Joseph Martin Kraus (1756−1792)


Joseph Martin Kraus was born on 20 June 1756 in the German town of Miltenberg am Main, and died in Stockholm on 15 December 1792. Attended secondary school in Mannheim from 1768 to 1772, followed by university studies in Mainz, Erfurt and Göttingen from 1773−76. In 1778 he travelled to Stockholm, where he became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1780, and a year later the second conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra at the Royal Opera. In 1782 Gustav III dispatched him on a four-year tour of Europe. In 1788 he was made director of the educational institution of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and chief conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra. Kraus is the most prominent figure in Gustavian music and was responsible for seminal works of opera, orchestral music and chamber music.

Joseph Martin Kraus.

Joseph Martin Kraus as a Swedish conductor. Oil on cardboard by Antonio Pomarolli 1783.



Studies in Germany

Born in Miltenberg am Main in 1756, Joseph Martin Kraus grew up in Buchen, where his father held the post of registrar. From 1768 to 1772, he attended the music seminary of the Jesuit gymnasium in Mannheim, a city at its musical zenith during these years, with the rich musical culture that one associates with the Mannheim School. The composers active in the city likely had an indelible musical influence on Kraus, who also apparently received tuition under (Abbé) Georg Joseph Vogler in ‘satskonsten’ (composition). Two ‘pantomimes’ and two symphonies can, with some reservation, be traced back to this time.

In January 1773, on completing his gymnasium schooling, Kraus − probably on the advice or orders of his father − enrolled as a law student at Mainz University, although he commenced his studies with a course in philosophy. In November that year, he matriculated at Erfurt University, where he was also able to develop his command of ‘satskonst’ under the tutorship, presumably, of either Christian Kittel (former student of J.S. Bach) or Georg Peter Weimar (the town’s leading musical personage) or both.

As a young student.

Joseph Martin Kraus as a young student in Erfurt, 1775. (Privately owned. Photo Bezirksmuseum, Buchen). 


In November 1775, his studies were interrupted when his father was dismissed from his job at the diocesan office, but they resumed again in 1776 in Göttingen. Although it might be a coincidence, we can, with the benefit of hindsight, see the hand of fate pointing him to this particular place of study. For here he found himself immersed in the admittedly moribund yet surviving and historically extremely compelling German cultural literary movement, Sturm und Drang. Kraus was able to make friends with a couple of the remaining members of the Göttinger Hainbund poets’ circle, under whose aesthetic influence he wrote the book Etwas von und über Musik fürs Jahr 1777.

With time, music came to take over his life. Kraus left details of a number of completed works, which make up a rather impressive list for a juris studiosus: six string quartets; six symphonies; a sinfonia concertante for violin, flute, viola and cello; a flute concerto; a cantata for soprano and orchestra; a duet (might safely be called a sonata) for violin and viola; and a duet for harpsichord and violin. One dilemma that this wealth of compositions presents is that we cannot say for certain exactly which works these are, which might have been preserved or lost.

Kraus silhouette.

Kraus as a student in Göttingen, silhouette 1777. (Musikverket)


To Gustav III’s Stockholm and into Europe

In 1778, Carl Stridsberg, a Swedish fellow-student of Kraus’s, enticed him to Gustav III’s Stockholm. Kraus found life a struggle at first, and frequently resorted to begging his parents for money until he finally came through with the first of a series of opera projects commissioned and impelled by the King himself. To Johan Henrik Kellgren’s first opera libretto Proserpin Kraus composed a 90-minute one-act opera. At what can be described as a dress rehearsal at Confidencen (the Ulriksdal Palace theatre), in June 1781, Kraus so impressed the royal ear that the King appointed him kapellmästare (chief conductor) on the spot and invited him to write the inauguration opera for the new opera house to be built on Stockholm’s Gustav Adolf’s Square (it was to have been Æneas i Carthago until fate intervened).

Moreover, Gustav III sent him on a journey through Germany, Austria, Italy and France to ‘observe the theatres’ new contrivances’ and to write an expert assessment of how the European opera houses appeared and operated. His trip would be a more than four-year long Grand Tour. In Vienna Kraus met composers such as Gluck, Haydn, ‘the thoroughly honest Albrechtsberger’ and Johann Friedrich Reichardt, but probably not Mozart. In Florence, Kraus visited Giovanni Battista Martini, whom he called Italy’s greatest ‘musiktheoreticus’; and in Rome he met King Gustav himself on a royal continental tour. From Naples he sailed to Marseille, continuing up to Paris, where he stayed for a full two years. Kraus composed industriously (including the commissioned Æneas i Carthago for the opening of the new opera house), but could not find the enormous backing required to have his works performed.

Back in Sweden

On 18 December 1786 Stockholms Posten recorded one ‘Hof-Capellmästaren Joseph Kraus from foreign climes’ amongst the city’s new arrivals. His return, despite alleged plots against him, marked the beginning of a busy, successful time for Kraus. He was now able to actively promote the establishment of the educational institution of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) and to direct performances of his own and other composers’ works. His duties were many: he was strictly speaking the only kapellmästare at the Kungliga Operan (including a summer engagement at Drottningholm slottsteater [palace theatre]); he led the multifaceted concert activities of the Kungliga Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra) in the subscription concerts organised by the Riddarhuset (the House of the Nobility) and other more occasional circumstances; and he was often at the new Dramatiska teatern (the Royal Dramatic theatre) or the Stenborg teater. Moreover, he was appointed director of the educational institution and in 1788 was formally made principal hovkapellmästare (chief conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra). All this should have been more than enough to fill his working day, so the sheer volume of new music he composed must have required many a late night and early morning.

