The baryton (Part 5)

October 24, 2009

baryton02_tn  Photo from Esterhazy Ensemble website

Regarding IMSLP 20080 – PMLP 46881, the first Moderato movement uses the theme from Gluck’s Orpheus & Eurydice, which was a very pleasant surprise. This and the other four involve the narrow range of little more than an octave, but the key of B-flat is not the most easy to negotiate, especially given the required slurs.  I found the Luwin arrangement in G major much more comfortable, but I note with some alarm that the original H11:110 was in the key of C, so I’ve no clear idea of how the parts were spread across their respective instruments – all playing at the (very) top of their range? I’ve noted that a Simrock edition of this baryton trio involves a transposition to Dmaj, which would put the top note (at least of the first page) up to E past the frets on the top string which I suppose puts it in the same range as Marais of several generations before. The Luwin arrangement follows the tradition of Haydn and his followers of writing in the treble clef sounding an octave below, but I gather the viola part is at no great distance at all from the baryton part. Obviously this equates to quite a dense sound – apart from all being in the bass register, the viola and baryton are hardly much more than an octave above the ‘cello so the baryton’s sympathetic strings help “push” the sonic feel of the “top” part above the rest.

So why these published arrangements of this particular trio, including a performance at the Esterhaza Haydn Festival earlier this year? Probably because of the Kuijken recording, made decades ago. I notice too a review by Lucy Robinson in Musical Times 122/1662 (Aug 1981):540 of trios 63,64,82,88,107,110 by the Esterhazy Baryton Trio.

Details of the Kuijken CD(s) reissue from 1977 and 1986, oddly named “Twelve Trios for transverse, flute, violin and violoncello” as follows:

* Divertimenti for fl/vln/vlc, H4: 6,7,8,9,10,11.

* Trios for bt/vla/vlc, H11: 82,100,103,109,110,118. Arranged for fl/vln/vlc on the basis that Haydn would have done so. In line with all sorts of assumptions made about this music – that Haydn hated composing them, that they were private music without consequence, etc. – these works were composed for eventual transposition to other forces, such as the ones found here.

Accent ACT 30007 (2006), see James Manheim has reviewed the discs for All Music Guide.

I’ll keep working on the arrangements that I’ve got. It’s a great pity that facsimiles of the originals aren’t more readily available, but I guess everything is deliberately and conscientiously kept under wraps as part of the 1968 Haydn Complete Works edition, with huge implications for wider exposure of the music, its performance by amateurs and for the long-term promotion of the instrument.

The baryton (Part 4)

October 22, 2009

trio01_tn  Photo from website of Esterhazy Ensemble

Some notes-to-self on the structure of the pieces downloaded from the ‘net, from IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project), six specimens all arranged for ob/cor anglais and bassoon, i.e. two treble clefs and a bass. Basically I’m just testing some of the over-arching features of the Haydn baryton trios as described in the literature. Tomasini is not on the IMSLP list.

IMSLP 10741. No.1. B-flat. Three movements, Adagio/Menuet & Trio/Presto. Adagio – binary form, 2x14bb. Menuet& Trio, both binary, 2x8bb. Presto is gigue-like 6/8 time signature, 2x8bb.

IMSLP 11167. No.2. B-flat. Allegretto/Arioso: Adagio/Tempo di Menuet/Allegro di molto. Allegretto is a set of 5 variations on a two-section 16bb ‘theme’. Bass repeats the first section throughout; the viola is allowed some variety with some arpeggiation but otherwise all the variations are in the baryton, “breaking the ground”. The second half of the Arioso shows some display with octave leaps. Slurred triplets in all movements.

IMSLP 113672. No.3. B-flat. Allegretto/Menuet and Trio/Presto. A lot of interest in the viola part, which starts of a fugue in the second half of the 1st movt. Presto is almost entirely in crochets/quarter notes, so I guess this a no-speed-limit zone of sorts.

IMSLP 11716. No.4. B-flat. Moderato/Menuet-Allegretto and Trio/Allegro di molto. Lot of musical interest in the first movement, complete with a fugal start to the second section.

