Johann Andreas Kirchhoff (1722-1799)

was a harpist and composer and was one of a number of German virtuosi employed at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen in the 18th century. Contemporary sources indicate that he was one of the greatest exponents of the harp of the time and that he was held in very high esteem, both in Denmark and internationally.

King Frederik V of Denmark was captivated by Kirchhoff´s playing and offered him a position at court, which Kirchhoff happily accepted. He was appointed ”Royal Musician” in 1760, played in the Royal Opera orchestra from 1772-1786 and was given Danish citizenship in 1779.

Known also as a composer, it was long assumed that most of the music was lost – but these charming pieces have recently come to light. Each ”Hand-Stück” is in the form of a small suite and the collection is a treasure of charming, original harp repertoire, playable on both the pedal or the lever harp.

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The Ålholm Collection

The Ålholm Collection of tunes belonged to Count Otto Ludvig Raben (1730 – 1791) and was unknown until Jens Henrik Koudal discovered the manuscripts in 1991. Ålholm Castle in southern Denmark had been in the Raben family for eight generations, but in 1991 the castle and contents were put up for sale. The music notebook of Count Otto lay hidden amongst papers in one of the smaller rooms of the castle.

Count Otto was a passionate flute player, and, as was typical for his time, received a broad European education before taking over the responsibility of running an estate. He travelled to Paris when he was 21 and lived there for three years. After his marriage to Anne Caterina Henningsen Buchwald from Holsten, they moved to his family estate at Ålholm, Lolland.

Count Otto constantly notated his favourite melodies, especially many of those popularly used for the dances that were in fashion. His collection is a widely varied one, as the Count gathered not only the latest court dances from Copenhagen, but also tunes from abroad and tunes that he would have heard at festivities held for his servants.

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