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Johann Joachim Quantz & Bach

Quantz as judge of Bach?!

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 7, 2004):
Brad Lehman commented:
>> So, what are the aesthetic criteria (if any) we can trust, as listeners to Bach's music in recordings? Is it important to know the aesthetic values of people who knew Bach and valued his work, to help us decide any differences between humble service of the music and ego-tripping? Such people, if anyone, might be the ones who knew best what the notation meant to the composer and contemporary performers, knew the sound-world he lived and worked in, knew the intended audiences for the music, and therefore can tell us what Bach expected of performers. Their writings could be of considerable help in understanding the music.<<

Brad then goes on to ask and state:
>>What does anyone here think about, for example, Quantz' chapter "How a Musician and a Musical Composition Are to be Judged", and "Introduction: Of the Qualities Required of Those Who Would Dedicate Themselves to Music" in his book On Playing the Flute (Berlin, 1752)? [As an aside, here is Quantz' resume for his relevance:
- oboist and flautist, met JSB in
Dresden in the 1720s (according to CPE Bach);
- was an ensemble-partner of Buffardin for whom JSB (later) wrote flute pieces;
- was a flute-maker who invented several technical improvements for it;
- was a longtime colleague of
CPE Bach in the court of King Frederick, probably meeting and hearing JSB again there in 1747, as he was Frederick's flute teacher since 1741;
- praised JSB's musicianship, especially his keyboard and organ-playing, very highly in his book.
Who else would have taught the Musical Offering's trio sonata, and Bach's other flute pieces, to the king?]
There, I've stated one possible set of aesthetic criteria that I personally value: as a listener, enjoying the music played (as far as possible) according to musical principles reported by Quantz. And, judging musical efforts according to standards he said were important to the musicians and connoisseurs he knew!<<
Quantz’s relevance for judging Bach and his music is very questionable.

Quantz, like a band teacher in high school nowadays, may have ‘dabbled’ with trying to learn numerous instruments between the age of 10 and 17, but he was proficient in playing only a few of them well.

MGG (article on Quantz by Fritz Bose):
Bei letzterem blieb Quantz fünf Jahre als Lehrling und weitere zwei Jahre als Geselle. Er erhielt Unterricht auf Violine, Oboe und Trompete, daneben aber auch auf Zink, Posaune, Waldhorn, Blockflöte, Fagott, Violoncello, Gambe und Kontrabaß; ferner nahm er bei einem Verwandten, dem Organisten Johann Friedrich Kiesewetter, Klavier-Unterricht.“ [“With the latter (a relative – a Stadtpfeifer) Quantz stayed on as an apprentice for 5 yrs. and 2 yrs. as a journeyman. He received instruction in playing the violin, oboe, and trumpet, and, along with these, also zink, trombone, horn, recorder, bassoon, violoncello, viola da gamba and contrabass (double bass); and then (perhaps at a later point in this period) he took keyboard lessons from a relative, the organist, Johann Friedrich Kiesewetter.”]

In the New Grove (Oxford University Press, 2003), Edward R. Reilly and Andreas Giger report the following: “During his apprenticeship, Quantz achieved proficiency on most of the principal string instruments, the oboe and the trumpet.”

They make no mention of some of the other instruments listed in the MGG. Also note that no proficiency was achieved on keyboard instruments! And yet, Brad cites Quantz as being truly qualified to pass judgement on Bach’s keyboard skills! Brad stated above: >>[Quantz] - praised JSB's musicianship, especially his keyboard and organ-playing, very highly in his book.<< Is this another Johann Friedrich Daube, who likewise judged Bach’s performance practices in print, but had no real qualification for doing so? Nevertheless, some experts still believe in Daube’s description and assessment of Bach’s style/manner of playing. Based upon what we know now, should we believe that Quantz possessed the necessary qualifications for rendering his judgment of Bach’s musicianship and keyboard-playing skills?

BL: >>[Quantz]- was a flute-maker who invented several technical improvements for it;<<
How does being a flute-maker qualify anyone to render aesthetic criteria concerning the performance of Bach’s music, criteria that we can trust?

BL: >>[Quantz]- oboist and flautist, met JSB in Dresden in the 1720s (according to CPE Bach);
[Quantz]- was an ensemble-partner of Buffardin for whom JSB (later) wrote flute pieces;<<
Bach would occasionally include in a cantata a flute part for a very good player, when such a player appeared in town (Leipzig). Does having played along in a cantata under Bach’s direction once or twice give this individual a special status, one which could represent or describe Bach’s true musical aesthetics over the long term? Perhaps Bach thought: “Here are some very good flautists. Let them play the solo part of my music in the style that they are accustomed to: ‘galant’” Bach was always interested in trying out new musical ideas or styles, but was very careful about imitating them. He would absorb only what he could digest and make entirely his own. Much of what has come to be known as ‘galant’ is foreign to Bach’s musical aesthetics, although he occasionally would try out (compose) a piece or two in this style without entirely relinquishing what he knew to be music with lasting qualities.

Let’s examine some statements/facts about the essential style which describes the composer and player, Quantz:

It is a fact that Quantz composed about 200 flute sonatas and 300 flute concerti. Can Brad or anyone else recommend a recording of a single one of these that can truly appeal to a listener who has become familiar with similar works by Bach? Today, on the radio, I heard for the ?thousandth time BWV 1067 (the Orchestral Suite in B minor for Flute etc.) This music never seems to ‘wear thin’ even after all these years and the innumerable performances by different artists that I have heard. Why is there not even one flute concerto by Quantz that comes even anywhere remotely close to having an endearing quality that never wears out? Perhaps it has something to do with the ‘galant’ style?

Reilly and Giger quoted above continue as follows:
>>Because Quantz found little opportunity for advancement as an oboist, he turned to the transverse flute in 1719, studying briefly with the noted French player P.G. Buffardin, an advocate of the French taste. However, he credited J.G. Pisendel, the leading violinist and representative of the ‘mixed taste’ (French and Italian), with the greatest influence on his development as a performer and composer.<<

Although we know that Bach incorporated foreign (French & Italian) musical techniques and composing styles into his own manner of composition, Bach never gave himself over entirely to these styles as Quantz and others did. Bach remained true as well to the Germanic contrapuntal traditions which provide him with a foundation that is primarily lacking in composers such as Quantz and others who allowed themselves to be pushed into this or that direction by the prevailing ‘winds.’ Although Bach was exposed to the same winds, the force of which he absorbed and modified, his boat had a firm anchor which remained connected with the bedrock below. That anchor was the Germanic tradition into which he had been born

Judging from the failure of Quantz as a composer to achieve the quality of compositions that came from the pens of such composers as Händel, Telemann, and Bach, there seems to be a disparity between his (Quantz’) written theories and the actual results of which he was unable to attain in his performances and compositions. Quantz, despite his protestations, seems to havelost the connection to the German style when it came to creating music and possibly also in judging aesthetically the music of other composers of this German style as well:
>>The last part of the ‘Versuch’ surveys the characteristics of Italian, French and German styles, and provides the reader with the foundation to evaluate both performers and compositions. Quantz’s approach of focusing on taste allows him a certain degree of theoretical freedom, which leads to an emphasis on thematic quality and organization rather than on harmony, texture and overall form. His discussion of national styles makes it clear that he believed German music included the best French and Italian elements, a combination he hoped would soon lead to a universal idiom.
The ‘Versuch’ had a considerable influence on later German writers from C.P.E. Bach to D.G. Türk. While Quantz’s views cannot be considered absolute guides for the performance of late Baroque music, they certainly reflect many practices of the period from about 1725 to 1755 as cultivated in Dresden, then one of the finest musical establishments in Europe, and subsequently in Berlin.<<

Note how carefully Reilly and Giger qualify Quantz’s views: they are restricted in time and place from 1725-1755 (Dresden) and later in Berlin after 1741. His views “cannot be considered absolute guides for the performance of late Baroque music.” Now consider the fact that Quantz is promoting essentially ‘galant’-style music, a style of music that plays only a limited role in Bach’s output.

