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Heinrich Elmenhorst (Poet)

Born: October 5/19, 1632 - Parchim (Mecklenburg), Germany
Died: May 21, 1704 - Hamburg, Germany

Heinrich Elmenhorst was a German poet of church hymns (songs). Since 1650 he studied in Leipzig and Wittenberg. In 1660 he became deacon, in 1667 archdeacon, and in 1673 minister (pastor) at the Katharinenkirche in Hamburg. The Hamburg Kapellmeister, Johann Wolfgang Franck, created the melodies to the songs of Heinrich Elmenhorst. The song texts by William Osterwald, then Konrektor at the Domgymnasium (Cathedral High School) in Merseburg, were brought in better form with Franck's melodies and later with the melodies of Daniel Hermann Engel, then cathedral organist in Merseburg.

Heinrich Elmenhorst became more well-known by his defence of the opera than by his songs. It is attributed mainly to his efforts that in 1678 the first opera stage of Germany was established in Hamburg. He wrote anonymously two sacred operas, which were composed by Franck and were performed then with big applause. When Anton Reiser, minister at St. Jakobi, published the paper “Theatromania”, in which he called such opera plays works of the darkness, Elmenhorst appeared as a defender of the opera plays, which can be “as intermediate things are probably permitted, which Christians can look at and feel belonged without denial of their conscience”.


Der bewährten Seelen Arzenei in mannigfaltigen geistl. u. leibl. Nöten, nach Anleitung des 42. Ps. in 12 Predigten erkl. (1665)
Michal u. David, ein musikal. Opernspiel (1679)
Charitine, eine geistl. Opera (1681)
Geistl. Gesangbuch mit Johann Wolfgang Francks musikal. Komposition (1685)
Dramatologia antiquo-hodierna oder Ber. v. den Opernspielen (1688)


Source: BBKL Website (Author: Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz, 1990), English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2006)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2006)

Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

BWV 450

Chorale Text used in Bach’s Vocal Works





Die bittre Leidenszeit beginnet abermal



Links to other Sites

Elmenhorst, Heinrich (BBKL) [German]



Hans Schröder: Lex. der Hamburg. Schr.steller II, 1854 (vollst. Werkeverz.: 173-176)
Hellmut Christian Wolff: Die Barockoper in Hamburg, 1678-1738 (Hab.-Schr., Kiel), 1957
Goedeke III, 220. 288. 333
DLL IV, 186 f.
Koch V. 365 ff.
MGG III, 1290 ff.; - V, 1394 f.
ADB VI, 60
NDB IV, 461

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