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Joseph Balthasar HOCHREITER, 1669-1731

Hochreither came from a family of musicians. His father and grandfather were singers and choristers for over 40 years at the Salzburg cathedral. More exact information about his ancestors is missing. On the 16th of April 1669 Joseph Balthasar Hochreither was baptized in Salzburg. Nothing is known about the early years of his childhood, but the close relations of his parents to the musical scene of the Salzburg cathedral would have been a big help in the choice of accordingly capable teachers. None of these are known by name.
Whether or not Hochreither had musical training with Georg Muffat (organist at the Salzburg court from 1678) cannot be established but certainly Muffat?s brilliant personality would have made an impression on the young musician. Documents report that Hochreither was enrolled at the high school, or Gymnasium from at least 1681 as Rudimentista ex Capella, and that at the same time was a member of the Salzburger Kapellhaus. Director of this elitist training center beginning in 1684 was Heinrich Ignaz Franz v. Biber (1644-1704), who must have been another important leader and teacher figure for young Hochreither. Whether he had individual instruction in composition with Biber cannot be proven. He completed his humanist studies at the university of Salzburg in 1688 with the degree, “Magister artium”.
Presumably, Hochreither succeeded Ramhaufski as organist and choir director at the Lambach monastery in 1694. He was dedicated to improving the quality of the music at the monastery during his term and contributed his own works on many occasions. In January of 1708, Hochreither wrote an extensive letter of complaint to his employer, Abbot Maximilian Pagl, in which he listed the (at that time) current problems with the church music at Lambach monastery, and proposed some changes. This letter is still kept in the monastery archive today and is a unique document describing the general nature of music in a monastery of the early 18th century.
Because he had been dissatisfied for so long, and because of financial problems, Hochreither took leave of Lambach after over 25 years of service to look for other employment. He finally found it in the Salzburg Court chapel where he was taken on as part of the row of Cathedral organists in 1721. Although Hochreither was supposed to have kept up his composing in Salzburg, there are very few works from this time. He died on December 14, 1731 and is buried in the graveyard of St. Peter (Salzburg).
The Missa ad multos annos is the earliest surviving work of Hochreither?s, dating from 1705 and composed for the consecration of Abbot Maximilian Pagl. The first performance was on April 19, 1705 in the Lambach monastery church. The mass is a choral work in which Hochreither followed the Salzburg tradition. The vocal choir and string choir oppose the trumpet choir, which is used in all the movements except the Benedictus. The use of trumpets and tympani confers to the mass a veritable festive character that is emphasized even more by the 5-voice vocal texture. The two very expressive soprano parts provide a striking contrast to the trumpets. The composer embarks on some harmonically daring experiments, particularly in the Credo. With this early work of the 18th century Hochreither looks ahead to the musical language of the Viennese classicism.
Peter Deinhammer



