GERMAN DEPTH: TELEMANN, BUXTEHUDE & MORE
Friday, September 10th, 2021 at 11AM
Alix Goolden Performance Hall
Suzie LeBlanc, soprano
Marc Destrubé, violin
Kathryn Wiebe, violin
Natalie Mackie, viola da gamba
Christina Hutten, harpsichord & organ
The music of 17th century Germany was still highly influenced by the Protestant Reformation. Led by a new approach to writing for the church, composers explored the depths of their own beliefs through music. Drawing from new musical ideas and forms that emerged in other regions, such as the chaconne and passacaglia, the brilliant composers of our German Depth concert skillfully adapted them to their more profound local tastes.
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1620 - 1680)
Sonata Quarta, from Sonatae Unarum Fidium (1664)
Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Sonata IV, Opus 1 in Bb major, BuxWV 255 (1694)
Vivace - Allegro/Presto -Lento- Allegro/vivace
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767)
Suite for Two Violins, “Gulliver’s Travels,” TWV 40:108, from ‘Der getreue Music-Meister’ (1729)
Reverie der Laputier, nebst ihren Aufweckern.
Loure der gesitteten Houyhnhnms / Furie der unartigen Yahoos
Samuel Capricornus (Samuel Fredrich Bockshorn) (1628-1665)
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704)
Passacaglia, from Mystery (or Rosary) Sonatas (1676) (solo violin)
Chaconne BuxWV 160
Wenn ich nur dich habe, BuxWV 38 (1668?)
This concert is generously supported by Generational Wealth Management, Raymond James
COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS:
The health and safety of our patrons, musicians, staff, and volunteers is of paramount concern. Please see below to read the steps we are taking to ensure everyone's safety while enjoying the concert:
Reduced audience numbers in socially distanced seats
Masks are required for everyone aged 12 and up
Once seated, audience member must remain in their seats
The venue will be sanitized before each performance
Doors will be opened 30 minutes before the performance
Concert will be about 1 hour in length with no intermission
Entrance for the concert will be at the Victoria Conservatory of Music Main Entrance- 900 Johnson Street.
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer had a rather successful three-decade career as a violinist and composer at
the imperial court in Vienna. Little is known about his early life or musical studies, but he is assumed to
have trained in Vienna with earlier court musicians. His first appointment as a violinist came in 1649,
and he was eventually appointed full Kapellmeister in 1679 after many petitions. Unfortunately, he died
of the plague only a couple months after receiving the appointment.
Schmelzer wrote many suites and dances for court functions, as well as various masses, songs and
sonatas. His ‘Sonatae unarum fidium’ of 1664 makes its claim to history as being the first set of sonatas
for violin published by a German-speaking composer. Although later compositions would favour two
melody instruments, this set of sonatas for solo violin and basso continuo is much more virtuosic for the
violinist. Schmelzer’s use of rapid scales and arpeggios was likely influenced by his colleagues in Vienna,
the Italian composers Antonio Bertali and Marco Uccellini.
The ‘Sonata in B-Flat Major’ comes from the first of Dieterich Buxtehude’s only two publications of
chamber music. He may have actually perceived them as two volumes of the same unit, as they were
written in close succession, and largely complement each other. Both are a series of seven sonatas for
violin, viola da gamba, and continuo. Together, they complete a full series of sonatas for the major and
minor keys of a diatonic scale in F. These works were not part of his responsibilities as an organist, so
the inspiration to publish some compositions as a free musician likely came from Buxtehude’s friend,
composer Johann Adam Reincken, who had published a similar series a few years prior.
These opuses were published in 1694 and 1696 in Hamburg, the largest city near Buxtehude’s famous
post in Lübeck and where he would often visit his friend Reincken and other musical colleagues. He had
gained the position of organist and Werkmeister at the church in Lübeck in 1668, and this was the
location to which Bach, Handel, and Pachelbel all made expeditions to in the early 18 th century. The job
also came with the requirement of marrying the predecessor’s daughter. So as Buxtehude married Anna
Margarethe Tunder, his successor, J.C. Schieferdecker, married Anna Margreta Buxtehude on 5
September 1707, a few months after Dieterich Buxtehude’s death.
Buxtehude’s sonatas did not take the standardized form that had been established in Italy, and could
range from 2 to 14 movements that could either be tonally closed or flow together. The ‘Sonata in B-Flat
Major’ may have existed in an earlier version that ended in a 4-movement suite. In the published edition
it keeps only the first two sections, a Vivace-Allegro and a Lento-Allegro. The first Vivace is a set of
variations over an ostinato that lasts three and a half measures, repeated in the continuo a total of 32
times. It then moves into a fast Allegro in triple rhythms that feels close to a gigue and features some of
the most virtuosic violin passages in all of Buxtehude’s sonatas. The Lento contrasts in a minor key that
uses long notes in a more predictable counterpoint before shifting into another Allegro section that
features some unusual (for Buxtehude) double stops for the violin.
In contrast to his sonata, Buxtehude’s cantata, "Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe" uses a rather simple six-
note ground bass. His vocal works were rarely dated, but were principally used in the annual
Abendmusiken concerts that would take place on Sunday evenings during Advent at the Marienkirche in
Lübeck. The text for the cantata is from Psalm 73 vv 25-26, and begins as, “Lord, whom have I in heaven
Buxtehude’s ‘Chaconne in E Minor,’ takes a more mathematical approach to its structure. Three musical
sections are audible through the increasing complexity of figuration over what appears to be 31
repetitions of a descending tetrachord. However, there are really 15 “full” eight-bar statements which
depict the 15 mysteries of the rosary. The three musical sections can now be seen as the traditional
three groupings of the mysteries of the rosary. The additional bars in this analysis are also mathematical,
as fifteen factors into 5 and 3, and 5 3 = 125, to total the number of bars in the piece. This chaconne was
originally written for solo organ as part of his duties in Lübeck, and has since been arranged for violins,
viola da gamba, and basso continuo.