Joseph Martin Kraus.

 Joseph Martin Kraus. Oil painting attributed to Anton Graff, 1777. (Kungl. Musikaliska akademien). Kraus was elected into Kungl. Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) on the 29th of November 1780, as member no. 76.


However, bitter times were looming for Sweden and King Gustav III. The King had been playing high politics during the 1780s until the fateful masked ball in 1792, the theatre of his assassination. Sorgemusik över Gustav III, which Kraus composed for the royal funeral at Riddarholm Church on 14 May 1792, marks the magnificent end of a compositional career covering almost 200 works. Kraus himself passed away on 15 December that same year of ‘sever emaciation/consumption’. The tumultuous repercussions of Gustav III’s murder also affected the Operan, and if the prospects of staging Kraus’s now-completed Æneas opera had seemed remote before his death, they certainly were afterwards.

As a Catholic, one may assume that Kraus could not be buried in a Swedish church, for his wish was to be interred on lands belonging to Count Nils Bark. Bark selected for him a burial site on a promontory in Brunnsviken bay that would be one of the most beautiful in the area. Extrapolating from the burial certificate, Kraus biographer Karl Friedrich Schreiber wrote: ‘Across the frozen Brunnsviken bay, his heartbroken friends carried the pitifully light coffin by torchlight to its peaceful resting place, where the funeral ceremony was held in accordance with the Catholic rite’.


Operas and other stage music

Joseph Martin Kraus completed three main operas, none of which he lived to see staged at the theatre where he was the artistic director. By the time he departed Germany in 1778, he had already begun work on Azire (to a libretto by his friend, Stridsberg) and tried in vain to stage it in Stockholm − only six pieces from the finale’s ballet divertissement have been preserved.

Proserpin proved something of a breakthrough for him at its performance at Confidencen in 1781. He received the libretto from Kellgren in the summer of 1780, and from it created a work that is neither an Italian opera seria nor a French tragédie lyrique, but more a youthful attempt to clothe a sentimental, classical symbol drama based on the Persephone myth in continuously sympathetic and vibrant orchestral garb. Following an overture in the spirit of Gluck, the material is divided up in a frequently surprising way into approximately forty numbers − often attacca − of which only a dozen or so are proper arias, no less than fourteen choral pieces, and over twenty passages of recitative with orchestral accompaniment. A ‘Krausian’ has no difficulty appreciating both the whole and its parts, but other less enthusiastic critics have identified particulars that can be regarded as shortcomings or weaknesses.

After the successful performance at Confidencen, Kraus was appointed kapellmästare and was soon given the honour of composing the inaugural work for the new opera house on Gustav Adolf’s Square (but J.G. Naumann’s Cora och Alonzo was staged instead). According to the libretto preface, Kellgren makes a point of the fact that King Gustav III had himself proposed a plan for the work, based on the romantic liaison between Æneas and Dido in Carthage. It can be likened to a grand opéra in a format that a Berlioz (Les Troyens has the same theme!), not to mention a Wagner, had made a matter of course. The opera has two overtures, the one preceding the prologue, the other the first act. The secco recitatives (song accompanied only by harpsichord and possible a basso continuo) have been completely replaced by strings that sometimes contain a wind ingredient. During the last ten years of his life, Kraus would continue to put the finishing touches to his mammoth opera, which contained upwards of six hours of music, but it was not premiered until after his death in a heavily truncated version under J.C.F. Hæffner in 1799. Deletions were also made for the work’s so-called ‘original premier’ in 2005 at the Stuttgart Opera. The masked ball, Kraus’s wasting disease, politics and new cultural constellations hamstrung the remarkable developments that the Gustavian opera had set in motion.

Amongst nine titles of works containing incidental music are a great many individual pieces of varying character. The overture to Voltaire’s tragedy Olympie (1791), for instance, has been given fitting prominence for its remarkably modern music − the piece ends not with a dramatic concluding chord but with an ‘open’ pianissimo dominant. There is also the diversiform music to Fiskarena by the renowned Danish choreographer, Bournonville. Here, Kraus is really in his essence as he juggles snippets of folk melodies from which two angloises (one of them an almost genuine English jig), a ‘Hungarian’ ungherese and other such dances can be readily discerned.

Orchestral music

Another important group of works is the symphonies − in Stockholm, the opera orchestra was also used for public concerts. A symphony in C major contains a solo-esque obbligato violin part like a sinfonia concertante. The subsequent symphony could classify as a ‘chamber symphony’ and has an intriguing genesis: the key of C-sharp minor is in itself unusual (Bertil van Boer finds only two in this key amongst thousands of coeval symphonies) and it is a minor challenge in intonation and technique. The work is original and often, not without reason, referred to as a Sturm und Drang symphony − one of Kraus’s most affecting. Moreover, Kraus opens with a reverential nod to his much-admired ‘colleague’ Gluck, whose opera Iphigeneia in Aulis was staged in Stockholm in 1778. The first measures clearly cite the overture to that opera. Kraus then probably reused this work in Paris in 1786 in an extended form that authorities judge as his foremost symphony, now in (a less ‘troublesome’) C minor.

