The Well-Travelled Musician

The Well-Travelled Musician

John Sigismond Cousser and Musical Exchange in Baroque Europe

Samantha Owens


Boydell Press



John Sigismond Cousser, as performer and composer, was a pioneering figure in the musical history of the European Baroque era.
John Sigismond Cousser - born Johann Sigismund Kusser in Pressburg, Hungary in 1660 - was a pioneering figure in the musical history of the Baroque era. Having worked professionally as a performer and composer across Europe over the span of a fifty-year career, this well-travelled and cosmopolitan musician was subsequently acknowledged by Johann Mattheson as having played a key role in the transmission of both the French and Italian musical styles throughout the German-speaking lands.
Following study in Paris, Cousser was employed at a string of German courts, training musicians in the newly fashionable French style. At the court of Duke Anton Ulrich in Wolfenbüttel, he experienced at first hand performances of opera by Italian virtuosos and subsequently introduced countless German musicians and their audiences to the Italian musical style. Yet with the onset of war in 1701, Cousser was forced to seek his fortune elsewhere, moving to London in 1704 before settling permanently in Ireland.
The Well-Travelled Musician expands current knowledge of Cousser's early life and professional career significantly, examining his particular role in the dissemination of music and musical styles throughout the German-speaking lands, as well as in early eighteenth-century London and Dublin. Drawing upon a rich body of primary sources, above all the unparalleled evidence contained in Cousser's so-called commonplace book, it reveals the practicalities of early modern musical exchange at a grass-roots level, from Pressburg (now Bratislava) to Paris, Hamburg to Dublin, and beyond.

SAMANTHA OWENS is Associate Professor of Musicology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


10 line illustrations
403 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Music in Britain, 1600-2000
Hardback, 9781783272341, October 2017
eBook, 9781787441491, October 2017
Boydell Press
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Table of Contents

Introduction: John Sigismond Cousser and his 'Commonplace Book'
Hungarian Beginnings and the Adoption of French Musical Style
Kapellmeister at the Wolfenbüttel Court and Braunschweig Opera House
Ariadne to Porus - Cousser's Braunschweig Operas
'The Incomparable Director' in Hamburg, Nuremberg and Augsburg
Heliconische Musen-Lust - Opera at the Württemberg Court
'Il Paradiso terrestre'? - Cousser in London
'Fortune Not Blind' - Music for Dublin Castle
'Our Concert' - A Musician at Home
Cousser's 'Collection of Fine Musick' and the Practicalities of Musical Exchange
Appendix 1: Summary of the Contents of Cousser's 'Commonplace Book'
Appendix 2: Cousser's Address Book
Appendix 3:Cousser's Books of Cantatas, Madrigals, Duets and Serenatas
Appendix 4:Cousser's Inventory of Ouverture Incipits
Appendix 5: Transcription of Cousser's Notes for his 1716 Trip to London and the Continent

Also by Author

Also in Series