Town musicians in Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber between 1500 and 1800

Extensive records 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. 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 town were confronted with in their time. Since the relevant records in Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen and Rothenburg ob der Tauber have been preserved relatively completely and in good condition in the three town 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.

A large part of these archival records have been digitised and are now available on bavarikon for anyone interested and researchers. Exemplary pieces were selected from these documents for the virtual exhibition to give the viewer an overview of the diversity of the historical records. They reveal the musician’s personal concerns, as in the request for a salary advance or for a job for their son. But legally relevant events are also documented, such as the oath that a town piper had to take to his town, or a new ordinance for church music. Lists with data, such as the list of available musical instruments or the fees charged for a wedding, probably served more for information and as a basis for the town council’s decision-making. What is striking is the frequent mention of a few families (Hetsch, Klotz, Raiger), some of which dominated the music scene in the region for several generations. Their family trees attest to the passing on and disseminating of musical tradition within networks of musicians that offered stiff competition to outside and newly arrived musicians.

Family trees of the musician families Hetsch, Klotz and Raiger

About the instruments

About the exhibition