Elizaveta, Elisabeth, and Elizabeth

Monday, February 23, 2015

Today, our series RISM from A–Z takes us on a journey that spans three centuries as we visit the lives of an Elizaveta, Elisabeth, and Elizabeth.

The first is Elizaveta Alexievna (1779-1826), the Empress of Russia. She was born Princess Louise of Baden (Germany) and married Alexander I of Russia. In the RISM online catalog, there are six pieces (printed music and music manuscripts) that were dedicated to her, all while she was the “Empress of all the Russians,” as it is stated on some of the sources. Her German roots were not forgotten. There are three manuscript copies of Peter Josef von Lindpaintner’s Deutscher Heldensinn for voice and piano, based on poems by Jakob Ignaz Sendtner.

Next we move to the legendary Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898), known by many as Sisi. The RISM database has music that was written for different occasions in her life:

  • An overture to celebrate her marriage to Kaiser Franz Joseph
  • A cantata written to celebrate her arrival in Bozen (Bolzano), Italy
  • A sacred song to celebrate the birth of her first child, Archduchess Sophie

If only the RISM database had been available to the filmmakers of the classic film trilogy Sissi in the 1950s. They would have found the Österreichische Jubel-Ouverture that was written for the occasion. Instead, they used the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. You can watch this scene from the film below:

Lastly, there is one manuscript in the online catalog that takes us all the way up to the 20th century and today’s living members of royalty. There is one piece dedicated to Queen Elizabeth of England, the late Queen Mother, mother of the current Queen Elizabeth II. It is incidental music to the fairy tale Der Rubin by Olga Diener.

Photo credit: Portrait of Elizaveta Alexievna by Salvatore Tonci, via Wikimedia Commons

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