The Sonatas and Partitas of JS Bach are considered the pinnacle of composition for solo violin, and for most music lovers they seem to emerge miraculously while Bach was in Cothen, and have no historical prededent. In this programme i try to show how solo violin music existed in the 17th Century, and how it gradually developed enough, both musically and technically, to inspire Bach ro write his masterpieces.. Baltzar met and befriended English musicians when he was in Rome with Queen Christina of Sweden,and made the decision to move to England. When he arrived in England he created quite a sensation with his virtuosity. The English had a very well developed school of “lyra viol” composition, with player/composers like Tobias Hume and Christopher Simpson writing solo viol music which used the inherent chordal language of the viola da gamba.. Baltzar took this lyra viol style and trasnsferred it to the violin. His compositions do have a very English feel, and the Divisions on “John Come kiss me Now” are in my opinion the finest example of this idiom in the 17th century. Nicola Matteis came from a very different tradition, his style is closest to Corelli., but he also chose to make his career in England and was very sucessful. He published 4 books of violin solos in which there are a handful of solo violin pices, but for this programme I have taken some of his accompanied pieces and arranged them for solo violin.
Heinrich Biber was probably the most famous violinist in Europe until Corelli.He came from Bohemia but eventually settled in Salzburg. In my opinion his violin
writing is an amalgam of early Italian style, (Venice is only 400 KM from Salzburg) particularly Marini who was a great innovator, and a violin tradition coming from
further east, particularly the Gypsy tradition.
Nicola Matteis had a son,Nicholas Matteis Jnr. who was also a composer and violinist. He decided to settle in Vienna at the Hapsburg Court . His three solo pieces are relatively recent discovereies and are a key clue to the in the puzzle of where Bach got his inspiration. Superficially the writing of Matteis sounds similar to
Bach, they both use arppegio/bariolage to create wondeful resonances. In my opinion the Matteis Jnr pieces are all improvisations, probably taken down by a scibe during performance.
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