Heinrich Ignaz Franz BIBER

H.I.F. Biber a genius whose life is still largely uninvestigated, a virtuoso who brought violin technique in Austria, to dizzy heights, a man of phenomenal imagination and audacious wit.
The richness of his work is astonishing, embracing the great forms of sacred music as well as chamber music of scholarly conception and virtuoso music for his own instrument the violin.
Strangely he has only quite recently attracted the attention of professional performers and found a place in their concert programmes. Musicological research lags sadly behind in relation to the importance of this surprising Austrian musician.
Biber was born at Wartenberg in Bohemia in 1644. His baptismal certificate is dated the 12th of August. His father, Martin Biber, worked as a huntsman to the court of Wartenberg and was thus employed in the service of the counts of  Liechtenstein. This aristocratic family, originally from the Tyrol (Castel Corn, near Bolzano) settled in Bohemia and Moravia in the course of the sixteenth century. As to when and how Heinrch Ignaz received his first musical instruction we are restricted to conjecture. At the time when he was a schoolboy in Wartenberg, two music masters were active there. Wiegand Knoffel, a notorious ruffian and an inveterate drinker, held the post of cantor and organist in 1656. We know that this former cantor died m 1675 at Wartenberg and that Johann Georg Teifel had taken charge of music in the church there some time before 1670. We do not know exactly when Teifel replaced his drunkard predecessor but it seems likely that Biber spent some time under the guidance of Knoffel.
From a letter sent by J. H. Schmelzer we know that Biber may have served the Prince of Eggenberg at Graz, along with Johann Jakob Prinner (the Viennese composer).
However, the chapel of the Prince of Eggenberg was dismantled at the very time that Biber could have been there. In 1628 the aristocratic family acquired the castle of Kromeriz in Bohemia (north of Freistadt-Austria) where there still is evidence of music at court in 1670. One hypothesis suggests that Biber and fellow musicians were brought from Eggenberg to Kromeriz after the dissolution of the chapel. Whatever the case he was certainly employed at Kromeriz in the service of the Prince-Bishop of Olomouc, Karl Liechtenstein Kastelkorn by 1668 at the latest. This extremely cultivated prince of the church was a great music lover and maintained a splendid establishment at his court, employing at certain times an even larger number of musicians than that of the Imperial Chapel in Vienna. The bishop was in contact with the great composers of his time. His musical library counts today amongst the largest private collections surviving from the baroque period in Austria. Heinrich Ignaz Biber thus enjoyed in his service every possibility of becoming acquainted with and studying the compositions and styles of his contemporaries. In the princebishop´s chapel he was first of all a bassviol and gamba player. The trumpeter to the court and cavalry, Josef Pavel Wejvanovsky was his friend and no doubt his superior, and they remained in contact long after Biber left Olomouc. Numerous scores of Biber are preserved in the archives of Kromeriz thanks to the copying work of Wejvanovsky.  In 1670 Biber profited from a visit to Absam,  where he had been sent to acquire some instruments from the violin maker Johann Jakob Stainer, to leave his job at Kromeriz without the permission of the bishop. He had no doubt already been in contact with the Archbishop of Salzburg, Max Gandolph, who engaged him on his staff of court musicians with a fairly high starting salary. Biber was able to mollify the anger of his former employer, Karl Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn, by sending him some selected scores that he had written. In 1684 he was promoted to the rank of Kapellmeister and obtained the title of seneschal to the Archbishop. So it seems that the latter appreciated the qualities of his violinist, who reciprocated by dedicating to him all the works that he published before the death of the Archbishop in 1687: Sonatae Violino solo in 1681, Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes in 1676, Mensa sonora seu Musica instrumental in 1680, Fidicinium Sacro Profanum in 1682.

An epidemic of plague ravaged Vienna in 1673, compelling the Emperor to transfer his residence to Linz. This offered Biber the opportunity of playing his works with great success for the Imperial Court, both at Linz and Lambach. His first request for ennoblement in 1681 met with a refusal, but m 1690 he was finally successful and was accorded his wish in view of his qualities of '"honesty, uprightness, nobility of manner, merit and understanding". At that time Biber was already under the orders of the new bishop Johann Ernst Count Thun. His new master, like his predecessor, was a great patron of the arts; and while he did not place music in the first rank, he knew how to appreciate the value of his famous Kapellmeister. Around 1700 we find Biber at the head of an establishment comprising 25 musicians and singers, two drummers, eight trumpeters and around 18 choir-boys. His salary was around 850 florins, a very high sum for a musician at that time. Biber died in Salzburg in 1704, known and revered well beyond the borders of Austria.

