Harmonie is a German word that, in the context of the history of music, designates a band of wind instruments employed by an aristocratic patron, particularly during the Classical era of the 18th century. The Harmonie would be employed for outdoor or recreational music.


Horace Fitzpatrick writes (reference below):

:"From about 1756 onward the Emperor [of Austria] and the Austrian nobles kept house bands called "Harmonien", usually made of pairs of oboes, horns, bassoons, and after about 1770, clarinets. These wind groups formed part of the household musical staff, and provided serenade for banquets and garden parties. Joseph II kept a crack "Harmonie" for his private delectation, drawn from the principal wind players of the Imperial opera. His successor Franz II carried on this practice.

According to Haydn biographer Rosemary Hughes:

:"Feldharmonie" [German: "field Harmonie",] or simply "Harmonie," was the wind band, maintained by most noblemen even when they could not afford a larger orchestra, for performing at hunting parties and other outdoor entertainments."

"Harmonie" as wind section

The aristocrats who employed a Harmonie would often also maintain a small orchestra, numerically dominated by, or consisting entirely of, the string section. When members of the Harmonie participated in performances with such orchestras, it became possible for the composer to enrich the musical texture with wind parts, without increasing the payroll cost of his patron. Thus, "Harmonie" came also to designate the wind section of a small orchestra. Of this practice, Fitzpatrick writes,

:"It was [Franz II's "Harmonie"] who made up the wind section in Beethoven's orchestra of 1800 [at the premiere of the composer's First Symphony] .

Joseph Haydn's Mass in B flat major, (H. 22/14, 1802) is nicknamed the "Harmoniemesse," because (unlike the other masses Haydn wrote during this time) it includes parts for a whole wind section, thanks to the recent reinstatement of these instruments in the musical establishment of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy II.

Music for Harmonie

Rosemary Hughes notes that some of Joseph Haydn's early works, called "divertimenti" or "Feldpartien" [German: "field partitas"; Hughes] , were written for the Harmonie of his first full-time employer, Count Morzin around 1760.

Mozart also wrote for Harmonie. Perhaps the weightiest of all such music is his Serenade No. 12 for winds in C minor, K. 388, written in 1782 for the instrumental combination (2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 2 bassoons) of Joseph II's Harmonie. [For discussion see http://www.answers.com/topic/serenade-no-12-for-winds-in-c-minor-nacht-musique-k-388-k-384a]

Harmonie Today

The windband Hellgate Harmonie currently plays a great deal of Harmonie music, particularly that written by W.A. Mozart and other Morovian Court composers.




*Fitzpatrick, Horace (1982) program notes for a recorded performance by the *Hanover Band of Ludwig van Beethoven's First Symphony and First Piano Concerto, Nimbus Records.
*Hughes, Rosemary (1974) "Haydn". London: J. M. Dent.

External links

* [http://academic.lipscomb.edu/windbandhistory/RhodesWindBand_04_Classical.htm A History of the Wind Band: Harmoniemusik and the Classical Wind Band]

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