In the name of Maria Theresia

By Emilia Campagna

June 21, 2016

It often happens that someone asks us about our name: why Theresia project? And why Theresia Youth Orchestra? Well, if our name somehow made you think of the Empress of Austria, you are absolutely right: the name of the project and of the orchestra is a homage to the great Maria Theresia.

Her complete name was Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina, and she was born in 1717. When she was 23, in 1740, her father Charles IV died, and she became Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Croatia. Indeed, she was never designated by the title of empress, since a woman could not be elected Holy Roman Empress: her husband Francis of Lorrain was the emperor and after he died, in 1765, their son Joseph became emperor. But Maria Theresia was the ruler and in fact, she was the one who had the effective power.

We are not monarchists, of course, nor nostalgic of the dynasty of Habsburg: we decided to dedicate our patronage project to Maria Theresia because she was the first to introduce some progressive reforms, laying the groundwork for subsequent enlightened reforms made by his son, Joseph II. Among the most important reforms are those that concern the public education: Maria Theresia reformed education in 1775. In a new school system based on the Prussian one, all children of both genders from the ages of six to twelve had to attend school. Education reform was met with hostility from many villages; Maria Theresa crushed the dissent by ordering the arrest of all those opposed. The empress also permitted non-Catholics to attend university and allowed the introduction of secular subjects (such as law), which influenced the decline of theology as the main foundation of university education.

The years of her rule are the ones in which most of the TYBO’s repertoire was composed: from 1740 to 1780 composers like Luigi Boccherini, Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Martin Kraus were all active. And thanks to its enlightened monarch, Vienna was the musical centre of the Western world, and these very four decades were extraordinarily rich and fruitful.

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Emilia Campagna

About Emilia Campagna

Journalist and musician, Emilia is a blogger for Theresia