Past Concerts

Monthly sustainers through Patreon at the Sponsor level ($10) or higher get to join us for a brief pre-concert greeting and post-concert virtual reception! You can sign up here: https://patreon.com/gutsbaroque



Master and Commander: Chamber Music on the High Seas
Sunday, October 25, 2020

Artwork by John Ott, Sr.

Here’s the program! Available as a full booklet or 1-page PDF:


We will be performing our sixth monthly livestream concert on Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern.

• 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern, Sunday October 25, Live on YouTube

• Freely accessible, at-will donation via PayPal or credit card or become a monthly sustainer through Patreon
Suggested donation $10. Become a Patron for the same amount to get music from us all month long!

• To watch: click here, look for Guts Baroque in the YouTube app on your mobile or television streaming device, or use this link https://youtu.be/kKl2t8TY7J4.

• Never miss a moment! Subscribe to our new YouTube channel to receive notifications when we post and livestream.

Our next monthly livestream visits the cabin of Captain Jack Aubrey, where he and his friend Stephen Maturin play duets on violin and cello in the famous Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O’Brian (adapted for film in the 2003 movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).

The Aubrey/Maturin Series of novels, written by Patrick O’Brian 1969-2000, follow the fictional career of Captain Jack Aubrey, a captain in His Majesty’s Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, and his friend Dr. Stephen Maturin, a ship’s doctor, naturalist and spy working for the English. In between their adventures, the two play duets on violin and cello, respectively, in the captain’s cabin. This aspect of their friendship was portrayed very well in the 2003 movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. We thought it would be fun to play a concert of music they would have enjoyed.

Our program opens with a sonata by Corelli, who was one of Jack’s favorite composers. Corelli is mentioned several times in the books, though in particular Jack liked playing an arrangement he had made of a Corelli piece (perhaps a Concerto Grosso) for violin and cello. But Jack also liked his sonatas, and we have selected an appropriate one.

The very first scene in the first novel has Jack and Stephen watching a concert of a quartet (possibly trio sonata?) by Locatelli. Jack is entranced by the performance, while Stephen is annoyed at Jack’s humming and gesturing during the concert. However, this is the start of their iconic friendship. Locatelli is later mentioned as one of their favorite composers. We are presenting a sorrowful sonata by Locatelli, to show that they played together sometimes in sadness as well as in joy.

Of course, the pair knew and enjoyed the music of Haydn. The great master of music (in real life, too) had visited London twice in the 1790’s, and his music was well-received and popular throughout England. We are playing a duet by Haydn in which the two parts are mostly equal, rather than having the violin dominate.

O’Brian lists a number of lesser-known composers who the pair enjoyed, and from this list we have selected the A Major sonata of Fasch, which is brilliant and sparkling with joy.

The movie adaption only shows them playing a single work, which has since become associated with the Aubrey/Maturin story. Boccherini’s Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid (Night Music from the Streets of Madrid) was originally scored for string quintet, but most of the important parts are in either the first violin or first cello part. It was not difficult to arrange it for violin and cello duet.

Program:

Arcangelo Corelli: Violin Sonata in D Minor, op. 5 no. 7
Pietro Antonio Locatelli: Violin Sonata in G Minor, op. 8 no. 3
Franz Joseph Haydn: String Duo in D Major Hob. VI:D1
Johann Friedrich Fasch: Violin Sonata in A Major
Luigi Boccherini: Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid (arr. for violin/cello)


Rising from the Ashes of Plague: Music for Violin & Basso from 17th-Century Italy, September 27, 2020

“The Merry Fiddler” by Gerard van Honthorst, 1623, pandemic-ready thanks to John Ott Sr.

We will be performing our sixth monthly livestream concert on Sunday, September 27, 2020 at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern.

• 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern, Sunday September 27, Live on YouTube
• Freely accessible, at-will donation via PayPal or become a monthly sustainer through Patreon
Suggested donation $10. Become a Patron for the same amount to get music from us all month long!
• To watch: click here, look for Guts Baroque in the YouTube app on your mobile or television streaming device, or use this link https://youtu.be/jgDBM-gKVs0.
• Never miss a moment! Subscribe to our new YouTube channel to receive notifications when we post and livestream.