Also in the New Grove (Oxford University Press, 2003), Daniel Heartz and Bruce Alan Brown in their article on ‘Galant’ state:
>>Throughout the ‘Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen’ (1753) C.P.E. Bach distinguished between the learned and ‘galant’ styles. Marpurg in his ‘Abhandlung von der Fuge’ (1753) contrasted fugal texture with the freedom of ‘galant’ writing. Quantz was more preoccupied than any of his contemporaries with defining the new style, both in his ‘Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen’ (1752) and in his autobiography (1754; first printed in Marpurg’s ‘Historisch-kritische Beyträge,’ 1755).

There we have it! “Quantz was more preoccupied than any of his contemporaries with defining the new style” = which is the ‘galant’ style of composition and performance practice (this defines as well the particular aesthetic principles which Quantz propounds.)

>>At Paris in 1726–7, Quantz encountered Blavet, whom he praised most highly among the numerous composer-performers of the French flute school, the sonatas of which would seem to qualify on musical grounds as quintessentially ‘galant,’ although Quantz did not so describe them.<<

Now ask yourselves: “How many sonatas by Blavet, if any, have you ever heard, and better yet, how many of these, if you had heard them once, could you listen to again and again?” Remember: This is “quintessentially ‘galant’” music which Quantz regards as his highest musical goal.

>>Here [in Quantz’s most famous book, the ‘Versuch’ which Brad constantly refers to] the essential musical quality of what the period meant by ‘galant’ emerges particularly clearly. Its ideal was the Italian bel canto, which reached its highest pinnacle, according to Quantz, in the first third of the century, when the most famous castratos were in their prime (Farinelli and Carestini were singled out for praise). Flexibility in dynamic nuance went with rhythmic flexibility, or ‘tempo rubato,’ in the modern Italian style. Schäfke showed that Quantz formulated the ‘galant’ aesthetic of clarity, pleasingness and naturalness in music on the basis of several earlier theorists, including Mattheson, and that these ideals, typical of the Enlightenment in general, went back to the rationalist philosophy of Descartes (‘clare et distincte percipere’).<<

Here we can clearly see from whence a great portion of Brad’s own ‘aesthetic’ inclinations in regard to the performances of Bach’s music derives. All the excesses of ‘dynamic nuance’ and particularly Brad’s insistence upon ‘tempo rubato’ are to be applied to a great portion of Bach’s music (the only place where such rhythmic flexibility is mentioned in Walther’s ‘Musicalisches Lexikon’ is in secco recitatives.)

BL: >>[Quantz}- was a longtime colleague of CPE Bach in the court of King Frederick, probably meeting and hearing JSB again there in 1747, as he was Frederick's flute teacher since 1741; and Who else would have taught the Musical Offering's trio sonata, and Bach's other flute pieces, to the king?]<<
Ah, the King-Frederick-the-Great/Quantz connection!


Fritz Bose in the MGG reports on the musical relationship between both individuals:
>>Mit dem Antritt seiner Stellung am preußischen Hofe mußte sich Quantz auf die Erfordernisse des dortigen Musiklebens und die Fähigkeiten und den Geschmack seines Schülers einstellen. Da sich die Anschauungen Friedrichs nicht mehr änderten, stagnierte auch die kompositorische Entwicklung seines Lehrmeisters. Burney findet 1773 seine Kompositionen bereits »alt und gemein« und vermißt auch an seinem Flöten-Spiel die »neue Art, den Ton aufzunehmen, den Triller einzuleiten und zu ründen, eine Passagie sowohl als einzelne Noten unmerklicher Weise wachsen und abnehmen zu lassen«. Daß Quantz' Sonaten weniger persönlich und weniger anspruchsvoll als die von C Ph. E. Bach sind (Steglich), ist durch den Geschmack des Königs bedingt, der starke dramatische und traurige Affekte nicht liebte, sondern mehr schmeichelnde, zärtliche und heitere Melodik allgemeineren Ausdrucks bevorzugte. Die Kompositionen von Quantz bewegen sich im »galanten« Stil, doch sind sie, besonders die Triosonaten, reicher an Kenntnissen des strengen Satzes und der „gearbeiteten“ Musik als die des Königs.<<
[“When Quantz took up his position at the Prussian court, he had to adjust himself to the demands placed upon him by musical life that prevailed there and to the capabilities and musical tastes of his pupil {Frederick the Great.} Since King Frederick’s views were no longer amenable to change, Quantz’s development as a composer stagnated as well. In 1773, Burney thought that his compositions were ‘old-fashioned and common/trite’ and felt that his flute-playing lacked the former “new manner of producing tones, of introducing trills and rounding them off, and the technique of mezza voce (an almost unnoticeable swelling and diminuendo) for passages or individual notes.” The fact that his sonatas were less personal and demanding was caused by the king’s musical taste which tended to avoid strongly dramatic or sad emotions/affects and which preferred tender and cheerful music of a general character. Quantz’ compositions are in the ‘galant’ style, but they, particularly the trio sonatas, demonstrate a richer understanding of strict composition which demonstrates more care and consideration than those of the king.”]

>>Die »gearbeitete Musik« des Barocks erscheint ihm wegen der gleichbleibenden Affekte und instrumentalen Klangfarben langweilig. Er fordert Mannigfaltigkeit des Ausdrucks, Wechsel der Töne und Instrumente, deutliche Stimmungsabgrenzung der Sätze, harmonische Abwechslung durch Dissonanzen, melodische durch Verzierungskunst.<<
[„The ‚gearbeitete [contrapuntally derived?] music’ of the Baroque seemed boring to Quantz because of the monotony of the affects and the similarity of the instrumental tone colors. Quantz demanded a variety of expression, changes of tone colors and instruments, a clear delineation/demarcation between the moods contained in the various movements of a piece, harmonic variation achieved by dissonances, and melodic variation by the artistic use of ornamentation.”]

It is a serious musicological oversight to superimpose generally the ‘galant’ aesthetic as strongly represented in Quantz’s music and theoretical writings upon Bach’s style of performance practices. It is of interest that Jeanne Swack, wwrote the article on Quantz for the “Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach” [Boyd] Oxford University Press, 1999, does not even mention the ‘Versuch’ by Quantz, the very book that Brad has so frequently quoted during the past few months and wishes to apply as a significant reference work that should explain how to perform Bach properly. Perhaps she is aware of the danger of utilizing Quantz anachronistically to describe the performance practices that Bach would have personally used in the 1720’s and 1730’s.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 7, 2004):
>>[trashing of Quantz, deleted]<<
Anyone who has never read Quantz' book, taking it seriously on its musical and historical merits (as it's clear this person hasn't), has no basis to dismiss it like that. Since when is it acceptable to dismiss anything without looking at it?