There were more ‘symphonic’ works to come, highlighting the nature of his compositional endeavours. In 1789, Kraus was ordered to write a march for the closing of the important parliament and, whether out of haste or his own amusement, he elected to write an original paraphrase of Mozart’s Marcia from Act 1 of his 1782 opera Idomeneo. How the march came into Kraus’s possession remains a mystery. Kraus also delivered a Sinfonia per la chiesa, a ‘sinfonia con fugato’ with its refined and equally magnificent fugue, for the same occasion. Here too, Kraus did more ‘borrowing’, this time from his Austrian colleague Albrechtsberger (from his oratorio Pilgrimme auf Golgatha).

Vocal music

It appears that Kraus enjoyed an industrious collaboration with Carl Michael Bellman. Several of their solo songs have survived, including a collection of five ‘cantatas’, which also have an interesting provenance. The wife of architect professor Eric Palmstedt had a lovely singing voice and would arrange ‘breakfasts with musical postludes’ for prominent figures of culture, especially Bellman, who composed a number of eulogic poems to his hostess, to which Kraus composed and accompanied music on the spot. The titles bespeak the content: Fiskarstugan, (The fisherman’s cottage), Måltiden i fiskarstugan (The dinner in the fisherman’s cottage) Återfarten från Fiskarstugan (Return from the fisherman’s cottage) and Mjölkkammarn på Hagen (The Dairy at Hagen [the name of the cottage]).  The songs depict sunshine, thunderstorms and fishing escapades − Bellman once falls overboard and his new boots fill with water. The fifth cantata, Bland de hvita tjäll och tak, was written in honour of Gustav III’s birthday in 1792.

Four or five of Kraus’s 58 solo songs are settings of Bellman lyrics. None of these songs surpass what might well qualify as his masterwork, ‘Vid Mozarts död’. Its inception is obscure, but it is likely that one of the two friends had noticed a short burial announcement in Stockholms Posten. Bellman set immediately to work on a poem, specific details of which carry traces of the article. Kraus’s song paints a picture of the age and is a tribute largely unparalleled in the Swedish art of song writing. It is worth noting that Kraus spurned a mournful minor in favour of an E-sharp major.

Kraus also chose lyrics by other poets for his solo songs. Arguably one of his grandest, ‘Ynglingarne’, is his setting of Carl Gustaf Nordforss’s thunderous poem ‘Svallhaf, brustna djup’, again in the Sturm und Drang spirit. Two other songs can, like this one, be characterised as odes, the somewhat cryptic ‘An − als ihm die − starb’ and ‘Der Abschied’. The former laments the death of poet Matthias Claudius’s sister and has elements of recitative with Biblical allusions; the latter Kraus probably penned himself in connection with the Göttinger Hainbund literary group that he held so dear. The lettered and polyglot composer Kraus also chose poems from other languages. Twenty-six songs with German lyrics form one obvious group, and are joined by five in French, five in Italian, one in Danish and one in Dutch.

His 18 concert arias also constitute a significant part of his vocal music. The forms vary and sometimes include virtuosic passages. Kraus was apparently urged, as was customary at the time, to give the leading singers of the opera stage an opportunity to demonstrate their vocal talents, and delivered magnificent examples of the kind of music that was expected and that could be generously adorned with artistic lustre. He was also able to furnish star singers with desirable show-pieces on his overseas trip.

Chamber music and piano pieces

Kraus, like other important composers of his time, was a passionate pianist. From Italy come stories praising the beauty of his technique: the Venezuelan general Francisco de Miranda on a visit to Stockholm wrote in his diary that ‘Kraus played the pianoforte like an angel’. The violin was the other natural instrument of choice at the music schools Kraus attended. In the 18th century, chamber music became − as elsewhere in Europe − an increasingly common social diversion in Stockholm, at least for the better-off middle classes. Most important of his seven piano works are two grand piano sonatas. The first of these, in E-flat major, was written probably in Paris in 1784 as either a reduction of, or indeed the source of a longer violin sonata (such reworking being common practice at the time). The other, in E major, has been called ‘one of the most original, monumental and complex piano sonatas from the last years of the 18th century’ by Michael Kube, and anticipates, according to van Boer, Beethoven: the andante ‘sounds strikingly close to the famous movement in Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

The next interesting group is the five violin sonatas, then not a widely practised musical form in Stockholm. Boer maintains that Kraus intended to offer violin sonatas to Traeg, a Viennese publisher, who indeed included two of them in his 1784 catalogue. His first probably dates back to his Göttingen era; the second was written early on in Stockholm; and two more were composed in Paris in 1785. The first of these, in E-flat major, was composed both as a duo and for solo piano. The second, in C major and justly called the ‘grand’, has a violin part of equal standing to that of the piano (in older works, the division of roles could be described as a sonata for piano with appended violin).

Another large group comprises the ten string quartets, six of which Kraus had published by Hummel’s in Berlin in 1784 with obsequious dedications to King Gustav III. It has been pointed out that time would not have allowed Kraus to have become familiar with the self-evident patterns being developed by Haydn and Mozart, and that he adopted his own forms that employed not so much of the French quatuor concertant/brillant (in which the first violin often hovers over subsidiary parts of a more accompanying nature) as varying patterns. Some of the quartets − as was so often the case then − were given more or less expressive titles by the publishers. For the B-flat major quartet (the Hummel edition) to be called Bratschenquartett is quite apt (the viola is given an important voice and has its own attractive timbre), and the epithet ‘Fugakvartetten’ for the quartet in G minor derives from the movement that embodies such a form (fugue). The ‘Scottish’ G major quartet has an andante movement called ‘Scozzese’ and a ‘Scottish’ feel with its bagpipe-like bass drone, while the D major quartet could owe its title of ‘Avskedskvartetten’ (Farewell Quartet) to the ‘lyrical minor theme’ of its slow movement, which undergoes variations in the same mood. However, that the C major quartet should be called ‘Vårkvartetten’ (Spring Quartet) is not obvious from the music…

Title page of Six Quators.

