Book Festival-conference

Sara Levy’s World: Gender, Judaism and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin

Eastman Studies in Music 145
Edited by Rebecca Cypess and Nancy Sinkoff
302pp. ISBN 978-1-58046-921-0 £80
University of Rochester Press, 2018.

This book is the outcome of a symposium in 2014 at Rutgers University. Eleven chapters, packed with information and extensive notes, attest to one of the cornerstones of musicological research: learned contributors excavate, analyse and explicate figures hidden from history.

Here the subject is Sara Levy (nee Itzig, as she signed herself in some of her few surviving letters). Madame Sara Levy (1761- 1854) was Felix Mendelssohn’s (he of the historic1829 performance of J. S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion) great-aunt. She died aged 94, had no children, and is a fascinating and significant figure for two reasons.

The first reason is musical. Levy was a friend and patron of the Bach family. She was a skilled harpsichordist, taught by W. F. Bach, and performed privately and publicly into her 70s – Charles Burney apparently heard her play. Her banker husband played the flute (alright for some), and they commissioned music from C.P.E. Bach. She had a remarkable collection of autographed music manuscripts and prints of the works of the Bach family, which she donated to the Sing-Akademie in Berlin (there is a photo of the house in the book). The collection disappeared, and was – finally – discovered, largely intact, in Kiev, in the Ukraine, in 1999.

Till then, Sara Levy was virtually unknown, However, Peter Wollny, director of the Leipzig Bach-Archiv, published a book about her in 2010 (in German, as yet untranslated, as far as I know). He is also responsible for the Grove entry on her.

Sara Levy was a significant figure for another reason. She was one of the salonnieres in the 18th-early19th centuries in Berlin. These salons were gatherings of friends, family and acquaintances, and they were cultural as well as social events: there might be discussions about books or politics, play-readings, and, of course, music. The salons were generally hosted by women, who were thus able to take part domestically in cultural activities from which they were excluded in the public sphere.

The added dimension to this part of musical/social history is that Sara Levy was one of an elite group of Jewish salonnieres in Berlin. Thus, as more than one chapter points out, she was part of a community of Prussian Jews who were involved in shared cultural activities with Christians – activities which straddle the two concepts of ‘emancipation’ and ‘assimilation’, in the process, as one of the chapters puts it, ‘of becoming modern Europeans’.

However, these oases of cultural coexistence should not be idealised. While there were conversions and intermarriage, there was also fierce controversy. Some of Sara Levy’s family became Protestants, but she remained steadfastly Jewish, though there is no evidence as to whether she was observant. She was involved in Jewish organisations, subscribed to the publication of Hebrew books and supported Jewish and Hebrew education.

At the same time, ‘she embraced Christian elements from German and European culture’. However, while some Jews ‘acquired a taste for church music’, and even had Christmas trees, ‘she and other Jewish women’s musical training (was) through Bach’s instrumental music’, rather than through compositions with Christian religious texts. Women were banned at the time from participating in Catholic and Protestant liturgical music.

It is clear that there were cultural tensions in operation, intertwined with the co-operations. Perhaps one of the most telling examples is the case of Mendelssohn himself. Baptised aged seven into the Protestant faith, at the age of twenty he was responsible for the revivalist performance in 1829 of J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, the story of the passion of Christ as king and Messiah, a challenge to Jewish theology. Contradiction and co-existence in a single piece of music. This historical period marked, as so many others have, arguments for Jewish tolerance alongside anti-semitism.

The book is fascinating, since, in the absence of autobiographical writings and other evidence, Sara Levy and her world are presented through an interdisciplinary perspective. It would have been great to have more information and gossip: was Sara present at the 1829 Passion? Did she know how Mendelssohn got the music in the first place? We will just have to imagine.

Towards the end of the book, an essay aims to clinch the cross-cultural argument by referring to the number of duets for various instruments in Sara Levy’s collection – including nine duets by Telemann which do not appear attributed anywhere else. These duets, it is argued, show that, in the equal balance of voices consists the metaphor through which an analogy and model for cultural co-operation is sealed. In turn, concepts of counterpoint and imitation, drawn from music, become metaphors for conversations between cultures. The images are elegant, anthropomorphic and musicomorphic (to coin a term).

While they function as an attempt to elide cultural and religious tensions, the book, in its carefully researched detail and variety of approaches, shows its subject, Sara Levy, as a social exception who serves to prove the musical rule, that women in music were rarely seen or heard. In this case, she is retrieved as having a crucial role in helping to generate, preserve and revive, the music written by the Bach family (all men, in case the point needs to be made!).

Michelene Wandor




Palestrina for All : Unwrapping, singing, celebrating

Jonathan Boswell
ISBN 9781721-968954

Click HERE to buy this at

This volume, self-published by the author, and produced and distributed by eBook Partnership is intended to address a perceived gap in the market for an accessible introduction to Palestrina and his music for the non-specialist reader – the title hints at this, and the information on the back of the publication spells it out in further detail, suggesting that it will be ‘welcomed by early music fans, choral singers and church musicians, and by thoughtful, imaginative music lovers.’

I may not be in the front line of Mr Boswell’s target audience, so I have tried to approach his publication with an open mind and with an eye on his intended public. In his opening chapter, the author helpfully lays out his plan campaign, as well as hinting at his methodology. Presumably in deference to his target audience, he states that he will ‘avoid too many technical terms’, and in a general chapter plan he promises an account of Palestrina’s career and life story as well as a treatment of aspects of the composer’s style and more detailed analysis of the Mass settings.

When I got down to reading the text itself, it seemed that the author was all too willing to depart from his promised structure, with bits of biography bleeding into sections of analysis and vice versa. I found the sections on Palestrina’s life and the context of his career the most interesting, and there were occasional genuine insights into how the intellectual fashions of the time would have influenced his music. Too often, though, there were sweeping general statements, which were simply inaccurate. The assertion at the opening of chapter 8 that Palestrina’s music was largely ‘in limbo’ for three centuries is just nonsense – it influenced composers throughout this period, and of all the Renaissance composers Palestrina was the one whose polyphony continued to be sung and copied and imitated until he was joined by his contemporaries in the great 20th-century rediscovery. Too often such sweeping statements of dubious accuracy stand in for genuine fact-based analysis – is this the inevitable result of the author’s aspiration to popularise his subject matter?

To look in more detail at the text, already in this introductory chapter, I encountered an aspect of the author’s writing style, which I found to be an issue throughout the rest of the book. Mr Boswell is prone to express himself in rather opaque turns of phrase. I could cite numerous examples of sentences, which I had to reread several times and some of which I am not sure I ever got to the bottom of. It is only fair that I should give some representative examples :

In the opening paragraph of the book we have –

‘A highly eventful reception and discussion history followed, focussing among inexorable and perennial issues about music, its cultural influence and complex meanings.’

In chapter 4 we have –

‘There is a marked contrast with styles which disclose a large-scale purposive design where everything seems to develop according to a virtuosic master plan.’

