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Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

Member of Abel family

(b Cöthen, Dec 22, 1723; d London, June 20, 1787). German composer and bass viol player, son of Christian Ferdinand Abel. He was no doubt a pupil of his father’s, especially for the bass viol; but on his father’s death in 1737 Carl Friedrich may have turned to the former relationship with the Bach family and gone to Leipzig to study, as Burney, who knew Abel, stated. By 1743 Abel was a player in the court orchestra under Hasse in Dresden; the connection with the Bachs was maintained – W.F. Bach was an organist there until 1746, and J.S. Bach had held an appointment as court composer from 1736. Abel left Dresden in 1757–8 during the destruction of the city by Frederick the Great. He then travelled, visiting the house of Goethe’s family in Frankfurt and probably the musical centres of Mannheim and Paris. He had already begun to compose in Dresden; the Breitkopf catalogue of ...

Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

Member of Abel family

(b Hanover, c1683; d Cöthen, 1737). German bass viol player and violinist, youngest son of Clamor Heinrich Abel. As a young man he served with the troops of Charles XII of Sweden, then occupying north Germany and Bremen. He may have served at the Celle court before moving with his elder brother, the landscape gardener Johann Christoph, to join the establishment of Prince Leopold I of Anhalt-Cöthen about 1715. Christian Ferdinand was listed as chamber violinist and viol player when J.S. Bach was appointed Kapellmeister there in 1717; the two were soon good friends, and Bach stood as godfather to Abel’s first daughter (b 6 Jan 1720). Spitta supposed that Bach had written the six cello suites for Abel, but there is no indication that Abel played the cello, and the Cöthen chapel had a competent and highly paid cellist in Christian Bernhard Linike. Prince Leopold had a particular affection for the viol, and it is likely that Bach provided the three sonatas for bass viol and harpsichord for Abel to teach to the prince. Although Abel’s fortunes rose on Bach’s departure in ...

Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

Member of Abel family

(b Cöthen, March 24, 1718; d Ludwigslust, Aug 25, 1794). German composer and violinist, eldest son of Christian Ferdinand Abel. He was a pupil of Franz Benda in Dresden (1735) and worked as a violinist in the court orchestras at Brunswick (1745) and Sonderhausen (1757–65). He was next appointed Konzertmeister in the orchestra at Brandenburg-Schwedt (1766), then with Benda in Berlin, and he was finally a first violinist in the chapel of the Prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in Ludwigslust from 1770. His compositions include a Symphony in D (1776; D-SWl , under ‘Leba’) and violin ‘arpeggien’ ( A-Wgm ). His two sons, August Christian Andreas (1751–1834) and Friedrich Ludwig Aemilius (b 1770), were both violinists at Ludwigslust; the latter’s grandson Ludwig (1835–95) was a violinist in Basle from 1865, and from ...

Article

Ortrun Landmann

[Jean]

(b c1705; d Dresden, Nov 13, 1779). German composer. He was a Jagdpfeifer at the Dresden court (1733–6), then until his death a violist in the Dresden Hofkapelle. He was also ‘ballet-compositeur’ of the court opera (from c1740), and composer and director of music for the elector’s French theatre (1763–9). According to Burney and Fürstenau, he added ballet music to operas by J.A. Hasse and made an adaptation of Rameau’s Zoroastre (Dresden, 1752); the documents of the Hofkapelle in the Dresden State Archives indicate that he also composed new pieces for various opéras comiques, and in 1756 he published a Recueil d’airs à danser executés sur le Théâtre du Roi à Dresde, arranged for harpsichord. The concertos and chamber works listed under ‘Adam’ in the Breitkopf catalogues may also be attributed to him. Few of his compositions are extant; apart from his arrangements of works by other composers, the Sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden contains only a concerto in G for flute and strings by him....

Article

Donald R. Boomgaarden

(b Milston, Wilts., May 1, 1672; d Kensington, London, June 17, 1719). English librettist and writer on opera. He studied at Oxford, then held minor political offices and toured on the Continent (1699–1704), hearing performances in the most important operatic centres. He documented his impressions of opera in his Remarks upon Several Parts of Italy (London, 1705), commenting perceptively on the differences between the Italian, French and English poetic styles and criticizing the dramatic vacuity of Italian opera librettos. He later wrote a libretto on the story of Rosamond, mistress of Henry II, which was set by Thomas Clayton (1707) and was not successful, partially because of the composer's ineptitude. The libretto, while not Addison's best work, is an elegant attempt to create an opera on a British theme and shows that he had studied the dramatic and technical sides of opera. It was set successfully by T.A. Arne (...