Charles Francis wrote (February 7, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It is a serious musicological oversight to superimpose generally the galant aesthetic as strongly represented in Quantz music and theoretical writings upon Bach style of performance practices. >
The music of Quantz indeed represents the epitome of that which Bach characterised as "Prussian Blue". Its superficiality appeals to the less discerning, but it always fades with time.

Gabriel wrote (February 7, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
< The music of Quantz indeed represents the epitome of that which Bach characterised as "Prussian Blue". Its superficiality appeals to the less discerning, but it always fades with time. >
Now nice it must be to be so sure of the superiority of one's own taste and judgements

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 7, 2004):
Quantz is not a reliable witness for understanding Bach’s musical aesthetics and performance practices.

1) Quantz was primarily a ‘galant’ composer and theoretician. He was an opportunist who sensed the prevailing winds of ‘galantism’ and sacrificed his own cultural heritage for a fad which was sweeping Europe at the time. (This is in contrast to J. S. Bach who carefully chose what he incorporated from the best that was available elsewhere in Europe at the time.) Quantz’s music, although representative of his time and place (Dresden (1725-1741, and Berlin (1741 to 1773) remains locked into these time frames. There is little or nothing in this music beyond serving as an example historically of the 'galant'-style, beyond which Quantz never succeeds in capturing generally the hearts and minds of classical music lovers, unless, of course, they might happen to be 'die-hard' fans of his music.

2) The benevolent dictatorship of his ‘pupil’ King Frederick the Great of Prussia, a king who generally abhorred German culture in favor of French culture, had a profound, but rather negative influence on Quantz, who served King Frederick for 32 years. Quantz’s compositional and playing skills stagnated although it can be said that in both categories he was at least better than his pupil. Unfortunately Quantz was 'duty-bound' to reflect carefully the wishes of his patron. These wishes include the style of music that would find pleasure in King Frederick's ears, who seems to have had some very 'set' opinions regarding what a piece of music should sound like. Having been given by the king a very generous salary with few other musical obligations, Quantz was easily able to find time to write a book, his 'Versuch,' which, of course, would have to reflect the king's views on many musical matters. With the king literally looking over his shoulders, how could or would this affect what did find its way into this book? The answer should be fairly obvious.

3) Quantz’s main claim to fame, his ‘Versuch’ (1752), is primarily a political document of the prevailing musical atmosphere in Berlin; it is a document that is addressed to the scoreless flute-playing amateurs that sprang up all over Europe. These were, many of them, would-be imitators of King Frederick that were following a fad which, among other things, gave them a sense of status very much like the cigarette smokers of the 1940’s and 50’s who emulated the Hollywood film stars in this status-lending activity. In his book, Quantz defines the new style (1752) ‘galant’ which was in vogue at the time; he was not interested in recording for posterity the already historical aspects of Bach’s style of composing and performing.

4) The Berlin, and at one point earlier, the Dresden courts were some of the very few musical islands within the loosely defined German-speaking areas of what later became Germany. These islands, much to the dismay of many German musicians and composers, were populated by foreigners, mainly Italian and French. Many of these were among the best musicians produced by these countries and they enriched the musical cultural heritage with new ideas in composition and performance practices. Their influence, however, remained rather restricted to these cities and their immediately surrounding areas. It could take years for some new aspects of music to percolate down to the provincial regions and smaller cities and towns. When Bach visited the Dresden Opera in the early 1730s and heard the music that was being performed there according to the most modern style, he would refer to such music as the ‘Dresden ditties,’ thus revealing his own impression of this new type of music that ran counter to his own ideal of what music should be like. Much of this ‘galant’-style music lacked depth and (contrapuntal) structure. Bach could sense that such music lacked an enduring quality. His rather incisive quip is really a critical assessment of the main problem inherent in ‘galant’ music: its shallowness which is evident as well in most of Quantz’s own flute sonatas and concerti.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 7, 2004):
Bradley Lehman asked:
>>Since when is it acceptable to dismiss anything without looking at it?<<
Perhaps a double standard is being applied by you in this instance?

Have you already conveniently forgotten that you were guilty of doing the same fairly recently with one of Alfred Dürr's NBA KB volumes?

You seem to have many questions but very few worthwhile responses when something does not suit your way of thinking or that which you have been taught.

Donald Satz wrote (February 7, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thomas keeps bringing up the lack of quality Quantz's music. I don't have a different opinion on that issue, but that doesn't mean that his comments concerning Bach's aesthetics is useless.

Brad holds up Quantz as being one of the folks that we can gain some insight from about Bach's performance style; I don't believe that he said that Quantz is the sole source to look at.

So at this point, it might be a good idea for Brad to note other worthy sources as well.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 7, 2004):
>>1) Quantz was primarily a galant" composer and theoretician. He was an opportunist who sensed the prevailing winds of galantism " and sacrificed his own cultural heritage for a fad which was sweeping Europe at the time.
(...)<<
>3) Quantz’s main claim to fame, his ‘Versuch’ (1752), is primarily a political document of the prevailing musical atmosphere in Berlin; it is a document that is addressed to the scoreless flute-playing amateurs that sprang up all over Europe. These were, many of them, would-be imitators of King Frederick that were following a fad which, among other things, gave them a sense of status very much like the cigarette smokers of the 1940’s and 50’s who emulated the Hollywood film stars in this status-lending activity. In his book, Quantz defines the new style (1752) ‘galant’ which was in vogue at the time; he was not interested in recording for posterity the already historical aspects of Bach’s style of composing and performing.<<
An extraordinarily shallow assessment (on all these points, and more) that is belied by simply reading the book. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1555534732

As Quantz points out in his Prefac, he has "ventured rather extensively into the precepts of good taste in practical music" and he has had the whole book prepared in French translation (simultaneously with the German edition), so that it also "may be useful to other nations."

He even has some crunchy bits to say about self-appointed pedants. "Immoderate and uncontrolled vanity is very harmful in general, since it can easily cloud the mind and obstruct true understanding. (...) In the beginning we usually please ourselves more than others. We are satisfied if perhaps we can merely double a part on occasion. Then we allow ourselves to be deluded by untimely and excessive praise, and come to take it for a merited recompense. We do not wish to tolerate any contradiction, any admonition or correction. Should somebody undertake something of this sort from necessity, or with good intent, the rash fellow is immediately considered an enemy. Some persons with very little knowledge frequently flatter themselves that they know a great deal, and seek to elevate themselves above those from whom they could still learn. Indeed, from jealousy, envy, and malice, they even go so far as to scorn the latter. But if this pretended knowledge is carefully investigated, in many cases it will be found to be nothing but quackery: these persons have memorized a few technical terms from theoretical writings, or they are able to talk about musical artifices a little, but do not know how to produce them. In this fashion, it is true, they may gain some authority among the ignorant, but they also run the risk of making themselves ridiculous among connoisseurs, since they resemble those artisans who know how to name their tools, but use them poorly. Some persons who are in a position to discourse at length about an art or science are in point of fact more embarrassed in practice than others who do not brag half as much. (...)"
[From Quantz' "Introduction: Of the Qualities Required of Those Who Would Devote Themselves to Music"; pp 25-26 in the Reilly translation]

Perhaps such people should not read this book, after all, but just go on belittling it without reading it, considering that they have nothing to learn; Quantz knew their sort, all too well.

