Hinrich Christopher Engelhardt (1694−1765)

Hinrich (Heinrich) Christoph Engelhardt, born in 1694 in Karlskrona and died on 5 April 1765 in Uppsala, was the cathedral organist in Uppsala and director musices at the university for 35 years. He was recognised as a skilled musician, but had many conflicts with the outside world, especially within academia. His era was characterised by a certain amount of modernisation but also, at times, a dismantling of the music scene. His vocal compositions, most of which were likely written for use in Uppsala Cathedral, demonstrate both a simple North German and a more Italian-influenced style.

Early Years

Hinrich Christoph Engelhardt was born in 1694 in Karlskrona, the son of the town musician and organist Johan Melchior Engelhardt. In 1723, he was employed as an organist in his hometown and was subsequently praised for his ‘well documented skill and experience’. It is likely that he had, by this time, already completed the studies and practice that he later asserted: organ studies with Gottlieb Nitauff and experience at ‘renowned chapels abroad in Germany and Denmark’. His position as organist in Karlskrona lasted three years, during which time he had to continuously struggle to get an old, ill-functioning organ repaired, something that never came to pass.

Cathedral organist and director musices

In 1727, when the position of cathedral organist in Uppsala was vacant, he applied successfully. The selection of Engelhardt was supported by the university chancellor, the archbishop and the governor, all of whom affirmed his musical skill, but there remained a problem. Being employed as organist was traditionally connected to the position of director musices (Director of Music) at the university, and in that matter, Engelhardt met with resistance. The astronomer Eric Burman had previously held these two music posts, but would now be relieved of them since he became a professor of higher mathematics. In 1729, he aggressively pursued a lawsuit against Engelhardt to keep the music positions. Burman, who had written a few theses on musical subjects and had developed a collegium musicum in Uppsala − regular music practice with students and professors − said that ‘an uninformed person, not educated in languages ​​and poetry’ such as Engelhardt could not cope with the academic side of the work, including interaction with students. His views were supported by several professors on the consistorium (the university board).

Thus began a long series of conflicts between the consistorium and Engelhardt. Accusations from both sides are amply documented in the minutes. Already in 1729 Engelhardt complained that the eight students who had received music scholarships from the university and played at major church feasts, thus forming the core of the university chapel, were not in place when they should be. The students, for their part responded that they hated Engelhardt ‘for his violent temper’. The violent temper shines through in many situations following this. These recurrent disagreements have left Engelhardt with an unfavourable epitaph in historical accounts. One of the disputes involved whether the chapel would participate in the university's celebration of the royal family’s birthdays, which was not regulated in the constitution, and which Engelhardt opposed.

In private, Engelhardt initiated a protracted and strenuous legal process against his wife, Margareta Klynder. He accused her of infidelity, whilst she him of brutality, and it ended in divorce in 1737. That same year, Engelhardt resigned as organist, but was re-instated in 1743, and then held the post until 1764 when, at seventy years old he was relieved of both of his musical positions. By this time the academic musical activities had not functioned at all well ‘for several years’. Besides any shortcomings of Engelhardt, there were economic factors that contributed to the situation: music scholarships, which were intended as the basis for a functioning university chapel, had been heavily eroded by inflation, and the cathedral's bad economy had meant that during certain periods he had not received his salary. He died a year after his dismissal.

Cathedral musician

Engelhardt's contemporaries also had positive things to say about his undertakings. A few years after his appointment, in 1730, the new and modern cathedral organ, built by Johan Nicholas Cahman, was inaugurated. It was the finest in Sweden at that time, and it was Engelhardt who was responsible for, and played on it. Here he was beyond question − on the contrary, he had demonstrated clear ‘proof of his capacity with the operation of the expensive organ’. The contemporary music historian Abraham Hülphers also counted him among those organists who had ‘made a valuable contribution’ to the country.

Precise details of the cathedral’s musical activities during Engelhardt's time have unfortunately not survived. It was however testified that, in the 1740s, the university chapel held weekly concerts with free admission for university students and teachers, which was a modernisation in comparison with the previously closed music making of the collegium musicum and a step towards the latter-day public concerts. In 1758, Engelhardt received praise from the consistorium for the beautiful passion music he presented, probably Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

The Engelhardt music collection

Engelhardt seems to have appeared in the Royal Court chapel in Stockholm on certain occasions, as did his son, Carl Diedrich Engelhardt, who was among the recipients of the music scholarships in Uppsala. Carl Diedrich, who eventually became a royal physician and settled in Gothenburg, donated, in 1798, his father’s music collection, not to Uppsala but to the university chapel of Lund.

The collection comprises about 750 items and is likely to contain the material played by the academic chapel in Uppsala, even though it cannot be ascertained whether all these pieces were in use there. By far the most frequent composer’s name in the collection is George Frideric Handel; followed by Carl Heinrich and (...) Graun, Johann Adolph Hasse, Johan Helmich Roman and Antonio Vivaldi, and by a plethora of composers, some of whom are remembered today, but most of whom are forgotten.

