We have now included an option to change the language of the site for those that would like to view or type in another language. Men of all nations and all languages are welcome on The Independent Man.
Friday Night Organ; South Germany Con't; the German composer who is REALLY French!
Georg Muffat (1653 – 1704) was born in Megève, Duchy of Savoy (now in France). He studied in Paris between 1663 and 1669, where his teacher is often assumed to have been Jean Baptiste Lully. This assumption is largely based on the statement "For six years ... I avidly pursued this style which was flowering in Paris at the time under the most famous Jean Baptiste Lully." This is ambiguous as to whether the style was flourishing under Lully, or that Muffat studied under Lully. In any case, the style which the young Muffat learned was unequivocally Lullian and it remains likely that he had at least some contact with the man himself.
After leaving Paris, he became an organist in Molsheim, near Strasberg (probably the Jesuit College Church which has a fine 1781 Silberman organ but of any instrument in 1670 I could find no record.) and Sélestat. Later, he studied law in Ingolstadt, afterwards settling in Vienna. He could not get an official appointment, so he travelled to Prague in 1677, then to Salzburg, where he worked for the archbishop for some ten years. In about 1680, he traveled to Italy, there studying the organ with Bernardo Pasquini, a follower of the tradition of Girolamo Frescobaldi; he also met Arcangelo Corelli, whose works he admired very much. From 1690 to his death, he was Kapellmeister to the bishop of Passau.
Muffat is most well known for the remarkably articulate and informative performance directions printed along with his collections of string pieces Florilegium Primum and Florilegium Secundum (First and Second Bouquets) in 1695 and 1698.
Here is his Passacaglia. I selected this particular video because the visuals are really cool and although I consider Muffat a student of the South German organ school he is technically French. Megeve is in the southern French alps near Italy and Switzerland. In any case this particular work just doesn’t sound right on a German organ but sounds great on a French organ. YESSS I know we hear this work again in the Organisticus BUT that is an Austrian instrument.
Next up is the COMPLETE collection of Muffat’s Apparatus Musico-Organisticus. The first work in the collection is the one most commonly played and a particular favorite of mine. I also like the Ciacona. The instrument is the Johann Ignaz Egedacher, Organ of Zwettl Cistercian Monastery Church, Austria---so a southern Germanic instrument. Here is the Play list:
1.Toccata prima 0:00
2.Toccata secunda 5:04
3.Toccata tertia 10:28
4.Toccata quarta 16:07
5.Toccata quinta 21:58
6.Toccata sexta 27:32
7.Toccata septima 36:12
8.Toccata octava 45:55
9.Toccata nona 52:27
10.Toccata decima 58:37
11.Toccata undecima 1:04:03
12.Toccata duodecima et ultima 1:10:54
15.Nova Cyclopeias Harmonica 1:37:37
And for those really interested in this excellent organ from 1731 here is a link to the Kuhn Organblau. They did the restoration:
Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Muffat’s repertory included a lot of other music, not necessarily organ. I tried to find a youtube of his lone surviving sacred work: Missa in Labore Requies, but was unsuccessful. I did find a really nice Sonata for solo violin. In this case not so solo but still pretty good. And the style will seem very familiar when we get to Heinrich Bieber, and Schmelzer.
Finally his Armonico Tributo Sonata No.2 in G minor. I’m including this one because it is so NOT German but clearly Italian/French in character.
Next week Fischer I promise! You British guys be patient we will be getting back to Blow, Purcell and Clarke---then its off to France for a while!
Georg Muffat's use of trills seems very cumbersome and annoying to me. It's as if that is his favorite ornamentation and he is going to use it conspicuously every chance he has. I realize the use of trills was already well established at this time period, and it's just my opinion. The organ sounds magnificent, though. The trills make Muffat's music seem formulaic to me. We all have our own opinions on various baroque composers, and that is merely my opinion. As always, thanks for the effort you put into this, EvilGenius!
As usual BSC has hit upon issue BUT it must be remembered that Muffat studied under Lully so this is a very French aspect to the music as we see when we explore the French music of the period. Good call man! However as one can see with the first and the fifth toccata he weaves this in and the result is exceptional.