On a more positive note, here's what Quantz says a musician needs to be:

"The first quality required of someone who wishes to become a good musician is a particularly good talent, or natural gift. He who wishes to devote himself to composition must have a lively and fiery spirit, united with a soul capable of tender feeling; a good mixture, without too much melancholy, of what scholars call the temperaments; much imagination, inventiveness, judgement, and discernment; a good memory; a good and delicate ear; a sharp and quick eye; and a receptive mind that grasps everything quickly and easily. Someone who wishes to devote himself to an instrument must be equipped with various physical endowments, according to the nature of the instrument, in addition to many of the qualities of spirit mentioned above. (...)"
[ibid, pp 12-13]

As for galant trifling, here's the way he trashes that rising fad of composition (in favor of the "artful" music he describes soon thereafter). Quantz clearly has conservative taste in music, against the new crap:

"In former times composition was not so little esteemed as at present, but there were then fewer bunglers encountered than nowadays. Our elders did not believe that composition could be learned without instruction. They considered it necessary to know thorough-bass, but did not think it sufficient by itself for learning composition. There were only a few who occupied themselves with composition, and those who undertook it endeavoured to learn it thoroughly. Today almost anyone who knows how to play an instrument passably pretends at the same time to have learned composition. In consequence so many monstrosities come into the world that it would be no surprise if music were to decline rather than progress. For if learned and experienced composers gradually disappear; if modern composers rely entirely upon natural ability, as many do at present, and consider learning the rules of composition superfluous or even harmful to good taste and good melody; and if the operatic style, although good in itself, is abused, and interspersed in pieces where it does not belong, so that church and instrumental compositions are adapted to it and everything must smack of operatic arias, as already happens in Italy, we may justifiably fear that music may gradually lose its former splendour, and that the art may finally suffer the same fate among the Germans, and among other peoples, as that suffered by other lost arts. (...)"
[ibid, pp 21-22]

Then, later, he elaborates all that in his chapter "How a Musician and a Musical Composition Are to Be Judged" -- at the same time a terrific lesson in recent musical history, and a bold foray into aesthetic pronouncements. He is not afraid to step on anybody's toes, especially the toes of the "ignorant" and the "easily deceived". Quantz was no cross-gartered Malvolio. He knew how to stand up for his beliefs and put 'em right out there.

Good book, as I said.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 7, 2004):
“Other worthy sources”

< Brad holds up Quantz as being one of the folks that we can gain some insight from about Bach's performance style; I don't believe that he said that Quantz is the sole source to look at.
So at this point, it might be a good idea for Brad to note other worthy sources as well. >
I already have explained/mentioned quite a few of these, numerous times: Bernhard, Tosi, Frescobaldi, Le Blanc, North, Rameau, Mattheson, Quantz, Geminiani, Couperin's harpsichord tutor, CPE Bach, Corrette, and more. And fingering treatises, compositional treatises, thoroughbass methods, etc. All these have valuable and relevant things to say about composition and performance, leading into and through Bach's career. There are also modern summaries including Donington, Neumann, Harnoncourt, Taruskin, Troeger, Ferguson, etc.... And thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals, exploring all the nooks and crannies.

This stuff is the work of graduate programs in performance practice, and lifelong careers where there's always more to learn; historical performance practice is a whole field in itself.

And the text-critical study of original manuscripts and other sources of pieces; the whole side of preparing editions, the choices to be made both musically and philologically. And there's organology (study of instruments), and historical musicology, and culture studies, and music theory (counterpoint, harmony, etc), and private lessons and masterclasses with expert performers.... And ensemble-playing with as many colleagues as possible, as singers and instrumentalists can all learn plenty from one another.... And listening to all sorts of recordings, and reading as many books as possible (musical and otherwise), and discussing things with colleagues, and of course thinking and practicing and composing and improvising.

That's in addition to reading the standard historiography about Bach himself, for mass consumption, which is (apparently) all that some people here believe could possibly be relevant, by itself. One can't just flip open a couple of books, and a set of scores, and a large pile of "other worthy sources", and suddenly know it all. Not even a quarter of it, in my estimation.

The musical and practical choices that good musicians make are based on all of the above; it's not arbitrary, it's not ego-gratification, it's not opportunism...it's complete dedication to the music. (The pronouncements of armchair quarterbacks here, to the contrary....)

I don't mean to sound like "a broken record" on this, but that's what university programs are for, and professional societies, and conferences: to go through all this stuff and really learn it, from as many angles as possible, not just dip into a private collection of books. As with any field, it's necessary really to get into it complete devotion if one is to get anywhere.

There are no short-cuts to any of this, and (as Quantz pointed out) it all has to start with good training, working with good teachers from the beginning. Heck... Couperin recommended that harpsichords be kept locked, so young students can't go practice on their own and screw up their technique with bad habits; they should practice only under a good teacher's supervision!

I was studying Rameau's "De la mechanique des doigts sur le clavessin" (1724/31) just this morning...and his remarks in his 1728 book where he explains "quarter tones" (C-sharp and D-flat being a "quarter tone" apart from one another in the tuning) and enharmonic/diatonic semitones, i.e. the expressive basis of chromaticism....

Johan van Veen wrote (February 8, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] I am just listening to the third volume in the Froberger Edition by Bob van Asperen on Aeolus. Apart from his terrific playing I am very impressed by his lengthy liner notes which are a display of exemplary scholarship.

The study of Froberger's biography and the historical circumstances under which Froberger worked allows him to link Froberger to French contemporaries, in particular French lutenists and lute composers.

He has also painstakingly studied the original manuscripts; in several cases he uses the illustrations to develop his interpretations of the suites by Froberger he is playing here.

The recording shows what the combination of scholarship and musicianship can lead to.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 8, 2004):
Brad Lehman stated:
>>he [Quantz] has had the whole book prepared in French translation (simultaneously with the German edition), so that it also "may be useful to other nations.<<
I think we can now figure out why he did this – this is where much of the ‘galant’ style came from (Quantz’s flute teachers) and a very good market for a book of this sort. Imagine trying to sell Bach’s musical style of composition and performance in France around 1752 and thereafter!

>>He [Quantz] has some crunchy bits to say about self-appointed pedants.<<
Yes, there was a whole army of self-appointed flute-teachers as a result of the flute craze which was sweeping Europe at the time.

>>Perhaps such people should not read this book [Quantz’s ‘Versuch’], after all, but just go on belittling it without reading it, considering that they have nothing to learn<<
What about your double standard in this regard, Brad?

There is something to be learned from just about any book. The question is whether such a book truly gives us an insight into Bach’s compositional and performance practices. At this point you have not given me any logical reason to make such a connection and everything that I have found out from expert sources also points to a direction away from Bach’s music.

