music of the week – Passacaglia from Georg Muffats collection Apparatus Musico-Organisticus

by ada

Georg Muffat was a fellow musician of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber at the Salzburg court of the Archbishops Max Gandolph Graf von Kuenburg and Johann Ernst Thun, between 1678-1690. He was lucky enough to study both the French and the Italian way of making music (oh those honest and uncomplicated times of the 17th century with only two main trends to compare and to believe in) and to meet the two leading and trend-creating personalities of the era: Jean-Baptiste Lully (yay to the French) and Arcangelo Corelli (hurrah for the Italian). In the preface of his collections Florilegium primum and Florilegium secundum, he gives very detailed instructions* on how to play “in the French manner”, like how to hold the bow, how to place the fingers, etc. He also claimed (himself) to be the very first musician to introduce the French style to the German-speaking part of Europe, which I’m not sure is a historically true statement, but he believed so. Whatever, he did a tremendous job in creating the very beginnings of the so-called “mixed style” which later evolved to the fully completed style of German Baroque.

* that’s what makes me so mad at all those ignorant musicians who claim that we can play Baroque music as we please, because we have no information about the performance practice of the pre-recording times. Because we do have. A lot. More than enough for a lifetime to study. Every time I hear modern pianists and symphonic orchestras play Baroque, I cringe from pain. It should not be that way. Musicians should be educated about music before letting them play that music. I’m a firm believer of thorough education.

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