13 December 2013

The Baumgarten brothers and the military

I am still intrigued by Samuel Christian Frederic Baumgarten (c1729-1798) and John Henry Baumgarten (?-1770), brothers, most likely of German origin, who lived and worked in London, England. The fact that so little is known about them makes me want to search and search to uncover as much as I can on them. I like the thrill of the chase!

I know from John Henry Baumgarten's will that he was the Quartermaster in the Royal Horse Guards Blue. I've been doing a bit of research on the Royal Horse Guards, and in 1782 the full pay salary for an officer at quartermaster level was £155 2s 6d - this seemed to be around the middle of the pay rates for officers. John Baumgarten died 12 years before that, but it gives us an idea of the pay rate he was on. There is every chance that John might have seen overseas service with the Royal Horse Guards - they were involved in the Seven Years War in Germany. Likely being a native German speaker, this may have made him quite useful during the unit's service in Germany. What made a foreigner like John Henry Baumgarten join the British Army is an interesting question...

Samuel Baumgarten was a professional bassoonist, but I discovered the other day that he also had military involvement. According to Daub's Music at the court of George II (1985) the noted bassoonist Samuel Baumgarten was one of seven hautbois (oboes, which in this context also included bassoons) from the First Regiment of the Foot Guards who signed for new liveries in June of 1755. Apparently there were a number of groups of musicians from military units who were called upon to participate in royal functions, including drums and hautbois. Interestingly, there were also musicians from the Royal Horse Guards who were involved as court musicians - I wonder if John Baumgarten was involved in this, considering there was definite musical talent within his family... Which makes me wonder if it was the military that appealed, or whether it was a means to an end, in having a salaried job playing music. It was most likely a more regular pay cheque than playing in professional concerts.

Daub also notes there was a "Baumgarden" who played the bassoon at King George II's funeral - most likely a misspelling of "Baumgarten". Presumably this was as part of Samuel's military musician duties.

On another note (pun intended), I have discovered that Samuel Baumgarten played in the performance of Handel's Messiah at the Foundling Hospital on May 3rd, 1759. He is once again noted in the list of performers as "Baumgarden", and was paid 10d 6s for the performance. He was one of the more senior bassoonists (the other was Miller) as there were two other bassoonists, Goodman and Owen, who were paid only 8d. (Cusins, W.G. 1874. Handel's Messiah: an examination of the Original and some contemporary MSS. Augener and Co., London.)

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