IMSLP 20080PMLP 46881. No.5. B-flat. Moderato/Adagio/Tempo di Menuet. Moderato in B-flat; Adagio in D; Tempo di Menuet in A. Shortish adagio with a long minuet without trio.

IMSLP 20081-PMLP 46883. No.6. Adagio piu tosto moderato/Menuet and Trio. Adagio is a set of variations, similar to #2 above, again where baryton breaks the notes into ever-smaller ones and viola provides contrast with arepggiation. Trio is unusual since most of the musical interest resides with the basso; this situation is reversed in the second half of the Trio where baryton does all the melodic work.

Baryton Trio No.110. Arr N. Luwin (Luwin Music). Judging by the first page – a Moderato (first) movt in Gmajor (range is from D to A (last fretted note on top string, so four strings in all). Arranged for three basses (treble and two bass clefs). The writing looks more advanced than the six above, with luscious scalar passages alternating between viola and baryton. Even the bass comes alive with similar runs and arpeggios in triplets.


* I have a horrible feeling the IMSLP have all been raised a semi-tone from the original and are all in fact in Amajor.

* I assume the two top lines actually sound an octave lower than written.

* top note of the baryton’s range in these pieces is a C, which is of a tone above the top fret of a top string tuned in d. Pretty safe territory, where you’d expect the equivalent in the treble part of say a Purcell or a Jenkins to go to and certainly a Marais piece de viole for bass to go past that again.

* lowest note in the baryton’s range in these pieces is E – so only the top three strings (E-A-d) come into play.

* little wonder that Sisman should have honed in on the use of variation. Haydn, like Beethoven, obviously excelled at this; by contrast, Tomasini uses none. I would have thought that variations were an important feature of keyboard performers of the time.

More info off the net…

Around 1700, a collection of ‘IX Partie’ composed by Johann Georg Krause was dedicated to the Duke of Wurttemberg. In the late C18, the instrument was used in the Vienna Opera House (compositions by Ariosti and JJ Fux). There are also documents of the Esterhazy Kappele (Andreas Lidl) travelling to Paris and London (e.g. Charles Burney describing a concert in London).


The baryton (Part 3)

October 21, 2009

Noted over the last two days… in and around end-of-year university essay-writing:

* MIDI files of nos.1-14 at by Marco Melanson;

* Two recordings – Haydn Baryton Trios (#45,97,109,113), Hungariton Classic HCD31174 (; Haydn Baryton Trio (Hsu, Miller and O’Sullivan) #50,52,57,59,67,107, Dorian DOR-90233.

* A Top 11 pieces of academic research, in alphabetical order:

Fruchtman, The Baryton: its History and its Music Re-examined. Acta musicologica 34/1-2, Jan-Jun 1962: 2-17

Gartrell, Carol A. Towards an Inventory of Antique Barytons. Galpin Society Journal 56/June 2003: 116-131.

Gartrell, Carol A. The Origins and Development of the Baryton, Chelys 11 (1982): 4.

Pamplin, Terence M. The Influence of the Bandora on the Origin of the Baroque Baryton. Galpin Society Journal 53 Apr 2000: 221-232.

Webster, James  The Bass Part in Haydn’s Early String Quartets. MQ 1977 63/3: 390-424.

Winkler, Gerhard J. Joseph Haydn’s “Experimental Studio” in Esterhaza. MQ 1996 80/2: 341-347.

Wollenberg, Susan  Haydn’s Baryton Trios and the ‘Gradus’. Music and Letters 1973, 54(2): 170-178.

Sadie, Stanley  18th-Century String Music. Musical Times 108/1492 Jun 1967: 541.

Sisman, Elaine R. Tradition and Transformation in the Alternating Variations of Haydn and Beethoven. Acta musicologica 62/2-3 May-Dec 1990: 152-182.

Strunk, W. Oliver  Haydn’s Divertimenti for Baryton, Viola, and Bass after Manuscripts in the Library of Congress. MQ 1932/18(2): 216-251.


