Aachen (Fr. Aix-la-Chapelle).
- Rudolf Pohl
City in Germany. The cathedral and its music were the creation of Charlemagne (742–814), who made the town the northern capital of the Holy Roman Empire; the Holy Roman emperors were crowned there from 813 to 1531. The city was occupied by France in 1794 and formally annexed in 1801; after the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) it became part of Prussia. It was severely damaged in World War II.
Aachen was the political, religious and cultural centre of Charlemagne’s empire, and the Hofkirche was constructed according to his own plans. The Aachen Cathedral choir dates from his founding of the Schola Palatina, whose teachers (including Alcuin from 782) were among the most distinguished scholars of the age. Alcuin described the school in a poem, mentioning a singing teacher named Sulpicius. For Charlemagne the idea of a politically united empire was closely linked with the establishment of a uniform liturgy, set to uniform music; his reforms in this direction led to the burning of all books connected with the Ambrosian rite in order to ensure adherence to the Gregorian style. As early as 774 he sent monks to Rome to study the teaching of such chant, and in 790 Pope Hadrian I responded to repeated requests from Charlemagne and sent two trained singers to the north with copies of the antiphonary. Organ music was also cultivated; in the early 9th century an Arab organ was sent to Charlemagne by Caliph Harun-al-Rashid and installed in the Hofkirche, while on the emperor’s instructions a second organ was built for the cathedral....