Article

Ingmar Bengtsson

revised by Bertil H. van Boer

(b Löth, Östergötland, Feb 1, 1701; d Nuremberg, Jan 19, 1765). Swedish composer, violinist and harpsichordist. His father was a priest. He went to school in Linköping and studied at Uppsala University from 1721 to 1722 or 1723, where he played in the university orchestra, then led by the director musices Eric Burman. Early biographers said that Prince Maximilian of Hesse heard Agrell's violin playing in 1723 and called him to Kassel. Firm evidence of Agrell's activity there is, however, found only from 1734, when F. Chelleri was Kapellmeister. He was still working in Kassel between 1737 and 1742 during the reign of Count Wilhelm VIII and the court long owed him payment for service, as well as ‘ale and food money’, for the years 1743 to 1746. During his time at Kassel Agrell is reported to have made several journeys, visiting England, France, Italy and elsewhere.

Uncertain economic circumstances seem to have driven Agrell to seek the post of Kapellmeister in Nuremberg, a post which he obtained in ...

Article

Gloria Eive

(b Faenza, bap. Dec 31, 1716; d Faenza, Oct 12, 1785). Italian violinist, composer and teacher. He studied with Tartini, probably between 1730 or 1731 and 1733, by which date his name appears in the list of musicians at Faenza Cathedral, as third (and last) violinist under the direction of his brother, Don Francesco Alberghi, maestro di cappella. In 1742 he was referred to in Faenza chronicles as ‘Paolo Alberghi, Professore’, and both his virtuosity and his compositions – sonatas and violin concertos – were extravagantly praised. In 1753 he became first violinist and, on his brother’s death in 1760, maestro di cappella as well; he retained both positions until his death. Alberghi supplemented his small salary from the cathedral by playing for civic festivities and for the two academies of Faenza, and by composing and teaching; among his pupils were Bernardo Campagnoli, Antonio Bisoni, Cristoforo Babbi and possibly Giuseppe Sarti (unconfirmed). A portrait of Alberghi in the Biblioteca Comunale of Faenza (which, together with the Archivio Capitolare del Duomo, contains much biographical material in manuscript) indicates that he was blind in one eye....

Article

Michael Talbot

(b Venice, c1710; d Rome, Oct 14, 1746). Italian composer, harpsichordist and singer. Alberti's claim to historical recognition rests traditionally on his harpsichord sonatas, in which the arpeggiated bass that lent his name a posthumous notoriety is a prominent feature (see Alberti bass). In his lifetime, however, Alberti was equally famous as a singer and as a performer (sometimes as self-accompanist) on the harpsichord. His amateur status was perhaps unfairly seized upon by his detractors, for his reported early training in singing and counterpoint under A. Biffi and A. Lotti does not suggest an inadequate grounding; it may, however, account for the restricted quantity and scope of his output. Of his non-musical career little is recorded except that he served the Venetian ambassador, Pietro Andrea Cappello, as a page on a visit to Spain about 1736, provoking Farinelli's admiration of his singing, and subsequently joined the household of Marquis Giovanni Carlo Molinari in Rome. His harpsichord sonatas are generally believed to date from these last years. He is buried in S Marco, Rome....

Article

Michael Talbot

revised by Enrico Careri

(b Bologna, Sept 20, 1685; d Bologna, Feb 18, 1751). Italian composer and violinist. He studied the violin with Carlo Manzolini, and counterpoint with P.M. Minelli and Floriano Arresti. He became a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna, in 1705, and from 1709 played the violin in the orchestra of S Petronio. His first set of concertos, published in 1713, were first performed under the composer's direction at the house of Count Orazio Bargellini. In 1721 Alberti was chosen president (principe) of the Accademia Filarmonica, a post to which he was re-elected in 1724, 1728, 1733, 1740 and 1746. A set of violin sonatas, op.2 (1721), was followed by a further set of concertos, collectively entitled ‘Sinfonie’, and issued by Le Cène in 1725 – presumably without the composer's authorization as they are incorrectly designated op.2. (This possibly inadvertent duplication of an opus number led to the renumbering of the violin sonatas as op.3 when published by Walsh shortly afterwards.) From ...

Article

Robin Bowman

(fl 1697–1706). Italian composer, violinist and organist, active in northern Europe. At one time he was in the service of the Prince of Carignan (a small town in the French Ardennes) and in this capacity appeared as a violinist before Louis XIV in 1697. About 1703 he was organist of the monastery at Kranenburg, on the present Dutch–German border. He published XII suonate a tre, duoi violini e violone col basso per l’organo op.1 (Amsterdam, 1703). One of the two surviving copies ( US-CHua ) bears the date 1706 on one partbook and the signature ‘Alberti’ on all four; a copy in Sweden ( S-L ) is also signed. The contents are all church sonatas, and each contains between six and eight movements, all in the same key. They are stolid, old-fashioned, rather uninspired works, competently written for the most part but using only the simplest imitative techniques and frequently becoming homophonic. The part for violone, which for Alberti meant ‘cello’, is sometimes quite elaborate, creating a genuine four-part texture....

