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(1735 - 1792)

Ernst Wilhelm Wolf spent thirty years as Court Kapellmeister in the German artistic centre of Weimar in Thuringia. Until today his importance has seemed to lie in his role of Court Kapellmeister rather than in his creative work. With his compositions for piano and Singspiel his orchestral works have had little mention, a fact that it is hoped to remedy with the present recording. Ernst Wilhelm Wolf was baptized on 25th February 1735 at Grossen Behringen near Gotha and had early experience as a keyboard-player. His brother Ernst Friedrich, city organist at Kahla on the Saale, influenced and taught his younger brother. Wolf took his first independent step at school in Eisenach, where he quickly rose to the position of choir prefect. At this time we know that he was already active as a composer, with several arias and motets. Yet it was his period at school in Gotha that proved musically formative for him. Here he heard the very competent ducal musical establishment in concerts and here he heard Carl Phlipp Emanuel Bach play the organ in 1752. The young Ernst Wilhelm was also busy with the arias of Johann Adolf Hasse, then in the service of the Dresden Court Kapelle. There were also the compositions of the Prussian Kapellmeisters Carl Heinrih Graun and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, which were to have a lasting influence on Wolfs whole work. There were also the compositions of the Prussian Kapellmeisters Carl Heinrich Graun and Carl Phlipp Emanuel Bach, which were to have a lasting influence on Wolfs work. These left a particular mark on Wolfs church music (Graun) and his keyboard music (Bach), while the decisive influence for his symphonies came later in Weimar. Student life then took Wolf to the Thuringian University of Jena, in which he was more involved with music than with his studies.

As director of the university Collegium Musicum he found his first enduring place in Thuringian music history. How exactly he came to the nearby city of Weimar is not known. Wolf himself left only a somewhat incredible anecdote of a Herr von Ponikau, who took him there in the course of a journey. Yet, however it happened, Weimar was, for the rest of his life, the centre of his musical activities. It was in 1761 that Wolf came to Weimar, then ruled by the young Duchess Anna Amalia. It was her endeavour to make her country residence a centre for literature and the arts. Wolfs first duties were as a keyboard teacher. He was initially the teacher of the twosons of Anna Amalia, who before long established a relationship with him that continued for many years. After his arrival in Weimar, Wolf was soon serving as conductor at the regular concerts every Saturday at the Schloss Belvedere near Weimar. When the Weimar Court Organist Vogler died, two years after Wolfs arrival in Weimar, Anna Amalia appointed him Voglers successor in 1763. After his marriage in 1770 to the singer Karoline Benda, daughter of the famous Franz Benda, Kapellmeister to King Friedrich II, he became not only a member of the most important musical family of the time but on 31st July 1772 he was also appointed Weimar Court Kapellmeister. Ernst Wihelm Wolfs Weimar career and his appointment as Court Kapellmeister, a position he held until his death, went along with the musical and cultural development of the Weimar court.

Role: Classical Composer 
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