An interesting quote that you share is as follows:
>>For if learned and experienced composers gradually disappear; [Quantz recognizes here that he does not fit into the same category of Bach, Telemann and Häandel] if modern composers rely entirely upon natural ability, as many do at present, and consider learning the rules of composition superfluous or even harmful to good taste and good melody; and if the operatic style, although good in itself, is abused, and interspersed in pieces where it does not belong, so that church and instrumental compositions are adapted to it and everything must smack of operatic arias, as already happens in Italy, we may justifiably fear that music may gradually lose its former splendour, [perhaps Quantz honestly recognizes that his compositions and manner of playing have become shallow] and that the art may finally suffer the same fate among the Germans, and among other peoples, as that suffered by other lost arts. (...)<<

Here Quantz has a momentary view of the shallowness of musical performances of shallow compositions that are typical of the ‘galant’ style. He wishes himself to be placed among the pantheon of the great German composers of his day. This is a nostalgic, melancholic musing of a musician/composer who has passed his prime and views in a vision that approaches a nightmare a proliferation of the ‘galant’ elements much the same way that the sorcerer’s apprentice becomes overwhelmed by the profusion of mediocrity which threatens to endanger his life and which he is no longer able to control.

Quantz recognizes here plainly that he and his contemporary musical world have lost irretrievably the Germanic anchor that gave them a necessary hold amidst the storms/fads that were raging throughout Europe.

>>Then, later, he elaborates all that in his chapter "How a Musician and a Musical Composition Are to Be Judged" -- at the same time a terrific lesson in recent musical history, and a bold foray into aesthetic pronouncements.<<
As long as you understand what ‘recent musical history’ means in Quantz’s book, then I believe that you are making some progress in understanding better what Quantz’s contribution really is and how it can be used (certainly not to define Bach’s compositional and performance practices as you have too frequently done in the past.)

>> He knew how to stand up for his beliefs and put 'em right out there.<<
As long as you and everyone else understand that his beliefs can not be used to bolster arguments that wish to define Bach’s style of composing and performing.

Charles Francis wrote (February 8, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] Yet when it comes to Bach, his Well-Tempered Clavier (Books 1 & 2) is mediocre in the extreme. Indeed I am not aware of any Bach performance by him, I would recommend.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 8, 2004):
Brad Lehman offered other sources:
>>I already have explained/mentioned quite a few of these, numerous times: Bernhard, Tosi, Frescobaldi, Le Blanc, North, Rameau, Mattheson, Quantz, Geminiani, Couperin's harpsichord tutor, CPE Bach, Corrette, and more. And fingering treatises, compositional treatises, thoroughbass methods, etc. All these have valuable and relevant things to say about composition and performance, leading into and through Bach's career. There are also modern summaries including Donington, Neumann, Harnoncourt, Taruskin, Troeger, Ferguson, etc.... And thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals, exploring all the nooks and crannies.<<
What we need are more specific quotes and references that connect the dots between these authors/commentators and J. S. Bach. Take, for instance, Harnoncourt! I have thoroughly studied his most important books in the original language and I still find myself coming up short. Why do you even offer Harnoncourt as a reference when his documentation and reasoning based upon the sources he gives is extremely faulty when it comes to understanding Bach's performance practices? What is Quantz still doing in this list? I have thoroughly studied and researched carefully one of Mattheson’s most important books, ‘Der vollkommene Capellmeister’ (Hamburg, 1739) and I have reported on it in detail. The results can be found on Aryeh’s Bach-Cantatas site. Likewise, I have given pertinent details from Tosi/Agricola which have not been cordially received by you and a few others on these lists (the demi-voix description.) Why do you still persist in listing Tosi? Are you simply throwing out names here, or can you seriously offer some succinct quotes from the original that would give us material to ponder. We are not asking you to ‘rip off’ anyone’s copyright, but simply give a paragraph or two from an original source that will illustrate or explain if, why, and how, J. S. Bach used ‘rubato’ or really wanted to have his note values cut short, etc., etc.

Don's request is a legitimate one.

Donald Satz wrote (February 8, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Well, here's one vote in favor of the van Asperen set of the WTC. It's not my favorite on harpsichord; that distinction goes to Glenn Wilson's Teldec set, but van Asp's is a fine performance. He is also an excellent partner for Lucy van Dael in their Naxos recording of Bach's Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard.

Just interested - What harpsichord versions of the WTC does Charles appreciate?

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 8, 2004):
Donald Satz Don wrote:
< Thomas keeps bringing up the lack of quality Quantz's music. I don't have a different opinion on that issue, but that doesn't mean that his comments concerning Bach's aesthetics is useless. >
As somebody pointed out here a couple of months ago (I think it was Uri Golomb):

The point is not whether any of us enjoy Quantz's own music, or even think he was a good composer. (Are his detractors here good composers, themselves, worthy to judge him?!) Rather, it is that Quantz was qualified to understand, play, and teach Bach's music.

And his method, as written, is well-thought-out and comprehensive. He was a good teacher, thoroughly familiar with all aspects of performance (right down to comments about nervousness, handling people's personalities and egos in ensemble, stage presence, string player's bow-strokes, harpsichord tuning, good improvisational texture on the keyboard, how to inspire confidence from musical colleagues...and all!). His book is that comprehensive.

We should consider ourselves fortunate that such a strong source is available, that insider's view that Quantz had.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 8, 2004):
< What we need are more specific quotes and references that connect the dots between these authors/commentators and J. S. Bach.(...) Don's request is a legitimate one. >
So was my answer of it, especially the part about there being no shortcuts to going through all this stuff from the beginning with good teachers, not just finding it conveniently digested in books. The "connecting of dots" cannot be done in any meaningful way, except through a comprehensive and multi-faceted plan of study...taking years, even a lifetime. That was the main point of that message!
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/12829
Education is not indoctrination of a set of easy answers. In music, or any serious field.

The 'entitlement issues' evidenced by that follow-up question (above) are...let's say it nicely...problematic.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 8, 2004):
Brad Lehman stated:
>>The "connecting of dots" cannot be done in any meaningful way, except through a comprehensive and multi-faceted plan of study...taking years, even a lifetime. That was the main point of that message!... Education is not indoctrination of a set of easy answers. In music, or any serious field.<<
Any serious field of study such as musicology where obfuscation (at least as you present it here) is held in higher esteem than honestly attempting to ‘connect the dots’ between original sources and current attempts at creating authentic performance practice conditions is to be eschewed by any clear-thinking mind. It seems that you, Brad, like the Wizard of Oz, do not want anyone to see the reality behind the outward display of learning, experience, diplomas, etc. which you conjure up every time the questions and the requests for evidence and proof come in your direction. This simply will not do. There is a point when some of the ‘important cards that you are holding’ have to be put down on the table for reckoning. This is one of these times when this becomes absolutely necessary unless you wish to erode your sagging credibility even more. The ball is in your court now. Without a legitimate, reasonable defense of your relying upon Quantz, Daube, Niedt, and others who have proven not to be worthy to be considered as primary sources through which we can learn reliably about Bach’s performance practices, what else is left? Which other original sources did your musical education present to you, or did you discover on your own, that can provide substantiation for the theories on Bach’s performance practices that you espouse? Some of us are simply not ready to accept entirely on faith everything that you personally have to say about these matters. We need some additional proof to bolster our already seriously shaken faith in the bases for your knowledge, experience and diplomas. It is time now to prove your worth regarding which we have had all-to-frequent recitals in the past few months. Answer our legitimate questions! Provide these other worthy sources!

