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who had been hastily married at the age of sixteen. Born near Weissenfels in 1674, he had begun his operatic career at Brunswick at the age of eighteen; three years later he took over the direction of the opera at Hamburg, where he produced a large number of operas composed by himself. As a composer, Keiser had a singular fluency of melody in a style that hovers between those of Germany and Italy; had he been a man of more solid character he might have accomplished greater things. But he had inherited from his parents a love of pleasure and debauchery; extravagant in his private life, he was no less extravagant in his theatrical management, and was ready to provide his audiences with anything in the way of startling sensation. One of his most famous operas was on the subject of Störtebeker, a notorious highwayman (1704), in which murders were represented with the most disgusting realism.
Hamburg was the Venice of the north and, like Venice, a city of pleasure; but its pleasures were often of a coarse and