One of the great silver linings of this time for us has been putting together an entirely new-to-us program every month. It is unprecedented in the history of our ensemble to have the time available to prepare that much new material so quickly! Another wonderful thing is our ability to reach listeners who are far away from any of our previous in-person concerts, and even to see old friends reconnecting with each other across geographic divides in the live chat of our YouTube streams as they enjoy our music.

Our next monthly livestream revisits repertoire from our first-ever Guts concert, with a few new additions. We are hoping to record these beautiful works as our debut album in the future, and look forward to revisiting them and sharing them with our online listeners!

In 1630-31, the bubonic plague ripped its way through Europe, taking with it three of the promising young composers who open our program. Before disaster struck, these Venetian musicians were enjoying the new freedom that Silk Road economic prosperity afforded them to perform and compose outside of a single court. The recent invention of movable type for music enabled them to earn money from publishing their compositions. In this exciting world of possibility, these enterprising young musicians forged a new instrumental form, the sonata, inspired by the vocal canzonas of generations before them. 

These sonatas grew increasingly idiomatic for the violin, showcasing the vocal virtuosity of the 17th-century playing style. While the first cohort of sonata composers met tragically untimely ends at the hands of the plague, falling into comparative (undeserved) obscurity, their surviving colleagues took the form forward throughout the rest of the century. Some of them managed to find their own more scandalous untimely ends, while others survived to a ripe old age as revered musicians in their own times. 

Program:

Giovanni Paolo Cima: Sonata 48 for Violin and Violone
Girolamo Frescobaldi: Canzon Terza
Biagio Marini: La Gardana
Dario Castello: Sonata Prima
Giovanni Battista Fontana: Sonata Terza
Biagio Marini: Sonata Terza – Variata per il Violino
Giovanni Battista Buonamente: Canzon Prima a 2. Violino & Basso
Marco Uccellini: Sonata Quarta a violino solo detta la Hortensia virtuosa
Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli: Sonata Prima – La Stella
Alessandro Stradella: Sinfonia 3 in e
Isabella Leonarda: Sonata 12
Antonio Bertali: Ciaconna

Here’s the program! Available as a full booklet or 1-page PDF:


Les Maîtres du violon: August 30, 2020

Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre by Teresa Cabanillas Gutiérrez

We performed our fifth monthly livestream concert on Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern.

Click the link to watch: https://youtu.be/Cgzo_jzOjkQ
or search for Guts Baroque on YouTube

Never miss a moment! Subscribe to our new YouTube channel to receive notifications when we post and livestream.

One of the great silver linings of this time for us has been putting together an entirely new-to-us program every month. It is unprecedented in the history of our ensemble to have the time available to prepare that much new material so quickly! Another wonderful thing is our ability to reach listeners who are far away from any of our previous in-person concerts, and even to see old friends reconnecting with each other across geographic divides in the live chat of our YouTube streams as they enjoy our music.

Our next monthly livestream revisits our beloved program “Les Maîtres du violon: The Rise of the French Violin Sonata,” which we performed last year in Maine and throughout Southern California. We are hoping to record these beautiful works as our debut album in the future, and look forward to revisiting them and sharing them with our online listeners!

Right around the beginning of the eighteenth century, a change was beginning to happen in the music of France. The graceful dance suite of Lully’s time, so beloved by the late Louis XIV, was slowly being supplanted by the Italian sonata. The great Italian composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli had enriched and expanded the capabilities of the violin. His collections of sonatas had become staples in the repertoire of every violinist in Europe, and his students had become the dominant violinists of Italy. Many French violinists and other musicians traveled to Italy to study with the great masters, then returned to France, bringing with them Italian aesthetics and musical forms. As a result, the solo music written for violin gradually shifted towards the Corellian sonata, while still retaining the sublimely intricate and delicate ideas of the French Baroque. This program shows the gradual development of the genre of the French violin sonata.

Program:

François Francoeur: Sonate 2 in e from Sonates à violon seul, Livre I
Jean-Marie Leclair: Sonate 3 in Bb Major from Premier Livre de Sonates
Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Sonate 2 in D from Sonates pour le viollon


Here’s the program! Available as a full booklet or 1-page PDF:


The Weimar Club: July 26, 2020

https://youtu.be/8dDPUY47UJE or search for Guts Baroque on YouTube

Never miss a moment! Subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications when we post and livestream.

