|About this Recording
8.553990 - MUFFAT: Organ Works, Vol. 2
Apparatus musico-organisticus (Part II)
Georg Muffat was born in Megève, Savoy, into a family of Scottish ancestry. As a boy he went to Alsace, then to Paris where he was proud to have studied with the great Lully from 1663 to 1669. Thereafter he was a student of a Jesuit institution in Selestat, moving in 1671 to Molsheim, where he became organist of the exiled Strasbourg Cathedral chapter. Danger of war took him to Ingolstadt, and later in a flight "to Vienna in Austria, Prague and then finally to Salzburg and Passau". During a period as organist and chamber musician to the Archbishop of Salzburg he was granted extended leave to go to Italy, where from 1680 to 1682 he studied with Pasquini and wrote Concertos that were performed in Corelli's house. In 1690 he left Salzburg and moved to Passau, where he remained as a Kapellmeister to the Court of the Bishop and tutor to the Court pages.
Muffat, Who always considered himself a German, was the first truly international Composer who could combine in his art the extremes of the French and Italian styles. The new "mixed style" was later described by Quantz as a way "to choose the best from the styles of different countries".
Muffat himself saw this new synthesis not only as an artistic aim but also as a political goal, as he declared in a dedication to the Prince-Bishop of Passau: "The notes, the pages, the sweet musical notes give me my daily work, and as I mix the French style with the German and Italian, I do not stir up any conflict, but rather perhaps give a foretaste of the desired harmony among the people, for beloved peace." In another dedication he writes about "the chance to see Italy, where I applied myself to learning to temper the profound Italian emotions with the French festivity and sweetness, so that neither could become too darkly pathetic nor too light-heartedly free."
The Apparatus musico-organisticus was published in Salzburg in 1690 and is Muffat's second published work after the Armonico tributo of 1682. The Composer was able to present the work to it, dedicatee, the Emperor Leopold I, in Augsburg during the Coronation of Leopold's Son Joseph as Roman king. An engraving was therefore added to the first page of music showing a Turk lying on the ground under the feet of a Christian, with the Turkish army in flight in the background, presumably an allusion to the defeat of the Turks after the siege of Vienna in 1683 and 1684. The work is the largest published collection of major organ pieces of the period and enjoyed some popularity, being re-issued in Vienna between 1704 and 1726. In a Latin foreword, translated into German in the later edition, the composer describes the content as "twelve Musical Pieces or long Toccatas (as one says)/delicately arranged in a new way for the particular delight of Music-lovers/and for ample exercise in this art. To which are added/ a Ciacona, a Passacaglia, then also a well-harmonized Cyclopeias, each of which is distinguished by many variations".
Muffat's collection can be considered the third major collection of organ music by a composer in the Habsburg Empire after the Libri by the Austrian Court Organists Johann Jakob Froberger and Johann Kaspar Kerll. These Italian style Libri combined Short Toccatas with Canzonas, Ricercari, Variations and free pieces in the principal church modes. In contrast to Short versetti used in alternation with choral or Gregorian chants verses, the longer pieces were used as Preludes and Postludes or for more extended parts of the liturgy, such as the post elevationem, after the consecration.
Muffat's "long Toccatas" combine in their multiple sections the free writing of the old Toccata with the polyphony of canzonas and other fugal forms. Muffat's pedagogical purpose in the Apparatus, which he dedicated to the "particular delight of music lovers and for ample exercise in this art" can be felt throughout the work, in the use of the principal church modes in Toccatas I to VIII, in the multiple formal structures, in the use of Italian stylistic elements and even in the sometimes unusual form of notation, using all nine clefs and some archaic forms of ornamentation in Toccata XI.>
While the first eight Toccatas (Vol. 1) include the eight church modes, Muffat composed Toccatas IX to XII in "different and transposed" modes in the descending fourth, E minor, D major, C minor, B flat major. From the foreword to the posthumous second edition of 1721, published in Vienna by Peter von Gelen, we gather that the supplement to the work, with the Ciacona, Passacaglia and Nova Cyclopeias Harmonica, was added later. In his variation forms too the composer follows the example of Frescobaldi and Kerll. If the Ciacona is written in the Italian style, then the large-scale Passacaglia follows the French pattern of the Passacaille en Rondeau. Both pieces contain no hints of an obligatory pedal part and correspond in their range to that of the harpsichord of the time. The final Aria with Eight Variations is curious: the reference "ad Malleorum Ictus Allusio" (reference to blows of hammers) alludes to the story that Pythagoras was inspired to devise his harmonic system through hearing the blows of a smith on various anvils. In its lay-out it is in the tradition of Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith, with its air and variations.
Muffat's collection represents a compendium of the art of organ composition at the end of the seventeenth century in the Habsburg Empire and marks the height of the South German organ toccata derived from earlier Italian masters.
The Organ of Zwettl Collegiate Church
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