REINHARD KEISER (1674 - 1739)
The son of a musician, Reinhard Keiser was a pupil at the Thomasschule in Leipzig, where J.S. Bach was later to teach. In the course of his career he served in various aristocratic musical establishments and in Copenhagen, ending his life as cantor at Hamburg Cathedral. His principal achievement, however, lay in German Baroque opera, in which he was a pioneer, notably in Hamburg where he worked intermittently over many years.
Keiser claimed to have written well over a hundred operas, his first in 1693 and his last in the early 1730s. This number probably includes works that he adapted or for which he provided additional arias or recitatives. He was principally active in opera in Hamburg, where he was joined for three years by the young Handel and for 15 by Johann Mattheson, who paid his own written tribute to the older composer.