Jump to content

Duchess Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Duchess Anna Amalia
Duchess consort of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach
Tenure16 March 1756 – 28 May 1758
Regent of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach
Born(1739-10-24)24 October 1739
Died10 April 1807(1807-04-10) (aged 67)
SpouseErnest Augustus II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
IssueKarl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Prince Frederick Ferdinand
FatherCharles I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
MotherPrincess Philippine Charlotte of Prussia

Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (24 October 1739 – 10 April 1807), was a German princess and composer.[1] She became the duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach by marriage, and was also regent of the states of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach from 1758 to 1775. She transformed her court and its surrounding into the most influential cultural center of Germany. Her invitation of Abel Seyler's theatre company in 1771 marked the start of Weimar Classicism, that would include such figures such as Wieland, Goethe, Herder and Schiller working under her protection.



She was born in Wolfenbüttel, the third child of Karl I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Princess Philippine Charlotte of Prussia. Her maternal grandparents were Frederick William I of Prussia and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. Her niece was Queen Caroline, wife of King George IV.


Anna Amalia was well-educated as befitted a princess. She studied music with Friedrich Gottlob Fleischer[2] and Ernst Wilhelm Wolf.[3]


In Brunswick, on 16 March 1756, sixteen-year-old Anna Amalia married eighteen-year-old Ernst August II Konstantin, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and they had two sons. Ernst August died in 1758 leaving her regent for their infant son, Karl August.[4]


During Karl August's minority she administered the affairs of the duchy with notable prudence, strengthening its resources and improving its position in spite of the troubles of the Seven Years' War. Despite her heavy official responsibilities, she cultivated intellectual interests, especially music. She continued to take lessons in composition and keyboard playing from the leading musician in Weimar. Amalia von Helvig, a German-Swedish artist and writer, later became part of her court. She hired Christoph Martin Wieland, a poet and translator of William Shakespeare, to educate her son. [2] . On 3 September 1775, her son reached his majority, and she retired.[4]

Cultural role[edit]

As a patron of the arts, Anna Amalia drew many of the most eminent people in Germany to Weimar. She gathered a group of scholars, poets and musicians, professional and amateur, for lively discussion and music-making at the Wittum palace. In this ‘court of the muses’, as Wilhelm Bode called it, the members included Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Friedrich Schiller. She succeeded in engaging Abel Seyler's theatrical company,[4] considered the best theatre company in Germany at that time."[5]

Anna Amalia herself played a significant part in bringing together the poetry of 'Weimar Classicism'. Johann Adam Hiller's most successful Singspiel, Die Jagd (the score of which is dedicated to the duchess), received its first performance in Weimar in 1770, and Weimar was also the scene of the notable première on 28 May 1773 of the ‘first German opera’, Wieland's Alceste in the setting by Anton Schweitzer. Anna Amalia continued the tradition of the Singspiel in later years with performances in the amateur court theatre of her own compositions to texts by Goethe.

She also established the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, which is now home to some 1,000,000 volumes. The duchess was honored in Goethe's work under the title Zum Andenken der Fürstin Anna-Amalia.


Anna Amalia was a notable composer. The majority of her works belong stylistically to the Empfindsamkeit, in the manner of Hiller and Schweitzer, combining features of song and of arioso. In 2021-2023, further works of Anna Amalia were discovered by the academic Stephen Husarik in the collection of Archduke Rudolf of Austria.[6]

Her compositions include:


  • Divertimento (clarinet, viola, violoncello, and piano) c. 1780[7]




  • Oratorio (1768)[7]
  • Sacred Choruses (four voices and orchestra)[1]
  • Symphony (2 oboes, 2 flutes, 2 violins and double bass) 1765[7]




  1. ^ a b c d e Jezic, Diane (1988). Women composers : the lost tradition found. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York. ISBN 0-935312-94-3. OCLC 18715963.
  2. ^ "Search Results for Anna Amalia | Grove Music Online | Grove Music". Grove Music Online. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  3. ^ Baker's biographical dictionary of musicians. Nicolas Slonimsky, Laura Diane Kuhn, Nicolas Slonimsky (Centennial ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. 2001. ISBN 0-02-865525-7. OCLC 44972043.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Anna Amalia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 59. This cites F. Bornhak, Anna Amalia Herzogin von Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (Berlin. 1892).
  5. ^ "Herzogin Anna Amalie von Weimar und ihr Theater", in Robert Keil (ed.), Goethe's Tagebuch aus den Jahren 1776–1782, Veit, 1875, p. 69
  6. ^ Silvester, Ian. "Buried in History: The Musical Discovery of Dr. Stephen Husarik". University of Arkansas – Fort Smith News. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  7. ^ a b c ANNA AMALIA von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, retrieved 25 February 2011
  8. ^ The Norton/Grove dictionary of women composers. Julie Anne Sadie, Rhian Samuel (First ed.). New York. 1994. ISBN 0-393-03487-9. OCLC 33066655.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 52.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Duchess Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Cadet branch of the House of Welf
Born: 24 October 1739 Died: 10 April 1807
German royalty
Title last held by
Sophie Charlotte of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Duchess consort of Saxe-Weimar
16 March 1756 – 28 May 1758
Title next held by
Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt
Duchess consort of Saxe-Eisenach
16 March 1756 – 28 May 1758