C.Ph.E.Bach’s Essay is the most complete and detailed Compendium ever written for keyboard instruments.
It is strange that one can only find an old LP recording of that incredible work, which was recorded about 30 years ago.Therefore it is most urgent for the music world to relive this incomparable Essay.
The clavichord was the composer favourite instrument. Having that in mind, I have chosen one of the finest instruments for this project, which is a clavichord after Frederici, built by Geert karman. Also a facsimile edition together with the most reliable modern edition(Koenemann music Budapest, Miklos Spanyi),are being used. My aim is to try to capture all the composer’s intentions, in presenting his work to the music world.
Next year(2014), the whole music world will be celebrating C.Ph.E.Bach 300 years of birth(1714). Therefore I believe this project to be of tremendous importance to all music events of next year, concerning this composer. The cd will have a worldwide distribution.
The cost for this project will be 2.000 euros, which includes the recording and editing, the transportation and insurance of the clavichord and its maintenance.
Influenced by J.S. Bach, he began his studies of harpsichord when he was twelve years old, with Pedro Persone. At fifteen he moved to the Netherlands, following an invitation of Jacques Ogg, in order to pursue his musical studies with him, where he stayed for ten years, studying with various teachers such as Menno van Delft.
Since very young age, his strongest influence has been Gustav Leonhardt, for whom he was exceptionally accepted as his last official student.
It was also very important for him , to have worked privately with Pierre Hantai, Marco Mencoboni and Miklos Spanyi , who later invited him to record and play concertos and pieces for 2 harpsichords by C.Ph.E.Bach, in his giant project: C.Ph.E.Bach complete works for keyboard instruments(for the label Bis).
In 1998 he came at the invitation of several music schools and Conservatories,to work in Portugal, as a professor of harpsichord and chamber music.
Cristiano Holtz performs especially as soloist, both on harpsichord, clavichord and occasionally on historical organs in various countries in Europe, Asia,South America and the United States, playing in several prestigious international festivals.
He has obtained several international awards such as: Eldorado competition (Brazil 1996), Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Germany 2006), 5 Stars Goldberg Magazine (Britain, Spain) for his CD devoted to the composer J. Mattheson(Ramee 2006), which was a world premiere.
In 2008 he recorded the Inventions and Sinfonias of J.S.Bach, played on the Clavichord for the label Hortus, and in 2011 again for the Label Ramee, a cd devoted to G.F.Haendel,which obtained the prestigious “Record Geijutsu Award” from Japan.
His most recent recording is devoted to J.S.Bach “Rare works for harpsichord” for the label Edition Hera,which has been highly acclaimed in the international press.
Cristiano Holtz has Bach as the center of his musical work, and has been considered by several worldwide magazines and critics,such as Fanfare Magazine USA and Publico Portugal, as one of the finest Bach performers of our time.