Gunar Letzbor
Translated by Frank Dobbins




Benjamin Ludwig RAMHAUFFSKI, c. 1631-1694

During the first flowering of the high baroque, Beniamin Ludwig Ramhaufski was active in the Lambach monastery as organist and composer. He came from Prague and first sang as a choir boy at the court of Prince Martenitz in Passau, before being called to Lambach in 1648. There Ramhaufski completed his musical training with the study of the organ, and was then employed as organist by abbot Placidus Hieber beginning in 1653. Ramhaufski would surely have been involved in the conception of the new organ built for the monastery. The construction took place from 1653 to 1657 by Chistoph Egedach from Straubinger. The organ is still in the church today.
Ramhaufski would have enjoyed quite a good reputation; in fact he was called on several times to compose music for the theatre at the Benedictine University in Salzburg. This music has not survived nor has the greater part of that written for the Lambach monastery. Only one solemn mass remains, in Kremsmünster, which Ramhaufski dedicated in 1670 to the local abbot of the Lambach monastery, Erenbert Schreyvogl. The mass is very festive in its rich setting and instrumentation and attests to the composer?s considerable skill.
Johann Beer (1650-1700), who, in his autobiography, passed on some details about the life of the Lambacher organist, was one of his best known students. In 1655 Ramhaufski married Anna Siemer from Linz, with whom he later had 8 children. Furthermore the family Ramhaufski took in some nieces and nephews from Passau because after the fire of 1662 there was nowhere for them to stay. In November 1678 Anna Ramhaufski died and in May 1679 the widower married “maiden, Anna Barbara Weichlein”, also from Linz. It is certain that Anna Barbara was a relative (sister?) of the two Lambach monks, Magnus and Romanus Weichlein. There were no offspring from this marriage.
Beniamin Ludwig Ramhaufski died on January 19, 1694 in Lambach, a “very noble and artistic gentleman”. He was clearly respected in the monastery where he lived and worked. This is confirmed by the epitaph on the outside wall of the parish church (Friedhofskirche). Possibly Ramhaufski also had relations with the Kremsier monastery in Moravia (close to Olmütz), because in the monastery library there is an anonymous Toccata for 5 trumpets and tympani which is strikingly similar to Ramhaufski?s Toccata ante Gloria with some lengthy passages that are identical.
Peter Deinhammer



P. Romanus Weichlein: man, monk and musician.

Childhood and youth

The Benedictine monk of Lambach, Father Romanus Weichlein was born in Linz on the 8th of. May, 1650 and was baptized with the name Andreas Franz. He came from a musical family of unknown origins; we do know that his father, Johann Weichlein was organist in the monastery of Zwettl (lower Austria). Later, he went to Linz where he was employed from 1639 to 1677 as organist of the city and where he owned a restaurant. With his wife Sabina, he had nine children, of whom Romanus and his older brother Magnus were musicians. It is likely that both brothers attended the Humaniora in the Lambach monastery. They became novices in the cloistered community there in 1666 (Magnus) and in 1671 (Romanus).

The way to Lambach:. Mediation and Education

As easy as it is to trace their theological education --both studied and got their doctorate degrees at the University of Salzburg—it is, on the other hand, very difficult to trace their musical education. One of their most influential teachers was undoubtedly the organist of Lambach monastery, Beniamin Ludwig Ramhaufski (circa1631-1694). It was mostly likely Ramhaufski who created the connection with Lambach because his first wife, Anna (née Siemer,) was born in Linz. It can be deduced that Ramhaufski who was from Prague, and who also spent time in Passau, had personal connections in the capitol city of Upper Austria. The close relationship to the family Weichlein becomes even clearer after the death of Anna Ramhaufski in 1678, because in May of 1679 documents from the Lambach monastery record the marriage of a certain H. Beniamin Ludovicus / Ramhaufski, organist, to Anna Barbara Weichlein of Linz. The marriage ceremony was performed by Father Romanus.

Aspects of his professional life

After his ordination in1678, P. Romanus rarely went to Lambach. We know from a letter he received from his fellow monk, P. Georg Schönberger that in 1684 he was the spiritual father in the small parish of Oberkirchen (in Lower Austria), and was then promoted to chaplain and musical prefect of the Benedictine convent of Nonnberg. On the 22nd of September, 1691 the abbess of this Salzburg convent wrote a letter to the abbot of Lambach requesting the services of the venerable P:Roman Weichlin, for the newly founded Expositur in Säben (Southern Tyrol) as chaplain and musical instructor. The nun’s request was granted and Weichlein arrived in Säben less than a month later on the 17th of October, 1691. There he remained in service, to the pleasure of the entire convent, until January1705. However just a few weeks after he had gone back to his home cloister in Lambach, he had to leave once again for new field service; he had to go to Kleinfrauenhaid in present-day Burgenland, an incorporated parish of Lambach . However, this stay didn't last long, and after just one year, it came to an end through Weichlein’s death (1706).

