Posts tagged ‘German Baroque’

April 1, 2015

music for Holy Tuesday – Johann Gottlieb Janitsch: Sonata da Camera in G minor

by ada

Instruments only for today’s music – one of the quartets that are so typical for the work of Johann Gottlieb Janitsch, the viola da gamba player of the Berlin court of the German emperor Friedrich II (der Große). Its third movement, an Adagio ma non troppo, is an adaptation of the old church hymn O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden. Originally written by Arnulf of Leuven in the 13th century as part of the religious poem Salve mundi salutare/Rhythmica oratio, translated to German by Paul Gerhardt in 1656, adapted to the melody of the love song Mein G’müt ist mir verwirret that appeared first in Hans Leo Haßler‘s 1601 collection Lustgarten neuer teutscher Gesäng, by Johann Crüger already in 1640, but only published in 1656, in the sixth edition of his collection of Protestant church hymns Praxis pietatis melica, and still being a source of inspiration for Janitsch (and co.) somewhere around the middle of the 18th century – this hymn definitively has what we should call a fruitful career.

Although on this recording the melody instruments are the oboe, the violin and the viola, it was originally composed for two violas and the traverso. The latter most likely was played by Friedrich II himself, as he is known to have been an amateur but very enthusiastic and talented flute player (and a lover of music, literature and arts in general. And also a lover of potatoes, but that’s another story). My favourite travelling music historian, Charles Burney has witnessed him playing and, as reported in his Continental Travels 1770-1772, was “much pleased and even surprised” with the King’s musical production. He found it important to mention though, that the capacity of His Royal Lungs has noticeably declined with age and “he was obliged to take his breath, contrary to rule, before the passages were finished”. Poor Friedrich.

December 26, 2014

music for the 2. Day of Christmas – Dietrich Buxtehude: Das neugeborne Kindelein, BuxWV 13

by ada

I originally intended to post this cantata for Christmas Day, but, alas, my scheduling skills aren’t the ones I can be proud of. You would think there’s no way to confuse 25 with 26, but you’re wrong. I’m really talented if it comes to creating chaos. Anyway. This is one of my favourite Christmas music ever (let’s forget the fact that this piece was written for New Year’s Eve, shall we?) and I am not willing to leave it out of this series just because I still can’t do proper maths after going to school for 25 years. Ha, ha.

Dietrich (orig. Diderik Hansen) Buxtehude, although of Danish origin, is one of the greatest names in the history of the Early(ish) German Baroque music. During his lifetime he was well acknowledged and of a considerable reputation, and served as a role model for many younger composers like Händel, Mattheson and even Johann Sebastian Bach who, at the age of twenty, walked more than 300 kms from Arnstadt to Lübeck to study with him. He (Bach) rejected Buxtehude’s offer to marry his oldest daughter, Anna Margareta, though. He wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea of marrying into the Buxtehude family, but his choice of wife would have been Dorothea Catrin, the youngest of Buxtehude’s six daughters. Unfortunately, Buxtehude was a man who liked things organised neatly everything to go the way of proper 17th century social customs, like successors marry the daughters of their predecessors and oldest daughters marry first. Poor Anna Margareta who, being somewhat over-proportioned and, at thirty, well over the desirable age, has a few years earlier already been rejected by both Johann Matheson and Georg Friedrich Händel. She obviously wasn’t that sweet little thing twenty-year-old composers dream of when applying for new jobs that come with a wife. Don’t worry, she did not end up as a spinster though: in 1707, at the age of 38, she wedded Johann Christian Schieferdecker, a composer of no real importance but a man of enough courage to take the risk of marrying a woman wanted by nobody. Brave guy.

And now let’s hope this post will go up on the 2. Day of Christmas instead of on Good Friday 2015.

December 21, 2014

music for the 4. Sunday of Advent – Samuel Capricornus: Adeste omnes fideles

by ada

I had grandiose plans for today’s music post – too bad I’ve had neither time nor energy to fulfill them. So, to make the best out of this situation, let’s listen to the motet Adeste omnes fideles composed by Samuel Capricornus; moved a lot, wrote cool music, died young. My kind of guy.

