottenberg: The sound of the Saxon State Orchestra Dresden. Continuity and changeability of a phenomenon. Report on the symposium from October 26th to 27th, 1998 as part of the 450th anniversary of the Saxon State Orchestra Dresden. Olms, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2001, ISBN 3-487-11454-2 .
  • Werner Schmidt: Wonder harp. 450 years of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. Catalog for the exhibition in the Georgenbau of the Dresden Palace from September 12 to November 29, 1998 and in the forum of Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall AG from January 12 to February 19, 1999. Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden 1998, ISBN 3-932264-08-8 .
  • Eberhard Steindorf: 450 years of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden: "Like the shine of old gold". Bärenreiter, Kassel / Basel / London / New York / Prague 1998, ISBN 3-7618-1389-9 .
  • Eberhard Steindorf: The concert activity of the royal musical band in Dresden (1817-1858). Institutional history study and documentation . Tectum, Baden-Baden 2018 ( Dresdner Schriften zur Musik 11), ISBN 978-3-8288-4155-0
  • Ortrun Landmann: The Dresden Hofkapelle during the lifetime of Johann Sebastian Bach. In: Early Music XVII, 1989, ISSN  0306-1078 .
  • Ortrun Landmann: The development of the Dresden court orchestra into a "classical" orchestra. A contribution to the definition of this phenomenon. In: Basler Yearbook for Historical Performance Practice , XVII, 1993, ISBN 3-905049-60-0 .
  • Ortrun Landmann: The Dresden Royal Chapel as an opera orchestra in the 19th century with a look back at the 18th century. In: NM Jensen and F. Piperno (eds.). The Opera Orchestra in 18th- and 19th-Century Europe. Vol. I: The Orchestra in Society. Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-8305-1487-9 .

Web links

Commons : Staatskapelle Dresden  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Sächsische Staatskapelle receives prize from the European Cultural Foundation , Dresden Fernsehen, April 11, 2007.
  2. ^ Christian Thielemann decided to extend the contract. Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, November 30, 2017, accessed on October 17, 2019 .
  3. Protest against ECHO awards: Barenboim and Thielemann return ECHOs. BR Klassik , April 23, 2018, accessed October 17, 2019 .
  4. Orchestra biography - Staatskapelle Dresden. Retrieved October 2, 2018 .
  5. ^ Tonkünstlerverein - Staatskapelle Dresden. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019 ; accessed on April 1, 2019 .
  6. ^ Team - Staatskapelle Dresden. Retrieved April 1, 2019 .
  7. ^ Blomstedt honorary conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden. ONLINE FOCUS, May 6, 2016, accessed on March 12, 2018 .
  8. ^ Frank Andert: Ernst von Schuch - the court conductor in the Loessnitz. In: Radebeuler Official Journal 03/2014 ( Memento from March 11, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), p. 1.