Hope to pursue these over time, but in the meantime the first page of the Pamplin journal article confirms what I’ve noted from the music downloads: the baryton is surprisingly the top voice above the viola (even above the violin in Tomasini trios) and that the manual of plucked strings is only played in 76 of over 200 trios (not used by Tomasini at all). The lower manual is tuned to the tessitura of the upper 3 of the upper manual bass viol strings and not the lower three – hence the curiosity of a bass-tessitura instrument playing above the violin/viola!

The baryton (Part 2)

October 19, 2009

Further investigations tonight, courtesy of that musicological treasure trove,

Yet more composers… Unsurprisingly, there were more than just Papa Haydn and his expert violinist comrade-in-arms (if not student), Luigi Tomasini from Pesaro. One speculates that Tomasini might have played some of the baryton trios scored for violin and basso; certainly he composed for the baryton, as well as for his own instrument, including violin sonatas and about 30 string quartets. It seems the Duo Concertante opus 1 number 1 is just about his only published piece of music readily available these days. At the tender age of 15, he was engaged in Prince Nicolaus’ son’s orchestra in 1756 and was there till 1790 when he was pensioned off as part of the disbanding of Haydn, the court orchestra and the lead tenor singer, not long after Prince Nicolaus’ wife died (Nicolaus to follow shortly afterwards).  Apparently on the Tactus label, three Italians have recorded trios on two violins and ‘cello. I’ve not deduced where the manuscripts are these days; any C20 publishing of the baryton trios will involve detective work, to be sure.  But I digresss… I must add the names Joseph Burgksteiner, J-H Fiocco and Hans Pischner – as recorded on a Berlin Classics (2000) CD entitled “Eighteenth century music for baryton”.

The plucking and the bowing of it…  is something that’s been bugging me all day – how the plucking is notated in the score, as opposed to the bowing, and if for example it typically becomes a pizzicato accompaniment to the viola in slow movements. I’m surprised to see the virtuosity of the baryton parts in the few free scores I’ve noted so far; I thought something more like the plodding rhythmic beating of the gamba parts in the Bach Brandenburg Concerto #6, with its brilliant ‘solo’ parts for the top parts (viola da braccios). In any case, Beghin (Tom Beghin and Sander M Goldberg, “Haydn and the Performance of Rhetoric”, Univ Chicago Pr 2007) mentions combined bowing and plucking in No.107’s minuet.

Testing new musical ideas… seems to be part of the importance of the baryton trios by Haydn. Giving them due attention and valorising them looks obviously not to have been easy, given the nature of musicological discourse around Haydn and his works. There is the somewhat predictable stance that the bt trios must be light and unimportant compared to the string quartets and the significance accorded sonata form. The trios seem to have been marginalised along with the early string trios and the early string quartets; significant focus appears only to have been given to the string quartets of op.9. I’m thinking traditionally-minded musicologists can’t cope with three-movement works, with fugues after Fux, with the use of variation as discussed by Sisman. I guess coming from the gamba world where the same norms about canon don’t exist or don’t apply and where one swims among a welter of good music written on many a bad day at the best of times, I  just revel in the simplicity and unpretentiousness of ordinary chamber music-making (I notice one musicologist coyly describes the baryton trios as ‘overtly modest’). I think it’s absolutely glorious that Haydn has left us his musical jottings, his ideas-in-development at all, notwithstanding that apparently nothing much seems to happen in the first of the gold-and-leather volumes, Hob.XI:1-48 (1762-1767 approx.), or at least the baryton seems not to come into its own. I guess this translates into the those trios chosen by performers to record and certainly none seem to come from the first forty.

The dates… just to be clear (as dated by Geiringer in “Haydn: a creative life in music”, p.230) are

#1-48, 1762-1767 (approx 1766);

#49-72, 1767 and 1768;

#73-95, 1769 and (the end of?) 1771 – which correspond to the string quartets of op.9 (c1769-70) according to Strunk and Landon;

#97-126, 1778 (including earlier works, 1771-1775, and by which time Prince Nicolaus had lost interest in the instrument and become busy with opera instead).

