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Project background

This project is part of a larger project, extending over several years, which combines concerts with scientifically founded documentation on CD concerning the most important compositions still remaining by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (1663-1712).

The collection, mainly in German and Belgian libraries, allows a beautiful view of the development of the cantata in the high baroque period. Zachow’s earlier cantatas are reminiscent of Buxtehude’s style, while the later ones contain richly orchestrated choruses and arias in the Italian style. Besides, the works are compact and expressive. This makes Zachow’s music accessible and varied for the listener. Zachow, who was Handel’s teacher, had an undeniable influence on his pupil. Lovers of organ music know Zachow’s chorale arrangements; much of this music has been included in collections of organ works and is still being played.

Accademia Amsterdam aims to perform all the cantatas extant in manuscript, and to document them in a coherent collection grouped around the feast days of the Ecclesiastical year. A first result may be sampled on the CD of Christmas cantatas which appeared in 2010. The production as a whole will consist of an (inter)national concert series plus documentation on up to six CDs, reaching a peak of activity in 2012, the anniversary of Zachow’s death. Many cantatas will have their world premiere.

An important Dutch ‘export product’ is the expert knowledge of historical music performance. Pioneers Frans Brüggen and Gustav Leonhardt achieved world fame. The new generation of baroque musicians (among them Accademia Amsterdam) is successfully exploring new ways to perform the music from the 17th and 18th Centuries. An example is the collaboration with Prof. Ludger Rémy of the Musikhochschule Dresden. The performances of these cantatas are the result of research done or commissioned by the ensemble, not shying away from adventure, rather than a blind steering by the status quo.

The project aims for an optimal artistical and musicological quality. For this reason we work only with professional (choir) singers and musicians. This quality is guaranteed by famous ensembles and singers. Prof. Ludger Rémy has made an important name in the field of musicological research and the publication of historical music manuscripts. He is an internationally renowned performer and much asked for his inspiring direction of specialised musicians.

We are convinced that this project will appeal to audiences in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, not to mention the rest of Europe, The U.S.A. and Japan, and will contribute to the reputation of the Netherlands in this field.

Another Dutch speciality is its treasure of historical organs comparable to the ones Zachow used. We aim to use organs which are still in their original state, unlike the remaining organs used by Zachow. This will help consolidate Dutch reputation in the field of historical organs and organ restauration. It is one of the reasons this project was started in the northern Netherlands.

Even though the project does not target the larger public, we hope to appeal to a broad audience, such as the older music lover and those with an interest in historical organs and religious music.

Performers and artistic direction

Ludger Remy

Prof. Ludger Rémy, teacher at the Musikhochschule Dresden, is responsible for the artistic supervision. He is an internationally renowned interpreter of baroque music and a major soloist on the harpsichord and fortepiano. Amongst other duties he is a jury member of the Flanders festival. 

The instrumental ensemble is formed by Accademia Amsterdam, leader Onno Verschoor who also co-ordinates the project. This specialized group has played many projects, amongst others a concert series of French baroque Christmas music in collaboration with Capella Frisiae conducted by Hoite Pruiksma and Adriàn van der Spoel.

Vocal soloists are renowned and specialized singers such as the soprano Constanze Backes.

The vocal ensemble earlier consisted of singers from Capella Frisiae. This time around we are working with the Nederlandse Bach Academie. Talented young singers will audition especially for this project. They are advanced conservatory students or singers of comparable level. They will be coached by the artistic leader of the NBA, Hoite Pruiksma, in singing the ‘ripieni’. The soloists will be coaching them for stylistic and voice-technical aspects. Some of these singers will also take on solo parts. In the U.S. we will co-operate with the proffessional choir Khorikos from New York.

Important in this project is the educational aspect: choir singers are given a chance to build repertoire and gain practical experience internationally. Choir singing is decreasingly offered at the conservatories, whereas most graduated singers will find it the only way to develop professionally, chances to earn a living as a soloist being sparse. Most professional singers work either as teachers or in (professional) choirs.

Zachow and the cantatas

Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (Leipzig, 1663 – Halle, 1712) was important as Handel’s teacher in Halle, and worked in the local Mariakirche. Chronologically he should be placed between Schütz and Bach. He introduced many innovations in the (church) cantata, despite the fact that he only worked in the one town. His relatively small oeuvre shows the development of the baroque cantata. His earlier cantatas, for instance, still show all the signs of the so-called ‘chorale cantata’, a continuous work in polyphonous madrigal form, each couplet of a chorale with its own variation. In the course of his career he added modern stylistic devices such as Italian da capo-arias, separate choirs with instrumental ‘concerti’, in which the (newly introduced) instruments would often play a highly virtuosic ‘concertante’ role. His influence on Handel’s early works  is undeniable, for instance some of Handel’s melodies can be retraced to Zachow cantata fragments.

In the Marienkirche the organ and the ‘old’ instruments were tuned in the high ‘Chorton’, but the newly adopted French (wind) instruments were in the low ‘Kammerton’. As a result many of the cantatas are in two different tonalities. This is why much of his music has not yet been recorded or even published. The performance demands an unusual combination of instruments. Some examples are the French hautbois next to the ‘ancient’ dulcian and hunting horn (which was being introduced into art music at that period).

Much of Zachows music has been lost; what remains are some thirty church cantatas and choir works, an instrumental trio and a great number of works for organ solo, amongst them chorale fantasias. He probably wrote many more cantatas and organ works during his tenure as organist and ‘chorus musicus’; contemporary sources mention at least seventy cantatas and several masses.

Recommending committee

bullet_zwMax van Egmond (singer, expert and ‘éminence grise’ in the field of historical performance practice)
bullet_zwMarcel Bijlo (musicologist; free-lance music journalist; maker of radio programmes)
bullet_zwKrijn Koetsveld (conductor, founder of the Van Wassenaer Competition, formerly of the conservatories of Utrecht and Enschede)
bullet_zwMevr. dr. Uta Wald (musicologist at Leipzig University, worked on Zachow’s cantatas, presently working on the project ‘Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Briefausgabe’)


bullet_zwAccademia Amsterdam 

Onno Verschoor (artistiek- en productieleider)
Amstel Impresariaat
Amsteldijk Noord t/o 168A
1183 TK Amstelveen
The Netherlands 

Telefoon: +31 20 4560973
Mobiel: +31 6 24254791
Fax: +31 842 203855
E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

bullet_zwStichting Amstel Muziekproducties

Niek Idema (board member)

Obrechtstraat 122
2517 CC Den Haag
The Netherlands
Telefoon: +31 70 3468005 / +31 6 36182876
E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  /  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

bullet_zwProducent Quintone:


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