We performed our fourth monthly livestream concert on Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 3PM Pacific/6PM Eastern. This concert featured sonatas for violin and continuo by J.S. Bach and two of his close friends.

While Johann Sebastian Bach was working in the court at Weimar, he met and worked with many famous musicians and composers, some of whom became lifelong friends. In particular, Bach became good friends with Georg Philipp Telemann, who worked in nearby Eisenach. The two were similar ages, and Telemann stood as godfather to Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel. While passing through on his way to Leipzig, the violinist Johann Georg Pisendel stopped in Weimar, where he, Bach and Telemann became close friends.

Our program features sonatas for violin and continuo by Bach and Telemann, as well as one that is likely a collaboration between Bach and Pisendel. The manuscript is in Pisendel’s (distinctively messy) hand, but the style is similar enough to Bach’s works that it was originally catalogued as Bach’s and given a BWV number. The current consensus attributes it to Pisendel, but definitely influenced by Bach.

Come listen to some strange and dark music created by the masters Bach and Pisendel, and then let Telemann’s sonata lift your heart back to joy!

Program:

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Sonata in E Minor, BWV 1023
Johann Georg Pisendel’s Violin Sonata in C Minor, aka BWV 1024

Georg Philipp Telemann’s Violin Sonata in A Major, TWV 41:A4


Here’s the program! Available as a full booklet or 1-page PDF:


Bach, Alone and Together, June 28, 2020

https://youtu.be/1soORaWd-gc

Never miss a moment! Subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications when we post and livestream.

We performed our third monthly livestream concert on Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern. Unusually for us, we presented music by the well-known and beloved Johann Sebastian Bach: one solo work each, plus the (undeservedly) somewhat less-frequently performed continuo sonata in G major, BWV 1021, thoughtful and poignant.

Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most beloved composers in history, and through his long career as a composer he wrote over a thousand pieces of music. His compositions are revered because of their seemingly mathematical complexity, as Bach is widely considered to have been the greatest master of the fugue, and also for their great beauty of emotion and phrasing. His works were studied and revered by composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms, among many others.

We will perform for you a few of Bach’s works for string instruments. Some are familiar, as the 6 Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin and the 6 Suites for Solo Cello are performed often. We will also perform a lesser-known Sonata for Violin and Continuo, BWV 1021, which is equally elegant and beautiful.

Come experience the joy and beauty in this wonderfully complex and beautiful music by the Baroque era’s greatest master!

Program:

J.S. Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Continuo in G, BWV 1021
his D Minor Suite for Solo Cello
and part of his E Major Partita for Solo Violin



Groupmuse: Marais and his Legacy, June 12, 2020

A reprise of our May program featuring works for solo gamba by Marin Marais, his son, and his student Charles Dollé, plus a violin sonata by Antoine Dauvergne. Reserve your spot here: https://www.groupmuse.com/events/10735-french-viol-muse-part-1

A very heartfelt Thank You!! to the team at Groupmuse, who have been working very hard since March to shift from producing in-person house concerts to virtual online performances. Their work is a lifeline during this scary time for classical musicians.


Here’s the program! Available as a full booklet or 1-page PDF:

Marais and his Legacy, Part I

https://youtu.be/N6s3i-lYfKs

Never miss a moment! Subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications when we post and livestream.

We performed our second monthly livestream concert on Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern. This is the first installment of John’s long-delayed gamba recital. John will performed suites by the great viol player Marin Marais and his son Roland, as well as a touching Tombeau for Marais written by his student Charles Dolle. Sylvia added a fun and flashy violin sonata by Antoine Dauvergne.



Marin Marais is the most beloved composer by players of the viola da gamba. He lived and worked for Louis XIV at the height of the French baroque era, and his music exemplifies the grace and delicacy of French music, as defined by his friend and colleague Jean Baptiste Lully. His five books of Pieces de Viole contain hundreds of dances, fantasies and character pieces, organized into suites by key. The techniques, decorations and musical idioms contained in these pieces were passed along by Marais to his students, several of whom became renowned viol players and composers themselves. These students include Charles Dollé, Jacques Morel, Louis de Caix-d’Hervelois, and of course his son Roland Marais.

We will perform for you music by Marais and his students, as well as the violinist Antoine Dauvergne, whose compositional styles reflect the evolving musical tastes of France under Louis XV.

Prepare to be transported to the court of Versailles, to dance and be moved by the gentle, refined and elegant music of the French baroque!

Program:

Marais’ Suite d’un Gout Etranger, or Suite in a Foreign Taste
his son Roland Marais’ Suite in C, amiable and friendly
his student Dollé’s Tombeau de Marais le Père, a memorial for the great teacher after his death,
and contemporary Dauvergne’s Opus 2 Sonata #1, a fun violin sonata from the tail end of the Baroque era.


Debut Livestream: Italian Virtuosi part I

https://youtu.be/tqorkgUuMc4

Never miss a moment! Subscribe to our new YouTube channel to receive notifications when we post and livestream.

We performed our first monthly livestream concert on Sunday, April 26, 2020 at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern. This is the first installment of a 2-part series, centered around the music of Arcangelo Corelli and his contemporaries in early 18th-century Italy. The two parts together will be our first public concert once this enforced isolation is over. 



When Corelli published his op.5 collection of violin sonatas in 1700, they set new standards both for the form of the sonata and the playing of the violin. The other Italian violinists responded in kind. The resulting outpouring of music featured many new techniques such as double-stops, ornaments, extensive shifting up and down the violin, and improvisation of melodies outlined on the page by only a few notes in the composer’s hand. 

We will share with you some of this dazzling and dramatic music, so that it might inspire your minds and hearts.

Program:

Corelli’s Opus 5 #9 sonata, one of the works that kicked it all off
his student Carbonelli’s Sonata #1, by turns gorgeous, grand, and playful
his student Locatelli’s Sonata #2, a piece reminiscent of CPE Bach (who was 15 when it was written) with its tender moodiness
and contemporary Vivaldi’s Opus 2 Sonata #1, a.k.a. “The Saddest Vivaldi Ever,” a different take on the same sonata structure

We hope you enjoy!


October 13, 2019, Sunday 6pm, Les Maîtres du violon: The Rise of the French Violin Sonata on the concert series at Hoson House, Tustin, CA. Sponsored by Phil and Katie Friedel. Click for program details and notes!


Concert Poster: Finding a Voice Dec. 9, 2019

August 11, 2019, 2pm, Finding a Voice: Music from the Streets of Venice to the Courts of France at Flight Deck Brewing, Brunswick, ME. We had a great time with our longtime fans and new friends alike! Thanks again to Flight Deck for hosting us.

Program:

Biagio Marini: La Gardana, symfonia per un violino o cornetto solo
Dario Castello: Sonata Prima à sopran solo
Giovanni Battista Fontana: Sonata Terza à violino solo
Marco Uccellini: Sonata Quarta à violino solo detta la Hortensia virtuosa
Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli: Sonata Prima “La Stella”
Alessandro Stradella: Sinfonia 3 a voce sola
Isabella Leonarda: Sonata duodecima (12) a violino solo
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonata quarta
Antonio Bertali: Ciaccona à violino solo
Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Sonata 1 from Sonates pour le viollon
Marin Marais: Sonate a la Maresienne

Complete program available for download here:

To read more details about the music, click here


August 3, 2019, 7:30pm, Les Maîtres du violon: The Rise of the French Violin Sonata, our second concert at Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, Maine. Thank you so much to everyone who attended and enjoyed with us the thunderstorm’s contribution to the first half!

Here’s our complete concert recording, including John’s commentary on each piece and composer! The thunderstorm that timed itself exactly with our first three pieces makes occasional cameos as well…
Looking for music only without commentary? Click here.

Complete program available as a PDF here:


“A Tour of Italy”

on the Fringe of the Boston Early Music Festival!
1pm Tuesday, June 11, First Lutheran Church of Boston
Hear us as part of L’Esprit Baroque! Details and tickets on their website.

Here is a preview of one of the pieces we performed, from a concert in California:

Ciaccona in C by Antonio Bertali, performed April 2017

Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre by
Teresa Cabanillas Gutiérrez

Virtuosic French violin sonatas on the leafy patio of an historic home

Sunday, June 3, 2019, 3:30pm
A Groupmuse house concert in Miracle Mile, Los Angeles

Program:

Rebel Violin Sonata Book 2 #2
Leclair Violin Sonata Book 1 #3
Francoeur Violin Sonata Book 1 #2
Jacquet de la Guerre Violin Sonata #2

Jean-Féry Rebel (1666-1747) was the son of a singer, employed in the French court. He studied violin and composition with Jean-Baptiste Lully, who soon granted him a position in the Opera and in the 24 Violons du Roy. He soon became the concertmaster of both groups. He dedicated many of his sonatas to his powerful patrons, including a Tombeau for his teacher Lully, who died tragically of gangrene in 1687. Upon the death of Louis XIV, Rebel gained the title of court composer for Louis XV, and soon after directed the Concert Spirituel, a concert series of sacred music for performance during Lent, when the Opera was closed. As Rebel grew older, he gave his positions as a court musician to his son François, also a talented violinist. He edited and published his compositions in collections later in life.

His second collection of violin pieces, published in 1713, was surprisingly forward-looking, resembling more the Italian sonatas of the late Baroque than the dance suites of his French contemporaries. They feature four individual movements which are not dances, each a complete idea. Today’s program features the second of this set, in G major.

Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) was born in Lyons, and trained as a child in violin, dancing and lacemaking. As a young man, he traveled to Turin, where he took lessons with the great Italian violinist Giovanni Battista Somis. He traveled to Paris at least twice to publish collections of violin sonatas. Finally in 1733 he was appointed ordinaire de la musique du roi to Louis XV. By 1737, though, he quarreled with another violinist, Pierre Guignon, and left the court rather than having to work under him. He was quickly hired by the court at Orange in the Netherlands, where he spent five years before returning to Paris. He then spent the next few years in the service of the Duc de Gramont, a former pupil. In 1764 he was murdered, apparently by his nephew, violinist Guillame-François Vial. His legacy remains as one of the first great violinists and composers for the violin in France.

His violin sonatas are influenced heavily by those of Arcangelo Corelli and his Italian contemporaries, but with a distinctive French sound, mixing the two styles into what would become the standard for French violin writing in the early 18th century. Today’s program features the third sonata from Leclair’s op. 1 collection, published in 1723.

François Francoeur (1698-1787) was born into a musical family, as his father Joseph played bass violin (cello) in the 24 violons du roi. He and his older brother Louis both excelled at the violin, and quickly gained spots in the Opera, in the Musique de la Chambre du Roi and in the 24 violons. There he met and started working with François Rebel, the son of Jean-Féry. The two violinists became close friends and worked together for their entire careers until Rebel’s death in 1775. By 1739 Francoeur was the master of the Opera, and he and Rebel joint-composed several operas. Though his career at the Opera was full of major successes and major failures, his work was recognized to the point where Louis XV raised him to the rank of nobility in 1764. He continued composing for the Opera until his retirement following the death of his friend Rebel.

Francoeur published two books of violin sonatas in 1720, right when he received the royal privilege to publish music. His sonatas are more in keeping with the French style, featuring five dance movements rather than the typical four of an Italian sonata da chiesa. Today’s program features the second sonata of op.1. It contains a dark Adagio, an Allemande, a Sarabande, a Rondeau and a Presto last movement.

Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729) was born to the Jacquet family, a family of musicians. By the age of 5 she was adopted into the household of Madame de Montespan, Louis XIV’s most famous mistress, and sang and played harpsichord for the court until 1684, when she left the court to marry the organist Marin de la Guerre. She was given the Royal Privilege to compose and publish music, a rare honor in France, and was the first French woman to compose operas. She also published two volumes of cantatas, two volumes of keyboard music and one book each of solo and trio sonatas for the violin. Her works are revolutionary and forward-thinking, combining the Italian styles of her teachers with the tastes of the French high Baroque.

Her six violin sonatas were published inside her second volume of keyboard pieces, in 1707. They are some of the earliest and most celebrated French violin sonatas. They are composed in the Italian style, with different movements with contrasting tempos, rather than in the French suite of dances that was popular at the time. Sonata 2 is in D major, though it freely changes from major to minor between movements. One of the shortest sonatas of this set, it has four movements, Presto, Largo, Presto and Presto.
—John Ott


Guts ventured forth to Maine to present:

Finding a Voice: Music from the Streets of Venice to the Courts of France

A lively concert of violin sonatas by 17th-century Italian and French composers, showcasing the distinct regional styles and historically-accurate violin bows used to perform them. Dazzling virtuosity of decorated melodies gives way to flowing lyricism, the height of French baroque music under the Sun King, Louis XIV. Sylvia Schwartz, baroque violin, and John Ott, viola da gamba.

The concert was presented as a fundraiser toward purchase of the historically-informed violin on generous loan to Sylvia by maker Douglas Cox of Brattleboro, Vermont. Admission was pay-what-you-decide donation. The fundraiser is still going on. If you would like to contribute, please click here!

Saturday, December 9th, 7:00pm, Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick.
Meet the musicians at the intermission reception.

More about the Music

Program:

Biagio Marini: La Gardana, symfonia per un violino o cornetto solo
Dario Castello: Sonata Prima à sopran solo
Giovanni Battista Fontana: Sonata Terza à violino solo
Marco Uccellini: Sonata Quarta à violino solo detta la Hortensia virtuosa
Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli: Sonata Prima “La Stella”
Alessandro Stradella: Sinfonia 3 a voce sola
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonata quarta
Antonio Bertali: Ciaccona à violino solo
Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Sonata 1 from Sonates pour le viollon
Marin Marais: Sonate a la Maresienne

Our concert begins on the streets of Venice, around 1620. The city is prosperous and happy, fed by the riches that come in via the Silk Road, or by sea. Aside from the nobility, there is a rapidly-growing class of wealthy, educated craftsmen and specialists pursuing independent careers. The music is vibrant and virtuosic, and it is everywhere. It echoes from the Basilica de San Marco, where the great Claudio Monteverdi presides over as great an orchestra as has ever existed before. It resounds from the halls of the Ducal Palace, and from the churches, and from the companies of piffari (marching bands of wind and brass instruments) parading down the streets. Even more so, it spills to the streets from the homes of amateur and aspiring musicians, who now have access to this music through publishing.

Though many published editions of vocal works, especially madrigals, had been printed for generations, collections of instrumental music were comparatively rare. But Venice suddenly had a wealth of great musicians plying their trade, and it was lucrative to compose a collection of music and sell it to a publisher. Many of these collections continued to be printed and distributed throughout Europe long after their composers’ death. These printed works laid out the foundation for many instrumental music forms, including the solo violin sonata.

In 1617, Biagio Marini, one of the lead violinists of San Marco, published his first collection of instrumental works, which featured La Gardana, the first piece ever published for violin and continuo. In 1621 the itinerant wind player Dario Castello, also a musician at San Marco, published the first of two collections of instrumental music, which feature the first solo sonatas for treble instrument and continuo. By the 1640s Venetian publishers also printed music from composers outside Venice, like the violinists Giovanni Battista Fontana from Brescia and Marco Uccellini from Modena, who pushed the violin sonata to higher levels of virtuosity.

Life in Italy was often rife with intrigue, and sometimes that spilled over into music. In the 1660s, Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli had to flee justice after killing a famous singer in a duel, finally taking his career to France and Spain. His collection of violin sonatas published in 1660 became his last. Another frequent fugitive from justice was Alessandro Stradella. After establishing himself as a composer in Rome in 1676, he had to flee to Venice after becoming involved in a scheme to marry off an “ugly old” noblewoman for money. He later eloped to Turin with a young woman he was supposed to be teaching, the mistress of the Duke of Venice. The Duke caught up with him in Turin, and after ordering him to marry the girl, had him stabbed and left for dead. He recovered, composing music all the while, and finished his career in Genoa, where after writing a few successful operas, he was finally assassinated in 1682. During his short career, he left behind many works, including collections of sinfonias for one or two violins and continuo.

The influence of the Italians extended to Vienna, where the Hapsburg courts sought the best musicians of Europe, such as the great violinist Antonio Bertali, originally from Verona, who arrived in 1631. He shared the Italian style of sonata writing with his pupils, including the native Austrian, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Both of them experimented freely with common ostinato (repeating) bass lines, writing elaborate flourishes, variations and divisions over these unchanging note patterns in the bass.

At the turn of the 18th century we arrive in France, in the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Italianate sonatas have arrived in France, and a new generation of French composers are exploring how to fit them into the delicate, refined and ornamented French style. Key among these composers are Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, once a child prodigy adopted by the court, and now a successful composer, one of a select few granted the Royal privilege to publish music, and Marin Marais, master of the viola da gamba and protege of the great Jean Baptiste Lully, the founder of the French Opera.

Complete program available as a PDF here:


Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre by
Teresa Cabanillas Gutiérrez

Les Maîtres du violon: The Rise of the French Violin Sonata

Right around the beginning of the eighteenth century, a change was beginning to happen in the music of France. The graceful dance suite of Lully’s time, so beloved by the late Louis XIV, was slowly being supplanted by the Italian sonata. The great Italian composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli had enriched and expanded the capabilities of the violin. His collections of sonatas had become staples in the repertoire of every violinist in Europe, and his students had become the dominant violinists of Italy. Many French violinists and other musicians traveled to Italy to study with the great masters, then returned to France, bringing with them Italian aesthetics and musical forms. As a result, the solo music written for violin gradually shifted towards the Corellian sonata, while still retaining the sublimely intricate and delicate ideas of the French Baroque. This program shows the gradual development of the genre of the French violin sonata.

Program:

Jean-Fery Rebel: Sonate 2 in G from Sonates à violon seul
François Francoeur: Sonate 2 in e from Sonates à violon seul, Livre I
François Bouvard: Sonate 1 in B-flat from Sonates à violon seul, Livre II
De Machy: Suite 4 in G Major from Pieces de violle
Jean-Marie Leclair: Sonate 3 in Bb Major from Premier Livre de Sonates
Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Sonate 2 in D from Sonates pour le viollon

Program Notes:

Jean-Féry Rebel (1666-1747) was the son of a singer, employed in the French court. He studied violin and composition with Jean-Baptiste Lully, who soon granted him a position in the Opera and in the 24 Violons du Roy. He soon became the concertmaster of both groups. He dedicated many of his sonatas to his powerful patrons, including a Tombeau for his teacher Lully, who died tragically of gangrene in 1687. Upon the death of Louis XIV, Rebel gained the title of court composer for Louis XV, and soon after directed the Concert Spirituel, a concert series of sacred music for performance during Lent, when the Opera was closed. As Rebel grew older, he gave his positions as a court musician to his son François, also a talented violinist. He edited and published his compositions in collections later in life.

His second collection of violin pieces, published in 1713, was surprisingly forward-looking, resembling more the Italian sonatas of the late Baroque than the dance suites of his French contemporaries. They feature four individual movements which are not dances, each a complete idea. Today’s program features the second of this set, in G major.

François Bouvard (1683-1760) as a child was a very gifted singer, and sang in the Opera in Paris from a young age until his voice broke. After that he spent some time training in Italy before returning to Paris as a composer. He wrote two operas and a number of smaller publications before returning to Italy in 1711. Though it is unknown what he did there, he apparently became a count of St. John Lateran, a title he referred to in his subsequent publications. By 1723 he returned to Paris, where he continued publishing music until 1750. After that he fell into ill health and died a pauper.

Bouvard’s 8 violin sonatas were published in 1723, upon his return from Italy. Similar to Leclair’s earlier that year, Bouvard’s sonatas show a mix of Italian and French styles. His movements have Italian names but French delicacy and character, and there are five of them, labeled Adagio, Largo, Allegro, Largo and Prestissimo.

Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) was born in Lyons, and trained as a child in violin, dancing and lacemaking. As a young man, he traveled to Turin, where he took lessons with the great Italian violinist Giovanni Battista Somis. He traveled to Paris at least twice to publish collections of violin sonatas. Finally in 1733 he was appointed ordinaire de la musique du roi to Louis XV. By 1737, though, he quarreled with another violinist, Pierre Guignon, and left the court rather than having to work under him. He was quickly hired by the court at Orange in the Netherlands, where he spent five years before returning to Paris. He then spent the next few years in the service of the Duc de Gramont, a former pupil. In 1764 he was murdered, apparently by his nephew, violinist Guillame-François Vial. His legacy remains as one of the first great violinists and composers for the violin in France.

His violin sonatas are influenced heavily by those of Arcangelo Corelli and his Italian contemporaries, but with a distinctive French sound, mixing the two styles into what would become the standard for French violin writing in the early 18th century. Today’s program features the third sonata from Leclair’s op. 1 collection, published in 1723.

François Francoeur (1698-1787) was born into a musical family, as his father Joseph played bass violin (cello) in the 24 violons du roi. He and his older brother Louis both excelled at the violin, and quickly gained spots in the Opera, in the Musique de la Chambre du Roi and in the 24 violons. There he met and started working with François Rebel, the son of Jean-Féry. The two violinists became close friends and worked together for their entire careers until Rebel’s death in 1775. By 1739 Francoeur was the master of the Opera, and he and Rebel joint-composed several operas. Though his career at the Opera was full of major successes and major failures, his work was recognized to the point where Louis XV raised him to the rank of nobility in 1764. He continued composing for the Opera until his retirement following the death of his friend Rebel.

Francoeur published two books of violin sonatas in 1720, right when he received the royal privilege to publish music. His sonatas are more in keeping with the French style, featuring five dance movements rather than the typical four of an Italian sonata da chiesa. Today’s program features the second sonata of op.1. It contains a dark Adagio, an Allemande, a Sarabande, a Rondeau and a Presto last movement.

Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729) was born to the Jacquet family, a family of musicians. By the age of 5 she was adopted into the household of Madame de Montespan, Louis XIV’s most famous mistress, and sang and played harpsichord for the court until 1684, when she left the court to marry the organist Marin de la Guerre. She was given the Royal Privilege to compose and publish music, a rare honor in France, and was the first French woman to compose operas. She also published two volumes of cantatas, two volumes of keyboard music and one book each of solo and trio sonatas for the violin. Her works are revolutionary and forward-thinking, combining the Italian styles of her teachers with the tastes of the French high Baroque.

Her six violin sonatas were published inside her second volume of keyboard pieces, in 1707. They are some of the earliest and most celebrated French violin solo pieces. They are composed in the Italian style, with different movements with contrasting tempos, rather than in the French suite of dances that was popular at the time. Sonata 2 is in D major, though it freely changes from major to minor between movements. One of the shortest sonatas of this set, it has four movements, Presto, Largo, Presto and Presto.

John Ott

The Weimar Club: July 26, 2020

• 3pm Pacific/6pm Eastern, Sunday July 26th, Live on YouTube
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We will be performing our fourth monthly livestream concert on Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 3PM Pacific/6PM Eastern (Note the time change!). This concert features sonatas for violin and continuo by J.S. Bach and two of his close friends.

While Johann Sebastian Bach was working in the court at Weimar, he met and worked with many famous musicians and composers, some of whom became lifelong friends. In particular, Bach became good friends with Georg Philipp Telemann, who worked in nearby Eisenach. The two were similar ages, and Telemann stood as godfather to Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel. While passing through on his way to Leipzig, the violinist Johann Georg Pisendel stopped in Weimar, where he, Bach and Telemann became close friends.

Our program features sonatas for violin and continuo by Bach and Telemann, as well as one that is likely a collaboration between Bach and Pisendel. The manuscript is in Pisendel’s (distinctively messy) hand, but the style is similar enough to Bach’s works that it was originally catalogued as Bach’s and given a BWV number. The current consensus attributes it to Pisendel, but definitely influenced by Bach.

Come listen to some strange and dark music created by the masters Bach and Pisendel, and then let Telemann’s sonata lift your heart back to joy!

Program:

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Sonata in E Minor, BWV 1023
Johann Georg Pisendel’s Violin Sonata in C Minor, aka BWV 1024

Georg Philipp Telemann’s Violin Sonata in A Major, TWV 41:A4

Here’s the program! Available as a full booklet or 1-page PDF:


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