Towards the end of the book we have –

‘Palestrina’s counterpoint follows a different path. The texts are centre-of-attention, not woven into enveloping musical structures, however beautiful. Bald description and pure repetition are avoided.’

I have limited myself to three examples, and could, of course, be accused of taking phrases out of context, but in all honesty, context did not clarify any of these statements for me, nor the many other obscure sentences and phrases throughout the book. Many passages read like a bad translation from a foreign language, but as far as I can ascertain English is the author’s first language. I puzzled long and hard about why I found the author’s style so regularly impenetrable, and think it is principally due to two things. Firstly, this is a book, which was in urgent need of a hands-on editor to ask the vital question, ‘Just what do you mean by that?’ (Such an editor would also incidentally have picked up on some of the many typographical shortcomings.) Secondly, I think it is impossible to analyse contrapuntal music in the degree of detail to which the author aspires without the technical terminology he has consciously denied himself – as a result, I think he is often simply inventing his own technical terminology, which frequently means nothing to anybody except himself.

One example would be the term ‘lead’, sometimes expressed as ‘melodic lead’. This would appear to be the author’s term for the cantus firmus, but not always, and sometimes bafflingly he also uses the term cantus firmus, or rather fermus (sic). This sort of mess seems to me inevitable if you deny yourself recourse to technical terms, but then aspire to analyse without them.

The analysis, particularly of the selected mass movements, aspires to musicology, but again without the technical terms to express the main concepts the author seems to engage in the most eccentric fields of analysis. There are several tables recording aspects of Palestrina’s Masses, which seem entirely without relevance. One table expresses the redeployment frequencies of voice parts. Even after reading the surrounding text several times, I am not entirely clear what this even means, let alone why anybody would be interested in these statistics. Is he talking about the density of the polyphony? I really don’t know. More immediately comprehensible, but equally irrelevant is the table laying out the percentage of bars sung by each voice in 12 Kyrie sections, while the statistical analyses of ‘developments of melodic leads’ and the proportions of settings which open with specific voice parts also seem like analysis gone rogue.

So to return to my original mission, has the author made Palestrina’s music more accessible to a general audience? I think that a general reader would struggle as much as I did with Mr Boswell’s eccentric turn of phrase, perhaps even more so without the framework of technical terminology to fall back upon. Would a general reader have any more use than I had for the statistical tables, addressing apparently irrelevant aspects of the composer’s music? Almost definitely not. As I have already suggested, the biographical sections of the book are generally accurate, while their factual nature helps avoids them being infelicitously expressed, so they would probably provide a useful context for anyone listening to Palestrina’s music. However, it has to be said that it is not as easy as the introduction suggests to fillet this information out of the rest of the text. And of course, in the days of Wikipedia, most of the generally agreed biographical material is available online, where it can also be updated. More worryingly, a non-specialist reader would come away from the text with a number of serious misconceptions – that certain passages in Palestrina are badly written, when in fact the author for some reason just doesn’t like them, or indeed that Palestrina’s vocal lines lie comfortably for singers. Try telling that to your amateur tenor section! I will concede that Mr Boswell may be right in identifying the need for an accessible text to support the general listener to or singer of Palestrina’s music, but in all honesty this isn’t it.

D. James Ross


Walter Chinaglia: Towards  the Rebuilding of an Italian Renaissance-Style Wooden Organ

Deutsches Museum Verlag, Volume 5, 2020
97pp, ISBN 978-3-940396-97-6 €19.95

This significant monograph details Chinaglia’s research into the making of a copy of the famous and only surviving Italian-style organo di legno in the Silberne Kapelle of the Hofkirche in Innsbruck, Austria. It was undertaken during a residency with the research group on ‘The Materiality of Musical Instruments: New Approaches to a Cultural History of Organology’, based in the Deutsches Museum in 2018.

When I was looking for an organo di legno for a number of performances of the Monteverdi Vespers this April in Lombardy, I was introduced to Walter Chinaglia. I knew that Italian music of that period needed a real organo di legno, with narrow-scaled open wooden pipes rather than the commonly available chamber organs based on a stopped 8’ flute, as I believed it would give more body and securer tonality for the singers and players alike with its unforced, singing tone. I was planning to perform with just eight singers and a minimal band, so the right organ was crucial. Alas, that project fell victim to the lockdown, but what I heard of his organs encouraged me enormously. Margaret Phillips has one in her collection at Milborne Port in Dorset, and there are a series of four youtube videos on his project – Duoi organi per Monteverdi, which I much recommend:


There you can hear what the unforced sound of the open principal wood pipes is like with voices.

Chinaglia has an interesting background. After a first degree in physics and five years of research in nonlinear optics, he set up his workshop Organa in 2001, and has been building organs and researching the history and making of historically informed instruments since. In I.3 (p. 18) of his monograph, Chinaglia sets out his philosophy: ‘I strongly believe that a perfect sound from a wooden pipe can only be achieved if it comes naturally from the newly built pipe, in one or two strokes: when mouth cut-up is wisely chosen and the wind-way is properly opened, no other adjustments being necessary (such as toe-hole regulation, or tricky positioning of the mouth cover).’ He is committed to following exactly the dimensions and cut-up of the Silberne Kapelle organ pipes, and the clear, unforced, singing tone that results. The pipe-feet are cut integrally with the pipe and are pyramidal, not turned and glued on later. There are split keys for D sharp and E flat, and G sharp and A flat, giving the most useful major thirds in E and B, while allowing for E flat major and F minor as well as C minor in the flat keys. There is an informative spectral analysis of the sounds of open and stopped pipes, and from metal as well as wooden pipes, and the whole is profusely illustrated by drawings and diagrams, as well as photos.

This project combines scholarship with pragmatic experience, the disciplines of physics and woodcraft (there is detailed analysis of the different ways in which to saw planks and the difference it makes), of historical research into the written sources of the period and organology today. As a record of this work in progress, its author should be congratulated on the comprehensive recording of every step and the Deutsches Museum on sponsoring such an important cross-disciplinary project in the service of us mere musicians, trying to re-create the sound-world – especially the vocal sound-world – that Monteverdi and his forbears, contemporaries and successors inhabited. Vocal production and the difference that the right organ accompaniment makes lags far behind the recovery of the sound-world of strings (both bowed and plucked), brass, flauti and cornetti. These organs will help us immeasurably.

David Stancliffe

The book is freely available online, but you can buy a copy directly from the publisher here:

Book Festival-conference

Musik in Anhalt-Zerbst

Bericht über die Internationale Wissenschaftliche Konferenz am 12. und 13. April 2019 im Rahmen des 15. Internationalen Fasch-Festtage in Zerbst/Anhalt
Edited by Barbara M. Reul and Konstanze Musketa
374pp, ISBN 978-3-937788-61-6 €39.50

Click here to buy this book from the publisher’s website

It seems appropriate on the 322nd anniversary of the composer’s birth to review the latest in a series of conference reports that have enriched our knowledge and understanding of Johann Friedrich Fasch’s life and works. Personal circumstances meant I was unable to attend the conference (which, as regular readers will know, is part of a festival in which music pertinent to the many papers is often performed) so I am doubly glad to have received a copy of the book, packed as it is with new information.