The most famous pupil of Bach was his youngest brother, Johann Christian, who studied with him during the four years he spent in Berlin after his father’s death. Another was the widely known Czech pianist, Jan Ladislav Dussek p.2: Other pupils were less well known, such as Nikolaus Jospeh Hüllmandel, the Königsberg organist Carl Gottlieb Richter, Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, and Carl Fasch, who alternated with and later succeeded Bach as accompanist to Grederick the Great. For the rest, a good deal of Bach’s teaching was directed to the amateurs in whom he had an enduring interest. All of these men, especially Haydn, who discovered Bach early in life and never forgot him, can be called his pupils in this broader sense of the term. The essay became famous as an instruction book almost immediately and reached many students throughout the latter half of the 18th century. p.4: However, the Essay in its uncorrupted form reached all parts of the Continet. But it also made its way southward. Czerny, for one, procured his copy in Vienna. (…) Mozart’s famous sweeping statement, as quoted by Rochlitz: “He is the father, we are the children. Those of us who do anything right, learned it from him.” Mozart gave succint expression to the relationship of the music of his generation to Bach’s: “we can no longer do as he did; but the way in which he did it places him beyond all others.” p.5: Burney: “How he formed his tyle, where he acquired all his taste and refinement, would be difficult to trace; he certainloy neither inherited nor adopted them from his father…” “It appears from Hasse’s operas, where Emanuel Bach acquired his fine vocal taste in composing lessons, so different from the dry and laboured style of his father.” (end quote) (…) but it is certain that the Essay owes much to Johann Sebastion. But a large part of the practical wisdom contained in it must have been gathered during the years that he spent at the courd in Berlin. Bach absorbed much through his duties at the court. His presence was required almost daily, for he played the accompaniments at the king’s private concerts. There was not much variety over the years (at the court, ww). Usually the main fare consisted of about six concertos played by the monarch. Later this number was reduced to three or four. Most of these were composed by JJQuantz. p.6/7 Emanuel Bach’s music was not popular at the court. Burney, after his visit of 1773, made no mention of the performances of Bach’s music, but wrote: “The compositions of the two Grauns and of Quantz, have been in favour with his Prussian majesty for more than forty years…” From other contemporaries, chiefly J.F.Reichardt and Carl Fasch, Bach’s alternate at the harpsichord and later Kapellmeister, we win more information. Fasch asserted that the king, along with Bach and Franz Benda, was a great artist in adagio playing, but that his rhytmic sense was not always dependable, especially in rapid passages. These two sources of Bach’s artistic education, his father’s instruction and the execution of his duties in the service of the king, were supplemented by a third, his association with many of the leading musical figures of his day. Graun (brothers) Quantz Five members of the Benda family played at the court. In Berlin was also the quarrelsome J.Ph. Kirnberger, like Agricola a student of J.S.Bach. (…) He wrote several important theoretical works and contributed many of the musical articles to J.G.Sulzer’s Allgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste (1771-74) (…) On adding the name of F.W.Marpurg(…) It’s influence (of CPEB’s essay, ww) is apparent in many of them, just as it is in still later works such as Türk’s Clavierschule (1789), or Milchmeyer’s ‘Die Wahre art das pianoforte zu spielen (1797). p.8 Bach absorbed much from these friendships, the result of which, carefully evaluated and recast, appear throughout the Essay. Most easy to discover are those points on which he and his contemporaries disagreed. Although he rarely mentions anyone by name, it is clear that he and Quantz were divided on several matters. (,,,) we must direct our attention to Bach’s abiding interest in the proper instruction of the musical novice. Especially is this true of the instroduction to part one, where he writes caustically of the pretentiousness of the average teacher, his abysmal ignorance and unmusicality. (…) the open letter that has already been quoted, states Bach’s views on teaching the serious and the casuel student: “Those who assert that my essay is too long, say nothing and at the same time reveal their gross ignorance. I divede all keyboard performers into two groups. In the first are those for whom music is a goal, and in the second, all amateurs who seek thorough instruction. My essay is intended for the first group: no paragraph is superfluous. (…) Fir tge second group, the amateurs, there is indeed no instruction book, if this could once be impressed upon their teachers. (…) Before each period, I wrote out the lesson that I inteded to give and concerned myself only with the most essential principles. Niceties of, and proper contexts for, embellishments, refinements of accompaniment, the divided accompaniment, etc. Had to be omitted, they were not