Viola da Gamba – Theodor Schwartzkopf composer (1659-1732)

April 25, 2009

The web mentions a US West Coast concert where John Dornenburg played a Schwartzkopf gamba piece with another viol player, with John Butt on harpsichord – not sure if it corresponds to any of those below or is in fact another work entirely. The internet also mentions a piece for trumpet, but there appear to be few, if any, references to works for gamba. The solo sonatas are good for students and amateurs; insufficient virtuosity makes them unlikely ever to be recorded, I imagine.
#1. 3 bass viols, violone and harpsichord.
CD: German Music for viols and harpsichord: Scheidt, Schenck, Schwartzkopf, Farina and Froberger. Les Filles de Sainte-Colombe. Classic Masters CMCD-1013.  VdGSA Recording Project, volume 1 (1988).  Pieces a tre Viola di Gamba (13mins 15secs), track 1
 1. Intrada (Andante-Allegro). 2. Allemande. 3. Courante. 4. Chaconne. 5. Bouree. 6 Gigue.
Source: Pieces a tre viola di gamba col basso continuo. Rostock, Bibliothek der Wilhlem-Pieck Universitat, manuscript Musica saeculo XVIII-58.16.
Very likely the first recording of a piece by TS, from an unpublished transcription by Martha Bishop. Delightful opening andante in the Intrada followed by a fierce allegro. The Chaconne is very good – not as nice as anything by Marais, but good. 

This may well be identical to Edition Baroque, eba2111. Pieces a tre Viola da Gambe. Suite for 3 Gamben (oder 2 vln, 2 recs and gamba).

#2. Partie a Viola da Gamba vel Violino Solo con Cembalo. 2 Suiten fur Viola da gamba (Diskant oder Bass) oder Vln und bc. Editions Baroque eba2109.

#3. Sonata for treble viol or violin and bass continuo in Amin
2 Sonaten fur Viola da gamba oder Violine und Basso continuo. Edition Baroque, eba2109. ISMN M-700234-11-9. Bremen, 2004. Ed. Olaf Tetampel. B.c. by Jorg Jacobi. Source: Mausic saec. XVIII-58.22. Partie a Viola da Gamba vel Violino solo con Cembalo.
 Allemande – Courante – Sarabande/Double – Passepied – Bouree – Gigue – Menuet – Gigue
Straight-forward Baroque solo sonata; range is from bottom G string to top B. Okay, so this is not exactly Bach or Handel, or even Telemann…. good, four-square hausmusik – think a suite by someone like Johann Fischer. Very unadorned with no ornaments written in. Useful example of German Baroque style, alongside the Italian style we know so well from French composers of the period. I can only envisage use of a viol as string basso continuo, otherwise a baroque cello would have to play down a very great deal.  This forces me to go back and listen to the Telemann trio sonata incorporating treble viol to see how they got over the sound balance problems.

#4. Sonata for treble viol and bass continuo in Dmin
2 Sonaten fur Viola da gamba oder Violine und Basso continuo. Edition Baroque, eba2109. ISMN M-700234-11-9. Bremen, 2004. Ed. Olaf Tetampel. B.c. by Jorg Jacobi. Source: Musica saec. XVIII-58.17. Partie a Viola da Gamba con Cembalo.
 Allemande – Courante – Sarabande – Gigue
Straight-forward Baroque solo sonata; range is from A on bottom strng to top A. See above. All smooth sailing after the fierce allemande.


Drawing heavily on the CD liner notes by Thomas G MacCracken and Tetampel’s commentary in German, here’s some background on the composer:
 Born in Ulm, son of a professional town musician and organ builder. Court musician at Stuttgart in 1684, visited Paris in 1685 just before
 Marin Marais published in 1686 his Book 1 Pieces de viole (which contained a pair of suites for two bass viols and continuo – the ‘three-bass’ combo for which TS wrote), rising to Vice-Kapellmeister in 1686 and Kapellmeister in 1690. In 1706, another musician was appointed to this position implying that Schwartzkopf had either resigned or been dismissed, but details about his departure and the remainder of his career are lacking. As a composer he wrote several stage works for which only the libretto have survived, in addition to at least one published violume of sacred music and some 17 pieces of orchestral and chamber music preserved in manuscripts at the Rostock University Library (former East Germany).
Several compositions make use of the gamba, including the suite for the highly unusual combination of three bass viols and basso
continuo. Because the third viol part at times departs from – or more precisely elaborates on – the continuo line, the composer
calls for the harpsichord bass to be strengthened by the use of a fourth stringed instrument, the violone, thus producing an especially
rich sonority. See also BBB+bc as used by Johann Michael Nicolai, whose 30-year tenure in the Stuttgart Hofkapelle briefly overlapped
the start of Schwartzkopf’s service there. The Nicolai trio has been published by Dove House.

Obviously the German contemporaries include Jacob Richmann (c.1680-1726) and Johann Daniel Hardt (1669-1755), who both wrote solo sonatas for bass viol and basso continuo. Edition Baroque have published the sonatas, plus a Duetto and Trio for gambas, by Hardt.


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