Georg Rudolph, Duke of Liegnitz, Brieg and Goldberg (Composer, Poet)
Born: January 22, 1595 - Ohlau [now Oława], near Breslau [now Wrocław], Poland
Died: January 14, 1653 - Breslau
Georg Rudolph, Duke of Liegnitz [now Legnica], Brieg [now Brzeg] and Goldberg, was German patron, bibliophile, composer and poet. The son of Joachim Friedrich, Duke of Brieg-Liegnitz, he became duke in 1613 at the age of 18. He was educated at the university at Frankfurt an der Oder (Słubice). In his early years he was active as composer and poet. He displayed his love of music as early as 1610. The first collection of his music consisted of several partbooks in manuscript, most containing the series of initials GRHZLVB (Georg Rudolph Herzog zu Liegnitz und Brieg), followed by the date 1612. Two of the partbooks, however, conclude thus: ‘1610. 15. Maij … Georgius Rudolphus, Dux Lignicencis et Bregnsis Mannupp/ria’.
On assuming power Georg Rudolph continued the Kapelle at his court, but his interest in music mainly assumed a different form. In the course of a journey throughout Europe, he began collecting books for what was to become known as the Bibliotheca Rudolphina. His first wife, Princess Sophie Elisabeth of Anhalt, whom he married in 1614 and who died eight years later, contributed valuable works in French and Italian. By the time the first catalogue was compiled in 1618, five years after the collection was begun, it boasted more than 3000 works; this number later doubled. Housed originally in the Johanneskirche, Liegnitz, the library was moved several times during the 17th and early 18th centuries; it was ultimately housed in the Ritterakademie, Liegnitz, in 1741.
The Thirty Years War diverted the duke’s attention from both music and books. Between 1627 and 1635 both Protestant and Catholic armies occupied Liegnitz at various times and confiscated many of the library’s holdings, especially works on law, theology and medicine. The duke was most interested in his music collection which apparently survived intact. It consisted of 460 volumes containing works by more than 700 composers of the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of the pieces were Franco-Flemish, but Italian and German works also accounted for a large proportion of the collection. The duke’s widespread reputation as a connoisseur of music is clear from the number of works in his library that were dedicated to him by their composers, among them Heinrich Schütz and Johann Hermann Schein. In 1621, on his way to Breslau with his Kapelle, Schütz visited Duke Rudolph in Liegnitz, and on 3 November directed performances of his two motets Syncharma musicum and Tentonium dudum belli there while Elector Johann Georg of Saxony, representing the Emperor, received the oath of loyalty sworn by the Silesian estates to the house of Habsburg. Nor did he neglect the musicians of his own district as can be seen by the inclusion of pieces by Samuel Besler, Thomas Fritsch, Thomas Stoltzer and other local musicians of his own and earlier times. The collection remained intact until World War II, when Soviet troops removed it from Liegnitz; it is now dispersed among at least four libraries in Poland.
Source: Grove Music Online, © Oxford University Press 2005 (acc. 12/17/05 in an article by Christopher Wilkenson)
Contributed by Thomas Braatz (December 2005)