Jan Stockigt produced evidence of a previously unknown trip to Leipzig that Fasch made in 1738; records that survive for those entering through the city gates have survived and amongst many other gems and snippets about musicians and royalty attending the annual fayres was a note of Kapellmeister Fasch entering with a Pastor Voigt. Possible reasons for the trip are suggested that would tie in with payments from court coffers, but Stockigt suggests that among the many thousands of unread documents in the various Dresden archives more evidence may yet be found.

After editor Barbara M. Reul‘s key address in which she produced a vast quantity of new information about musicians active within the court of Zerbst and the Anhalt lands over which it ruled, Maik Richter discussed the 1717 celebrations of the anniversary of the Reformation. Then came my own paper which presented new evidence of musical activities in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, including two unknown musical inventories revealing the extent of music-making in the earlier period, three new printed texts for cantatas performed in the Bartholomäikirche (which functioned until 1719 as the court chapel) in 1718 and identifying several of the sources of music performed in the new palace chapel from 1719-1722 when Fasch arrived. Amongst the music performed were two cycles of cantatas by Johann Philipp Krieger; several texts from those three years were repeated in later cycles, including the so-called “Dresden” cycle – that lends support to Marc-Roderich Pfau’s theory explored at a previous conference that the cycle may have been compiled in Zerbst.

Gottfried Gille – whose Fasch-Repertorium (a comprehensive list of Fasch’s religious music) has just been updated – explored in great detail the palace chapel diaries for the church year 1735-36, identifying preachers, establishing the standardised service structures, and exploring non-liturgical texts used in non-Sunday services. Marc-Roderich Pfau‘s second article on cantatas for Apostle Days (something of a Zerbst curiosity) revealed that these were only performed when the date of the feast fell on a Saturday or a Sunday; this explains why Fasch set the texts twice – as the music would be needed in consecutive years, it had better be different (Fasch used and re-used the same cycles throughout his career).

After Stockigt’s paper, Rashid-S. Pegah delved into music in Jever, a town in the north of Germany that fell under the control of Anhalt-Zerbst when the last ruler died without issue. Painting a rich picture of an active musical scene, Pegah also found music by various cantors and other applicants of the job. Like his 2017 paper, this is packed with information and will take weeks to absorb.

The following two papers concerned dancing and more specifically dancing masters in Zerbst. Hanna Walsdorf and Tatjana Schabalina took different approaches; the former concentrated on archival documentation for her portrait of the Hoftanzmeister Anton Albrecht Borckmann and suggested music for dancing might be staring us in the face in many of the Jever music sources (as well as Fasch’s orchestral suites – of which I am rather sceptical), while the latter presented a treatise by Gottfried Taubert that she discovered in the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg.

The next two neatly paired papers concerned the bassoon; Ursula Kramer discussed Johann Christian Klotsch, a virtuoso on the instrument who played in the Zerbst Hofkapelle for over two years until 1736 before moving to Darmstadt (where Fasch’s former prefect, Christoph Graupner, was Kapellmeister). while Klaus Hubmann described Fasch’s music for the instrument and the type of instrument it was most likely played on.

Samantha Owens paper was not directly related to Zerbst but was nonetheless relevant; for years, much of what we know about the activities of boys in court music-making has been (with the exception of Ralph-Jürgen Reipsch‘s 2015 article on a boy soprano from Magdeburg whom Fasch seems to have tried to attract to the Hofkapelle) confined to names and passing references; Owens uses documentation from other Lutheran courts to build a compelling picture of the life of choirboys in the first third of the 18th century.

For those of us who are desperate to understand Fasch’s day-to-day life, Paul Beckus‘s contribution is very valuable; he lists the noble families who held positions at the court and explores the concept of “representation” (i. e., the way princes projected their importance to others), of which the musical establishment was very much part. The final paper by Annegret Mainzer is a survey of musicians from Anhalt who worked in Russia during the second half of the 18th century, a by-product of the marriage between the two courts and the crowning of Catherine the Great (formerly a princess in Zerbst).

So no new musical manuscripts were discovered and only two papers that were really about Fasch at all, but there is still much to learn about the man and his music, and there remain many unturned pages in the archives that will reveal more and more. Let us hope that in the post-COVID-19 world, there is still room for Fasch festivals and Fasch conferences!

Brian Clark


Dizionario degli editori musicali italiani. Dalle origini alla metà del Settecento

Edited by Bianca Maria Antolini Pisa: ETS, 2019.
796pp ISBN: 8846753305 €95

Under the auspices of the Società Italiana di Musicologia and the editorial direction of  Bianca  Maria Antolini, 36 musicologists have produced an exceptionally important ‘dictionary of Italian music publishers, from the earliest (in the late 15th century) to those of the  mid-1700s, as a companion volume to the Dizionario degli editori musicali italiani, 1750-1930’ (ETS, 2000). It is far more than a dictionary and even more than an encyclopedia. The main part (600 pages out of 800) consists of 384 biographical entries, many of which are thorough studies on early Italian printers, along with the distributors, financers, composers, promoters and sellers of editions of music. The reader cannot ‘look up’ printing techniques or Italian cities by name, but the extraordinarily useful sections before and after the ‘dictionary’ inform the reader greatly about the protagonists, the developments, and their places in the history of early music and music publication in Italy.

The figures are treated as exhaustively as information warrants. These signed entries are not standardized (as a mere dictionary might require), but organized according to the vicissitudes, relationships, innovations, and importance of each figure, including a specific bibliography. The General Bibliography to sources and research by Chiara Pelliccia is 36 pages long, and the Index of approximately 4,500 names – which may turn up in many different entries – by Maria Borghesi are features of a monographic book of research, not expected in a ‘dictionary’. No doubt some cross-references might have been missed, but these tools are highly useful because printers, composers and booksellers had families, competitors, patrons, and the subject matter gains from treasure hunting exploration.

I was mystified to find ‘Agostino Diruta’ in the Index but not his famous uncle and teacher Girolamo Diruta, the organist and author of Il Transilvano (1593; 1609 and other editions), his treatise and anthology for professional organists, and also the publication with the earliest use of ‘nesting type’ (mosaic characters) in keyboard tablatures. Indeed, three of the ten pages cited for Agostino were not about him, or were about G. Diruta or Banchieri. This is a very minor note of warning about indexes which applies to all books: they may be drafted before the page numbers are definitive, and no index compiler can possibly be an authority on thousands of figures. It is an astounding achievement that this one even gives page references leading to names buried in titles present in the extensive Bibliography!