Prince Nicolaus ‘the Magnificent’… may according to John H Baron (“Intimate music: a history fo the idea of chamber music”, Pendragon Pr., 1998: 195) have been influenced by professional performers including Karl Franz, Anton Kraft and Josef Weigl. Baron sums up the structure of the bt trios extremely well: “…three are for violin instead of viola. All but a few are in three movements and have a minuet with trio, but the order of movements and tempi vary considerably. Most opening movements are in binary form, but a few are themes with variations; in several cases, the final movements are fugues. No.97 is unusual with seven movements, including two minuets and trios, with a final fugue”.

Efrim Fruchtman… wrote a doctoral thesis of 446 pages in 1960 at the Univ of North Carolina on “The Baryton Trios of Tomasini, Burgksteiner and Neumann”. Would it were available in print at all! Which is where I began today’s note.

John PringleAmerican luthier makes them for $11K, one having been sold for $7K, in two styles, both with string lengths of 70cm (which makes them on par with my French 7-string basse de viole) which means to me that the fingerboard with case for sympathetic strings must be really quite wide (no wonder the Prince never played the bottom two strings). Pringle’s first style is an all-rounder suitable for the Haydn period; the second, interestingly is a design from 1645 and will appeal to those who have followed Tim Crawford’s splendid exploration into the English connectons involving Walter Rowe (1584/5-1671), English viol player who worked for most of his long life at the Brandenburg court in Berlin and Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad, Lithuania).  My old mate Mersenne (1644), who tells me all I need to know about gamba in France in the first third of the C17, gets a guernsey implying that the hybrid bowed/plucked string technique was known in England before 1625.

Enough for one day! My next obvious step is to look at the free internet downloads, even though they have no Hob. numbers. Set for oboe, cor anglais and bassoon, I hope they have kept the same key as the original; I’ll have to assume the baryton plays the top, oboe part since No.6 of this set puts it there.

2009 is the anniversary of Josef Haydn’s death and Tomasini was the dedicatee of Haydn’s violin concertos as well as being a court musician at the Esterhaza court.

Temporarily escaping the pressure of writing a university student essay on Gender in Western European Art Music, I’ve spent a pleasant few hours on the internet today reacquainting myself with the baryton (Jose Vasquez’s Orpheon), its repertoire and performances on YouTube (especially those played as viola/baryton/bass viol trios).  Coincidentally on the other side of the world <alarob> here on WordPress has been doing the same lately!

There are no examples of the instrument on this continent of Australia and no gamba players here have ever joined the International Baryton Society to my knowledge, though some of the trios have been attempted by friends playing tenor viol, bass viol and ‘cello. There seems to be a dirth of sheet music, though I will work on transcriptions for oboe/cor anglais and bassoon. 

I note the following:

* Haydn’s 120+ works for baryton, recorded in toto by the Esterhazy Ensemble (Michael Brussing on baryton) on 21 CDs, available from May 2010 on The recording’s playlist comprises 117 trios for viola/baryton/cello, 3 trios for violin/baryton/cello, 4 reconstructed duos for 2 barytons, 1 quintet for 2 horns/viola/baryton/cello, 7 octets for 2 horns/violin/viola/baryton/cello. Jeremy Brooker is the contact for the International Baryton Society and the Hauschka Ensemble has recorded four duets for 2 barytons, plus 12 cassation pieces for baryton due and basso (cello) by Haydn.

* Luigi Tomasini’s works have in part been recorded by the Esterhazy Ensemble also on CPO 999 9732 (56:18): Korcak numbers 19,20,27,33,34.

* Literature – Gartrell, Carol. A History of the Baryton and its music, July 2009, 304pp. ISBN 0-8108-6917-9. Available from

* Other recordings (search also Amazon): Geringas Baryton Trio. Nos 5, 96, 97, 113. CPO 999094; Haydn, Mozart – Moderntimes Ensemble. Trios 53, 87 and117. Julia Moretti. Presier 2006; Hsu, Arico and Miller. Nos. 87, 97, 111. ASV 1991.