Eggenberg Band

Prince Johann Christian I. von Eggenberg tried as best as he could to improve the environment in which he lived in his happy marriage with Marie Ernestine von Eggenberg, neé Schwarzenberg, and in the spirit of the age tried to imitate the habits, trappings, and customs practiced at the Emperor\'s court in Vienna as well as at other high nobles\' in the land. One such indispensible custom, which of course all the other princes held faithfully, was to have your own musical ensemble. One must remember here that in the castle environment of the day, music was played practically constantly - almost every day at mealtime, upon arrivals and departures of noble personages, during various significant visits to the castle, at mass, festivals, in the castle theatre, at parties, and during hunts.

The court ensemble was established by Johann Christian immediately upon his coming of age (23 yrs. old) in November of 1664, and it lasted until 1711. The first ensemble was composed of trumpeters, and the number of musicians in the group varied. Although it was taken as a matter of course that the trumpeters could play other instruments as well, as is evidenced in various preserved documents, no information survived as to the capabilities and specific talents of the trumpeters. To be employed as a trumpeter was a privileged position, and the prince himself personally saw to it that his trumpeters received qualified education. In those days, the most renowned trumpet teachers of noble courts were from time to time also members of royal ensembles.

The last ensemble leader, the Italian Domenico Bartoli, finished his post at the Eggenberg court at the beginning of 1711. The Prince Johann Christian had already passed away by then (he died in 1710), and social life at the castle came quite to an end. The music died out except for church services, so it was quite understandable that Bartoli decided to leave. Before he left, though, he had to return all the instruments in his care and which belonged to the nobility. From the list of instruments, it appears that the original trumpet ensemble had gradually transformed into a kind of string ensemble. Whenever it was necessary to add some other instrumentalist, most often a music teacher from a nearby school helped out.

Bartoli\'s departure meant the definitive end of the entire Eggenberg ensemble, and from that time all news of an ensemble disappeared. The ensemble existed for over 50 years, then simply vanished into oblivion.

But we mustn\'t forget to mention Prince Johann Christian von Eggenberg\'s interest in opera. During his travels to Italy, in context with the Eggenberg\'s holdings in Gradiska not far from Venice, the prince gained access to the latest happenings in Italian opera, which he brought back to Český Krumlov in the form of purchased librettos and partituras. Interesting also is the fact that after 1679, the musical ensemble was supplemented with a castrato by the name of Maisel, who was even allowed to study in Venice and who performed not only at home, but also in productions in Salzburg and elsewhere in Europe. As far as the operation of Baroque song and dance theater is concerned, which in its mature form synthesized songs and dances within the context of a rich narrative, the Český Krumlov royal theatre fulfilled all necessary conditions. The theatre here was equipped with stage technology and decorations, a musical ensemble, a permanent acting and singing company, a local stage designer, and even a professional choreographer. Nevertheless, operas were performed by the court theatre quite exceptionally.

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