What makes this ‘dictionary’ also an in-depth history of early Italian music printing is the tripartite introductory section. The three absorbing articles of the first 115 pages – again modestly presented as ‘aspects’, ‘perspectives’ or ‘historical context’ — outline who, where, when, how, why and with what consequences music was published:

The first is Antolini’s, a chronological overview of various aspects of the history of printing music, or inserting music in other types of books, in Italy, from the last quarter of the 15th century on, and especially in Venice, Rome and Milan. She explains the distinction between typographic and xylographic prints, the eventual demand for printing polyphony, and shortly after 1500, for tablatures. As the activity flourished in other cities, the birth of instrumental music at the end of the 16th century made new demands. Manuscripts circulated along with prints, and even manuscript copies of prints; editors specialized in certain repertories, and collaborating figures, sometimes the composers themselves, emerged to produce, finance and distribute music in the 17th and 18th centuries. In her introductory article, we encounter some of the principal names, which many musicians hardly recognize, and the reader is immediately tempted to go to specific entries.

The second article, ‘Da un’altra prospettiva: le tecniche e i processi di stampa della musica in Italia (XV-XIX secolo)’ by Licia Sirch, on the historical printing techniques employed over a span of 500 years, is fascinating for the processes developed. There are no explicit warnings to musicians of the 21st century, but it is clear that we are at risk of not considering the implications of those early techniques. When interpreting printed music, it is imperative to understand the advantages, limitations and purpose of the methods used. Woodcuts were capable of showing anything but slow and expensive to design and cut, and rather rough in appearance. Reusable, they conserved mistakes. Typesetting, the most ephemeral, had vast commercial potential and continued for centuries after the introduction of engraving.

To typeset a page of music, a form with grooves was filled with movable characters (letters, symbols, and notes for every possible value and staff position, each on a separate segment of a staff). Many copies of a page could be printed, after which the form was emptied and refilled with type for a different page. After the print run that page could not be reprinted. We find facsimiles and originals of the same date with differences, however, because the printing could be momentarily halted to change a character. Most pages were never corrected and full of errors. Bulky type (of various kinds), a fixed distance between characters, the lack of beaming, and a limited number of notes per system made the music more widely available than manuscripts, though less accurate and much harder to read. It should be remembered that it was developed for polyphony, to be printed in separate part-books, where a single page or two could contain the instrumental or vocal part for a whole piece.

The ‘mythical’ typesetter Ottaviano Petrucci (1466-1538) had a rival in Andrea Antico (1470/80 – after 1539), a superb wood-cutter. But typesetting prevailed. 16th-century Venetian printers made templates, or ‘standing type’ for successive pages, or for various part-books, into which the characters could be set. This saved some typesetting time, especially when one voice part was graphically similar to another. Not until 1762 did Petronio Dalla Volpe (1721-94) acquire movable composite characters cast as round notes (instead of the previous squares and rhombi) with separate heads, tails, and stems, which could then be ‘nested’ together. Such ‘mosaic’ type was, however, first used by Giacomo Vincenti in 1593 for Part One of Girolamo Diruta’s Il Transilvano (not from Part Two in1609 as Sirch says). Diruta advocated writing for the keyboard in double-staff tablature, with intervals, chords and multiple voices appearing vertically and sharing a single staff per hand.

The highly ornamented ‘new’ vocal and instrumental music of the 1600s saw a great circulation of manuscripts, thereby stimulating a growing use of engravings and lithographs. These resembled fair manuscripts: fast notes could be grouped and beamed; parts printed separately or in score; plates could be stored and reprints made on demand, even with modifications; the contents could be rearranged and included in other volumes. Sirch continues the history beyond the middle of the 18th century. She also includes a very helpful Appendix of terminology to clarify the distinctions between ‘edition’, ‘impression’, ‘emission’ (successive or simultaneously – as separate items or included in anthologies) and  ‘state’ (whether intentionally or accidentally changed).

A shorter article by Saverio Franchi (1942-2014) seems to have almost the same title as the Dictionary itself, but this is misleading. ‘L’editoria musicale Italiana dalle origini al XVIII secolo nel quadro della storia della stampa e dell’editoria’ traces again the course of music printing in Italy, but in the general historical context of  European printing and publishing, which the other studies do not. Franchi was a musicological polymath as well as an important musician. His detailed overview, through his reflections, includes nothing that has come before, and was probably written before all the others! The planning of this bi-partite ‘dictionary’ actually began in 1990, and my hunch is that Franchi’s contribution, published posthumously here, was projected to complement all the others and help readers to place any of the 384 Italian names to be encountered in the dictionary, in the history of Western music.

Barbara Sachs




Journal for the study and practice of early music directed by Arnaldo Morelli LIM Editrice [2018]
248pp, €30 (€ outside of Italy)
ISBN 978-88-7096-990-0 ISSN 1120-5741
Buy it HERE

Only one study in the current issue of Ricercare is in English; the other seven are in Italian and the summaries appear in both languages. The order, as usual, is chronological, from the 1300s to the late 1700s. Geographically they involve the Veneto, Bologna, Florence and Rome. The journal is dedicated to Italian musical culture, and stimulates research by bringing to light newly examined sources.

In Un elenco Veneto di composizioni del Trecento con inedite attribuzioni a Marchetto da Padova e altre novità Francesco Zimei describes, transcribes and draws conclusions from a handwritten list of titles, originally from the area between Padua and Verona, of 35 mainly sacred 14th-century compositions with their Latin incipits. It is inside the cover of a folder made in the 18th century for containing material on musical theory, and is now in the Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina of Seville. 90% of the pieces listed are missing, but the list itself provides attributions for 80% of the titles. Perhaps previously unattributed music will turn out to correspond to these items, and in any case, from it we will know more about the composers named: Marchetto da Padova, Michael de Padua, magistri Iacobus, Petrus, Iohannes de Florencia, Franciscus de Bononia, and Zenonis.

The article Musica dagli Statuti della Confraternita di S. Maria della Morte di Bologna: ‘letanie, laude et alter oration cum canto digando’ by Gioia Folocamo is about twelve late 14th- and early 15th-century manuscripts of poetry for laude (of which 106 poems are in MS 157 of Bologna’s University Library). What the laude were used for was only recently determined thanks to newly discovered Statutes of a historic confraternity of Bologna that cared for convicts. Lauds were performed for the benefit of prisoners being led to the gallows.

Nicola Badolato’s literary examination of the typical themes and metrical forms of 17th-century Venetian poetry written by librettists for vocal settings is fascinating on various levels – even putting aside the specific works by Ferrari and Fontei used as examples. His study Soluzioni metriche e motivi poetici nei testi intonati di Benedetto Ferrari e Nicolò Fontei gives us interpretive insight into the transition from madrigals to arias, canzonettas, and cantatas, since the poetry was composed to be set to those forms of the time. Poets such as Guarini, Marino, Strozzi, Busenello, Chiabrera, and others, whether in a pastoral or a satirical vein (or both together), composed texts for the composers. One should therefore perform the great vocal music of the period with sufficient appreciation for their styles and forms.

