The beginnings of the Ensemble Hamburger Ratsmusik go back as far as the 16th century. As the city fathers considered good instrumental music to be an important part of civic representation at official ceremonies and in the main churches they made sure that respected musicians worked for them. Based on the principal "for the glory of God - and the pleasure, delight and benefit of Hamburg" the city boasted an elite ensmble of eight civic instrumentalists who were able to compete with many a princely court orchestra. The ensemble enjoyed its heyday during the 17th century under such leading musicians as William Brade and Johann Schop. During the 18th century, Georg Philipp Telemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach called on the services of Hamburg's civic instrumentalist for their performances, before the ensemble fell victim to effiency measures in the 19th century.
Since we re-established the ensemble in 1991 we have built up an extensive and remarkable repertoire with devotion and enthusiasm in more than fourteen years of working together. For us, the music of our predecessors, with its close dependance on rhetoric and articulation rich in nuances, is so eloquent that it is closer to human speech than any other form of music. With its clear structures and varied rhythms, borrowed from centuries-old dances, the music of the 16th to 18th centuries developed its own "swing". The adventure of re-descovering unknown early music, lying dormant in Europe's libraries, is also tempting and the "resuscitation" of these treasures is our exciting objective. We present audiences with these works at concerts, on recordings for radio broadcast and CD release and in publications for international publishing houses.
The Hamburger Ratsmusik has appeared at numerous festivals, including the Handel Festival in Göttingen and Halle, the International Bach-Fest Leipzig, the Baroque Festival at Bad Arolsen and many others. The ensemble has also gained a nationwide reputation through first recordings for the Christophorus, Thorofon and NCA labels, as well as broadcasts for the NDR, MDR, Radio Bremen, WDR, SWR and HR broadcasting companies. 2006 the Hamburger Ratsmusik was awarded the Echo Klassik, the most important German music award. The international press praises the "subtlety" and the "excellent knowledge of baroque style" of the ensemble's interpretations - and the Hamburger Ratsmusik itself as a "leading ensemble for early music".