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Bassoon Concertos by Court Kapellmeister from Baden and Wiirttemberg

Bassoon Concertos by Court Kapellmeister from Baden and Wurttemberg


Peter Joseph von Lindpaintner (1791- 1856)(Stuttgart)

Concerto in F major, Op. 4

Johann Melchior Molter (1695- 1765) (Karlsmhe)

Concerto in G minor

Conradin Kreutzer (1780 -1849) (Donaueschingen)

Fantasia in B flat major

Johannes Wenzeslaus Kalliwoda (1801- 1866) (Karlsruhe)

Variations and Rondo in B flat major, Op. 57


The bassoon already enjoyed much favour as a solo instrument in the eighteenth century, as can be seen from the writing of the poet and musician Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart (1739- 1791), from the fortress of Hohenasberg in the Wiirttemberg city of Ludwigsburg:


This instrument has in our own days played a major role. Not only has it been used for accompaniment of the most important pieces for organ, for the theatre and for chamber music, but also as a solo instrument, competing with the first instruments in the world. In solo work the bassoon has the purest tenor, descending to the lowest notes and a certain comic irony, rising again to the tenor F and through artistry again to the high tenor F, brilliant in the high register as in the lower: it demands the fullest breath and such a sound and manly embouchure that very few people can attain mastery in its playing. The tone of the instrument is so sociable, so communicative, so in tune with every unspoiled listener that certainly the last day of the world will find many thousand bassoons around us.


Schubart's thoughts on musical aesthetics, from which the foregoing quotation is taken, provide an important document for the Storm and Stress movement that led the way to musical and literary classicism, among which we may also count the hitherto unpublished Concerto in G minor for bassoon and strings by Johann Melchior Molter. Coming from the Thuringian-Saxon region, he was employed about 1717 as violinist in the service of the Margrave Carl Wilhelm of Baden- Durlach. The Margrave made it possible for his young court musician to study for two years in Venice and Rome and in 1722 appointed him his Court Kapellmeister. Because of the war of the Polish Succession we find Molter from 1733 for several years at Eisenach. From 1743 he was again at Karlsruhe and in 1747 re-organized the court musical establishment under the patronage of the enlightened Margrave Carl Friedrich (1728-1811). Now for the first time he had highly qualified musicians at his disposal, such as the flautist, oboist and clarinettist Reusch or the bassoonist Muller, whose pupil Andreas Gottlob Schwarz later won great fame. In his wind concerti there are influences from his time in Italy, not to mention those of the neighbouring Mannheim school.


In spite of great popularity the concerti for bassoon as compared with those for flute and clarinet remain rather the exception. Carl Almenriider (1786-1843), a leading virtuoso and maker of an improved form of bassoon wrote as follows:


For all other wind instruments we have, in comparison, excellent schools for the wider development of playing technique, excellent works of good taste etc. in great number , while such compositions for the bassoon are rare.


Carl Almenriider,in his workshop shared already in 1831 with the instrument- maker Johann Adam Heckel (1812-1877), attempted to remove the imperfections of the then usual type of instrument and the music theorist Gottfried Wilhelm Fink (1783-1846) recommended compositions with the following reservations:


The bassoon with not a very strong tone and excellent for serious and comic, provides the bass of the woodwind. Chromatic from B, flat to b' flat, it can perhaps exceptionally reach B, and C sharp , notes not possible for all bassoons and is easiest in keys up to three sharps or three flats and their relative minors; the rest are simpler to use.



With this background it is understandable that composers conceived appropriate orchestral solos or even solo concerti in close collaboration with leading musicians.


The Concerto per il Fagotte, here revived by Albrecht Holder, is so entitled by its composer Peter Josef Lindpaintner and according to the autograph was completed in Munich on Sth December 1816. In his capacity as Kapellmeister at the Isartor Theatre, Lindpaintner wrote his concerto for the Royal Bavarian musician Lang, not going above the B flat above middle C. His concerto has many parallels with the 1811 Bassoon Concerto by Carl Maria von Weber, written for Lang's colleague Georg Friedrich Brandt. In similar close relationship are the bassoon concerti by Conrad Kreutzer and Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda.