Juozas Rimas wrote (February 8, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< write a book, his 'Versuch,' which, of course, would have to reflect the king's views on many musical matters. With the king literally looking over his shoulders, how could or would this affect what did find its way into this book? The answer should be fairly obvious. >
But who taught Fredrick to play the flute? If this was primarily Quantz, it's hard to imagine that Frederick's own tastes and views on musical matters weren't formed by his teacher. Or had Frederick had more influential teachers before Quantz?

As a side note, is there information available on which of the flute works by J.S. Bach were written specially for Frederick or at least with him in mind? (except for the Musical Offering)

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 8, 2004):
Juozas Rimas asked:
>>But who taught Fredrick to play the flute? If this was primarily Quantz, it's hard to imagine that Frederick's own tastes and views on musical matters weren't formed by his teacher. Or had Frederickhad more influential teachers before Quantz?

As a side note, is there information available on which of the flute works by J.S. Bach were written specially for Frederick or at least with him in mind? (except for the Musical Offering)<<
Read Alberto Basso’s article on “Frederick the Great” in the Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach [Boyd, Oxford University Press, 1999]. No other works by J. S. Bach, as far as I know were dedicated/written especially for Frederick. Is it possible that C.P.E. Bach, who served as a musical member of the court for 30 years from 1738 to 1768 may have had copies of some of J. S. Bach’s other flute compositions and presented them at court? We don’t know, but it is highly unlikely. David Schulenberg, also in the above book, in his article on C.P.E. Bach states “But there is no evidence that any of Bach’s [CPE, most likely] music, not even the ten flute sonatas of the 1730s and 1740s, was composed for the king, who is known to have later disapproved of Emanuel’s style.” Remember that “Emanuel generally eschewed his father’s imitative polyphony” and was a strong proponent of the ‘galant’ and ‘empfindsamer’ style!

Heinz Becker in the MGG states:
Zweifellos hat J. S. Bachs Klavier- und Orgelspiel dem König große Achtung abgerungen, von einem Verständnis der Bachschen Kunst wird man hingegen kaum sprechen dürfen. Aus der Aufforderung an den Thomaskantor, eine 6stimmige Fuge ex tempore durchzuführen, kann man schließen, daß es dem König eher darum ging, die Grenzen der »ars combinatoria« kennenzulernen, als daß er wirklich Bachsche Musik zu hören wünschte. Es ist nichts von einem Dankschreiben noch von einem Honorar für die Dedikation des Musikalischen Opfers bekannt geworden, und Bachsche Kompositionen sind am friderizianischen Hofe wohl nie erklungen.“
[“Without a doubt, J. S. Bach’s performances on the keyboard instruments and organ gained the king’s greatest respect, but one would not, on the other hand, be able to state that the king had any real understanding of Bach’s art/artistry. From the king’s demand for Bach to extemporize a 6-voiced fugue, it can be assumed that the king more likely was interested in becoming acquainted with the limits of the ‘ars combinatoria’ rather than really wanting to hear Bach’s music. No one has been able to determine whether the king ever sent a letter of gratitude or any compensation for Bach’s dedication of the Musical Offering (with all the ensuing costs of printing.) It is very likely that this work was never performed at King Frederick’s court.”]

Fging sogar so weit, daß er Graun den Befehl erteilte, von der Kompos. frz. Ouvertüren abzusehen. Seine Ablehnung der fugierten Ouvertürenform…“ [„Frederick went so far as to command Graun to stop composing/playing French overtures as he (Frederick) rejected this type of fugal form of an overture…”]

King Frederick had other music teachers before Quantz and even knew how to play the flute before beginning to take lessons from Quantz.

Here is an excerpt from the article on King Frederick II of Prussia from the New Grove by E. Eugene Helm and Derek McCulloch:
>>(b Berlin, 24 Jan 1712; d Potsdam, 17 Aug 1786). German monarch, patron of the arts, flautist and composer. His father, Friedrich Wilhelm I, was alarmed at his son’s early preference for intellectual and artistic pursuits over the military and religious. In spite of being supervised day and night and in the face of his father’s rages and corporal punishments, Frederick managed, partly through the complicity of his mother and his older sister Wilhelmina, to read forbidden books, to affect French dress and manners and to play flute duets with his servant. As a seven-year-old he was permitted to study thoroughbass and four-part composition with the cathedral organist Gottlieb Hayne. Wilhelmina, also musically talented, joined him in impromptu concerts. On a visit to Dresden in 1728 the prince was overwhelmed at hearing his first opera, Hasse’s 'Cleofide;' there he also first heard the playing of the flautist J.J. Quantz, who soon thereafter began making occasional visits to Berlin to give Frederick flute lessons. The king (Friedrich Wilhelm I) tolerated such amusements for a while, but by 1730 his disapproval had hardened to prohibition.<<

and a bit later:
>>the standard season featured two new operas by Graun and an occasional work by Hasse, composers who were the foremost representatives of Italian opera in Germany. Most of the rest of the year was filled with intermezzos, Schäferspiele, pastorales or serenatas, all usually composed as pasticcios; throughout the year instrumental music was performed in the king’s chambers, usually by no more than eight or nine musicians. The soloist at these soirées was either Frederick or Quantz; the music consisted almost always of some concertos or sonatas for flute, with Frederick and Quantz again as favoured composers.<<

It is a fact that Quantz wrote at least 296 flute concerti expressly for King Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia.

Here is the assessment of King Frederick’s musical activities/abilities by Helm and McCulloch:
>>The quality and scope of Frederick’s patronage was fundamentally coloured by his own accomplishments as flautist, composer and librettist. A consideration of all extant criticism of his playing and a study of the music he played leads to the conclusion that he was far above average as a performer, especially in adagios. All his compositions date from before the Seven Years War; in some of the orchestral works he left the inner parts to be filled in by others. His model in flute sonatas and concertos was Quantz, and through him the sonatas of Tartini and solo concertos of Vivaldi. In his dramatic music Frederick followed the style of Graun. Frederick’s works are likely to surprise the listener with their assurance and charm. The exact number of his compositions is difficult to determine, owing to the difficulty of separating his work from that of the artists he employed. Though he intended his works to be performed only before himself, there have been many editions of them since his death.<<

Now for a comment by Heinz Becker from the MGG:
>>Friedrich unterschied zwischen »nützlichen« und »angenehmen« Beschäftigungen, wobei er Philosophie, Geschichte und Sprachen den ersteren, Musik und Theater den letzteren zuordnete. Die Musik diente ihm vornehmlich zur Entspannung und zum Vergnügen; doch sei letzteres sträflich, so formuliert er es selbst einmal, wenn man es zur Hauptsache mache. Obwohl die Kunstbegeisterung des Königs dem Berliner Kulturleben einen starken Impuls gab, darf dennoch nicht übersehen werden, daß seine begrenzte Musikausbildung und seine einseitige Musikanschauung der freien künstlerischen Entfaltung an seinem Hofe häufig genug im Wege standen. Des Königs Konservativismus, seine Verschlossenheit allen Neuerungen gegenüber und die danach bemessenen Gunstbezeugungen verstimmten nicht selten die Musiker. Soweit bekannt, musizierte Friedrich ausschließlich nur seine eigenen Kompos, sowie diejenigen seines Lehrers Quantz…<<
[“Frederick distinguished between ‚useful’ and ‚pleasant’ activities. For him, philosophy, history, and languages belonged to the first category, while music and theater to the latter. Music served him primarily for relaxation and pleasure, but the latter, according to him, was ‘punishable’ as he once put it, if it becomes the most important activity. Although the king’s enthusiasm for the arts lent a strong impulse on cultural life in Berlin generally, it should not be overlooked that his limited musical education/instruction and his one-sided views on music frequently enough stood in the way of any freedom to develop musically in other directions. The king’s conservatism, his closed-mindedness toward any innovations and the resulting withholding of favors towards those who thought otherwise often caused his musicians to become disgruntled and disheartened. As far as can be determined, the king played only his own compositions or those of this teacher, Quantz.”]

