Why 1523?

The year 1523 marks the beginning of institutionalized music-making in the instrumental association at the Bavarian court; This was the nucleus of today’s Bavarian State Orchestra, which can now look back on five hundred years of history.

In 1523, probably in the spring, the musician Ludwig Senfl, who was known throughout Europe and had worked for Emperor Maximilian I until his death in 1519, entered the service of Duke Wilhelm IV of Wittelsbach “Expansion of court music” (Dr. Stefan Gasch), in two respects. On the one hand, the music required at court and in the ducal church service was placed on a new basis with a tribe of permanent members. For example, Senfl hired Johannes Steudel, trombonist, about whom it is noted: “Receives 100 Gld. rhein. per year, for 1 horse fodder, 2 court clothes and 3 bushels of grain”, “Steudel shall be the leader among the trombonists”. On the other hand, a pool of written works that were composed for specific occasions was gradually formed. This also made it necessary for all participants to be able to read music (rather than improvising in three parts, as was the case in earlier practice); both aspects are therefore directly related. In addition to the services in the liturgical area, the instrumentalists of the court orchestra also denied festivities such as balls and state visits, contributed table music at banquets and provided the accentuation of important moments at state events with fanfares.

In 1523, therefore, two major developments began: on the one hand, the professionalization of the musicians’ staff, on the other hand, the development of a lasting repertoire - both of which are claims that the Bavarian State Orchestra still makes its own today.

Photo credit: Hans Wertinger, Herzog Wilhelm IV. von Bayern Rückseite: Wappen Bayern-Baden und Devise, 1526, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen – Alte Pinakothek München