Georg Philipp Telemann’s ‘Gulliver Suite’ is a musical exploration of Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’
Swift published the story in 1726 under the title “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in
Four Parts” and it was soon translated into several languages, including German. Telemann published his
‘Gulliver Suite’ two years later as part of his monthly publication ‘Die getreue Musik-Meister’ (The
Steadfast Music Teacher). This was the first German music periodical, and was aimed at spreading his
compositions for domestic purposes. The publication would include many of his own works, but also
pieces by J.S. Bach, Zelenka and Pisendel. He purposefully avoided extremes of technical difficulty, and
began incorporating German language tempo markings in order to make his music more accessible.
Telemann’s use of the word “suite” indicates a French inspiration to the form of the work. This influence
is confirmed by the programmatic nature of the piece, which had been a growing trend in France at the
time. Following a brief introduction, Telemann musically depicts each of Swift’s four parts of Gulliver’s
adventures. The first story involves the land of the six-inch Lilliputians. Telemann plays with this idea by
scoring this sprightly chaconne in 3/32, leading to the visual joke of tiny 128 th notes in the violin parts.
The second tale of the giant Brobdingnagian people is a clumsy gigue in a humorously contrasted string
of whole notes in a 24/1 time signature. The Laputians are impractical intellectuals who live in the
clouds, and have hired “flappers” to occasionally knock them back into reality. Telemann’s movement
titled “reverie” makes reference to their dream-like state. The fourth land Gulliver visits is an island
shared by Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. Each of these is represented by one of the violins, to obvious
contrast. The majestic and rational horses, the Houyhnhnms, get a graceful French Loure, and the
unwieldy, ape-like Yahoos are depicted in a scampering Wild Dance.
Samuel Capricornus, born Samuel Friedrich Bockshorn, was a Bohemian composer and music teacher.
His family fled into Hungary to escape the counter-reformation when he was young. His various studies
took him to Silesia and Strasburg, and then to the court of Ferdinand III in Vienna in 1649. He wrote the
‘Ciaccona’ while he was working as the Kapellmeister in Stuttgart, where he held the position from 1657
until his death in 1665.
Capricornus was prolific during his short career, writing over 400 works which were frequently copied
and printed. Many of his secular works have since been lost, but his sacred music stands as an important
link between the works of Heinrich Schütz and J.S. Bach. His style is rather Italianate, likely being
influenced by Valentini and Bertali from his time in Vienna. The ‘Ciaccona in D minor’ is unique for its
irregular resolution of the ostinato bass.
By the end of his life, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber was renowned through Europe as a brilliant violinist
and composer. Born in Bohemia in 1644, little is known about his early musical education, although
teachers may have been Antonio Bertali or Heinrich Schmeltzer in Vienna. By 1668 he was working in
Kroměříž in Moravia for the Princebishop Karl II von Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn. In 1670 he left on a trip to
visit the violin maker Johann Jakob Stainer, and instead of returning to his job at Kroměříž, joined the
court of the Archbishop of Salzburg, Max Gandolph. He remained in Salzburg until the end of his life,
rising to the rank of Kapellmeister and eventually ennobled by the emperor in 1690.
Biber’s ‘Mystery Sonatas‘ remain one of the most extraordinary sets of music in the violin repertoire. It
exists in fifteen movements which depict the fifteen mysteries of the rosary, plus a concluding
passacaglia. These sonatas survive only in a single manuscript, which is absent its front page, so the
given names of the ‘Mystery‘ or ‘Rosary Sonatas‘ comes from the dedication, where Biber explains that
these sonatas are “arranged according to the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary.“ The names of the
individual sonatas come from anonymous engravings in the manuscript which represent moments from
their associated mystery. The concluding passacaglia, being the sixteenth movement of the set and not
one of the rosary mysteries, is preceded by an image of a guardian angel leading a child. In the Catholic
Church, the Feast of the Guardian Angels is officially observed on October 2nd, which also infers the
month where these pieces would have been heard, as October is also the month dedicated to the
celebration of the rosary.
The passacaglia is also unique both in being the only piece of the collection for solo violin and for being
one of two pieces with the violin in conventional tuning. Each of the other fourteen sonatas uses a
technique called scordatura, or mistuning, so that no two sonatas are tuned to the same set of notes.
The most extreme example of this is in Sonata XI ‘The Resurrection’‚ where the middle two strings are
crossed both in the peg box and behind the bridge, creating a literal “cross“ on the violin. The sequence
of four notes in the passacaglia could be conceptualized as ever-present, even when obscured from our
immediate attention, like a guardian angel.
- Notes by Paul Winkelmans
Single Tickets: $25 + tax & fees
Purchase your ticket by clicking here.
Please note that there will be no Festival Passes available this year.
GETTING TO ALEX GOOLDEN HALL
Alix Goolden Hall is located at 907 Pandora Ave.
Parking is available on the public streets in the area. There are two parking lots:
• on Pandora below Blanshard St. (behind Rotherham Place)
• at the Johnson St. Parkade, 750 Johnson Street (between Douglas and Blanshard)