Georg Friedrich Kauffmann (1679 – 1735), a German composer and organist, is the autor of the “Harmonische Seelenlust”. This work, containing all of his known chorale preludes together with figured bass settings for all but one of the used chorale melodies, was first initiated by Kauffmann as a serial publication. The first volume appeared in 1733. Kauffmann died of tuberculosis in 1735 before he could finish the work. His widow, however, saw it through, and the series was completed in 1740. That his widow completed the publication is probably the reason some of the works included are in fact not composed by Kauffmann. Three of the works were composed by Johann Gottfried Walther and one by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow. Today the “Harmonische Seelenlust” is a rich source of inspiration. Not only does it include every form of choral prelude writing developed in the central German Baroque area, it also has very specific registration indications for roughly half of the pieces included in the collection. Even though Kauffmann writes in his prefaces that “hat es doch die Meinung nicht dass es absolut so sein müsste” (it does not mean the indications should be absolutely followed) they nevertheless provide an intruiging insight in the way Kauffmann heard these pieces himself. At the very least it shows us the colourful way in which Kauffmann registered his own work. This makes it the most extensive source of Baroque registration examples available to us today. The chorale preludes in the Harmonische Seelenlust represent the typical seventeenth- and eighteenth-century style of Central Germany where the text of the particular chorale is ideally set to music for an instrument such as the organ. It essentially entails 96 preludes based on 63 well-known German chorales. Kauffmann outlines these works as ‘short, but elaborated with particular invention and pleasing style’. Another interesting feature of the “Harmonische Seelenlust” that deserves mentioning is the fact that it incorporates some of the very first examples of chorale preludes for organ with a solo wind instrument. Kauffmann is undoubtedly the creator of this combination. The hobo is employed to play the chorale melody, while the organ accompanies the melody in a trio-like texture.
After having published all chorale preludes of the “Harmonische Seelenlust”, it is now time to bring them together in one Edition. Well, three actually, otherwise the result would be too voluminous. The works in present Edition appear in the order in which they appear in the source, with a few exceptions where reversing the original order of two pieces contributed to ease of page turning.. They are not ordered alphabettically, nor are they ordered according to the liturgical year. Preludes to for example chorales sung in Advent are scattered throughout the “Harmonische Seelenlust”. The same is true for chorales belonging to the Pre-Lenten Season or to Lent and Passiontide. This is probably because of the serial nature of the original publication. Kauffmann made sure each volume contained something for each liturgical season. Present edition does not follow the separation of the original volumes, but the result is the same. Each of the three parts contains chorale preludes that are suitable for each of the liturgical seasons.
The pre’view’ was done on the sample set of the Bader-organ in the Walburgiskerk in Zutphen by Sonus Paradisi for Hauptwerk.
Kauffmann, Wie schön leuchtet der Mrogenstern
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