Titel page of "Six Quators" by Kraus, printed in Berlin 1783-84. (Uppsala Universitetsbiblioteks Kraus collection) 


Kraus’s friend Fredrik Samuel Silverstolpe, who would go on to write the first biography of the composer, wrote that the piano trio (D major, 1787) was ‘formerly composed for the pleasure of the Royal Court during a sojourn at Drottningholm’. The final movement was also marked ‘Ghiribizzo: Allegro’, an unusual term the first word of which means ‘bizarre idea, fancy’, and offers several surprises that are particularly and rewardingly bizarre. The piano is given a minor variation in a short cadence, and a final, discreet valedictory pirouette at the end.

Liturgical music

Fifteen works can be categorised as liturgical music, including the early Requiem and Te Deum, the oratorio Der Tod Jesu, the cantata Kom, din herdestaf att bära − composed in honour of the installation of Magnus Lehnberg as vicar of Kungsholm parish (1790, lyrics by Bellman) − and the imposing funeral music for Gustav III.

In all the commotion surrounding the regicide, meticulous arrangements had to be made for the funeral in accordance with the dictates of what were often time-honoured traditions. As hovkapellmästare, it naturally fell to Kraus to compose the music, and no doubt to do so without stepping outside strictly drawn lines. The music for the King’s lying in state was called Symphonie funèbre and has four movements, all slow, of which the third is a scrupulous orchestration of a psalm. Everything gives pause for deep reflection and grief, with the exception of the odd note of solace.

The ‘muffled’ (partly cloth-covered) drums were struck during the funeral procession from the palace to Riddarholm Church, and could still be heard as the service began. The piece continues with violin syncopations that enhance the sense of distress, and in spite of the more consoling tones, the rhythm remains disquieting. Inside the church, the liturgy segues into a Larghetto, with the following movement a funeral psalm (no. 400 in the 1697 hymnal) set in proper four-part choral form with 21 slow measures to which the congregation presumably sung along. Kraus adds yet another personal greeting by citing in the final Adagio movement the first movement of his own C minor symphony.

One might recall the way Bach built his grand music ceremonies; now we do not know if Kraus had ever heard Bach’s music, but much of these compositional mannerisms were very much in the spirit of their time, and grand ceremonial music was often written on commission. Kraus certainly executed such a commission in magnificent fashion.

A month after the body was lain in state, the King was buried in Riddarholm Church to a musical backdrop that needed to be even greater in format and duration. The music is composed for large orchestra, choir and four soloists, and musicologist Anna Johnson-Ivarsdotter has described how the use of lavish décor allowed ‘the theatre stage [to be transposed] into the body of the church’. Leopold’s text eulogises ‘Sweden’s hero, King and father!’, but ‘on the other hand contains not one ounce of sanctity’, which, however, does not stop her calling it one if his most important works.

Although this might not have been exeunt Kraus as a composer − he is thought to have composed more comic opera music (advertised as ‘Marknaden, a comedy in one act, combined with songs and divertissements’ for Duke Carl’s birthday) − none of his later music has survived (and could, like other music possibly by Kraus, have been destroyed in the fire at the Dramatiska teatern in 1825).


His legacy can be judged from the ‘Åminnelse-Tal’, a speech to his memory given by his friends Stridsberg and Pehr Frigel at the Academy’s memorial concert ‘in the grand hall of the Riddarhuset, 24 May 1798’; from Skuggorna, a poem by Anna Maria Lenngren, which depicts Kellgren and Kraus strolling through ‘the land of the blessed spirits’; from Till Krausens Skugga, a long poem from 1794 by Thorild-admirer Pehr Enbom; from the exclamation ‘Divine Kraus!’ in Carl Jonas Love Almqvist’s Drottningens juvelsmycke (1834); and from the elegy written by the young bard Johan Stenhammar on the death of a friend, whom ‘Mozart, Kraus and Gluck now receive’.

Oil painting by Pehr Hilleström.

"Gustavian interior with a company playing music". Oil painting by Pehr Hilleström (1732-1816) probably comissioned 1779. (Nationalmuseum)


This said, it took a long time for Kraus to be rediscovered, and it was not until the 1920s that music scholars in Germany and Sweden began to search for sources and scores. Since then the publication of his works has taken off and the German Kraus Society, amongst other such bodies, has worked assiduously to spread knowledge of the man and his achievements to the entire music world − although much remains to be done before it will be able to fully acquaint itself with his music and raise Kraus to the place he deserves on a kind of musical Olympus. Some commentators have taken to making comparative reference to Kraus as the ‘Swedish Mozart’, which in virtually every respect is misleading should one want to ‘compare’ the masters’ music. That both these great men lived contemporary and equally short lives might be true, but otherwise they are not even alike in their music. Kraus was the most important musical figure of the Gustavian era, and very much a Swedish composer; yet he was also, like all important artists, a unique personage that the music world is gradually coming to know − and love.

Hans Åstrand © 2016
Trans. Neil Betteridge




Kraus was voted into the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien on 29 November 1780 as member no. 76.

Kraus’s grave at Tivoliudden, overlooking Brunnsviken bay in the north of Stockholm (Bergshamra). The stone was raised in 1846 and bears the inscription: ‘Här det jordiska af Kraus, det himmelska lefver i hans toner’ (Here lie the earthly remains of Kraus, the divine lives on in his notes).