In Engelhardt's collection is a part of the music that he prepared for the ceremonies at Uppsala University. It is largely pieces taken from various works in keeping with the taste of the time, for example, Handel, Graun and Johan Agrell, possibly supplemented with music by Engelhardt himself. He, or someone else, has provided the vocal parts with texts, appropriate for the academic celebrations.

Original compositions

The collection also includes fourteen compositions by Engelhardt himself. One of them is instrumental, a four movement sonata for violin or flute and basso continuo, in a style not unlike Handel’s. The rest is church music for one or more voices, strings and basso continuo. Some of these works have a simple form, a short format and a chorale-like vocal style. These include one of the two German-language works, Straf mich nicht, dated Helsingborg 1720.

Other compositions are richer, with longer instrumental preludes and more differentiated vocal parts. The vocal lines are at times artful in the Italian style, and effective imitations exist between the instruments. The two works that can be dated to 1730, Klagesång for Archbishop Mathias Steuchius and music for the Jubilee of the Augsburg confession, both belong to this group.

The most comprehensive of Engelhardt's compositions is his music for the Annunciation, which has eight short sections and a chorale. Worth emphasising is also Af jordens mörka grav for Ascension day, for soprano solo, strings and two trumpets, together with the one-movement music for the first of Advent, for soprano and tenor soloists and choir.

Anders Edling © 2016
Trans. Robin McGinley


Alander, Bo: ‘Heinrich Christian Engelhardt i Karlskrona’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 25, 1943, pp. 115−123.
Annerstedt, ClaesUpsala universitets historia, vol. 3, 1719−1792, part 1, Universitetets öden, Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 1913, pp. 526−529.
Bengtsson, Ingmar: ‘Från Engelhardt till musikprocessen’, in: Anna Jonsson (ed.), Akademiska kapellet i Uppsala under 350 år: en översikt − från ‘chorus musicus’ till symfonisk samverkan, Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 1977, pp. 13−34.
Jonsson, Leif: Offentlig musik i Uppsala 1747−1854: från representativ till borgerlig konsert, ch. ‘Representativ musik – Akademiska kapellet’, Stockholm: Statens musikbibliotek, 1998, pp. 19−31.
Karle, Gunhild: Uppsala universitet och dess studenter 1477−1854, Uppsala: [self-published], 2009, pp. 232−234.
Kyhlberg, Bengt: ‘Stormaktstidens chorus musicus’, in: Anna Jonsson (ed.), Akademiska kapellet i Uppsala under 350 år: en översikt − från ‘chorus musicus’ till symfonisk samverkan, Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 1977, pp. 1−12.
Uppsala domkyrkas orglar från medeltiden till idag, Uppsala: Domkyrkomusiken, 2009.


Norrbottens museum Luleå, Lunds universitetsbibliotek.

Summary list of works

Chamber music (sonatas for violin and basso continuo), vocal music (Concerto for the Annunciation, Af jordens mörka grav, Vidga ut portarna, and so forth.)

Collected works

All works are only known via manuscripts in Lunds universitetsbibliotek, particularly the Engelhardt collection. The label ‘Eng. XXX’ indicates the catalog number.

Vocal music
Ack låt oss besinna, S, 2 violins and b.c., Eng. 709.
Af jordens mörka grav [for Ascension day], SATB, 2 violins, 2 trumpets, b.c., Eng 332.
Concerto for the Feast of the Annunciation, SATB, 2 violins, viola, b.c., Eng 662.
Denna är den stora dagen [for the Jubilee celebration 1730], S, 2 violins, b.c., Eng. 320.
Herre nu låter du din tjänare fara, S, 2 violins, viola, b.c., Eng. 362.
Ho skall välta av stenen [for Easter Sunday], S, 2 violins/oboes, b.c., Eng. 705.
Jesus är min fröjd, 2 S, 2 flutes, 2 violins, b.c., Eng. 707.
Klagosång under sorgemusik hållen vid parentation över … Mathias Steuchius [Funeral music for the eulogy of Mathias Steuchius], S, 2 violins, b.c., Eng. 708.
Sig fröjde nu var kristen man, SATB, 2 violins, viola, b.c., Eng. 706.
Sterb ich in so schönen Armen, S, violin, b.c., Eng. 456.
Straf mich nicht, S, 2 violins, b.c. [dated Helsingborg 1720], Eng. 704.
Vidga ut portarna [for the first Sunday in Advent], SATB, 2 violins, 2 trumpets, b.c., Eng. 47.
Äkta ståndet [for a wedding], S, 2 violins, b.c. Eng. 80.

Instrumental music
Sonata in G major for violin and b.c., Eng. 54.

Works by Hinrich Christopher Engelhardt

There are no works by the composer registered