needed. Throughout, the student was not allowed to commit a single error like those that are accepted as postulates in many books. (…) Hence for purposes of thouough instruction the abridging of a keyboard handbook, even when it is done without errors, clearly does more harm than good. All of the comendium writers that I know have written, in certain respects, too little, in others, too much, but in all respects, masses of errors; what miserables nonsense can be found in some! (…) In a word, no one can put his trust in a keyboard instruction book, if the author has not previously made himself known and proved himself worthy to be sondidered an accomplished composer through his good compositions. ” p.9 Satiric open letter in Marpurg, Der Critische Musicus an der Spree, 1749, probably by the author (a 15 yr old girl is speaking): “My dear Papa acquired an excellent instrument at an auction (…). I am instructed by a very clever country organist from a near-by town. (…) He is not expensive (…) In orger to relieve my mind of unnecessary bother he marks all notes with letters, although I am already beginning to recognize the c-clef on the first and other lines. He cannot bear the g-clef. (…) He considers fingering a small matter which he leaves to my discretion, although he insists on banishing the thumb, and often expresses annoyance at those who make so much use of it.Because he has no interest in ornaments and eos not want to delay my progress for two or three years, he disregards all of them, asserting that they hamper rapid playing. (…)” p.11 The Essay is first and foremost a practical book that was designed less for discussion than for instruction. Its ancestry runs back through works like Mattheson’s General_Bass Schule, Heinichen’s General Bass, to Niedt’s Musicalische Handleitung, the text on which his father’s teaching was based. Also in the background is F. Couperin’s L’art du toucher le clavecin. The author’s qualifications were eminently suited to the requirements. Of his practical experience and wisdom we already know. His contemporaries set the highest store on his expressive playing. As a composer he was the leading exponent of the Emfindsamkeit, the German counterpart of the style galant. Beyond this he had an enduring interest in all music, as well as highly developed critical faculties. Another important qualification: he was a collector by nature. (…) And without his careful preservation of many of his father’s scores, our knowlegde of the leipzig Bach music would be far poorer. Wide musical experience, catholic tastes and interests, discrimination, the collector’s habits of acquisitiveness, all of thses factors contribute to the value of the Essay and lend to it a unique quality. p.12 J.F.Doles, a school companian (of CPEB,ww) and one of JS Bach’s successors at the Thomasschule, once said: “Like many boys of active mind and body, he was afflicted from childhood on with the malady of the roguish tease.” Symptomatic are his remarks on local teachers, Italian accompanists, the performance of incompletely marked scores. Nowhere is Philipp Emanuel’s indebtedness to his father more clearly expressed than in the chapter on fingering. The son worked out the details, but the father fixed the basic principls. However, it is clear from the reference to fingering as “a secret art, known and practiced by very few”, that the Bach family did not discover it, but rather organized and elaborated its technique. Other facts can be adduced to support this view. In François Couperin’s L’art du toucher le clavecin (1716, 1717), the thumb is employed frequently in wide stretches, and in running passages for the left hand, but in the right French school at this time is the replacement of one finger by another on an unrepeated, held tone, along with direct repetitions of a single finger in running passages. p.13 A very important innovation of the new method was the turning under of the thumb in running and arpeggiated passages. Yet the turned thumb in the Bach fingering must have been known and emplyed by Scarlatti, for one, for the virtuoso passages in his sonatas could hardly have been delivered satisfactorily without it. For corroborative evidence we can call on Franz anton Maichelbeck, in whose Die auf dem Clavier leherende Caecilia (Augsburg 1738) the turned thumb is called for repeatedly. Further, Marpurg’s Die Kunst das Clavier zu spielen (1750/51) emplys the turned thumb as a basic technique in the performance of scales. If, then, the new fingering was known to some, it remained a closed book to the rank and file of teachers and students until Bach’s systematic exposition appeared in 1753. Bach’s fingering is the foundation of modern technique. Of the older methods but few details remain in his exhaustive exposition, such as the crossing of 3 over 4 in the ascending right hand, but this only as an alternative to the new method of turning the thumb. If Muzio Clementi is sometimes credited with introducing modern finger technique, we need only read his own acknowledgement of indebtedness of the Essay in order to restore the proper sequence. p.14 Ornaments at the time of the Essay was of two kinds. There were first the optional elaborations which performers were expected to interpolate into the