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J. A. Silbermann’s Travel Log


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Dear members,


last autumn, Sotheby’s announced the sale of the handwritten travel log of Johann Andreas Silbermann (1712–1783), nephew to Gottfried (of Freiberg) and son to Andreas (of Strasbourg). Johann Andreas was a prolific builder in the Alsace and in the German south-west. Leaving Strasbourg, he undertook one major journey, via Frankfurt and Saxony to Berlin and back again. He met with important composers and musicians, such as Hasse, Pisendel, Homilius, Scheibe, as well as attending musical events at Frederick the Great’s residence in Potsdam.


Being a keen observer as well as a shrewd writer – as we know from other reports from his hand –, he wrote down his travel report on some 300 pages. The report is said to contain many descriptions of architecture, organs, music, politics and every-day life in the areas visited by Silbermann. Being as well-educated and curious as a man of his day could be, J. A. Silbermann held strong views on organ building as well as on contemporary life and art. Apparently, the log has never been transcribed or edited before. In wealth of information as well as in wit, this source may rank right next to travel journals like Dr. Burney’s, for example (which was translated to German during the author’s lifetime and has therefore been well known to German readers).


It turns out that the manuscript was acquired by the Saxon State and Universitiy Library (SLUB), Dresden. It will arrive there in late January and will be presented to the public on 17 February. I plan to attend the presentation and, if you don’t mind, report here in a more detailed way after that.


Best wishes


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