In July 1786 Prince Carl Anselm of Thurn und Taxis concluded that he had no choice but to dissolve his Italian court opera. This owed in part to the success of the German theater, which had been established in 1784 to rival the Prince’s Hoftheater and contest his position as the Holy Roman Emperor’s representative to the Reichstag in Regensburg. New evidence challenges the prevailing view that the dissolution of the Taxis’s court opera marked the end of the family’s musical patronage and involvement in Regensburg’s cultural life. In the face of opposition from other Reichstag officials, the Thurn und Taxis continued their investment in music and theatrics, appropriating outdoor spectacles of a kind popular earlier in the century to project imperial power. The prince affirmed his position as the emperor’s representative in such older displays of affluence and standing but updated them to suit contemporary tastes. Carl Anselm’s musico-political theatrics around 1789 demonstrate that although Italian opera failed to articulate the legitimacy he intended to project, his culture of political representation conducted in the name of the emperor endured well into the twilight years of the eighteenth century. To understand the continued musical patronage of this contested and middling prince is to appreciate more fully the methods by which music, spectacle, and politics were negotiated during a transformative period in European history.
In the Name of the Emperor: Representational Theater and the Princes of Thurn und Taxis
Austin Glatthorn earned his Ph.D. at the University of Southampton in 2016, during which time he was a doctoral fellow of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst and the Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte. His research focuses on the intersections of music, politics, and identity in Central Europe around 1800. Now a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dalhousie University, Glatthorn is investigating the Holy Roman Empire’s theater network, the propagation of German Melodram, and the development of German-language music theater during the formative years of the Western canon, ca. 1775–1806.
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Austin Glatthorn; In the Name of the Emperor: Representational Theater and the Princes of Thurn und Taxis. Journal of Musicology 1 January 2018; 35 (1): 1–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jm.2018.35.1.1
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