Badolato is a musician, musicologist, and editor of critical editions of librettos and operas, and he has touched on too many elements to sum up without detail. Along the way, however, there are elements useful to performers apart from the technicalities, such as how the discussions held at the meetings of Giulio (and Barbara) Strozzi’s academies (Gli Incogniti and the short-lived Unisoni) were elaborated in music and the themes or topoi encountered in a great number of texts of the time. Singers will recall protagonists expressing their nostalgia for youthful love or refusal of love, the ridiculous expectations for it in the aged, the profound suffering and the brazen desire in others. Timidity and flirtation, love-sickness — with symptoms ranging from blushing and headaches to respiratory and cardiac; the mockery and deceit suffered by the infected; their flights or pursuits; their arming for battle or preparing to die. That these themes were discussed seriously and also made fun of should not be a surprise, given the poetry and music produced. After enjoying the poems included, on a second reading one can also delve into the contrasts of meters, rhyme schemes, and verse forms so appropriately employed.

Badolato missed the opportunity to contrast Monteverdi’s phenomenal setting of the anonymous Voglio di vita uscir with Ferrari’s: namely, that while both set the terza rima as a ciaccona (Monteverdi over variations of his Zefiro bass with continuo solo variations of the ostinato at various points, Ferrari with a straight repetition of a simpler version of the same ground), Monteverdi devoted an entire concluding section to the last four lines, set over descending tetrachords. He thereby contrasted the manic, joyous dance forn with a conclusive, poignant lament, whereas Ferrari simply halted the ostinato, adding two bars of recitative, in which the protagonist makes his last desperate resentful plea.

Antonella D’Ovidio’s article All’ombra di una corte. Lucia Coppa, allieva di Frescobaldi e virtuosa del marchese Filippo Niccolini describes the career of a Roman singer and harpsichord player born in 1625 who had the talent to become a pupil of Frescobaldi from 1635 to 1638. She also studied guitar, as well as singing and counterpoint with Filippo Vitali, and her thorough preparation and success was thanks to the Florentine marquis Filippo Nicolini di Camugliano (1586-1666), a patron active also in Rome, whom she served in his household in Florence. The archive of this aristocratic family, like others not yet explored, yields information on how such virtuosi “served” and what music was performed. According to Severo Bonini (Discorsi e regole sopra la musica, c. 1650 modern edition 1979, p. 113) she was hired by Giovanni Carlo de’ Medici because her playing ‘so leggiadramente’ was like Frescobaldi’s. (Leggiadria – lightness and charm – was specifically construed as applying to the ease in playing ornamental figures, so this source should be noted.)

Every detail of D’Ovidio’s account is telling, as for example, the Appendix. It lists the instruments and music books bequeathed to her by Filippo Niccolini: a highly decorated harpsichord by Domenica da Pesaro with two registers; a curious one containing four spinets (2 x 8’ and 2 x 4’ which can be coupled) for playing duets; an arcicembalo with five keyboards for passing from one mode to every other, invented by Nigetti and made by a son of Nicola Vicentino; another large harpsichord with all possible split keys by Canigiani; a good spinetta; a theorboe and a Cremonese violin. The article does not say if these instruments exist today, but it does say that she had the use of all of them in her music room.

Valentina Panzanaro takes us to Rome, where the Neapolitan violinist Salvatore Mazzella (ca. 1620-1690) played in a trio with Lelio Colista and Michelangelo Rossi. this was noted by Athanasius Kircher in his 1656 Itinerarium extaticum. Mazzella published a collection of dances in 1689, dedicated to Cardinal Fulvio Astalli, and Panzanaro gives a list of the 48 dance movements, four or five per Ballo, with their titles, time signatures, tempo indication, bar lengths and keys. Six are included as examples (most are for violin and basso continuo, in two repeated sections, with figured bass). The last nine are on varied ground basses. They are very short easy pieces, usually a Ballo, Corrente, Giga or Gagliarda plus dances such as Sarabande, Gavotte. Gighe and four Minuette [sic]. One can just make out which ones were actually ‘for’ dancing and which ‘da camera’, the latter typical of the Bolognese style of the 1670’s. They are similar to the sonate da camera attributed to the young Corelli, not mentioned by Panzanaro, but recently recorded, played and published by Enrico Gatti. About both Corelli’s and Mazzella’s one sees a similarity to dances for guitar, ordered into ‘sonatas, elsewhere considered suites’. Being from the south, Mazzella’s publication has a Tarantella of eleven repeatable 2-bar variations, at the end of which one repeats the first half.

In Drammi e oratori nella corrispondenza di Francesco de Lemene con il cardinale Pietro Ottoboni Clotilde Fino first outlines de Lemene’s literary production for other patrons who subsidized operas, oratorios and chamber vocal music in Rome. She then speaks of the projected works realized (or not) for the Cardinal. The correspondence between the Cardinal and the poet-librettist (1634-1704) concerned texts for oratorios – not only for Ottoboni, but also by him, from 1694 to ’98. The last exchanges are the most interesting because de Lemene was not only experienced in writing dramatic poetry for musical settings, but an honest, constructive critic. For example, when asked by the Cardinal for his opinion and suggestions on his work (Oratorio per la nascita del Redentore 1698, set by G. L. Lulier), he replied truthfully, if diplomatically, giving praise where due: an erudite recit of Lucifer was a bit too long, the demons set the scene but there was little ensuing action, and Lucifer could have commanded them to do what they in fact did to molest the newborn in the manger, and how about a reaction from the angels? His remarks give insight about how the librettist conceives, creates and constructs dramatic scenes before the work is set by a composer.

Huub van der Linden’s A family at the opera: the Bolognetti as an audience at the theatres of Rome (1694-1736) is a demonstration of what can be gleaned from studying the ‘paying audience’ frequenting the theatres of Rome. It examines the volumes of one household’s accounts, in this case one aristocratic family who attended and thereby supported (by renting boxes or buying tickets) most of Rome’s theatres. In sheer length and detail it makes one realize how much a comparative or consolidated ‘poll’ of numerous families might yield. That said, it is cumulatively interesting. The family was Ferdinando Bolognetti’s, and the sharing and repairing of boxes (responsibility of the ‘owners’), obviously crucial to a theatre’s management, shows political affinities and financial or social relationships between members of society, and the tastes of the theatre-goers. In addition to the very well-known theatres, the much lesser known Mascherone is mentioned. Van der Linden may not know that Luigi Antinori (1697-1734), a Florentine singer and composer, wrote a satirical cantata which begins with a reference to the Mascherone – La cantante smorfiosa (The carping diva). The soprano, addressing the implicated composer, complains that he made her go to hear the commedia there the night before, after which she caught a terrible cold and fever coming home, and now he expects her to sing.

In Giuseppe Maria Tanfani, compositore e violinista del Settecento fiorentino e inventore del violin tetrarmonico, Bettina Hoffmann rectifies an accidental misspelling of this appreciated Florentine composer’s last name as the far more common ‘Fanfani’, which precluded historians from connecting his activities with his sonatas. His 13 sonatas were correctly attributed to Tanfani in the manuscripts, as was the praise of contemporaries including Quantz, Pisandel, Casimiro degli Albizzi and Nardini. But about his life and other activities nothing was known, since documents in the National Library in Florence had catalogued them under ‘Fanfani’ . (I checked the white pages of the Region of Tuscany: today there are 191 Fanfanis to 2 Tanfanis!) Hoffmann’s suspicion was triggered, and after examining the ‘Fanfani’ documents in which the T’s were misread as F’s, the results turn out to be very interesting. Tanfani (1689-1771 – not ‘1779’ as both summaries give) was active as a violinist and as an inventive violin maker.

