Glittering Melodies Are Warming My Heart

Stamitz, an excellent violinist, studied in Prague before moving to Mannheim. © Charles Thibo
Stamitz, an excellent violinist, studied in Prague before moving to Mannheim. © Charles Thibo

Gold. I am tempted to consider the Baroque period as the Golden Age of arts in Europe. Literally and in a more abstract way. Literally since architects used thousands of tons of gold sheets to decorate churches and palaces. In a more abstract way as powerful and rich patrons, princes and bishops alike, spend huge sums to foster literature, performing arts, painting, sculpture, music and architecture, leading to an explosion of creativity unseen in the centuries before. This in spite of the economic decline and political unrest that marked the second half of th 16th century and the 17th century in Europe.

Recently I crossed the path of The Travel Lady in her Shoes, a fellow blogger writing about a different color every day, and my thoughts went back to earlier reflections about associating music to colors. Gold is coming to my mind when I listen to the works of Johannes Stamitz, a  Bohemian composer and violinist who lived during the first half of the 18th century. He was a prominent member of the Mannheim School*, a group of composing musicians supported by the Elector Carl Theodor, head of the court of Mannheim (Germany). The golden light of a winter morning, the warmth of a forest in autumn, the splendor of a Baroque church… I am drifting again as I did when I was writing about Debussy in an earlier post. It must be that luring effect gold has on me. I am easily tempted by glittering things…

Music for your private quarters

Stamitz’ music is also tempting. It is light and pleasant. It is Baroque music like Bach and Händel, less sophisticated, but still refined. It is what I would label without any prejudice “Hausmusik”. Music to be enjoyed in your private quarters, over lunch maybe or in the evening at the fireplace. Stamitz’ Six Trios for Orchestra, Op. 1 for example warm my heart and comfort my soul. They make me feel at home. The melodies embrace me and I embrace the melodies.

Stamitz wrote the six trios for violins and basso continuo* in 1755, two years before his death. There seems to be only one recording so far of all six trios: the one by the ensemble Musica Aeterna Bratislava. Stamitz spent part of that year in Paris, so it remains unclear whether he wrote the pieces actually in Paris or Mannheim, where he directed Carl Theodor’s court orchestra, after having served as first violinist (1743) and Konzertmeister (1744/45). Linking up with Paris was a reasonable idea as his sons Carl and Anton, both composers, made good use of the connections his father had set up.

© Charles Thibo

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de Chareli

Writer, photographer, piano student, music enthusiast. And a lot more. You are welcome to follow my blog.