Fact: Giovanna Astrua, a prima donna in the employ of the king in 1748, received an annual salary of 6000 Thalers while C.P.E. Bach received 300 over the same period.

Juozas Rimas wrote (February 8, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Read Alberto Basso’s article on ‘Frederick the Great’ in the Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach [Boyd, Oxford University Press, 1999]. No other works by J. S. Bach, as far as I know were dedicated/written especially for Frederick. Is it possible that C.P.E. Bach, who served as a musical member of the court for 30 years from 1738 to 1768 may have had copies of some of J. S. Bach’s other flute compositions and presented them at court? We donâ?Tt know, but it is highly unlikely. >
Thanks. After finding out the story of Musical Offering, it seemed the rest of J.S.Bach's flute works were also a result of his fawning over the king.

I also checked at jsbach.org and most flute sonatas were composed around 1717-1718, so some 30 years before the MO. It's interesting what pushed the old Johann Sebastian to compose the MO. Was he short of money and expected to be employed at the king's court or did he yield to his son's desire to boast a talented father?

BTW, so far jsbach.org is the only source online I know with dates of composition of Bach's works. It's very useful but how accurate are those dates? And I presume there might be different variants of dates according to various sources. Are there other webpages that list the approximate composition dates of JSB's works?

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 8, 2004):
Juozas Rimas responded and asked:
>>I also checked at jsbach.org and most flute sonatas were composed around 1717-1718, so some 30 years before the MO. It's interesting what pushed the old Johann Sebastian to compose the MO. Was he short of money and expected to be employed at the king's court or did he yield to his son's desire to boast a talented father?

BTW, so far jsbach.org is the only source online I know with dates of composition of Bach's works. It's very useful but how accurate are those dates? And I presume there might be different variants of dates according to various sources. Are there other webpages that list the approximate composition dates of JSB's works?<<
The following online source, unfortunately, also does not as yet give the dates:
http://www.bach.gwdg.de/index.html

The NBA VI/3 KB gives Bach’s Cöthen years (1717-1723) as the time slot for their origin. BWV 1039 might be even earthan that. BWV 1013 is otherwise among the very earliest of the Cöthen period and BWV 1030, although documented as 1736/1737 also goes back to the early part of this time frame. BWV 1034 and 1035 are toward the end of this period. All of the references to 1717-1723 are toward the original composition of the music which may not have been for flute to begin with.

>> Was he short of money and expected to be employed at the king's court or did he yield to his son's desire to boast a talented father?<<
Probably all of the things you mentioned. Isn’t it sad (or typical of King Frederick’s musical interests) not even to acknowledge receipt of Bach’s MO while Quantz was being remunerated separately for each one of his 296 flute concerti in addition to his fantastic, secure (for life) salary with all its perks. Can’t you see Quantz secretly performing the trio sonata from the MO after it arrived in Berlin and not daring to mention anything about this to the king because he (Quantz) already knew what the king would say about this piece?

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 10, 2004):
Quantz relevance

Perhaps the following facts about Quantz, supporting his relevance to Bach, will "settle" this line of discussion once and for all? This is an entirely positive message, in support of that excellent musician and his written work.

Several in this discussion forum have written:
<< "Why not just read it then and decide what you think".
Still, it seems to be be evident that the world of Quantz has little relation to the world of JSB's fugues, cantatas and orchestral music.<<

Things that "seem to be evident" often are revealed to be not as they seemed, when one actually bothers to study them. It is important to look directly at the evidence, not just listen to third-hand reports from people who assert that it's improper.

It's also important to get past the book's title, On Playing the Flute: it's about much, much more than simply playing that instrument. It's about fitting everything into a musical milieu, and understanding the content of music.

Read the book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1555534732/
And listen to ALL of this Naxos CD, and read the programme notes "About This Recording". The recording contains music spanning Quantz's career: http://www.naxos.com/scripts/newreleases/naxos_cat.asp?item_code=8.555064

Clearly, both from this recording and from the book, Quantz knew his business as a composer/teacher/performer, and could write in any style (just as he says in the book where he explains how to put concertos and solos together). He also explains in the book why he likes Vivaldi's earliest music much better than Vivaldi's later music; and he explicitly disliked instrumental music that gets too far away from the beauty of the human voice (i.e. intrumental music shouldn't dissolve into mere passage-work, forgetting the origins of melody).

=====

His reputation as a composer, among his contemporaries? Quantz's own early music was published by the English, French, and Dutch, in at least 17 surviving collections. People even started publishing pieces falsely attributed to him, for greater sales, riding the famous name of a popular star (just as happened with Pergolesi, Handel, et al).

Fugues? He liked them. In chapter 10, "What a Beginner Must Observe in his Independent Practice", Quantz writes: "The player should take for practice well-elaborated duets and trios which contain fugues and are composed by solid masters, and should continue with them for a considerable time. They will improve his ability to read notes and rests and to keep time. For this practice I wish to especially recommend Telemann's trios written in the French style, many of which he had already fashioned thirty or more years ago. Unfortunately, they may be difficult to obtain, since they were not engraved. It seems that so-called elaborate music ["Gearbeitete Musik"], and fugues in particular, are considered pedantic nowadays among the majority of musicians and amateurs, perhaps because only a few comprehend their value and utility. But anyone eager to learn must not allow himself to be frightened away from them because of this prejudice; he can be assured, on the contrary, that the pains they require will profit him greatly. For no reasonable musician will deny that so-called elaborate music that is good is one of the principal means of developing insight into harmony, and into the science of executing well, and making more beautiful, an air that is natural and good in itself."

