Carl Heinrich Graun

Carl Heinrich Graun

German composer.
Date of Birth: 07.05.1704
Country: Germany

Biography of Carl Heinrich Graun

German composer Carl Heinrich Graun was born in Brandenburg as the son of a tax collector. Growing up in a musical environment, both his older brothers, August Friedrich Graun and Johann Gottlieb Graun, became composers. As a child, Carl Heinrich sang in the choir of the Kreuzkirche in Dresden and later studied composition under Johann Christoph Schmidt. Simultaneously, from 1718 to 1719, Graun studied at the University of Dresden. It was during this time in Dresden that he composed his first two cantata cycles, which unfortunately have not been preserved.

In 1724, Graun secured a position as a court singer (tenor) at the court of Duke August Wilhelm of Brunswick-Lüneburg. In Brunswick, under the patronage of Kapellmeister Georg Caspar Schürmann, he began to experiment with conducting and in 1731, he became the vice-kapellmeister. In 1733, his first opera was performed.

In 1735, Graun moved to Berlin and entered the service of the chapel of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, who would later become King Frederick II. When Frederick ascended the throne in 1740, Graun became his kapellmeister, a position he held until the end of his life. On December 7, 1742, Graun's opera "Cleopatra and Caesar" premiered at the royal opera house Unter den Linden.

Throughout his career, Graun composed a total of 28 operas, including large-scale works for carnival or in honor of the birthdays of reigning monarchs. In addition to operas, he also composed several sacred works, including the oratorio "The Death of Jesus" (Der Tod Jesu).