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Kapellmeister

From Academic Kids

A Kapellmeister is nowadays the director or conductor of an orchestra or choir. When used today, it suggests involvement in orchestra or choir policy (for example, selecting repertoire, concert schedules, choosing guest conductors and so on) as well as conducting.

The term is of German origin, the concatenation of the root Kapelle (choir) and Meister (master). Kapelle is derived from the Latin word for "chapel", which was typically the center of musical activity during the Middle Ages. Originally, the word was used to refer to somebody in charge of music in a chapel.

In the age of kings in Europe, the term Kapellmeister often designated the director of music for a monarch or nobleman. This was a senior position and involved supervision of other musicians. Johann Sebastian Bach worked from 1717 to 1723 as Kapellmeister for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen. Joseph Haydn worked for many years as Kapellmeister for the Eszterházy family, a high-ranking noble family of the Austrian Empire. George Frideric Handel also served as Kapellmeister, for George, Elector of Hanover. (Eventually to become George I of Great Britain)

Becoming a Kapellmeister was a mark of success for professional musicians of this time. For instance, Haydn once remarked that he was glad his father (a wheelwright) had lived long enough to see his son a Kapellmeister. As society evolved and the prestige of the nobility declined, composers came to value their freedom more highly, and being a Kapellmeister became less prestigious. Thus, neither Mozart nor Beethoven ever worked as a Kapellmeister, instead pursuing careers as freelance musicians.de:Kapellmeister it:Maestro di cappella

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