Church music? He devotes sections to that, too, emphasizing the differences from secular music. "You should not believe that church music must consist exclusively of pedantries. Although the object of the passions is different, they must be excited here with as much or even more care than in the theatre. Devoutness simply imposes some limits. But if a composer is not able to move you in the church, where stricter limits are imposed, he will be even less capable of doing so in the theatre, where he has more freedom. One who knows how to move you in spite of constraints promises to do much more when he has greater freedom. Likewise the poor performance of church music at many places does not provide sufficient grounds for rejecting all church music as something disagreeable." (pp 306-7)

"The most notable epoch in the improvement of German taste, particularly in the composition of vocal music, may be placed around the year 1693. At that time, Mr Mattheson, whose distinguished talents in the defence of music and in its history are well known, reports in his Der musikalische Patriot [Hamburg, 1728] that the chapel-master Cousser introduced the new or Italian manner of singing into operas at Hamburg. (...) It might be judged superfluous if I were to name here all the great men in the times just indicated, some now deceased, others still alive, who became celebrated among the Germans both for church, theatrical, and instrumental composition, and for playing upon instruments. I am sure that all of them are already so well known in and out of Germany that their names will occur at once and without much difficulty to my music-loving readers. It is certain that those who stand out in the music of our times deserve the greatest thanks. (...) It is undeniable that the introduction of the cantata style in the churches of the Protestants was particularly advantageous to good taste. But how much opposition had to be overcome before cantatas and oratorios could secure a sure foothold in the church? Only a few years ago there were cantors who, after more than fifty years in office, could not have been brought to perform a church composition of Telemann. Thus it is not surprising if one encounters good music at one place in Germany, and altogether tasteless and unseasoned music at another. And a foreigner who, unfortunately, has heard music at one of the latter places, and forms a similar judgement of all German music, certainly cannot have the most flattering conceptions of it." (pp 339-41)

Orchestral music? He spends several chapters telling us how to write it, and how to perform it, with specific instructions to every member of the orchestra!

=====

As I've pointed out before, Quantz's own taste was quite conservative--going back to the 1710s and 1720s. He had spent several years in Italy, then a few months each in France and England and Holland, before settling into Dresden in 1727. His friends included Pisendel, Buffardin, Handel, Hasse, Mrs Hasse (the singer, Faustina), and Farinelli...to name only the most influential on him, among others. He started teaching Frederick in 1728. Then when Frederick became king in 1740, he created a lifetime pension for Quantz and brought him to Berlin in 1741, where Quantz spent the next 32 years. Big, big career where he crossed paths with just about everybody (including , of course) and had access to the best of everything that came through the capital.

Another of his pupils was Agricola, who had studied with Bach 1738-41 and then studied composition with Quantz from 1741 before he (Agricola) became Frederick's court composer in 1751 and director in 1759. And Frederick's court harpsichordist from 1740 was CPE Bach.

Quantz here was working with two of the biggest Bach fans and Bach-insiders of all time (Agricola and CPEB) for eleven years, immediately before writing this book. It should be pretty obvious by now that "the world of Quantz has CLOSE relation to the world of JSB's fugues, cantatas and orchestral music." Ditto for his relevance to Handel, Hasse, Telemann, and Vivaldi!

=====

Issues of style? Later in the book Quantz explains that music for the public took some bad turns, especially among the Italians (where the "purer" Italian style from earlier got lost), soon after he had got back to Dresden in the late 1720s. And he explains why one should pick up only the positive elements of Italian and French styles, eclectically, and distill them into a "mixed style" that "without overstepping the bounds of modesty, could well be called 'the German style', not only because the Germans came upon it first, but because it has already been established at different places in Germany for many years, flourishes still, and displeases in neither Italy nor France, nor in other lands. (...)

"In a style that, like that of the Germans today, consists of a mixture of those of different peoples, each nation finds something with which it has an affinity, and which thus can never displease it. In reflecting upon all of the thoughts and experiences mentioned previously in reference to the differences between styles, a preference must be granted for the pure Italian style over the pure French. Since, however, the first is no longer as solidly grounded as it used to be, having become bold and bizarre, and since the second has remained too simple, everyone will agree that a style blended and mixed from the good elements of both must certainly be the more universal and more pleasing. For a style of music that is received and approved by many peoples, and not just by a single land, a single province, or a particular nation, a style that music that, for the above reasons, can only meet with approbation, must, if it is also founded on sound judgment and healthy feeling, be the very best." (pp 341-2)

Well, whose credo does that sound like, the careful mixing of styles to enrich the musical results? Johann Sebastian Bach! As CPE Bach wrote in his own book that next year, 1753: "I believe that, with the clavier as with other instruments, the best style of performance is that which succeeds in uniting the neatness and brilliance of the French style with the seductiveness of the Italian manner of singing. The Germans are particularly disposed to this, provided they stay free of prejudice. I also believe, following the dictum of a certain great man [i.e. Dear Old Dad, CPE's only teacher!], that, though one style may on the whole be better than another, there is nevertheless something of particular value in each and that no style is so perfect that it will not suffer any additions. Through these additions and refinements we have progressed up to this point, and we shall progress even farther; but this will never come about if we pursue and, so to say, worship only one style; on the contrary, we must utilize all that is good, no matter where we may find it." [Essay on the Correct Manner of Playing the Clavier]

=====

Quantz as a person? Charles Burney met Quantz at court in 1772, 20 years after the publication of the book, and remarked about him: "The figure of this Veteran Musician is of an uncommon size: The son of Hercules he justly seems, By his broad shoulders, and gigantic limbs; and he appears to enjoy an uncommon portion of health and vigour, for a person arrived at his 76th year."

Quantz also had some things to say about that, in the book: that being an active musician helps keep one healthy and fit. And he explains that as a young man he had been on the way to a blacksmith's trade, unwillingly, until his father died; this unfortunate event at least allowed him to go do what he wanted to do, instead: music!

In this 1772 account Burney then goes in to hear a concert played by the 60-year-old king, in three concertos composed by Quantz: "The concert began by a German-flute concerto, in which his majesty executed the solo parts with great precision; his embouchure was clear and even, his finger brilliant, and his taste pure and simple. I was much pleased, and even surprised with the neatness of his execution in the allegros, as well as by his expression and feeling in the adagio; in short, his performance surpassed, in many particulars, any thing I had ever heard among Dilettanti, or even professors. His majesty played three long and difficult concertos successively, and all with equal perfection. M Quantz bore no other part in the performance of the concertos of to-night than to give the time with the motion of his hand, at the beginning of each movement, except now and then to cry out bravo! to his royal scholar, at the end of the solo parts and closes; which seems to be a privilege allowed to no other musician of the band. The cadences which his majesty made were good, but very long and studied. It is easy to discover that these concertos were composed at a time when he did not so frequently require an opportunity of breathing as at present; for in some of the divisions, which were very long and difficult, as well as in the closes, he was obliged to take his breath, contrary to rule, before the passages were finished." (The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands, and United Provinces)

Sure, there's a little bit of "kowtowing" to the king in there; but Burney didn't simply gush about any infallibility of the king. Obviously, he was impressed by the king's musicality, for the most part; and that's a nice tribute to the king's teacher!

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This defense of Quantz is intended to offer a worthwhile insight into Bach's music, and an especially good way (Quantz's book) to know how to understand that music. Quantz was eminently qualified to understand, perform, and teach that music; so, it's worth listening to that outstandingly thorough musicianship in his words.

His qualifications and his knowledge demonstrate themselves, with or without my pleading his case here. Perhaps the presentation here will spark some curiosity to go get this book? This message is not to be any substitute for reading it directly, of course, but merely an affirmation and demonstration of its merits. What more can anyone do?

Jack Botelho wrote (February 11, 2004):
Quantz

There have been some puzzling and fearful judgements concerning Quantz's writings and their relation to Bach.

I can only surmize such an approach is the product of a misty 19th-century romanticism that must view Bach as an isolated hero figure, all under a thin 'hi' disguise.

 

Johann Joachim Quantz: Short Biography | Johann Joachim Quantz & Bach

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Last update: ýNovember 21, 2008 ý13:16:09