Royal Wedding Fever

We're still waiting for our invitation to the Royal Wedding this Saturday, but we won't give up hope yet (maybe it just got lost in the mail). While details have not yet been divulged about what pieces will specifically be played at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding ceremony, we can take cues from the RISM database as to what music has traditionally filled the halls of many a royal nuptial festivity.

The subject heading “Wedding music” in RISM is a good place to start. In the Advanced Search, select the field Genre and enter Wedding music. After you do a search, the list of genres that appears in the filters on the left gives you an idea of the kinds of music common for the occasion: cantatas, sacred songs, motets, marches, etc.

Some of the music written for royal weddings includes:

  • Henry Purcell's autograph manuscript of "From hardy climes and dangerous toils of war," written for the wedding of Prince George and Queen Anne in 1683 (RISM ID no. 800238115)
  • A couple compositions by Christoph Graupner for weddings related to the Darmstadt court:

    • "Ihr schlummert ihr schlafet" for the wedding of Ludwig VIII and Charlotte von Hanau on 5 April 1717 (RISM ID no. 450005715)
    • And then a cantata for the wedding one of the couple's children: "Bei Pauken und Trompeten" for the wedding of Prince George and Louise von Leiningen on 16 March 1748 (RISM ID no. 450005709)

  • An intrada by Carl Friedrich Weideman for the wedding of Princess Augusta of Great Britain and Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1764 (RISM ID no. 800256603)
  • A song by James Hook entitled simply “Charlotte and Leopold,” on the occasion of the wedding of Charlotte, Princess of Wales, to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg in 1816 (RISM ID no. 806294454)
  • An Österreichische Jubel-Ouverture by Carl Haslinger to celebrate the marriage of Elisabeth of Bavaria (Sisi) to Kaiser Franz Joseph (RISM ID no. 250013813)


Music doesn't have to stop after the wedding is over. Carl Gottlieb Reissiger's Willkommen im Vaterhaus was written to mark the occasion of Princess Elisabeth of Saxony's return to her homeland after her marriage. Two copies of this work are in the SLUB in Dresden (D-Dl; shelfmarks Mus.4888-H-7 and Mus.4888-H-8).

Much later, happy couples can celebrate major milestone anniversaries. Though Fanny Hensel's cantata Die Hochzeit kommt was written for her parents' silver wedding celebration (RISM ID no. 1001032487), a copy preserved today in Berlin was presented to no less than the Prussian royal couple Frederick William IV and Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria upon their own 25th wedding anniversary. The beautifully bound and copied manuscript can be viewed online (RISM ID no. 463222000).

We will leave you with the brilliant Toccata by Charles-Marie Widor–played by Widor himself–a piece that has rounded off many royal weddings, including the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. A manuscript for this piece is in the Biblioteca di Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte in Rome (I-Ria), shelfmark Mss. Vess. 74 (RISM ID no. 854003117).




Image: Christoph Graupner, "Bei Pauken und Trompeten," autograph manuscript, 1748, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt (D-DS), shelfmark 416/17. RISM ID no. 450005709. Available online (CC-0). With help from


Category: Events

Next article >
< Previous article


No comments
Add comment

- required field

CAPTCHA image for SPAM prevention If you can't read the word, click here.

Subscribe with your RSS reader


All news entries are by the RISM Central Office staff unless otherwise noted. Reuse of RISM's own texts is permitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License—though please note that image credits and permissions are usually separate and noted at the bottom of each post. If authorship is attributed to someone else (indicated at the start of an entry and/or by a name following the word "Contact"), please contact the individual authors.