Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (born January 13, 1690, Grünstädtel, Germany – died November 17, 1749, Gotha, Germany) was a prolific German composer of the Baroque era.
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel was born in Grünstädtel in 1690. His father, organist in Grünstädtel, gave him his first music education.
At age 13, Stölzel was sent to the Schneerberg grammar school, where he was taught music, including thoroughbass, by cantor Christian Umlaufft, a former student of Johann Kuhnau. From 1707 to 1710 Stölzel studied at Leipzig University, where he joined the Collegium Musicum, which had been headed by Telemann before Stölzel’s arrival at the University.
For the next ten years Stölzel travelled widely, studying, teaching and composing in Breslau, Halle, Venice (where he met Antonio Vivaldi), Rome, Florence, Prague, Bayreuth, and Gera, and refusing several offers of permanent employment.
In 1711 in Silesia, Stölzel’s first opera, Narcissus, on his own libretto, was performed. Returning to Halle after over two years in Silesia, he composed the operas Valeria, instigated by Johann Theile, for Naumburg, and Rosen und Dornen der Liebe for Gera. In 1713, Stölzel composed two further operas on his own librettos, Artemisia and Orion, both premiered in Naumburg.
After travelling throughout Italy (1713-1715), Stölzel was active as a composer in Prague (1715-1717) and in Bayreuth (1717-1718). In 1718, he became Kapellmeister at the Gera court. In 1719, Stölzel married and went to the Saxe-Gotha court, where the following year he held the post of Kapellmeister and remained until his death in 1749.
In addition to composing, Stölzel devoted much time to teaching. He also wrote the first significant treatise on recitative, Abhandlung vom Recitativ. In 1739, he was elected to membership in Lorenz Christoph Mizler’s Society of Musical Sciences. A great portion of his music, including his stage and sacred vocal works, is lost.
Illness and death
The last two years of his life Stölzel suffered from ill health, becoming feeble-minded. Some of Stölzel’s manuscripts were sold to cover expenses. He died 27 November 1749, less than 60 years old. Mizler printed Stölzel’s obituary as second of three (of which Johann Sebastian Bach’s was the third), in the fourth volume of his Musikalische Bibliothek, the organ of the Society of Musical Sciences.
You can find and download free scores of the composer: