Baroque music features a much greater variety of themes and a greater freedom of forms than its models of the previous century. These characteristics are also reflected in the instrumentation of chamber and church music. A composition originally conceived for a specific group of instruments could be performed, upon indications by the composer himself and after possible transcriptions and “adaptations”, also on other instruments similar to those for which the piece was originally written. The reference instrumental ensemble could be more or less defined or could leave room for “ogni sorte d’istromenti” [any kind of instruments] and thus change as concerns both sound type and number of components.
In the historical and musical period of Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), one of the greatest exponents of French Baroque music, it was also common practice to extract instrumental pieces from their theatrical context and arrange them for a large variety of instruments. The three arias presented here were extrapolated and arranged by the Parisian trumpeter Jean-Baptiste Prin in 1718 under the name of “Airs de Trompette”. They are excerpted respectively from these Operas by Lully,: Tragédie lyrique “Roland” (1685), Tragédie-Ballet “Psyché” (1671), Tragédie lyrique “Amadis” (1684).
The Baroque period also featured a profound change in the field of instrumental chamber music. This included the invention of the sonata for solo instrument and keyboard, which would eventually become an important genre throughout the remainder of the 19th and 20th century. The sonata, whether intended for chamber or church, was characterized by a melodic line entrusted to the solo instrument(s) and an accompaniment of “basso continuo”. The continuo was actually played by a polyphonic instrument, such as a harpsichord, and a melodic bass that provided the bass line and harmonic content or an organ that performed both functions. Sonata n.6 in A minor, Opus XIII, by the Dutch composer Willem De Fesch (1687-1761), dated 1750, was originally written for cello and continuo, but, as the composer himself wrote in a note to the original score, it is “also possible to play it with a tenor trombone”. The chamber sonata is a type of sonata intended for secular performance, i.e., not in a religious setting, and consisted almost entirely of four or more stylized dance movements. The title indications were not strictly dependent on the type of dance to be performed. Being “da camera”, the preferred places for the execution were private aristocratic and bourgeois homes. This Sonata by De Fesch is also an example of the flexibility in adaptations typical of the Baroque period.
Most of the musical material used by Leopold Mozart (1719-1787) for the composition of his Suite in F Major for trumpet and organ was found in a sketchbook of musical notes dated 1762. Intended for his son Wolfgang, these pieces were originally written for keyboard instruments. In the last years of his life Leopold published a reworking of some of them for trumpet and organ (replaceable with harpsichord or continuo). Except for the central Aria, the movements of this Suite are written in a very traditional manner and perfectly recall the style and trumpet sonorities used by composers of the previous century.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) arranged a wealth of music by his Italian contemporaries for his own use. This concerto in D minor is one such arrangement, in this case of a concerto for oboe and strings by the venetian Alessandro Marcello (1673-1747), Benedetto’s elder brother. Copies of Marcello’s oboe concerto circulated also in Northern Europe. The concerto was printed in Amsterdam, in 1717. The Duke of Saxe-Weimar may have brought a manuscript of the work back to Weimar from the Low Countries in 1713. It is very possible that it was also performed as an oboe concerto in Weimar where Bach was active until the end of 1717. As Patrick Ayrton says, Bach’s approach to these arrangements was always to make them more interesting than the original: nevertheless, the Italian character remains unmistakable.
The Sonata for alto trombone and continuo was written by an Anonymous monk in St. Thomas Monastery in Brno, Moravia. The work is datable between 1660 and 1670 and is certainly the work of a monk musician of the monastery. It is regarded as the earliest known solo composition explicitly and specifically written solely for trombone. This Sonata is part of the genre “Sonata da chiesa” composed of four movements. Performed in church, these Sonatas replaced the vocal part of the Mass corresponding to the “Proprium”. Due to this association with the Bohemian monastery, this sonata has been named the “St. Thomas Sonata.”
The Parisian court composer, organist, and theorist Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) assigned in his works a prominent role to the trumpet, often by writing solo parts. In this personal arrangement of his own orchestral score for organ and two trumpets, Rameau combines his innovative operatic vision and the traditional French practice of performing arias for trumpets and organ. The “Airs de Triomphe” are taken from the following three Operas by Rameau, respectively: comédie-ballet “La Princesse de Navarre” (1744), ballet opéra “Le temple de la Gloire” (1745), pastorale héroique “Naïs” (1749).
The last three movements of the Sonata Prima by Johan Rosenmüller (1619-1684) from the collection of “Sonatæ à due, tre, quattro e cinque istromenti da arco et altri” of 1682 are an example of the usual baroque “interchangeability” of instruments. They are conceived for stringed instruments but can be performed on “other instruments” – in our case their counterparts in the brass family. This work of the last period of life of the Saxon composer tends to display a more contrapuntal and expressive structure than the earlier ones. This characteristic is due to Rosenmüller’s hybrid, Italian-German style, marked by originality, melodic invention, and rigorous contrapuntal technique. It should also be remembered that Rosenmüller, in addition to being a renowned composer, organist and theologian, played as a trombonist at the Cappella Musicale di San Marco in Venice since 1658.
The “Capricci Armonici da Chiesa e da Camera a Violino solo et Sonate per Tromba sola, op. IV” were composed in 1678, when Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani (1638-1693) was still Kapellmeister in Innsbruck. Opus IV is composed as follows: eighteen compositions for solo violin and continuo; two sonatas for solo trumpet and continuo. The two sonatas in question are unique, as there are no other original compositions of the period for trumpet and basso continuo. The Sonata Prima per Trombetta Sola belongs to the genre of chamber sonata even if, paradoxically, today it is mainly performed in churches with organ accompaniment. The tessitura in which Viviani’s sonata was composed can undoubtedly be catalogued in the register of “clarino”. The term “clarino” derives from “clario, clarasius” and means “clear”, used precisely for the trumpet of that time thanks to its sharp and penetrant sound. In the brass ensembles of the time, the voice of “clarino” appeared as the most independent, as it stood out for its sound and brilliance.
The sacred motet O quam suavis est Domine spiritus tuus from the “Sacrae modulationes quae vulgo Motectae dicuntur” written by Filippo Vitali (1590-1653) in 1631 is part of the tradition of sacred polyphony of the Baroque period. Starting from Central and Northern Italy – from the famous musical chapels of Bologna and Venice – up to Central Europe, it was a common practice to double the individual vocal parts of a choir or soloist with the use of wind instruments. Brass instruments were preferred (especially the trombone family) since, according to the style of the time, they better merged with the timbre of the human voice. This can also be compared with what has already been said about Johann Rosenmüller, who played trombone in Venice in the musical chapel of San Marco.
Aldo Caterina © 2021
Aldo Caterina, obtained bachelor and a master's degree in trombone at the Conservatory of Music G.B. Pergolesi in Fermo (Italy) with full marks and honors. He attended the course of High Specialization in Chamber Music in the class of Maestro Bruno Canino at the School of Music in Fiesole, Firenze (Italy). He also graduated in Philosophy at the University of Macerata (Italy). In November 2017 won the second prize in the solist category and Best Italian Musician Prize in the Virtuoso Prize International Competition, at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome. After this recognition, the composer Davide Summaria dedicated him the composition Dialogo per trombone e pianoforte. In 2018 and 2014 he was guest trombonist in the European Tourneé of Standford University Orchestra direct by Giancarlo Aquilanti.
He published for the editor Il Castello of Foggia (Italy) the book Il trombone: la storia, il funzionamento, i modelli. Aldo Caterina collaborates with the Historical Publishing House Tito Belati of Perugia (Italy) in enhancing and reproducing in musical performances historic trombones produced by the Tito Belati Factory in the first half of the '900.
After having perfected himself in Germany, he has focused his attention on the original solo romantic repertoire for German trombone, offering public performances in concerts with original instruments or copies of the romantic era. For the manufacture of German romantic trombones he collaborates with the artisans Gerhard Wolfram and Karl Ernst Mönnich of Marckneukirchen (Germany).