The manuscript containing his 12 sonatas for violin and basso, six da chiesa and six da camera, (I-Fn Magl. XIX, 198) is well described, including the folio recto and verso numbers for each sonata. As the study shows a photo of the opening Largo of the first sonata, in D minor (confirmed by the following description), the reader may be momentarily confused by the prior reference to it ‘in Re magg.’ This typo may have occurred because, coincidentally, another, separate sonata of Tanfani’s is indeed in D major: one extant in a manuscript in Dresden copied by Pisendel around 1717, and in another in Cambridge (formerly belonging to F. T. Arnold) in the hand of one of Vivaldi’s scribes, from 1725 or after.

The sonatas, while certainly good music, are typical. Absolutely original was Tanfani’s work as a violin maker. Readers of Italian can read the detailed description and purpose of his violin tetrarmonico. This document, in the Appendix, from 1722 or after, is ostensibly by a friend of Tanfani’s, but it is probably by Tanfani himself. By writing in the third person, he could praise the builder and his invention, and coyly avoid giving away exactly how this new violin worked: it has to be seen to be understood. Its purpose is tantalizingly laid out. ‘Tetrarmonico’ has nothing to do with pure intervals or the differences between diatonic and chromatic semitones. The instrument was designed to be playable in the normal violin repertory by all violinists, but also to allow composers to write notes a fifth lower, without losing the timbre, balance and sonority of the violin. It had a C string a fifth below the G string, probably of gut overlaid with silver thread, as well as 12 extra strings under (sottoposte) the five to be bowed. Of these seven are diatonic and five chromatic, each tuned to resonate with one of the 12 semitones. Not much is given away!

A further mechanism of ebony makes one think of the effects added to keyboard instruments to alter the sounds: instead of having to stop playing in order to place or remove the mute from the bridge, a lever operated by the chin while playing could place and remove it. It applied three levels of pressure: the first sordina, to dampen or mute, the second to vibrate like the low bowed string instrument known as the tromba marina, and the third to mimic a piccolo flautino perhaps raiseing the pitch by an octave.

Sadly, if Tanfani did compose for this instrument, no such music has yet been found. But now researches can look for references under his real name!

Barbara M. Sachs


The Well-Travelled Musician

John Sigismond Cousser and Musical Exchange in Baroque Europe
Samantha Owens
xvi+385pp. £60 (hardback), £19.99 (eBook).
Boydell Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-78327-234-1

Apologies to both the author and the publisher of this extraordinarily detailed book – convinced that I had already published a review, it has lain on my bookshelves for months since… Only when I came to file it away did I realise that, although I had jotted down some notes, I had never sat down at the computer to commit them to public scrutiny.

The first 180 pages of the book are taken up with nine chapters devoted to aspects and/or phases of the composer’s 67-year-long life, each of them oozing the volume of minutiae that in the hands of a lesser writer would have caused brain numbing. Somehow Owens always finds just the right combination of words to maintain enough interest to make the reader want to know more. And there is plenty to learn!

This is nowhere more evident than in her summary of the composer/musician/copyist/impresario’s commonplace book, in her transcription of his Address Book (complete with identifications of almost everyone mentioned!), and in another transcription, this time of notes made on a journey he made in 1716. The latter is little more than a tantalising list of people, music and places but it is just this kind of diplomatic transcription being published that makes other music historians’ jobs easier – somewhere in amongst the seemingly meaningless, someone will find a link that is a crucial part of their puzzle. For this, if nothing else, the world of research into Baroque music owes both Owens and Boydell a huge vote of thanks. Of course, there is much else to absorb and enjoy – the book itself is a thing of beauty.

As the HIP scene in Dublin takes off, Cousser’s music will become more widely known, so get hold of this excellent volume and immerse yourself in his world.

Brian Clark

Click here to visit the publisher’s website.


I ritratti del Museo Della Musica di Bologna da padre Martini al Liceo musicale

Historiae Musicae Cultores CXXIX
xvii + 684pp €90.00
Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2018
ISBN 978 88 222 6349 0

Most musicologists with an interest in 16th- to 19th-century music will be well acquainted with the extensive collection held in Bologna that once belonged to Giambattista (Padre) Martini, a man more renowned these days for his epic History of Music and reputation as an outstanding teacher of the laws of counterpoint than for his own compositions. That another – equally as impressive and extensive – collection has his name attached to it may be less well known; this time a fascinating array of portraits of musicians (composers, singers, instrumentalists), including celebrated impressions of J. C. Bach, Gluck, Handel, Haydn and Mozart, as well as a far greater number of less well-known characters, and a tantalising selection of anonymous works.

This comprehensive volume provides a thorough background to the collection, including its continued growth after Martini’s death, as well as more detailed studies of individual subjects (such as a chapter on Farinelli). Then it discusses and reproduces 311 paintings (mostly in full colour and slightly under quarter page sized, but some full page) in the main sequence, followed by a further 22 that have been relegated to an appendix for various reasons. The organisation takes a little bit of getting used to: eight chronological sections, each ordered alphabetically (with names beginning with Della listed under D, just in case you wondered!)

I was pleasantly surprised that the volume was not exclusively male; not that there were that many female sitters – one, in particular, caught my eye: Maria Rosa Coccia, who scraped a living as a composer. I may even be inspired to seek out some of her unpublished music. Another portrait once and for all exposes the inaccuracy of an image that is widely circulated on the internet purporting to be Alessandro Grandi; it turns out to be another composer of the same name from a younger generation. (A similar situation surrounds an image of Johann Rosenmuüller, though that has nothing to do with the present book!)

The commentary on each painting (by a variety of authors) is exhaustive from the arts perspective, describing the provenance of each, the accuracy of the identification of both the sitter and the artist, its restoration history and a thorough bibliography.

This book is a very impressive production, as important for art historians as it is for musicologists, and as at home on the shelves of a research library as a coffee table offering for visitors. At such an incredibly reasonable price, it is difficult not to commend it too highly!

Brian Clark



Journal for the study and practice of early music directed by Arnaldo Morelli
LIM Editrice [2017]. 278 pp, €30 (€? outside of Italy)
ISBN 978 88 7096 9450 ISSN 1120-5741; –

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE LATEST ISSUE of Recercare is quite large. Only one study is in English, but in addition to the summaries in English and Italian of all the articles, there are entire compositions, appendices, documents, plates and references which are useful in their own right. The journal is dedicated to Italian musical culture, and the papers are presented in chronological order by subject matter. They often include in full the documents used. In fact, ‘Recercare’ means ‘to search out’, and the wealth of new material promotes further research, study by study.