Publications by the composer

Versuch von Schäfergedichten, 1773.
Von dem Menschen, doctoral dissertation in philosophy, 1773, manuscript in Mainz.
Tolon, tragedy, 1776.
Wie der in den letzten Zügen liegenden sogenannten Mainzer Universität noch aufzuhelfen sei und wie?, satire, 1776, manuscript in Buchen.
Etwas von und über Musik fürs Jahr 1777, Frankfurt am Mayn: 1778. Faks. München: Katzbichler, 1977.
Resedagbok, Tyskland−Wien (1782−83), manuscript, Uppsala universitetsbibliotek.
Utkast till ett musiklexikon, manuscript, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, Stockholm.


Anrep-Nordin, Birger: Studier över Joseph Martin Kraus, diss., Lunds universitet, 1924. [Also in: Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 5, 1923 & vol. 6, 1924].
Boer Jr., Bertil H. Van: The sacred works and symphonies of Joseph Martin Kraus, diss., Uppsala universitet, 1983. [Edited edition] Dramatic Cohesion in the Music of Joseph Martin Kraus: From Sacred Music to Symphonic Form, Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1989. ‘The works of Joseph Martin Kraus. A preliminary overview of the sources’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 62, 1980.
−−−: ‘A Rediscovered Sacred Work by J. M. Kraus: Some Observations on his Creative Process’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 65, 1983.
−−−: Die Werke von Joseph Martin Kraus − Systematisch-Thematisches Werkverzeichnins, Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens skriftserie no. 56, Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1988.
−−−: ‘Joseph Martin Kraus's Soliman den andra. A Gustavian Turkish Opera’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 70, 1988.
−−−: Joseph Martin Kraus (1756−1792): a systematic-thematic catalogue of his musical works and source study, Stuyvesant, N.Y.: Pendragon Press, 1998.
Bungardt, V: Joseph Martin Kraus (1756−1792): Ein Meister des klassischen Klavierliedes, diss., Universität zu Köln, Regensburg: Bosse, 1973.
Engländer, Richard: Joseph Martin Kraus und die gustavianische Oper, Uppsala: Kungl. Humanistiska vetenskapsförbundet, 1943.
−−−: ‘Kraus Proserpin: Ett bidrag till Kraus musikdramatiska stil’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 21, 1939.
−−−: ‘Joseph Martin Kraus och den svenska diktarkretsen’, Samlaren, vol. 62, 1941.
−−−: ‘Från rokokomusik till romantisk opera’, in: Gösta Berg (ed.), Det glada Sverige: Våra fester och högtider genom tiderna, vol. 3, Stockholm: Natur och kultur, 1948.
−−−: ‘Kraus, Joseph Martin’, in: Svenska män och kvinnor, vol. 4, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1948.
−−−: ‘Gluck und der Norden’, Acta Musicologica, vol. 24, 1952.
−−−: ‘Joseph Martin Kraus’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 38, 1956.
−−−: ‘Joseph Martin Kraus’, Musikrevy, vol. 11, 1956.
−−−: ‘Joseph Martin Kraus’, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 7, Kassel et alt.: Bärenreiter/Metzler, 1958.
−−−: Die gustavianische Oper, in Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, vol. 16, 1957.
−−−: ‘Kraus, Joseph Martin’, Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 4, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1977.
Eppstein, Hans: ‘J M Kraus’, in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 21, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1975−77.
Frimureriska tonsättare och frimurerisk musik. Uppsala 2006: Forskningslogen Carl Friedrich Eckleff.
Geistliches Leben und geistliche Musik im fränkischen Raum am Ende des alten Reiches: Untersuchungen zur Kirchenmusik von Joseph Martin Kraus und ihrem geistlich-musikalischen Umfeld, Friedrich W. Riedel (ed.), München: Katzbichler, 1990.
Gierow, C-O: Joseph Martin Kraus och Carl Stridsbergs musikaliska författarskap i Stockholmsposten 1779−1781, in Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning (1957).
Gustav III and the Swedish Stage: Opera, Theatre, and other Foibles: Essays in honor of Hans Åstrand, Bertil H. van Boer Jr (ed.), Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1993.
Gustavian opera: An interdisciplinary reader in Swedish opera, dance and theatre 1771−1809, Inger Mattsson (ed.), Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1991).
Holzapfel, H: ‘Joseph Martin Kraus − ett 200-årsminne’, Credo, vol. 37, 1956.
Jonsson, Leif & Anna Ivarsdotter (eds): Musiken i Sverige, vol. 2, Frihetstid och gustaviansk tid, Stockholm: Fischer, 1993.
Joseph Martin Kraus: Ein Meister im gustavischen Kulturleben. Bericht von einem Kraus-Symposion 1878, Hans Åstrand (ed.), Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1978.
Joseph Martin Kraus und Italien: Beiträge zur Rezeption italienischer Kultur, Kunst und Musik im späten 18. Jahrhundert, Friedrich W. Riedel (ed.), München: Katzbichler, 1987.
Joseph Martin Kraus in seiner Zeit. Referate des zweiten internationalen Kraus-Symposions in Buchen 1980, Friedrich W. Riedel (ed.), München: Katzbichler, 1984.
Kraus und das gustavianische Stockholm: Bericht von dem Kraus-Symposion [Stockholm] 1982, Gunnar Larsson & Hans Åstrand (eds), Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1984. 
Kraus, Joseph Martin: Brev 1776−1792, ed. Hans Åstrand, Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens skriftserie no. 108, Hedemora: Gidlund, 2006.
Leux-Henschen, Irmgard: Joseph Martin Kraus in seinen Briefen, Bromma: Edition Reimers, 1978.
−−−: ‘Den gustavianska kulturdebattens anonyma Gluck-propaganda’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 38, 1956.
−−−: ‘Vem var författare till Gluck-artiklarna i Stockholmspostens första årgångar?’, Samlaren, vol. 87, 1966.
Lindgren, A: Svenske hofkapellmästare 1782−1882, Stockholm: Central-tryckeriet, 1882.
Mattsson, Inger et al (ed.): Gustavian Opera (KMA 1991)
Mayer-Reinach, Albert
: ‘Lannerstiernas ‘Äfventyraren’, musik af Kraus med flera’, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 21, 1939.
Menges, Franz: ‘Joseph Martin Kraus’, in: Neue Deutsche Biographie, vol. 12, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1980.
Meyer, Kathi: ‘Ein Musiker des Göttinger Hainbundes, Joseph Martin Kraus’, Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft, vol. 9, 1926−27.
Mörner, C.-G. Stellan: ‘Två visböcker från 1700-talet med musik av J Wikmanson och J M Kraus’, Ord och bild, vol. 58, 1949.
−−−: Joseph Martin Kraus, en gustaviansk tonsättare i Glucks och Mozarts anda, Studiekamraten, vol. 39, 1956.
Pfannkuch, Wilhelm: ‘Sonatenform und Sonatenzyklus in den Streichquartetten von Joseph Martin Kraus’, in: Georg Reichert & Martin Just (eds), Bericht über den internationalen musikwissenschaftlichen Kongress Kassel 1962, Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1963.
Riedel, Friedrich W.: … das Himmlische lebt in seinen Tönen: Joseph Martin Kraus: Ein Meister der Klassik, Mannheim: J & J Verlag, 1992.
Schreiber, Karl Friedrich: Biographie über den Odenwälder Komponisten Joseph Martin Kraus, Buchen: Bezirksmuseum, 1928 [new printing 2006].
−−−: ‘Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Joseph Martin Kraus’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, vol. 7, 1925.
Silverstolpe, Fredrik SamuelBiographie af Kraus, med bilagor af femtio bref ifrån honom, Stockholm, 1833 [with works list].
−−−: ’Mozart och Kraus såsom tonsättare för scenen’, Nytt Dagligt Allehanda, 1826.
Skuncke, Marie-Christine & Anna Ivarsdotter: Svenska operans födelse: Studier i gustaviansk musikdramatik, Stockholm: Atlantis, 1998.
Stridsberg, Carl: Åminnelse-Tal öfver kongl. Svenska Musikaliska Akademiens ledamot Framl. Kgl. Jof. Capellmästaren Herr Joseph Kraus, Stockholm, 1798.
Walin, S: Beiträge zur Geschichte der schwedishen Sinfonik, diss., Uppsala universitet, 1941.
Åstrand, Hans: Joseph Martin Kraus: Det stora undantaget/The Great Exception, Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1993 [sw. & eng. parallel editions (trans. Roger Tanner), including works list and bibliography].
−−−: Joseph Martin Kraus: Den mest betydande gustavianska musikpersonligheten, Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens skriftserie no. 122, Hedemora: Gidlund, 2011.


