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Johann Friedrich Fasch | Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch

Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch (1736-1800)

Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch (1736-1800) 1736

18 November: Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch was born in Zerbst as the youngest of three children born to the Zerbst Court Kapellmeister Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) in his second marriage with Johanna Helena Simers (d. 1743).

prior to 1747

Carl received his first instruction in clavier and general musicianship from his father. He composed in his head and performed his works on the piano when his father was not present.

ca. 1747

Carl Höckh (1707-1773), concertmaster and friend of his father, gave Fasch violin lessons. His father permitted him to attend performances at the Zerbst court and at the court chapel. Fasch composed his first sacred works but destroyed them soon after.


Carl received instruction in violin playing from the Strelitz concertmaster Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727-1789). In addition, Fasch studied music theory and organ playing, substitutes for the organist, composes fugues and develops excellent accompanying skills.


When Franz Benda (1709-1786), a member of Frederick the Great's orchestra visited Strelitz, Fasch accompanied him on the clavier.. Upon his return to Zerbst, Fasch attended the Kloster Bergen School near Magdeburg.


Fasch occasionally participated in performances with the Zerbst court Kapelle, but without pay. He prepared additional contrapuntal exercises and wrote sacred compositions, pieces for Clavier and violin, sinfonias and motets.


Father Fasch travelled to Dresden with his son. Attending a high mass at the Catholic court chapel impressed Carl deeply.


Upon recommendation of Franz Benda, Fasch assumed a position as second harpsichordist of Friedrich II (1712-1786) in Potsdam in the spring of 1756. He alternated as accompanist of the flute-playing king with Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) who had served Friedrich II since 1738. Bach, a friend of the family, granted Carl shelter after dispelling his father's religious reservations toward the enlightened spirit fostered at the Prussian court.

During the Seven Years War and Friedrich II's lengthy absence from Potsdam, Fasch earned a living as a music instructor.

Fasch wrote canons and figured bass exercises for his students and composed numerous works but destroyed them.


Fasch was ordered by Friedrich II to travel to Leipzig, paying his own way. He decided to resign his position as soon as the war ended.


Friedrich II ignored Fasch's request to be released from his post.


Fasch assumed the position of director of the Royal Opera in Berlin for two years, succeeding Johann Friedrich Agricola (1720-1774).

The court orchestra performed Fasch's oratorio "Giuseppe riconosciuto", set to a libretto of the imperial court poet Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782), at St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin.


Fasch was introduced to Karl Friedrich Zelter (1758-1832), later a close friend and his successor as director of the "Singe-Academie". Inspired by the mass for sixteen voices by Orazio Benevoli (1605-1672) which the Berlin Court Kapellmeister Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752-1814) had brought with him from Italy, Fasch wrote his own mass for sixteen voices in a few weeks. Attempts to perform the mass in Potsdam, employing royal singers as well as Berlin school choirs, remained unsatisfactory, to Fasch's sorrow.


Following King Friedrich II's death Fasch burnt all worldly possessions that remind him of his earlier life.


Fasch began to direct rehearsals with his male and female voice students in a private house. These practices soon developed into regular meetings including professional singers and an ever increasing number of participants. Thus originated the "Singe-Academie".


24 May: Fasch introduced the first "Präsenzbuch" (lit. "presence book"; it provided lists of attendees and of the works rehearsed). Later on, the "Singe-Academie" considered this their founding date and acknowledged Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch as their founder.


22 October: The Singakademie was allowed to move its rehearsals to a large room in the "Royal Academy of Arts". Soon after the chorus began calling itself "Singe-Academie"; Fasch introduced a firm internal organizational structure.

Fasch let go of all his students in order to dedicate himself exclusively to the Singakademie; he also composed works and copied out all parts himself.

Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741-1801), Johann Friedrich Reichardt, and Friedrich Heinrich Himmel (1765-1814) composed works for the Singakademie as a sign of their friendship with Fasch.


3 June: Fasch felt close to death and, for the last time, participated in a rehearsal of the Singakademie. He also burnt all his letters and and all of his works composed prior to the Mass for Sixteen Voices. He died on 3 August.

Johann Gottfried Schadow (1764-1850) created a marble bust from Fasch's death mask.

7 August: Fasch was buried at the Jerusalem Church's cemetery near the Hallesches Tor.

18 November: the Singakademie performed the Mass for Sixteen Voices in his memory, with members of the executive gathering for supper in his memory.

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The most recent issue of our annual newsletter, Faschiana, appeared in summer 2020. Since the 16th International Fasch Festival had to be cancelled in April 2021 due to Covid-19, there will be no summer 2021 Faschiana issue.