Kogl 1679

There is no picture of this extant baryton from the 17th century, but plans for making it are available.

Currently located in the Institut fur Muiskforschung, Berlin, it was made in Vienna by Hans Kogl in 1679.

Gartrell in her book gives the following dimensions: total length, 122.6cm, body length, 60.8; length of bowed strings, 65.7, maximum length of plucked string, 91. It is a plain instrument with 6 bowed strings and 9 plucked strings. There is apparently a reference to it in “The Baryton”, Consort 23 (1966):121 by Janos Liebner.

This instrument pre-dates the first publication of music for the bartyon around 1700 by Krause, but commentators in the late 17th century link the instrument to music for solemn or mournful occasions. Thus it was used as an obbligato instrument for four of the arias in Emperor Leopold I’s arias in his Miserere per la Settimana Santa (c.1660).

While the published dances for amateurs and professionals of Krause stand 20 years after the Kogl instrument was made, 20 years before saw three baryton pieces composed by John Jenkins and ending up in the Kassel collection. For me, then, the Kogl instrument makes a nice bridge between the English viol repertoire and the burgeoning baryton on the Continent in northern Germany. To quote Gartrell:

By the opening of the eighteenth century, the baryton had made its way from England to northern Germany. Its repertory consisted largely of music arranged from the lute and lyra viol music of the day. Its fame, progress, and reputation sat within the four closely related courts of England, Wurttemberg, Brandenburg and Kassel, and a small group fo mobile composer-performers were responsible for its dissemination and growing reputation. This, then is the apotheosis of the baroque baryton, an instrument defined by its role as a solo, self-accompanying instrument and at the peak of its development.

In Gartrell’s inventory of extant baryton manuscripts, music from c.1679 would have to include the Gottfried Finger 7 Suites for gamba and accompanying baryton; the four arias with obbligato baryton by Emperor Leopold I and Antonio Draghi’s aria, I miei sensi, with baryton obbligato from La vita nella morte.


Gartrell, Carol A. A History of the Baryton and its Music.

Musikinstrumenten-Museum des Staatlichen Instituts fur Musikforschung, Berlin. Verziechnis der technischen Zeichnugnen. Catalogue number Z 86, 10 euros. M1:1, Aussenansicht Decke.




    From Carol Gartrell’s book on the baryton, it seems Burgksteiner (1730-1797) worked for three decades as a bass singer from 1766 aged 30 until the year of his death, aged 61. He was born just a few years later than Haydn, so is unlikely to have studied composition with him. The 24 Divertimenti for baryton/violin, viola and bass (‘cello) appear to have been written out by Elssler, court copyist who also wrote out Tomasini’s and Neumann’s works, in 1767, just a year after being appointed to the imperial Kapelle and by which time Haydn had composed 33 baryton trios and when Prince Nicholas’ interest in the instrument was starting to became obsessional. His appointment as singer also coincided with the move of the court to the Esterhaza castle.

1767 – a big year

Presumably Burgksteiner was an all-rounder string player (violin and viola) who worked under konzertmeister Tomasini, who was appointed just five years before. The nature of the compositions, simpler than those of Haydn and Franz, point to him perhaps being a violinist at heart who wrote trios the top line of which could be played by the Prince, the only barytonist at the time. One gets the strong impression that a bunch of court instrumentalists, Tomasini on violin, Karl Franz on horn and Burgksteiner on violin/viola, all jumped on the bandwagon of baryton composing (along with Haydn) at the same time, with Karl Franz probably the fastest learner or the most adept.

Divertimento No.21 in G

Gartrell points to the increasing technical complexity in the writing for baryton across the oeuvre so that only the last few use the lower manual, as in the example she gives in Gallery 2, a Divertimento in G. The lower manual provides aural colour and contrast and the notes are included in staff notation of the part-book presumably to assist when played by a violin; the lower manual certainly doesn’t provide the sort of bass harmony function associated with the jeu d’harmonie of the baryton of earlier times. Can we assume that 1767 marks the start of the use of the lower manual plucked strings at Esterhaza – used by Haydn, Burgksteiner and possibly Neumann?

The Gartrell example deploys an Allegretto/Minuet/Trio/Finale Presto. The viola works overtime in provided double stops and dense harmonic support under long notes for the baryton. Dynamics (pp, p and f) are clearly indicated by the composer and I’m sure they add a lot of vitality to what is otherwise simple music. I’m sure a lot describe this vitality as “wit”, “witty” being one of those adjectives used in connection with Haydn’s music. I think the C18 ‘wit’ becomes C19 ‘drama’.

The plucked lower manual is used as an aural highlight in the first movement. The same happens in the Minuet but becomes the ‘main event’ in the first half of the Trio, as it seems to be in the short excerpt given on page 76 of another piece, the first 8 bars of Divertimento 18. The Finale Presto is quite dramatic with its sforzando like cadences and full bars of rests before cadences. The most straightforward of the pieces to play in this book – just about the only example in Gartrell that’s wholly accessible to me technically. To get my hands on any more Burgksteiner means seeing the originals in the Stockholm National Museum. The only academic references, apart from the Fruchtman thesis, appear to be one from 1910 and one by the performer of the recording mentioned below, Liebner.