Franco Piperno’s short article has a long title, which, translated, would be Ecclesiastic institutions and music in Italy in the early Modern Era: a historical perspective. Actually every one of these words needs to be defined. Italians consider what followed the ‘Middle Ages’ the ‘Modern Era’. This places the Renaissance in the Modern Era, and most of what survives from before that is from after the Middle Ages, and therefore ‘early modern’. Piperno is concerned with two major trends in Italy, where after the Great Schism there was again the Papal state, along with dukedoms, kingdoms or other political authorities, all with local religious institutions. Who ruled and who had control over the religious functions, and for what purpose, was in flux. Piperno wants musicology and historiography to intersect on this question, and he gives examples of the use of liturgical as well as secular music in the 15th century (important for the rise of polyphony) and going a little beyond. Ecclesiastic music, whether controlled by the papacy or preserved in resistance to the centralized Church, may have served spiritual aims or instead been for the show of power, from “above” (chapels of the highest authorities), from “below” (plebs fidelium), and from “in between” (urban centers mediating with the highest circles through bishops and confraternities). So far, attention has been mainly centered on the complex polyphony of the highest institutional levels. Therefore the historical perspective Piperno reminds us to consider invites the study of other types of compositions. He gives examples of where and when the changing contexts surrounding the ecclesiastical institutions affected how music was used.

The article ‘Et iste erat valde musicus’: Pope Leo X, composer, with its Appendix of all his extant compositions, is by Anthony M. Cummings and Michał Gondko. The fuller citation naming Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici, 1475-1521) goes on to say that he was very musical and composed a (lost) motet, Quis pro nobis contra nos, si Deus est nobiscum, the title of which is close to that of a keyboard intabulation found in Cracow, which might turn out to be based on it. The study entertains the supposition that Giovanni studied with or received guidance from Heinrich Isaac (1450 ca.-1517), the most esteemed composer active at the Medici court, and adduces the fact that the few compositions known to have been composed by Leo X were of types that Isaac wrote. The appendix (pp. 34-52) is a critical edition of Pope Leo X’s opera omnia of four surviving pieces. The newly discovered Benedictus dominus Deus meus for 4vv is quite lovely – 157 semibreves in length, the two upper and two lower voices alternating in long phrases in more florid two-part counterpoint, between sections à4 (DATB). Cela sa[ns] plus is shorter, only 47 semibreves, à5 (DCTTB), without any textual underlay, and therefore possibly instrumental, as is a 3-voiced canon. Readers will want to look into Leo’s biography to appreciate his interests and his patronage of the arts and music, which are not touched upon in this very specific article. The appendix is obviously of use to musicians, irrespective of language.

Rodolfo Baroncini’s study Dario Castello e la formazione del musico a Venezia: nuovi documenti e nuove prospettive is excellent. Many musicians play the Sonate concertate in stile moderno by Castello (1602-1631) but know almost nothing about his life, family, and place in the musical life of Venice up to his early death from plague. Enjoying his music does not necessarily include realizing what distinguishes it historically, and the article may inspire those who have never heard a Castello sonata to do so.

Baroncini has uncovered documents on Castello’s musical ancestors, especially his grandfather, father and his siblings, and the musical circle in which he moved. What he relates is both specific and general. His analysis of the Sonata decima à3 for two violins or cornetts and bassoon or viol (from the 1629 Libro secondo) gives the reader almost the experience of hearing the work: four long musical excerpts, amounting to seven pages of music, are interspersed with very clear, short, descriptions – well chosen and aptly characterized.

What engages in Castello’s music so profoundly and ushers in the new ‘stile moderno’ is not just its sectional form (already common in canzonas and chansons), but its inventively contrasting, developing content – with agogic and dynamic effects, expressive solos, imitations carried over from section to section, and dramatic pacing of tonal harmonies. Some additional short musical examples illustrate other traits. The appendix supplies 32 documents, including the clerical legal investigation to corroborate Dario’s legitimacy in order for him to enter a seminary to complete his musical studies. Others attest to his father’s tragic losses from the plague – that of his second wife, of Dario’s brother and then of Dario, all within a few days. Baroncini makes us feel the loss of a figure we only just came to know something about, since the information he offers is absolutely new.

Orietta Sartori’s article Nomen omen: Giuseppe Polvini Faliconti impresario del Settecento romano, uses a Latin catch phrase to imply that Faliconti (1673 – 1741) was destined by his second surname (that of his mother) to handle the purse strings. ‘Fa li conti’ means ‘[he] does the accounts’, and the impresario ran the four major opera theatres of Rome. At his death a chronicler mistakenly thought this was only nickname that stuck. More respectfully, Metastasio called him ‘the gardener of Parnasso’, his ‘produce’ being poetry, music and good pay to the artists, a compliment he merited. He was greatly respected, though he died deeply in debt, along with his patron, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni.

Four caricatures of him, drawn by Pier Leone Ghezzi between 1721 and 1730 in the painter’s typically unflattering satirical style, are included and attest to their long friendship. In the numerous productions he organized between 1719 and 1741 he found the librettos, hired performers, arranged sets, directed rehearsals, raised funds and handled marketing. The study follows his career year by year, opera by opera, scene by scene, including events befalling some productions, illustrating in some detail a chapter in the history of opera in early 18th century Rome.

Paolo Russo takes us into the French philosophical aesthetic debates of the late 18th century, as applied to opera, in Tra declamazione e pantomima: Metastasio riconcepito. Charles-Nicholas Cochin, a painter, engraver and intellectual, an admirer of Metastasio’s drama and of the Comédie Italienne, and strongly against the endless recitatives of Gluck and the attempts to restore ancient lyrical tragedy, was the anonymous author of a 1779 pamphlet, entitled Pantomime dramatique, ou Essai sur un nouveau genre de spectacle. Cochin proposed to take Metastasio’s historical subjects, underline the true psychological passions represented, revising, cutting and translating the original versions in such a way as to produce a coherent spectacle combining mute gestural pantomime, declamation (spoken recitation), sung recitation, and arias. The dramatic pantomime, a proto-language, would express passions and would take the place of huge segments of the original texts; declamation, between spoken and sung, would be useful for dialogues, and could be both realistic and harmonious; recitative would blend into the arias, which would constitute the most important parts of the operas, conserving the parts of the original librettos intended as such. Russo prints six scenes from Metastasio’s Demofoonte marking in bold the drastically few lines that Cochin would make use of. The article touches very briefly on what followed in the decades after the debates, but does cover in some detail how other philosophers (Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau et al.) approached the questions, with direct quotations only in French.

In ‘Respinto da un impensato vento contrario in alto mare’: Anton Raaff, il Farinelli e la Storia della musica di Giambattista Martini, Elisabetta Pasquini documents, mostly through letters, the tribulations that nearly prevented the publication of the first volume of ‘Padre Martini’s’ monumental, if uncompleted, History of Music. Giovanni Battista Martini (1706-1784) was a composer, musical theorist, critic, musical historian and teacher, visited by composers who flocked to Bologna to study counterpoint with him (the most famous being J.C. Bach, Mozart, Gluck and Jommelli). He amassed a musical library, according to Burney, of some 17,000 items, and through his research he aspired to cover the story of music from Adam to his day in five volumes. The 1st volume – ending with music of the Hebrews before the destruction of the Temple and the second exile – was ready to be printed in 1752, and came out, not in 1757 as the title page says (see, but at the end of 1760; the 2nd and 3rd volumes – on ancient Greek music – in 1770 and 1781; the 4th was intended to cover the early middle ages up to Guido d’Arezzo, some parts of which were written. The three published volumes constitute, in themselves, a milestone in the history of music, achieved by great sacrifice and reliance on persons collaborating to obtain patronage to cover the considerable costs.

