Anna Amalia Princess of Prussia
Anna Amalia, princess of Prussia, the younger sister of King Frederick the Great, born on November 9, 1723, was at first musically instructed by the organist of the Berlin cathedral, Gottlieb Hayne, as well as her brother, who occasionally gave her advice too. However, at this time her musical activities did not go beyond those usual for members of noble families. But when her love affair, begun in 1744 with the young officer Friedrich von der Trenck was brutally interrupted by her brother, imprisoning her lover and plunging her into resignation and bitterness for the rest of her life, she devoted herself to mainly sacred music.
An organ was set up in her home, and in 1758 Johann Philipp Kirnberger, violinistin Frederick´s court orchestra for seven years, became her court musician, teacher and adviser, remaining in this position until his death in 1783. Around 1740 he had been a student of Johann Sebastian Bach at Leipzig, and ahered to the concepts and principles of his teacher when he become a known theoreticianon his own propagating them in his main work The Art of Pure Setting. He also taught them to his pupil Anna Amalia,for whom he collected a copious library, which even today is a unique source for the compositions of Bachand his contemporaries. On his advice Anna Amalia progressed from four-parthymn settings to figured chorales and to larger vocal compositions in contrapuntal form.
Although showing a mastery of setting these works appeared old-fashioned and antiquated at a time which had progressed through the style of “Empfindsamkeit” to the Classic form. The same style is found in her few instrumental works - a sonata for flute and harpsichord, probably written forher brother, an allegro for two violins and figured bass, and a two-part fugue in straight and reversemotion for violin and viola (designatedas Duetto in the parts), which is presented now in a first edition from the autograph dated May 5, 1776, and preserved in Anna Amalia´s library. I thank the Deutsche Staatsbiblothek, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, in Berlin for providing a microfilm of this work and for giving the permission for publication. It should be mentioned that according to Kirnberger the reduction of four-part harmony to three or even two parts was of special difficulty. Thus,this two-part fugue, in which the princess masters her task excellently with an appropriate subject, maymark the final phase of her instruction by her teacher.
Anna Amalia died on March 30, 1787, only seven months after her famous brother.
March,1995 Prof.Dr. Wolfgang Sawodny