Transatlantic Crossings

Friday, April 11, First Parish, Wayland
Saturday, April 12, Christ Church, Cambridge

 


Flute Quartet in D Major -Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)
      Andantino    • Rondeaux (Allegro assai)   

Sonata no. 6 in C Major for cello and continuo - Raynor Taylor (1747-1825)
  [Allegro] • Adagio-Giga (Allegro moderato)   

Trio in D Minor for 2 violins and cello, op. 5, no. 3 - Joseph Gehot (1756- c.1820)
      Andante cantabile • Fuga          

Sonata     in C Major for fortepiano and violin, K. 296 - W. A Mozart (1756-1791)
  Allegro vivace • Andante sostenuto • Rondeau (Allegro)   

Intermission

Trio no. 3 in D Minor for 2 violins and cello, op. 3 no. 2 - John Antes (1740-1811)
  Allegro • Andante un poco adagio • Presto   

Symphony no. 100, arr. J. P. Salomon - Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
  Adagio-Allegro • Allegretto   
  Menuetto (Allegro moderato)     • Finale (Presto)
 

Suzanne Stumpf, flute; Christina Day Martinson and Hilary Walther Cumming, violins
Noralee Walker, viola, Daniel Ryan, cello; Michael Bahmann, fortepiano


Program Notes
The decades following the American Revolution saw the growth of cities and the cultural accoutrements of city life. With increasing economic prosperity, Americans were gaining leisure time which allowed for cultural pursuits. A thriving concert scene enabled Americans to hear a great amount of the newest European and American music, while amateur music-making in the home increased the demand for music teachers and published scores. These conditions contributed to the growth of chamber music in the young republic.

Chamber music was important not only to domestic life of the period, but also to the growing concert life of American cities. Chamber music was always included in the earliest public performances, and, as the number and proficiency of professional musicians increased sufficiently to allow performance of orchestral works, chamber music continued to be performed alongside symphonies, concertos, and vocal works. The end of the century saw a great influx of highly skilled musicians, many of whom were performers and composers of importance in their native lands. Attracted by the promise of steady employment in the theater orchestras and churches, the most talented of these became concert promoters, introducing the American public not only to the latest European chamber works, but to their own compositions, some of which they brought with them and some of which were composed in the New World.

Perhaps the most numerous and sophisticated performances of chamber music to take place in this country during this period occurred in the settlements of a unique American community: the Moravians, a religious sect originating from Germany and other German-speaking lands that established model communities in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Music-making of all kinds was an integral part of their devotional and recreational activities. A regular aspect included collegia musica, amateur musical societies devoted to the weekly performance of chamber and orchestral works, which flourished in their settlements here, at a time when such institutions were dying out in Europe.

John Antes was certainly one of the most interesting personages of this period. Born in Fredrick, Pennsylvania, in the Bethlehem community of Moravians, Antes received his entire musical training there. His talents as a craftsman led him to the trades of stringed instrument making, cabinetry, and watchmaking. In 1764, he travelled to Moravian communities in Germany for training and apprenticeships, was ordained a minister in 1769, and undertook missionary service in Egypt in 1770-71. There he composed his only surviving chamber work, a set of three trios which he had published in London in 1790 as his opus 3. They show a lively imagination tempered by fine craftsmanship—admirable work for the “dilettante Americano” he styled himself on the title page of this opus. Antes’ other musical pursuits worth mentioning include experiments in improving piano hammers, the violin tuning mechanism, and violin bows, which he summarized in an Austrian music journal, and an automated device which he had patented for turning pages.

Joseph Gehot, a native of Belgium, initially settled in London, where his major works were published, and where he pursued an active career as a performer, participating in London’s vibrant concert life during the 1780s as a violinist. Upon his emigration to the USA in 1792, he and some companion emigres advertised themselves in a New York newspaper as “professors of music from the opera house, Hanover Square, and Professional concerts under the direction of Haydn, Pleyel, etc. London.” Gehot performed in  New York and Philadelphia, participating in the Philadelphia City concerts orchestra from 1792 as violinist and occasional concertmaster. While most of the six trios comprising Gehot’s opus 5 display his penchant for instrumental virtuosity, the D minor trio is of a more introspective character, with an alla capella fugue showing keen contrapuntal skill.

Raynor Taylor made a name for himself in England as composer and music director at Sadler’s Wells Theater in London. He came to America in 1792 and settled in Philadelphia where he was very active as a composer, performer, and organizer specializing in light musical entertainments. Of the hundreds of works he is known to have composed, very few survive. Among them is a set of six cello sonatas. These works are thought to have been written in England between 1772-1783, but the autograph manuscript was penned on paper milled in Pennsylvania around 1800. The sixth sonata amply shows Taylor’s skill and maturity as a composer as well as his command of idiomatic writing for the cello.

Johann Christian Bach was a frequently performed composer in eighteenth-century American concerts, while his illustrious father Johann Sebastian was virtually unknown in America during this period. Although the younger Bach’s symphonies most frequently appear in contemporary programs, a flute quartet of his was known to have been performed in Richmond, Virginia, in 1797.

Haydn’s Symphonies were among the most frequently performed orchestral works in America in the eighteenth century. Although almost invariably identified as “Full Piece,” or “Grand Overture” in concert programs of the time, the Haydn Symphonies most frequently performed in the 1790s can be safely presumed to have been the last twelve “London Symphonies” which were making a sensation in England. Symphony no. 100 was certainly performed by the Bethlehem collegium musicum as a contemporary copy survives from its manuscript collection. The arrangement heard on this program was made by Johann Peter Salomon, the impresario responsible for bringing Haydn to England, and concertmaster of the orchestra that premiered the work under Haydn’s direction.

In contrast to Haydn, the works of Mozart were not universally known and performed in eighteenth-century America. Among the few documented performances of Mozart’s chamber works is a violin sonata listed in a 1789 concert program for a New York subscription concert organized by the energetic cellists and impresarios Alexander Reinagle and Henri Capron. While we cannot know the exact sonata performed on this occasion, a possible candidate would be one of the six sonatas he had published in Vienna in 1781. The C Major sonata is the second work in this opus.

© Daniel Ryan and Suzanne Stumpf