Bezirksmuseum Buchen, Deutsche Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Landsarkivet Härnösand, Uppsala universitetsbibliotek, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, Kungliga Biblioteket Stockholm, Nordiska museet Stockholm, Sveriges Radios musikbibliotek, Musik- och teatermuseet Stockholm, Riksarkivet Stockholm, Landsarkivet i Visby, Lunds universitetsbibliotek

Summary list of works

6 operas (Azire, Proserpin, Zelia, Oedipe, Soliman den Andra, Aeneas i Carthago), incidental music (Le bon seigneur, Visittimman, Amphitryon, Flintbergs bröllop, Mexikanska systrarna, Olympie, etc.), ballet music (Fiskarena, 2 pantomimes, ballet music to Armide), orchestral works (Symphonie funèbre, symphonies, concertos, etc.), chamber music (11 string quartets, a flute quintet, 5 violin sonatas, a sonata for piano trio, etc.), works for clavier (3 sonatas, variations, etc.), organ works, choral works (Requiem, Miserere, Te Deum, oratorios, cantatas, motets, etc.), songs (50 or so), other vocal music (17 concert arias, 3 concert duets).

Collected works

This list is taken from Hans Åstrand (2011), having taken into account Van Boer (1998).
Musical dramatic works

Azire (C. Stridsberg), opera in 3 acts, VB 18, 1778−79. [5 ballet pieces and final chorus preserved].
Proserpin (J.H. Kellgren based on Ph. Quinault), opera in 1 act, VB 19, 1780−81.
Soliman den Andra eller De tre Sultaninnorna (J.G. Oxenstierna based on Ch.S. Favart), comic opera in 3 acts, VB 22, 1788.
Æneas i Cartago (J.H. Kellgren based on a sketch by Gustav III), opera in 5 acts with a prologue, VB 23, 1781−91.