pieces they played. Ornamentation in this sense was a dying practice. Johann Sebastian Bach had already subscribed to the writing out of every note that was to be performed. Philipp emanuel, following his father’s practice, treats free elaboration only briefly, in connection with the performance of fermatas and cadenzas. The second kind was the stereotyped short embellishments, the appoggiaturas, trills, turns, etc. To these, Bach directed his full attention. The task that he set for himself was a twofold one. First he classified each type and designated a distinctive sign, notation, or position for each subtype. p.15 Much more original and provocative was the specifying of the exact musical context that was suited to each ornament. Here Bach attempted to assist the performaer who must know where to insert unspecfied ornaments. For. If the practice of providing free elaborations was approaching its end, the more modest one of inserting short embellishments was still a vigorous art. Certainly it met with Bach’s approval, where the other did not. Generally speaking, Bach’s contemporaries and later composers did not accept his advocay of a separate designation for eacfh ornament. Instead, they followed the practice of using a few signs to cover al cases, when they did not write out the ornament completely. Today we have come to believe that each of these signs represents a single, pat formula. Bach’s chapter is a primary, corrective source work. In it we are provided with an opportunity to study in detail the exact manner in which these ornaments were performed by one of the most precise and sensitive artists of his period. Performance p.16 As the principal practioner of the empfindsamkeit, with its empasis on the feelings, the “affections”, with the clavichord as its best loved instrument, Bach made technical mastery of the keyboard only a contributory factor to the expressive end that he sought. Music here was far removed from a decorative art, from abstract patterns of sound; it was, above all else, a vehicle for the expression of the emotions. Throughout the Essay Bach distinguishes between the learned and galant styles in music. He set no high store on the former although he wrote his share of plyphonic pieces and had a deep admiration for his father’s works. Thus in the chapter on performance the points stressed are those concerned with expressive playing, with correct interpretation. p.17 To many it must seem strange that Philipp emanuel, modernist and eclectif of the eighteenth century, did not emply the theories of Rameau, in writing the chapters on intervals and thorough bass. Bach and his father were acquainted with Rameasu’s tehory, which has become the basis of most of th emodern writings on harmony, but they disagreed with it. Bach’s rejection of Rameau can be traced largely to the fact that the latter had pronounced a theory, whereas thorough bass was essentially a practice. Certainly, as Bach presents his material, it is apparent that the pervasive problems were first tactile and then artistic, but never speculative. Thus in organizing the chords of thorough bass, Bach follows an older principle. Chords, regardless of their origin, are grouped according to the definitive interval that they contain. p.18 The student’s task was to locate at the keyboard the definitive interval and then to bring under his fingers the various accompanying intervals. Identification of the root, real or supposed, did not aid him in his direct gauging of intervals above a given bass tone. The greatest difficulty with the older system was caused by the great increase in the number and variety of chords that made their appearance in the course of the eighteenth century. Bach has twenty (chords,ww), but includes many others as subtypes, chromatic variants, and alternates. Bach’s method, the one he inherited from his father, was the only effective introduction to the musical practices of his time. The crucial difference between Rameau and Bach is most evident in those places where philipp Emanuel explains the nature of chords. Where Rameau’s ephasis rests on the vertical origins of a chord, Bach’s rests on its behavior. Thus there are two kinds of six-four chords, those that retard a following five-three, and those that retard a following six-three. Where Rameau calls the two identical because their roots are identical, Vach differentiates between them because their behavior is different. The first attempt to reconcile these two points of view, harmonic function and behavior, was made by Kirnberger, whose works, despite certain obvious shortcomings, should be examined by all. p.19 In general, the chapters on intervals and thorough bass are concerned solely with the rudiments of accompaniment. Attention is directed to chord construction, doubling, and spacing. So, after treating the raw material, Bach turns in the chapter on accompaniment to refinements, stylistic matters, and special problems of settings. On only one final point is his thorough, detailed expoistion less than adequate – he did not include a complete piece with a fully realized acceompaniment. p.21 It is a rare privilege to be invited into a composer’s workshop to look on as he fashions a model for us, as in the chapter on improvisation.