Urban music culture in Upper German imperial towns between 1500 and 1800 – town musicians (town pipers) in Rothenburg o. d. Tauber, Nördlingen, and Dinkelsbühl

Extensive files on the town musicians (town pipers) have been preserved in the archives of the three former imperial towns of Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, most of which have remained unresearched until now. These are various kinds of documents: applications, complaints, reports, begging letters, etc. The letters, which are usually addressed to the respective town’s magistrate, reflect the whole range of tasks and problems that the musicians employed by the city were confronted with in their time. Since the relevant records have been preserved relatively completely and in good condition in the three city archives, this offers an ideal opportunity to reconstruct the everyday life of musicians in the period between about 1500 and the end of the imperial cities after 1800.

In the process, networks of widely spread musical families (Hetsch, Raiger, Klotz) emerge, who dominated the music scene in this region for many decades. There are also many testimonies to the often precarious working conditions that the musicians had to suffer, especially during the 30 Years War. The files are also revealing with regard to the variety of musical activities, as the town musicians all played several instruments and not only played music on official town occasions, but also in churches, at weddings and private celebrations. Due to the documentation being so complete and over such a long period, it is also possible to trace the development of the musician employed by the town from a poor tower keeper to a respected representative of the town community.

This extensive collection of sources was made accessible and scientifically analysed for the first time in a project by the University of Augsburg, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and based with the chairs of Musicology (Prof. Franz Körndle) and Medieval and Early Modern German Literature and Language in Bavaria (Prof. Klaus Wolf).

>> This collection ist part of the holdings of the Professorship for Musicology at the University of Augsburg under participation of he Professorship for Medieval German Literature and Language in Bavaria at the für University of Augsburg, the Universität Augsburg, the Stadtarchiv Nördlingen, the Stadtarchiv Dinkelsbühl, the Stadtarchiv Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg.