The Kleiner Goldenersaal in Augsburg is a place that I was fortunate enough to visit and perform in, in these dying days of my European adventure. Over my time in Europe, I've had the pleasure of playing in many beautiful venues, from concert halls to churches and all manner of historical venues as well. It is an experience that I would never have thought possible when I was a student studying violin in Australia! Even after so many venues, I'm still discovering little treasures... and this "Little Golden Hall" is one of them!
Located in the historical town of Augsburg in Bavaria (one of the oldest cities in Germany, founded around 15 BC by the Romans), it would be hard to imagine that this street facade houses a beautiful late-Baroque ballroom inside! Originally part of Jesuit school, the Saal served as the auditorium until the school was closed and the space converted into a ballroom and its current incarnation as a concert and events venue.
The enormous ceiling fresco hails from the 18th century (completed in 1765) and is the work of the artist, Matthäus Günther. It is a late-Baroque (Early Classical) depiction of the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ. Like many European depictions of Christianity from that era, there is a hilariously Euro-centric conception of Middle Eastern events! Still, that doesn't detract from the grandeur of the ceiling decoration.
Moving along the sides of the hall, we have beautifully framed long windows that bath the hall in natural light in the day. On the outside of this inward facing wall (not the street side), the wall is lined with bountiful growths of ivy that frame the windows on the other side.
It appears that there remnants and relics of the original owners and use-case of the building in the "front" where the stage is set for musicians. This is actually the "rear" of the hall, as it is backed onto the green room, and the street entrance is via long stairs on the other end of the hall.
What is quite interesting is that appears to be a connection with Leopold Mozart (the father of the famous WA Mozart that most people would recognise). I'm afraid that my German is not so fluent, so I wasn't sure if the connection was that he performed in the hall, or was connected to the school in some manner. In any case, he did grow up in the city of Augsburg!
In the older scripts and pictures, you see the images from the famous Violinschule (Violin School) treatise that was published by Leopold Mozart which is still the starting point for any informed study of Mozart and other early to mid Classical era composers. It is a great resource, and provides an interested musician with many contemporary ideas and concepts that have since been forgotten in today's modern Classical world.
There are also details and plans about the Jesuit theatre. I do wonder if that was what they had meant when they described the Saal as being originally used as an auditorium? I had originally thought that it was to practice oratory and rhetoric, but it might also have included theatre use!
Interesting plans about the school, and how it expanded to include the Saal as part of a later purchase.
No idea... by this time, my German ability was shrinking rapidly with the onset of hunger in my tummy!
So, with one last look backwards into the Hall... I think I even forgot to mention how beautiful it was to play in this venue! The sound was vibrant and bright even when the audience was filling the seats! For a largish orchestra, it was a touch on the loud side... but I could image that for a smaller chamber ensemble, it would have been just perfect!
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