April 16, 2014

music for Holy Tuesday – Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel: Brockes-Passion

by ada

I again feel overwhelmed by the amount of beautiful music composed for this special time of the year – I wish I could listen to the Bach-Passions all the time and call it done without missing out on everything that led to them: the smaller composers and their small steps on the way to Bach’s perfection. Fortunately I have a thing for small composers and their imperfect music that makes me happy without making me hate myself (which is the case if I listen to too much Bach at a time, haha). So for Holy Tuesday let’s have a so-called “small composer”, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Bach’s contemporary who, before ending up as a Kapellmeister at the court of Gotha, travelled through Europe serving in cities like Rome, Prague and Wrocław, made friends with names like Vivaldi, Fasch and Bononcini and gained a reputation in the eyes of his peers as high as Johann Sebastian Bach himself. He even made it into Johann Mattheson‘s Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte*, a collection of contemporary musicians’ biographies. One of his compositions (Bist du bei mir) is included in the collection of small exercise pieces Bach edited together for his son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and that was later passed on to his second wife, Anna Magdalena Bach. Unfortunately only a small amount of Stölzel’s work survived his successor Jiří Antonín Benda‘s  ruthless selection process, who considered the majority of them simply as “useless junk”. 

After Barthold Heinrich Brockes published his libretto Der für die Sünde der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus in 1712, it became quickly a thing of fashion to set it to music. People like Händel, Telemann, Fasch and even Bach (in his Johannespassion) all made their versions of it and so did Stölzel in 1725. His Brockes-Passion has a stunning first and an airy, sweet last movement and some (quite uninteresting but very German Baroque) filling in between. Since it is one of all the twelve of his surviving works, it is really worth listening to.

* Well, he actually submitted himself, because he had a sense of business. But hey, that’s how the world of music works, even today. All you need is the ability to promote yourself in a shameless way and make as much superficial friendships as possible for future use. Being talented and/or a good musician is only an added plus, not the least mandatory.  

PS: in 2012 I posted something Early Italian: the Stabat Mater of Giovanni Felice Sances. In 2013 it was another version of the Brockes-Passion, that of Georg Philipp Telemann

April 14, 2014

music for Palm Sunday – 1. Choral from Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (BWV 1)

by ada

The time has come again for the Holy Week Series, for the third year in a row. I’m sure you all are as happy as I am to witness my musicology writer career blossoming, haha. I am kind of late with Palm Sunday music though since we’re already deep into Holy Monday, but life has been pretty busy lately and left me no time for this blog.

I had a weird Palm Sunday, so I decided to post a similarly weird music, because I am vindictive.

The only cantata Johann Sebastian Bach ever composed for Palm Sunday is the cantata Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (BWV 182) which I have already posted last year. At the times Bach served in Leipzig, the practice of tempus clausum (closed time), which means that during the weeks of Lent and Advent no festivities and also no music at the liturgy other than Passion plays are allowed, was kept quite strictly. The only exception was the ceremony of Annunciation which, in the year 1725, fell exactly on Palm Sunday. This, and the fact that the text (written by Philipp Nicolai in 1597, btw) also mentions Jesus as the Son of David, makes this cantata perfectly eligible for Palm Sunday in my eyes; even if it has nothing to do with Lent at all. I am a free spirit, if it comes to interpreting music written for liturgical purposes. I can sell you the Christmas Oratorio as a perfect fit for Easter Monday, so watch out.

April 14, 2012

music of the week – Telemann: Modéré from Quatuor Parisien N°12

by ada

I definitely enjoyed posting and writing about music during the Holy Week (even if no one else liked to read it, haha), so I decided to do it on a regular basis. Maybe it helps me get back to my real life and become again the person I was before the depression.

The music of this week is the sixth movement of the sixth quartet of Georg Philipp Telemann‘s collection Nouveaux Quatuors en Six Suites, published in 1738 in Paris (well, that’s why it’s usually called Paris Quartet). Telemann was an amazing composer and a very interesting character, if you have the opportunity to read his three autobiographies, don’t miss it. He studied music in a completely autodidact way and mastered all the important instruments of the era. This made his compositional style quite extraordinary: he completely understood the requirements, advantages and boundaries of every instrument he wrote for, so his compositions are just perfectly set. And that’s something you can’t tell even of Bach himself.

This is one of my favourite videos of this piece ever. It has an air of spring and happiness I never get bored with.

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