Antonio Carretta obtained bachelor in trumpet at the Umberto Giordano Conservatory of Music in Foggia and the master’s degree in trumpet at the Niccolò Piccinni Conservatory of Music in Bari. He improved himself in the study of Baroque Trumpet and Renaissance Cornet. Winner of the italian national examination for teaching in conservatories, he holds the professorship of trumpet at the Conservatory Umberto Giordano in Foggia.
Gerardo Treviso began studying trumpet at the age of ten. He studied at the Conservatory Umberto Giordano in Foggia and then he moved to the Conservatory G.B. Pergolesi in Fermo where he obtained bachelor and master's degree in trumpet. He won the first prize in the soloist category in the III National Competition of Musical Execution "Citta di Giulianova" and the first prize in the IV International Competition of Musical Execution "Apulian Metropolitan Music Contest".
Giovanni Petrone obtained bachelor in Organ and Composition at the L. Perosi Conservatory of Music in Campobasso. He attended the master's degree in Organ the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna. He graduated in Choral Conducting and Choral Composition at the L. Refice Conservatory of Music in Frosinone. He graduated in Harpsichord at the L. Perosi Conservatory of Music in Campobasso. He is a qualified expert for the assignment of tasks within the inventory of historical pipe organs.
Giovanni Battista Vitali (b Bologna, 18 Feb 1632; d Bologna, 12 Oct 1692). Composer, cellist and singer. He is noted for his work in establishing the Baroque sonata, especially the trio sonata. His works appear to have influenced the chamber music of such eminent composers as Corelli, Torelli and Purcell.
Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani
(b Florence, 15 July 1638; d ?Pistoia, after 1692). Italian composer and violinist. He was a violinist at the court at Innsbruck at least between 1656 and 1660. From 1672 to 1676 he was director of the court music at Innsbruck, which, after the extinction of the Tyrolean Habsburgs, had come under the control of the emperor. In publications of 1678 he still described himself as holding this position. But during the opera season in Venice from 1677 to 1678 his arrangement of Cavalli’s Scipione affricano and his own opera Astiage were performed, which suggests that he must have been there, and in 1678 at the Oratorio di S Marcello in Rome he directed an oratorio in which Corelli and Pasquini participated. He was probably elevated to the nobility in the same year, since he subsequently designated himself ‘Nobile del Sacro Romano Imperio’. Between 1678 and 1679 and 1681 and 1682 he was in Naples as director of a troupe of opera singers, and while he was there he performed some of his own operas and oratorios. In 1686 he was maestro di cappella to the Prince of Bisignano. From January 1687 to December 1692 he was maestro di cappella of Pistoia Cathedral.
Jean-Baptiste Lully [Lulli, Giovanni Battista] (i)
(b Florence, 29 Nov 1632; d Paris, 22 March 1687). Composer, dancer and instrumentalist of Italian birth.
Lully's origins were modest. His father, Lorenzo (1599–1667), seems to have come from peasant stock; like his ancestors, he was born in Tuscany in the Mugello area and probably at Campestri, where he, his brothers and a cousin owned a chestnut wood. By the age of twenty he was living in Florence, and in 1620 he married a miller's daughter, Catarina del Sera (or del Seta). They had three children: Verginio (1621–38), Giovanni Battista and Margherita (d 1639). Little is known about the education of the younger son. He may have learnt writing and arithmetic at an early age from his father, who became a miller and a businessman, but the boy probably had to turn to the Franciscan friars of the Via Borgo Ognissanti, where his parents lived, for his introduction to music and instruction on the guitar and violin, which he must have learnt in his youth. According to Le Cerf de la Viéville, his first music master was ‘a good Franciscan friar’. It is not known how he came to be chosen to go to France as an Italian tutor to Louis XIV's cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, known as the ‘Grande Mademoiselle’, who was studying the language at the time, but he was engaged by the princess's uncle Roger de Lorraine, the chevalier de Guise, who visited Florence in 1645 and 1646. In late February 1646 Giovanni Battista left his native land for Paris.