Incidental music
Le bon seigneur (Jean-Auguste Julien), 5 pieces, VB 25, 1784−86(?).
Hör mina ömma suckar klaga, aria to the comedy Visittimman, VB 26, 1787.
Intermèdes pour Amphitryon (Molière), 27 pieces, VB 27, 1785−86.
Fintbergs bröllop (C.G. von Holthusen), 7 pieces, VB 28, 1787.
Du i hvars oskuldsfulla blick, aria to the comedy De Mexikanske Systrarna (N. Sparrschöld), VB 30, 1789.
Äventyraren eller Resan till Månens Ö (J. Lannerstierna), overture and 7 pieces, VB 32, 1790.
Olympie (J.H. Kellgren efter F.M.A. Voltaire), overture, march, 4 pieces between acts and a finale, VB 33, 1791.
Må Svea Folk! Din Tacksamhet …, to celebrate the birthday of the Duke of Södermanland in 1791, VB 34, 1791.
Œdipe (G.J. Adlerbeth), 10 pieces, VB 35, 1792.

Ballet music
Pantomime D major, VB 37, 1769−72.
Pantomime G major, VB 38, 1769−72.
2 satser till Glucks Armide, VB 39, 1787.
Fiskarena (choreography A. & A. Bournonville), VB 40, 1789.

Orchestral works
Symfonier, sinfonior
Symfoni A major, VB 128, 1769−72(?).
Sinfonia buffa F major, VB 129, 1769−72(?).
Symfoni F major, VB 130, 1775−76(?).
Sinfonia con violino ob[b]ligato C major, VB 138, 1779−80(?).
Symfoni C major, VB 139, 1781.
Symfoni C-sharp minor, VB 140, 1781−82(?).
Symfoni E minor, VB 141, 1783(?).
Symfoni C minor, VB 142, 1783(?).
Symfoni D major, VB 143, 1783(?).
Symfoni E-flat major, VB 144, 1783.
Symfoni F major, VB 145, 1784−86.
Sinfonia per la chiesa D major, VB 146, 1789.
Sinfonia da chiesa/uvertyr D minor, VB 147, 1789−90(?).
Symphonie funèbre C minor, VB 148, 1792.

Violinkonsert C major, VB 151, 1777(?), rev. 1783.

Other orchestral music
Riksdagsmarsch D major, VB 154, 1789.

Sacred music

Requiem D minor, VB 1, 1775(?).
Miserere C minor/F major, VB 4, 1774(?).
Die Geburt Jesu, oratorio [partially preserved in an arrangement for mass by Pfister], VB 16, 1775.
Der Tod Jesu D minor, VB 17, 1776.
Parvum quando cerno Deum D major, VB 5, 1776.
Te Deum D major, VB 6, 1776.
Fracto demum sacramento D major, motet, VB 7, 1776(?).
Proh parvule C major, VB 8, 1776.
Mot en alsvåldig magt E-flat major, aria, VB 9, 1781(?).
Stella coeli C major, motet, VB 10, 1783.
Speravi, in te Domine E-flat major, choir, VB 11, 1785−86.
Miserere nostri domine C minor, VB 13, 1788. [Possible fragment of Te Deum].
Kom din herdestaf att bära D major, cantata, VB 15, 1790.

Zum Geburtstage des Königs (C.H. Gröning), VB 41, 1782.
Begravningskantaten (C.G. af Leopold), VB 42, 1792.
La Scusa (P. Metastasio), VB 43, 1777(?).
Den frid ett menlöst hjerta njuter (anon.), VB 45, 1780, rev. 1782.
La Gelosia (P. Metastastio), VB 46, 1780(?).
La Primavera (P. Metastasio), VB 47, 1790.

With text in italian; text by P. Metastasio unless otherwise noted.
Non più fra sassi algosi (arr. of the last aria in the cantata La Pesca), VB 48, 1780.
In te spero, o sposa amata (from Demofoonte, Olympiade & Artaserse), VB 49, 1781/1782.
T’intendo, si mio cor (from the cantata Amor timido), VB 50, 1781(?).
Conservati fedele (from Artaserse), VB 51, 1782.
Misero pargoletto (from Demofoonte), VB 54, 1783.
Sentimi, non partir! (G. Roccaforte), VB 55, 1783(?).
Innocente donzelletta (anon.), VB 56, 1784.
Aure belle, che spirate (anon.), VB 57, 1784.
Ch’io mai vi possa lasciar d’amare (from Siroë), VB 59, 1785(?).
Del destin non vi lagnate, (from Olympiade), VB 60, 1786.
Ch’io parta? M’accheto (from Zenobia), VB 61, 1787.
Se non ti moro allato, duett (from Demofoonte), VB 62, 1788(?).
Ma tu tremi (from kantaten La Tempesta), VB 63, 1788(?).
Non temer, non son più amante, duett (from Antigono), VB 64, 1788(?).
Fermati! – Se tutti i mali miei, recitativ och aria (from Demofoonte), VB 65, 1788(?).
Son pietòsa (from Nitteti), VB 66, 1789(?).
Fra l’ombre un lampo solo (from Achille in Sciro), VB 67, 1789.

With text in French
Du temps qui détruit tout, G major (anon.), VB 58, 1782(?).

Canon & drawing-room ballads
Sumus hic sedentes, 4-part canon, VB 68, 1783.
Meine Mutter hat Gänse, 4-part canon, VB 69, 1783.
Amici, r’in tavola, choir & 4-part canon, VB 70, 1788.

