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2.110339 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - POTSDAM: A Musical Visit to Sanssouci and the Bach Museum in Leipzig (NTSC)

A Musical Tour of Potsdam Sanssouci and the Bach Museum in Leipzig
With music by Johann Sebastian Bach



First Impressions at Sanssouci

The castle of Sanssouci has a central domed roof, with decorative Baroque sculpture, while to the rear is a colonnade, through which artificial ruins can be seen.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F major, BWV 1046 – I. (Allegro)

Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F major, BWV 1046, is in four movements and partly derived from a two-movement sinfonia, perhaps part of the birthday cantata for Duke Christian of Weissenfels in 1713. The first movement was later to be used again in a secular cantata in Leipzig.


Sanssouci: Under the pergola of the Roman Baths • Ruin Hill

The Roman Baths were built between 1829 and 1840 by Ludwig Persius to a design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The group of buildings includes a Renaissance villa and various pavilions, grouped round a garden. Artificial ruins are set on a hill, to be seen at the end of an avenue.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No1 in F major, BWV 1046 – II. Adagio

The instrumentation of the concerto for a solo group of two horns, oboe and violino piccolo and an orchestra of two oboes, bassoon, strings and basso continuo, is unusual. The first movement is followed by a slow movement for solo oboe and violino piccolo, the latter a smaller form of violin, tuned to a higher pitch.


Sanssouci: Charlottenhof

The Charlottenhof Palace was designed by Ludwig Persius and Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1829 for the future King Frederick William IV. The style is that of a Roman villa and the surrounding garden was designed by Peter Joseph Lenné.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No1 in F major, BWV 1046 – III. Allegro

The horns return for the third movement, in which solo instruments are contrasted with the rest of the orchestra.


Sanssouci: Promenade in the Park and the Orangerie

The park of Sanssouci extends over some 700 acres. In addition to its contrasts of garden layout, the area includes a quantity of statuary, generally reflecting classical subjects, fountains and grottoes. The Orangerie, in Italian Renaissance style, was built on the orders of Frederick William IV between 1851 and 1860 to designs by Friedrich August Stüler and Ludwig Persius. The buildings were intended for guests, often for the King’s sister and her husband, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F major, BWV 1046 – IV. Menuetto –Trio I – Polacca –Trio II

The fourth movement, in the French dance-suite style, includes a Minuet and a Polacca, with trios.


Sanssouci Palace

The Palace of Sanssouci its name a reflection of the philosophical interests of Frederick the Great, was built between 1745 and 1747. The designs, sketched first by the King, were carried out under Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. The central dome of this single-storey Rococo building is set over the Marble Hall and the original palace includes a concert-room, a library and the so-called Voltaire Room, a token of the King’s association with the French writer and philosopher. The colonnade at the back of the palace, with its Corinthian columns, is broken to allow a view of the distant ruins.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F major, BWV 1047 – I. (Allegro)

Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F major, BWV 1047, is scored for a solo trumpet, recorder, oboe and violin, with strings and harpsichord.


Summer in Brandenburg

Berlin was established as the capital of Brandenburg in the 15th century but developed in size and power under the Great Elector, Friedrich Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, who came to the throne in 1640. Brandenburg became the kingdom of Prussia under the Great Elector’s successor, Friedrich I, the grandfather of Frederick the Great, and the capital of a united Germany in 1871. The old city of Brandenburg is some thirty miles to the south-west of Berlin, surrounded by agricultural land and the waters of the Breitlingsee, Plauersee and Beetzsee.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F major, BWV 1047 – II. Andante

Following the usual practice, the slow movement omits the trumpet, using violin, oboe and recorder, with continuo.


Sanssouci: New Rooms – Ovid Hall and Jasper Hall

The New Rooms were built in 1747 by the side of the Palace of Sans Souci as an orangery to a design by Knobelsdorff. Thirty years later the building was altered to serve as accommodation for guests. The designs were by the architect Georg Christian Unger. The counterpart of the Picture Gallery, on the other side of the palace, the New Rooms include four halls, of which the Ovid Hall, with its gilded figures in relief and marble floors, and the Jasper Hall are the most distinguished.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F major, BWV 1047 – III. Allegro assai

The third and final movement brings the return of the solo trumpet to announce an energetic fugal subject.


Sanssouci: New Palace with the Marble Hall, Ball Room and Theatre Dragon House and Chinese Tea-House

The construction of Frederick the Great’s New Palace, originally designed by Knobelsdorff, was delayed by the Seven Years’ War between Prussia and Austria. The building, now under Johann Gottfried Büring, Jean-Laurent Le Geay and Carl von Gontard, was started in 1763. A two-storey structure, with some two hundred rooms, the palace is built of brick and sandstone and includes a number of ornate and finely decorated rooms. The Marble Hall, a fine ball-room, has walls covered in marble and there are similarly ornate state apartments. The palace also includes a theatre.

To the north of the Mulberry Avenue lies the Dragon House, with its gilded dragons decorating the roof. The building was designed by Gontard and was converted in 1770 from the earlier vintner’s house. The Chinese Tea-House, an example of 18th century orientalism, with its gilded and fanciful chinoiserie figures, is in the Deer Park and was built for Frederick the Great in the 1750s by Büring.

Music Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 3 in G major, BWV 1048 – I. (Allegro) – II Allegro

Brandenburg Concerto No 3 in G major, BWV 1048, is scored for three groups of three string instruments, violins, violas and cellos, with continuo, the groups being suitably combined and contrasted. The slow movement is given as a simple two chord cadence, allowing improvisation by the harpsichord player. In the last movement, which follows immediately, the three violins enter in canon in what is essentially a dance-movement.


Leipzig: The Bach Museum

One of the best known portraits of Bach is the oil-painting of 1746 by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, the source of a number of later derivatives. The painting was made a year before Bach’s visit to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel at Potsdam. The portrait is shown, together with other items in the Bach Museum, including a harpsichord with a finely decorated soundboard, and a posthumous painting, derived from Haussmann’s work.

Music Bach: Siciliano (arranged from Violin Sonata No 2 in C minor, BWV 1017, by Jaroslav Dvořák)

The movement arranged from Bach’s Sonata No 4 in C minor for violin and harpsichord is a Siciliano, a formal version of a Sicilian shepherds’ dance, characterized by its rhythmic pattern.

Keith Anderson

Brandenburg Concertos Nos 1, 2 & 3: Capella Istropolitana cond. Bohdan Warchal [Naxos 8.570057]
Siciliano: Capella Istropolitana cond. Jaroslav Dvořák [Naxos 8.570077]

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