(b Dijon, bap. 25 Sept 1683; d Paris, 12 Sept 1764). French composer and theorist. He was one of the greatest figures in French musical history, a theorist of European stature and France's leading 18th-century composer. He made important contributions to the cantata, the motet and, more especially, keyboard music, and many of his dramatic compositions stand alongside those of Lully and Gluck as the pinnacles of pre-Revolutionary French opera.
Johann Rosenmüller [Rosenmiller, Giovanni]
(b Oelsnitz nr Zwickau, c1619; d Wolfenbüttel, bur. 12 Sept 1684). German composer, trombonist, organist and teacher. Although he spent the major part of his creative life in Italy, his music was held in high esteem in Germany, making him an important figure in the transmission of Italian styles to the north., Johann [Rosenmiller, Giovanni]
(b Oelsnitz nr Zwickau, c1619; d Wolfenbüttel, bur. 12 Sept 1684). German composer, trombonist, organist and teacher. Although he spent the major part of his creative life in Italy, his music was held in high esteem in Germany, making him an important figure in the transmission of Italian styles to the north.
Johann Sebastian Bach: (b Eisenach, 21 March 1685, d Leipzig; 28 July 1750). Composer and organist. The most important member of the family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that by the end of the 18th century earned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements of his own and earlier generations and leading on to new perspectives which later ages have received and understood in a great variety of ways.
The first authentic posthumous account of his life, with a summary catalogue of his works, was put together by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel and his pupil J.F. Agricola soon after his death and certainly before March 1751 (published as Nekrolog, 1754). J.N. Forkel planned a detailed Bach biography in the early 1770s and carefully collected first-hand information on Bach, chiefly from his two eldest sons; the book appeared in 1802, by when the Bach Revival had begun and various projected collected editions of Bach’s works were underway; it continues to serve, together with the 1754 obituary and the other 18th-century documents, as the foundation of Bach biography.
Leopold Mozart (Johann Georg)
(b Augsburg, 14 Nov 1719; d Salzburg, 28 May 1787). Composer, violinist and theorist.
He was the son of an Augsburg bookbinder, Johann Georg Mozart (1679–1736), and attended the Augsburg Gymnasium (1727–35) and the Lyceum adjoining the Jesuit school of St Salvator (1735–6), where he frequently performed as an actor and singer in various theatrical productions; he was also an accomplished organist and violinist. In 1737 Leopold broke with his family and matriculated at the Salzburg Benedictine University, studying philosophy and jurisprudence. He took the bachelor of philosophy degree the next year, with public commendation, but in September 1739 he was expelled for poor attendance and indifference. Shortly after, he became a valet and musician to Johann Baptist, Count of Thurn-Valsassina and Taxis, Salzburg canon and president of the consistory; it was to Thurn-Valsassina that Mozart dedicated his Sonate sei da chiesa e da camera op.1 (1740), which he engraved in copper himself.
Willem De Fesch
De Fesch [Defesch, de Veg, de Feghg, du Feche], Willem [William, Guillaume, Guglielmus]
(b Alkmaar, bap. 26 Aug 1687; d London, 3 Jan 1761). Dutch composer and violinist. He was the son of Louis de Fesch and Johanna Maasbragt. Despite his parents’ marriage in Amsterdam (1685) and his brother’s birth in Alkmaar, the family orginated from the Pays de Liège and returned to Liège before 1690. De Fesch may have been a choirboy or even a singer in Liège during the 1690s. By about 1710 both he and his elder brother Pieter (b 28 Nov 1685) had settled in Amsterdam: Pieter had stayed some years in Leiden, where he was registered as a musician at the University on 6 June 1706. In Amsterdam De Fesch married Anna Maria Rosier, daughter of the composer Carl Rosier, who was active in Bonn, Amsterdam and Cologne. The names Willem, Pieter and Anna Maria de Fesch occur in the accounts of the City Theatre for dancing, singing and playing during the years 1708–21.