From 1730 the Kapellmeister of the court at Gotha also wrote for Sondershausen. Stölzel supplied numerous festive occasional pieces and arias for court performance; the archive at Schloss Sondershausen retains many of his manuscripts, found in a box behind the organ in 1870. Half of Stölzel's output, never engraved, is lost. Stölzel's immediate successor at the court in Gotha Georg Benda had most of Stölzel's manuscripts taken to the castle attic. Holes in the roof exposed the manuscripts to rain, and rats also chewed and ate the paper. Thirty years later when someone inquired about the music, and went to the attic, only a few shreds were left intact. This has to be one of the saddest losses in baroque music: e.g. Stölzel is reputed to have composed over 80 orchestral suites alone, and not a single one survives. In fact out of what had to have been hundreds of compositions, only 12(!) pieces survived at Gotha.
He enjoyed an outstanding reputation in his lifetime: Lorenz Christoph Mizler rated him as great as Johann Sebastian Bach. Johann Mattheson reckoned him among "the level-headed, learned, and great music masters" of his century. Stölzel was an accomplished German stylist who himself wrote a good many of the poetic texts for his vocal works. Students beginning the piano may remember some pieces by him, those that are included in the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach.
His most important works are: four concerti grossi, many sinfonias, a concerto for oboe d'amore. His four operas: Narcissus, Valeria, Artemisia and Orion have not survived, and oratorios such as Brockes Passion (1725) and a Christmas Oratorio have been recorded. Twelve complete annual cantata cycles as well as cantatas to secular texts (five hundred) have come down in full. Maurice André performed Stölzel's concerto in D for trumpet, strings and continuo.
His Abhandlung vom Recitativ ("The Art of Recitative"), written about 1739, remained unpublished until 1962 (Werner Steger, Gottfried Heinrich Stoelzels "Abhandlung vom Recitativ"). He was followed by Georg Benda.
Te Deum. Euch ist heute der Heiland geboren. Denen zu Zion. Herr, du weissest alle Dinge. Gehet zu seinen Toren ein
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