Saturday, October 29, 2022, First Parish of Sudbury and Online
Sunday, October 30, 2022, Emmanuel Church, Boston

Trio Sonata in D Minor for traverso, violin, and continuo, op. 3, no. 3    Anna Bon (bap. 1738–d. after 1769)    

Trio Sonata in G Major     Franz Benda (1709–1786)  or Johann Gottlieb Graun (c.1702–1771)

Sonata in F Major for traverso and continuo        Anna Amalia of Prussia (1723–1787)
    Allegro ma non troppo

Trio Sonata in F Major for viola, cello, and continuo              Christoph Schaffrath (1709–1763)

Trio Sonata in B Minor for traverso, violin, and continuo              Johann Joachim Quantz (1709–1763)
        Grave  • Presto  • Grave  •         Vivace  

Concerto in G Minor for harpsichord and strings        Wilhelmine of Bayreuth (1709–1758)
    Allegro  •  Andante cantabile  •  Gavotte 1 & 2  

Suzanne Stumpf, traverso
Sarah Darling and Jesse Irons, violins
Marcia Cassidy, viola; Daniel Ryan, cello
Michael Sponseller, harpsichord

Program Notes

Frederick the Great was a passionate supporter of music and the arts. He was an accomplished flutist who wrote an impressive number of works for his instrument. He surrounded himself with prominent musical masters of the time, including his flute teacher J.J. Quantz, his concertmaster Franz Benda, his keyboardist C.P.E. Bach, and Kapellmeister Carl Heinrich Graun, among many others. What is less known today is that there were very gifted female composers in his company as well. Two who are included on this program were his sisters—Anna Amalia and Wilhelmine. A third is the Italian-born singer and composer Anna Bon who was directly in the service of Wilhelmine. Their three works on this program, experienced together with little-known works by other court composers, offer a sampling of the extraordinary cutting-edge music-making that prevailed in Frederick’s circle.
    Anna Bon received her musical education starting at age 4 at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, the orphanage at which Vivaldi taught (though prior to her arrival). Her parents were professionals in the theater — her father was a scenographer and librettist, and her mother was a singer. By 1755, she and her parents were in the service of the Margrave of Brandenburg in Bayreuth and his wife, Wilhelmine, the older sister of Frederick the Great. The family eventually served at the Esterházy court where Haydn wrote several operatic roles for her mother. Anna’s surviving works include harpsichord sonatas, flute sonatas, and trio sonatas, including the Sonata in D Minor included on this program. The work features a tender opening movement, a fanfare motif in the second movement, and a third movement that evokes a rustic peasant dance.
    The Trio Sonata in G Major has been attributed to both Franz Benda and  Johann Gottlieb Graun. Both Benda and Graun were virtuoso violinists. In 1732, Graun joined the newly-formed orchestra of  Crown Prince Frederick in Ruppin. Graun’s student, Franz Benda joined soon after, as did Graun’s brother Carl Heinrich and the harpsichordist Christoph Schaffrath. These musicians, along with 13 others, formed the core of the orchestra that Frederick would employ upon his accession to the throne in 1740. No matter the composer of this trio sonata, it is written in a highly expressive style with a profusely-ornamented slow movement and brilliant, violinistic figuration in the fast movements, characteristic traits of both composers’ compositional styles.
    Anna Amalia was the youngest sister of Frederick the Great. She had a sophisticated musical training, studying harpsichord, flute, and violin. In 1758 she began learning composition with Johann Kirnberger, a student of J.S. Bach. She gained a mastery of counterpoint, and Kirnberger was so impressed with her compositional skill that he included two of her compositions as models for professional composers in one of his musical treatises. Her Sonata in F Major is likely her only surviving multi-movement instrumental work. It shows that she was on the forefront of stylistic trends. Although her brother Frederick favored the more symmetrical Galant style — and it is possible this work was intended for him — in this work she makes use of the more adventurous empfindsamer Stil and Sturm und Drang style.  The empfindsamer Stil (sensitive style), features dramatic contrasts of mood and sudden changes of character, and the Sturm und Drang style (storm and stress) emphasizing drama. Both are most prevalent in the work’s second movement, where the balanced phrasing of its Galant-style opening soon develops into an array of sudden changes in mood and character, supported by varied and sophisticated harmonies.
    The harpsichordist Christoph Schaffrath was one of the original members of Prince (and later King) Frederick’s court orchestra. In 1741, Anna Amalia employed him as a court musician, possibly ending his association with Frederick’s court orchestra. His Trio Sonata in F Major is composed for the unusual combination of viola, obbligato cello, and continuo. He makes effective use of the rich sonorities afforded by this instrumentation in the frequent harmonic suspensions and resolutions in the slow movement and in the mellifluous melodies in sonorous thirds and sixths in the final Allegretto.
    For flutists today, Johann Joachim Quantz is one of the most important composers and authors. While in service to the king as composer and teacher, he wrote copious amounts of flute literature, including over 300 concertos, and published a treatise on playing the flute in 1752 that is today considered one of the most thorough sources for 18th-century performance practice. Most of Quantz’s trio sonatas likely date from his time in Dresden prior to his appointment to Frederick’s court in 1741. They were written during a period when the transverse flute was a relatively new instrument in Germany. His Trio Sonata in B Minor shows his skill as a contrapuntist in the brilliant, fugal Presto movement. The treble dialogues in the slow movements convey profound tenderness while the closing Vivace offers spirited, playful rhythmicity.
    In comparison with her brother Frederick, it appears very little of Wilhelmine’s musical output survives. Allegedly, in their youth, the siblings were practically in competition to see who could write more music! Later in Bayreuth, she was the leader in initiating concerts at court and, together with her husband the Margrave of Bayreuth, arranged for the building of an opera house. Among her few surviving compositions is the Concerto in G Minor for harpsichord. The work is one of the earliest known concerti for harpsichord according to musicologist Irene Hegen, who dates the manuscript source to 1734. The first movement demands fiery virtuosity from the harpsichordist while the second movement inventively includes an evocative dialogue between the keyboard and violin.     
                                —Suzanne Stumpf and Daniel Ryan    

Anna Bon 3
Wilhelmiene Gavotte