Chamber music
Violinsonata D minor, VB 157, 1777.
Violinsonata D major, VB 159, 1780−82.
Violinsonata C major, VB 160, 1780−82.
Violinsonata E-flad major, VB 161, 1785.
Violinsonata C major, VB 162, 1785.
Allegro D major for violin & piano, VB 163, 1788−90(?).
Sonata for transverse flute & viola, VB 158, 1778(?).
Sonata (trio) for violin, cello & fortepiano, VB 171, 1787.
String quartet F minor, VB 178, likely before 1780.
String quartet C minor, VB 179, likely before 1780.
String quartet E major, VB 180, likely before 1780.
String quartet C major, VB 182, likely before 1780.
String quartet B major, VB 181, likely before 1780 (printed in Six Quatuors, 1783).
String quartet G minor, VB 183, likely before 1780 (printed in Six Quatuors, 1783).
String quartet D major, VB 184, likely before 1780 (printed in Six Quatuors, 1783).
String quartet A major, VB 185, likely before 1780 (printed in Six Quatuors, 1783).
String quartet C major, VB 186, likely before 1780 (printed in Six Quatuors, 1783).
String quartet G major, VB 187, likely before 1780 (printed in Six Quatuors, 1783).
Quintet D major for transverse flute & string quartet, VB 188, 1783.

Keyboard music
Two minuets C major & C minor respectively, VB 190, 1779−80(?).
Rondo with variations, VB 191, 1778−80(?).
Svensk dans with variations, VB 192, 1778−88.
Scherzo with (12) variations, VB 193, 1785.
Larghetto G major, VB 194, 1787−88(?).
Sonat E-flat major, VB 195, 1784(?).
Sonat E major, VB 196, 1787−88(?).
Sex chorale preludes for organ, VB 197, 1791−92.

Songs, arias and cantatas with piano
Song with text in Danish
Aandes sagte, vestevinde (anon.), VB 71, 1778(?).

Songs with text in French
Depuis longtemps, Dieu le Père (anon.), VB 98, 1785−86.
Dors mon enfant (A. Berquin), VB 99, 1785−86.
Est-on sage, dans le bel âge (anon.), VB 100, 1785−86.
Point de tristesse (anon.), VB 101, 1785−86.
Sans Venus et sans ses flammes (anon.), VB 102, 1785−86.

Song with text in Dutch
Aan de Lente (J. Bellamy, ”Waar hebt gij, o schoone Lente”), VB 103, 1785/86.

Song with text in Italian
Conservati fedele (Metastasio, ur Artaserse), VB 104, 1788.
Nott’ e dì v’am’e v’adoro (anon.), VB 105, 1788.
Si mio ben, sarò fedele (anon.), VB 106, 1788.
Si mio ben, sarò fedele, alla Calabrese, VB 107, 1788(?).
Ti sento, sospiri (anon.), VB 108, 1788(?).

Song with text in Swedish
Bröder, se bålen (A.M. Lenngren), VB 109, 1789.

Songs with text in German
Auf! es dunkelt (J.G.v.Salis-Sewis), VB 72, 1788.
Bekränzt mit Laub (M. Claudius), VB 73, 1783.
Der Säemann säet den Samen (M. Claudius), VB 74, 1783.
Du kleine, grünumwachsne Quelle (M. Claudius), VB 75, 1783(?).
Ein Schauspiel ist die Welt (C.F. Hensler based on J.-J. Rousseau), VB 76, 1783(?).
Es war ’mal eine Henne fein (M. Claudius), VB 77, 1788.
Heyda lustig! ich bin Hans (G.W. Burmann), VB 78, 1785(?).
Ho ho, nur gnädig, Herr Patron!, 2 settings (A. Blumauer, 1783) resp. 1788(?), VB 79 och VB 80.
Ich bin ein deutscher Jüngling (M. Claudius), VB 81, 1783(?).
Ich bin vergnügt (M. Claudius), VB 82, 1783.
Ich hab’ ein Bächlein funden (F.L. Stolberg), VB 83, 1783(?).
Ich war erst sechzehn Sommer alt (M. Claudius), VB 84, 1783(?).
Im Frühlingsschatten fand ich sie (F.G. Klopstock), VB 85, 1786(?).
Ist gar ein holder Knabe er! (M. Claudius), VB 86, 1783(?).
Liebe, Liebe, welche Freude? (J.M. Kraus?), VB 87, 1782(?).
Lisel war ein gutes Mädel (A.G. Meißner), VB 88, 1785–86(?).
Mein Weib, mein braves Weib ist hin! (A. Blumauer?), VB 89, 1783(?).
Regen, Regen, komm herab (M. Claudius), VB 90, 1783.
Saß einst in einem Lehnstuhl (M. Claudius), VB 91, 1783(?).
Schlaf, süßer Knabe (M. Claudius), VB 92, 1783.
Seht doch das kalte Nachtgesicht (M. Claudius), VB 93, 1782(?).
Sey mir gegrüßt, mein schmeichelndes Klavier (J.T. Hermes), VB 94, 1783.
Skulda winkt (J.M. Kraus), VB 95, 1783.
So schlafe nun, du Kleine (M. Claudius), VB 96, 1783.
Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang (J.H. Voß efter M. Luther), VB 97, 1782(?).

Cantatas and pastorals with Swedish text
Fiskarstugan (”I vår lilla fiskarstuga”, C.M. Bellman), VB 123, 1791.
Måltiden i fiskarstugan (”Hvilken kyla”, C.M. Bellman), VB 124, 1792.
Återfarten ifrån Fiskarstugan (”Stugans dörr nu förebomma!), VB 125, 1792.
Bland de hvita tjäll och tak (for Gustaf III's birthday 24 Januarii 1792) (C.M. Bellman), VB 126, 1792.
Mjölk-kammern på Hagen (”Lyss! Lärkans sång”, C.M. Bellman), VB 127, 1792.

Works by Joseph Martin Kraus

This is not a complete list of works. The following works are those that have been inventoried so far.

Number of works: 153