A Sonata for Two Viols, Written for Hamburg’s Amateurs

Structure. © Charles Thibo

The warmth of Baroque music, the dark and friendly tone of a bass viol, or even better two bass viols – what a pleasure it gives to me! In 1728 Georg Philipp Telemann founded the first German music journal under the title “Der Getreue Musicmeister” (The Truthful Master of Music), and I have grown fond of one particular piece that was published in this periodical: the Sonata in A major for Two Bass Viols (TWV 40:111), performed by the London-based viola da gamba player, Claire Bracher. The “Musicmeister” was meant to promote the study and performance of music at home, in a private context. It was published  every second week until 1729 with composition written by Telemann, Jan Zelenka, Reinhard Keiser and Francesco Bionporti.

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Naturally flowing fantasies from an independent mind

Randomly shaped clouds. © Charles Thibo

Fantasy (noun) \ fan·ta·sy \ˈfan-tə-sē, -zē\ : a creation of the imaginative faculty whether expressed or merely conceived. That’s how the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it. The blue sky and the bizarre shapes of clouds have always stimulated my fantasy. As an amateur meteorologist and pilot I know the types, their altitudes, how they develop, but no scientist has ever given any explanation for the shapes they take at a given moment. Complex fluid dynamics are at work, unforeseeable, changing within minutes, sometimes within seconds.

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Hiking with Bach through East Germany’s vineyards

Bach's music matches the wines from the Saale-Unstrut region. © Charles Thibo
Bach’s music matches the wines from the Saale-Unstrut region. © Charles Thibo

For many years I have lived in Eastern Germany in a region of extreme contrasts. I worked in Bitterfeld, the heart of the former GDR’s chemical industry marked by extreme environmental pollution and the layoff of tens of thousands of workers after the collapse of the socialist system. I worked and lived in the Halle, where Händel was born, a town with a vibrant theater and music scene and an attractive university. My job often took me to Leipzig, home to the Bach family for many years, with its opera, its museums and art galleries. And over the weekend, I hiked through the lovely vineyards in the Saale-Unstrut valley, mostly during autumn when the leaves would start to turn yellow or orange. I visited some amazing castles there, and the beauty of the landscape made me quickly forget that the whole region was not doing well at the time.

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