Divertimento in A

The Liebner recording is of one in A Major (Andantino/Minuet/Finale-Allegro), played on baryton and harpsichord so it’s hard to separate out what might be separate baryton and viola parts. It features extensive use of the lower manual in just about all the movements. This example (the number of the piece isn’t given) confirms my impression from the Gartrell examples that Burgksteiner aims for a high degree of thematic similarity across each Divertimento.

Carol A Gartrell, A History of the Baryton and its Music: King of Instruments, Instrument of Kings.

Barytonmusik des 18. Jahrhunderts. CD, Eterna. 

The first hundred or so pages are devoted to a history of the instrument, followed by thirty or so pages of black-and-white photos and text describing extant antique barytons, ending up with an inventory of sheet music, being a single example of compositions for baryton by composers other than Haydn. 

The text provides answers to any question one is ever likely to ask about the history of the music and music composed for it. The inventory of instruments is of course superlative and the presence of ‘sheet music’ examples is a godsend. The book forms the cornerstone of any collection of material about the baryton, linking the fragments of information available online and from CD recordings.

Joseph Haydn, Baryton Trios. Esterhazy Baryton Trio. CD, Hayes, M’sex: EMI, CDM 7698362.

Riki Gerardy, baryton; Roger Chase, viola; Jonathan Williams, ‘cello are the performers here of middle trios (nos. 63 and 64), late trios (nos. 82, 87, 88) and very late trios (nos. 107, 110). With nearly all the movements at around the three-minute mark each, the EBT has managed to fit seven Haydn trios on to a CD, totally nearly 61mins.

No.64 gets off a cracking pace, complete with use of sympathetic strings. No.87 in Amin starts off with an opening Adagio (as do many others presented here) and I think I’m becoming a real sucker for how Haydn constructs these haunting, achingly beautiful melody lines in the minor key. This is followed by a sensational Allegro di molto and a final delightful Menuet e trio, both of which could have well come from one of his symphonies such is the feverish angularity of the writing.


Barytonmusik des 18. Jahrhunderts: Haydn, Fiocco, Tomasini, Burgksteiner. Janos Liebner, baryton; Hans Pischner, harpsichord. CD, Berlin Classics, Eterna ADD 0031472BC. Recorded in 1968 and re-released in 1996.

I got this recording to compare Haydn with other baryton-composing collegues and counterparts. Tomasini was a prominent violinist at the Esterhazy court and wrote for the Prince, possibly playing the violin part in those trios written by Haydn for baryton, violin and ‘cello.

Playlist is as follows:

* Haydn, Cassation/Divertimento for two barytons in A, arr. baryton and harpsichord;

* Joseph-Hector Fiocco, three movts from his Suite No.1 in G for solo harpsichord, 1730, arr. for baryton and harpsichord;

* Tomasini, (baryton trio) Sonata in A in three movts, arr. for baryton and harpsichord;

* Joseph Burgksteiner, three movt (baryton trio ) Divertimento in D; Haydn, Cassation for two barytons in D, arr. for baryton and harpsichord..

I’m grateful to be in a position to put Haydn’s baryton music in some sort of context, thanks to this recording and especially since recordings of Tomasini are so few in number and scores of his chamber music hardly available at all. After a couple of hearings, there’s obvious a distance between Haydn and his contemporaries in terms of Haydn’s superb compositional abilities; the Fiocco sounded like a routine piece of baroque music say for instance cello and harpsichord. The ‘narrow’ sound of just the two instruments makes listening quite challenging; more a recording for study with sheet music than for ‘easy listening’ in its own right. I wasn’t aware before buying it that it was a reissue from such a long time ago in modern Early Music history terms. No Hoboeken numbers are given for the Haydn works – these are baryton duets ‘outside’ the corpus of baryton trios for baryton/viola/’cello.


Joseph Haydn: Baryton Trios. Geringas Baryton Trio. CD, CPO 999094-2, Germany, 1990.

Superb recording! Starts with no.5 in A, with its initial movement taken from Gluck’s Eurydice, to give us an idea of the initial works Haydn composed for the instrument, then takes us the very much later works with nos. 96, 97 and 113. Wonderful attention to detail in melodic phrases, cadences and ornamentation; engaging, full-bodied sound too.

At 53mins, it’s a tad on the short side, but it would have been difficult to tack on an extra one, especially from the later works – no.113 is doduble the length of no.5, for example. More than made up for by the sophistication and uncluttered, full sound. Since the instrumentation is baryton, viola and ‘cello, it forms a good ‘foundation’ on which to judge others who may have recorded it with different instrumentation. The final work includes the plucked strings; I find the haunting first movement of the Bmin (no.96) as good as any string chamber music I’ve heard from this period.

The baryton (Part 6)

October 26, 2009

Yesterday’s online discoveries include, arising from a Google search of <Fiala>:

* exquisite barytons, both baroque and classical, made by UK-luthier, Owen Morse-Brown;

* existence of gamba compositions by Fiala, including a concertino for vdg/vln/vlc (WV11.02) – Adagio-Allegro-Andante with two variations-Rondo (Presto/Allero)-Trio. Edited by C. Reinlander, after DSW1 mus.ms.304;

* publication of the Haydn baryton trios b y Muzeikhandel Saul B. Groen, Amsterdam;

* the existence of an article by John Rutledge, “Towards a history of the viol in the 19th century”, in Early Music 1984 (12(3): 328-336;

* a monograph by Australian research, Michael O’Loghlin, Frederick the Greast and His Musicians: the viola da gamba music of the Berlin School. London: Ashgate, 2008.