The Musical Activities of Duchess Sophie Elisabeth of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1613–1676) as Reflections of Seventeenth-Century Protestant German Court Life
AffiliationMelbourne Conservatorium of Music
Document TypePhD thesis
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© 2020 Hannah Frances Mary Spracklan-Holl
This thesis aims to demonstrate how an analysis of the musical activities of Duchess Sophie Elisabeth of Braunschweig-Lueneburg (1613–1676) can provide insight into both the cultural life of the Wolfenbuettel court in the middle decades of the seventeenth century and the music-making of seventeenth-century German-speaking consorts at Protestant courts. As duchess consort to Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig-Lueneburg (1579–1666), Sophie Elisabeth had a number of duties and responsibilities associated with her social role. This thesis focuses on two of these responsibilities and how Sophie Elisabeth fulfilled them through her musical activities. First, she was responsible for the devotional life of her family, her court, and the wider populace through maintaining a strong sense of her own personal piety, encouraging piety in others, and interceding with God on behalf of the principality. Second, she played an important role in the artistic representation of her husband, August, as a ruler, and the broader representation of his dynasty, the House of Guelph. While the responsibilities of consorts and the musical activities of Sophie Elisabeth have both been studied in recent literature, their interaction has been hitherto neglected, particularly in musicological scholarship. This thesis addresses this lacuna by proposing that Sophie Elisabeth’s musical activities and her social and political role were not mutually exclusive, and that they constantly interacted with each other. This contention has implications for our understanding of the role of consorts at early modern German-speaking Protestant courts and provides a framework for analysing how music-making, of different kinds, contributed to this role.
KeywordsSeventeenth century; Noblewomen; German; Germany; Music; Women; Women's music; Court culture; German courts
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