Immediately contemporary are the Variations for bassoon by Conradin Kreutzer, a composer known today almost only for his opera Das Nachtlager in Granada. Born in Messkirch, Baden, in 1780, he had his general musical training in singing, keyboard and organ, oboe and clarinet, as well as violin and music theory. From 1804 Kreutzer was in Vienna, where, according to his account, he wrote in four weeks an opera that aroused the interest of Ludwig van Beethoven, as we know from the latter's conversation-books. Kreutzer had further training as a composer with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736 -1809), the then most sought after theory teacher in Vienna. His writings include also remarks on the bassoon. After naming leading players, among them Almenriider, Brandt, Lang, Romberg and Schwarz, we read:


Although masters, like those aforementioned, also in brilliant concerto movements, bravura passages, leaps, rapid running figures and so on develop their skill through continuing practice, so can such in no way be regarded as the proper scope of this instrument. Some slow notes, especially in the higher register, can speak forcefully to the heart in a gentle melodic Arioso, like the most beautiful purest tenor-part...


In Vienna Kreutzer met the bassoonist Anton Romberg (1771 - 1844), who later encouraged the composition of bassoon concerti Successful performances of his operas brought him in 1812 the position of Wurttemberg Court Kapellmeister in Stuttgart, where Romberg followed him in 1815 as Solo bassoonist Kreutzer left Stuttgart again in 1816 and on 30th January 1817 Anton Romberg was billed as first bassoonist of His Majesty the King of Wurttemberg in a Gewandhaus concert in Leipzig with Kreutzer's Bassoon Concerto, which allows the work to have been written in 1815 In 1818 Kreutze, took up the position of Court Kapellmeister, to prince Furstenberg in Donaueschingen, where he had at his disposal the principal bassoonist Rosniak, a gifted musician, since two copies in the library point to later performances of the Fantasia for Bassoon and Orchestra, now so named The edition of the concerto by the present writer follows the original version for solo bassoon, one flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns and strings The later copies found by Albrecht Holder in Donaueschingen vary not only in orchestration but also in the solo part, which here has partly been taken into consideration


While Lindpaintner's work for bassoon keeps the classical three-movement concerto form, with a sonata-form first movement, a song-form Romance and a final Rondo, the works by Kreutzec and Kalliwoda are single-movement concert pieces, with an Introduction, Theme and Variations, including a final rondo, for which Kreutzer chose the then popular form of the Polonaise Kreutzer's career is marked by frequent changes of position, until he died, embittered, in 1849 in Riga Lindpaintner and Kalliwoda remained as his successors in Stuttgart and Donaueschingen respectively until their deaths Kalliwoda, the youngest of the present composers, was trained in his native city of Prague as a violinist and met his future patron, the cultured Prince von Furstenberg during a concert-tour in Munich From 1822 in his position as Kapellmeister at Donaueschingen, he wrote a number of notable early symphonies and concert overtures Today we are more interested in his wind concerti, composed with sympathetic understanding. His Variations and Rondo for Bassoon and Orchestra, Opus 57, published in 1856, seems to have been written about 1835 and follows Kreutzer's work in formal structure and choice of keys. The variation theme is nevertheless in essentially folk style and the orchestral ritornelli between the variations give the work another character. As noted in the work of Kreutzer, Kalliwoda also chooses the opening key of B flat major and for the fourth variation the key of B flat minor, not the related D minor.

With the three concertos by Kalliwoda, Kreutzer and Lindpaintner an unjustly neglected period of musical Biedermeier is revived, a period in which the achievements of wind soloists are recognised as equal to those of singers, violinists, cellists and pianists.


Dr. Gunther Joppig (English version by Keith Anderson)

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