A coarse human being?

The Salzburg abbess was so kind in her praise of Weichlein when she requested his presence; the recommendations from his employer in Säben upon his departure were equally full of praise. The above mentioned letter from his fellow monk, Father Georg, however, sheds a different light on the musician monk so popular in this nuns’ convent. Father Georg was sent there as a monastic visitor to investigate the riots occurring due to Weichlein’s frequent violent outbursts. If one believes the records of the inspecting monk, Father Romanus spoke, for instance, in the following style to his cook:. If you say only three words to me that I don’t like, I will beat you in such a way that you will remember it for the rest of your life. When the scolded cook attempted to defend herself with words, Father Romanus pursued her as far as her room and then supposedly broke the door down. Finally, they fought, using various common objects as weapons.
It is easy to doubt such violent behavior in such a musically gifted monk but the document is very unambiguous. That the abbesses of Salzburg and Säben praise FatherRomanus so highly certainly does not simplify the question of his character.

P. Romanus Weichlein - new findings about his biography

P. Romanus Weichlein, who was born in Linz and who became a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Lambach, is known to us today solely by way of his musical heritage. On the one hand, his special talent distinguishes him from many of his innumerable brothers in the Lambach cloister, which has existed almost continuously since 1056. On the other hand, the everyday life of this sensitive Musician monk was anything but what one imagines an artists life to be. It is rare today to find mention in contemporary documents of his being a monk, whereas it is clear his main task was pastoral and administrative. At best, his musical activities were carried out in his “free time”. Weichlein’s letters, almost all directed to the abbots of the Lambach cloister, are full of melancholy and regretful words over his supposed guiltiness. Particularly in one of his first missions as a parish priest, in Oberkirchen in Lower Austria (around 1680), any musical sentiments were obstructed by vocational conflicts of uncertain dimension. The object of one conflict was his cook who apparently did not think well of him, and when drunk threatened him with a hatchet. The situation got so out of hand that the abbot of Lambach had to send a brother from the monastery in order to settle thinks. The report of the monastic inspector didn’t correspond to the facts and said that Weichlein had murdered the cook! So it was understandable that the accused would want to defend himself and put the matter to rights. He wrote a reply to the abbot in which he begins, “However, after many circumstances arose in which the truth was modified, I lost control and became a different person from who I was before.” Although his declared intention was to prove his innocence, and was able to demonstrate it, he got stuck again and again in more letters with confessions and expressions of remorse, without naming the cause. This has remained quite a puzzle. It seems more likely that he was the victim of the cook’s slander in that sordid dispute than that he could be truly assessed as a bad human being, judging from the the high praise for his services from the Nonnberg convent in Salzburg and Säben in Südtirol. In the above mentioned cloisters, Weichlein was chaplain and music prefect from approximately 1687 to 1705 and was highly esteemed in both cases. The Salzburger abbess Maria Eranisea chooses her words carefully when she writes to the abbot of Lamach, Severin Blass, to request “benevolent permission to send the honored Lord P. Roman Weichlein” to her convent. The bishop of Brixen, Caspar Ignaz, writes a letter about Weichlein to the monastery in Lambach, saying, “To our knowledge, he reads mass, leads an impeccable life, and is exemplary as a monk. So we consider him to be, according to scholarship and conscience....” Information about his music is only a spattering in the documents. From an undated letter, we find out that for Easter he dedicated a solemn mass (now lost) to the abbot of Lambach “as the sum of my whole capacity”, and that during his studies at Salzburg (around 1674), he wished to learn “that musical instrument, theone commonly called bassoon, or cornetto.

Peter Deinhammer, Lambach




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