The ‘official’ 1757 date of dedication of the first volume is still the one generally given, if only because the actual date and the mystery of the need to fake it, which Pasquini has unraveled, persist. It is not a spoiler to say that for economic reasons a royal sponsor had to be found to produce and market in sufficient quantity such a precious, illustrated work (hundreds of pages, with incisions and musical examples, tables, indices, even errata corrige). Lengthy negotiations were undertaken by loyal friends of Padre Martini in Spain, including Carlo Boschi, the famous castrato a.k.a. ‘il Farinelli’ (1705-1782), and the German tenor Anton Raaff (1714-1797). Farinelli was at the court of Maria Barbara of Braganza, Portugal, Queen Consort of Spain (1711-1758) and Ferdinand VI, for decades, up to 1759. (She, of course, was taught by Domenico Scarlatti and received manuscript copies of almost all of his sonatas, later preserved by Farinelli.) Their mission, however, was not successful until the end of 1760, after both Maria Barbara and Ferdinand VI had died. Padre Martini could not have published the eagerly awaited first volume at all without their patronage, so in the end it had to appear to have come out before Maria Barbara’s death. The account is followed by a 32-page appendix of the relevant, critically edited, correspondence to and from Padre Martini, from 1750 to 1773. Pasquini sustains the suspense – others had to intercede, success was uncertain – and the reader shares what must have been an agonizing situation, above all, for Padre Martini himself. For this paper and others by her see also

In the New books and Music section of this issue Arnaldo Morelli, Chief Editor of Recercare, writes a long review of all the acts of a convention in Rome in 2015: La Comedia nueva e le scene italiane nel Seicento. Trame, drammaturgie, contesti a confronto, edited by Fausta Antonucci and Anna Tedesco, published by Olschki (2016).

Barbara M. Sachs


Fasch und die Konfessionen

Bericht über die Internationale Wissenschaftliche Konferenz am 21. Und 22. April 2017 im Rahmen der 14. Internationalen Fasch-Festtage in Zerbst/Anhalt
Fasch-Studien 14
Ortus Verlag om243. 432pp. €40.50
ISBN 978-3-937788-58-6

2017 MARKED THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY of the beginning of the Reformation. Martin Luther, whose Wittenberg Theses set the whole thing in motion and who, to a very large part single-handedly, established the liturgy (including its music) of the church which still bears his name, had very close connections with Zerbst, so it was thought appropriate to theme the conference that took place there during the Fasch Festival that year against a religious background. At various points in his life, the composer was employed by Catholic and Protestant nobles, and struggled with his own Pietist beliefs which were considered heresy by the Anhalt court censors. The present volume includes the texts of the 13 papers given, a comprehensive index and biographies of the authors.

Michael Maul opened proceedings with an introduction to the development of musical establishments within the Lutheran church; likening the push to educate boys in the art of singing to Germany’s determined efforts to rebuild their football team after a disastrous World Cup competition, he portrayed Luther’s drive as political expedience and a formative influence on the way music held a central place in the new church. Jan Brademann then explained developments in Zerbst where the court remained Lutheran while the town adhered to the Reformed church and the reaction of both to the rise of Pietism (of which Fasch was a proponent) and the consequences for musicians.

An important figure in the early 18th century was Johann Baptist Kuch; Rashid-S. Pegah took over 50 pages to fill out his biography and details of music in Zerbst immediately before and during his tenure as Capell Director. After several readings, I still feel I have not absorbed all the information he gives! Gerhardt Poppe’s paper focuses on Fasch’s settings of the mass for Zerbst. His studies of the Dresden chapel repertoire are well known, but there are clear gaps in his knowledge of the Fasch literature; firstly, [now Dr] Maik Richter was certainly not the first person to recognise the regular use of mass movements in the Zerbst liturgy; secondly, the Latin movements were not replaced by German hymns on the third days of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun, but by settings of the German mass text (of which there were two settings in the “Zerbster Musikstube”); and thirdly, as I explained to him at the conference, the chronology of the F and G major versions of the mass known as FR 1260 is reversed, so movements he calls “new” in his analysis are actually “old”…

Gottfried Gille surveyed the contents of the surviving editions of the Zerbster Gesangbuch, the bespoke hymn book used in worship throughout the principality, including discussions of local poets whose works are included. My own paper focused on a set of part-books that contained music for an annual cycle of chorales; the fact that the text of the first was by one of the local poets Gille had identified (Johannes Betichius) led me to realise that the chorales were those Fasch used in 1738 to craft two cantata cycles from a single cycle. The only cantata from the cycle that had survived (without the central chorale!) was performed in its 1738 version in the church service that took place in the Bartholmäikirche on the Sunday after the conference.

The next four papers investigated figural music in the court chapel. Nigel Springthorpe’s “Roellig in charge” set out to establish which cycles were performed in which years, and Marc-Roderich Pfau introduced details of a cycle by Christopher Förster. Beate Sorg and Evan Cortens are recognised Graupner specialists: Sorg explored his contributions to the so-called “Dresden Jahrgang”, which Marc-Roderich Pfau had postulated Fasch compiled in advance of his sabbatical in the Saxon capital, and challenges some of Pfau’s conclusions. Cortens sought to demonstrate how the musical origins of Neumeister’s “new” cantata form lay in the opera house, and argued that the crippling financial impact of even attempting to maintain such an institution was alleviated by moving the musical style into the liturgical sphere.

The final three papers concerned music for funerals. Barbara Reul established the format of funerals in Zerbst and produced new evidence about the locations where such things were held. Irmgard Schaller’s focus was on the texts written (and printed) for such events. From a Fasch perspective, perhaps the most important revelation came in Maik Richter’s paper which introduced a series of letters he had found in the Cöthen court records concerning music that he was commissioned to write for a funeral there that (in conjunction with his previous archival research that had established that Fasch was paid for birthday and New Year cantatas) suggest that he was pretty much considered the Kapellmeister for all of the Anhalt lands. Personally, I see no point in speculating which musicians from Zerbst might have taken part in the services in Cöthen. On the other hand, it is invaluable to have the full texts of the three cantatas, and – obviously – to have letters in which the composer explains how he will set about dealing with the texts he had been sent.

Such a fine volume – handsomely printed by ortus verlag – could not have been produced without an enormous amount of editorial work; two former presidents of the Internationale Fasch-Gesellschaft e. V. (Konstanze Musketa and Barbara M. Reul) are to be commended for seeing another fine volume of Fasch-Studien through the press.
Brian Clark