Article

Rudolf A. Rasch

[Weissenburg, Johann Heinrich von; Weissenburg, Johan Handrik van]

(b ?Bieswangen, Bavaria, c1660; d c?1730). Dutch composer and violinist of German extraction. The name Henricus Albicastro is a Latin-Italian translation of his true name, Johann Heinrich von Weissenburg. The designation ‘del Biswang’ on the title-pages of some of his works presumably refers to Bieswangen as his place of birth (there is, moreover, a town called Weissenburg nearby). There is nothing to corroborate Walther's statement that he was Swiss, but many details about his life are still unclear. His compositions adhere closely to the Italian style in string music with continuo, but there is no way of telling whether this results from study with an Italian composer in Italy or elsewhere, or from the study of Italian music available north of the Alps.

Albicastro was registered as ‘musicus academiae’ at the University of Leiden in 1686, meaning that he became head of the modest musical establishment there, a position he may have held until ...

Article

Mary Cyr

[Francischello, Franciscello]

(b Naples, March 7, 1691; d Vienna, July 20, 1739). Italian cellist. He attended the Conservatorio di S Maria di Loreto in Naples and was a pupil of Gian Carlo Cailò. In 1725 Quantz heard him in Naples at a concert in honour of Prince Lichtenstein, in which Farinelli sang. In Rome, Francischello (as he was widely known) accompanied Niccolini in a cantata of Alessandro Scarlatti with the composer at the keyboard, and Geminiani remarked on his expressive playing. Berteau was reputed to have given up the viol for the cello after hearing him. In 1726 he was appointed chamber virtuoso to Count Uhlenfeld in Vienna where Franz Benda played trios with him and the count. Benda remarked after hearing him play that his only desire was to imitate on the violin the playing of Francischello on the cello. According to Gerber (but doubted by Fétis) he later went to Genoa where Duport (...

Article

Peter Holman and Todd Gilman

( b London, March 12, 1710; d London, March 5, 1778). English composer, violinist and keyboard player . He was the most significant figure in 18th-century English theatre music.

Arne inherited his first name from his grandfather and father, London upholsterers and undertakers and office holders in the London Company of Upholders. As a child he adopted the middle name Augustine, apparently to show his allegiance to the Roman Catholic faith of his mother, Anne. His father rented a large house in King Street, Covent Garden, where he ran a thriving business, the Two Crowns and Cushions, although he apparently allowed his own father and brother Edward to die in debtors' prisons. According to Charles Burney, who became his apprentice in 1744, Arne was sent to Eton, where a passion for music soon became evident: he tormented his fellow pupils ‘night and day’ by playing the recorder, practised the spinet secretly at night during the holidays, ‘muffling the strings with a handkerchief’, and studied composition on his own before taking violin lessons with Michael Christian Festing; Burney wrote that Arne and Festing were both present on ...

Article

John Walter Hill

(b Florence, Dec 5, 1697; d Florence, Aug 18, 1744). Italian lutenist, theorbo player and composer. Although he may have directed music for the Prince of Carignan in his early years, his name is principally associated with Florence. By at least 1718 he was a member of the musicians’ company there. He is listed as a theorbo player at an oratorio performance on 31 March 1720 and as a violinist at a private concert on 30 July 1724, both in Florence. In 1721 he was elected a member of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna. His presence in London between 1731 and 1736 coincided with the lifespan of the Opera of the Nobility, rival to Handel’s company, which presented four performances of his Fernando beginning on 5 February 1734. In the 1732–3 season he directed concerts at Hickford’s Rooms, together with Giuseppe Sammartini, according to a newspaper announcement quoted by Burney. Other announcements mention his participation in London concerts on 20 April and ...

Article

Christoph Timpe

(b Naples, ?1670; d Naples, March 19, 1756). Italian composer and violinist. He came from a musical family and was a member of the Neapolitan court orchestra from the late 1690s until his death. His two sets of sonate da chiesa (opp.1 and 2) are notable for their fugal movements, in which the violone shares the counterpoint with the violins, while the continuo remains independent. This principle is systematized in his op.3, which in its instrumentation is based on a model established in Naples at the end of the 17th century by composers such as Pietro Marchitelli and Giancarlo Cailò. In each sonata a brilliant first movement is followed by a three-part fugue, which is separated from a lively closing dance by a short, lyrical movement, usually in 3/2. Avitrano's works show a highly developed sense of tonal effect, particularly his op.3, in which the violins are independent of each other and often complement each other by playing in the same register. Although his violin music does not require technical brilliance from the players, it does demand a sound mastery of the bow, especially in the dance movements. His capacity for invention is limited, particularly in the slow movements, in which the thematic material is often similar to that in other slow movements of his. His harmonic development is conventional but lively. Avitrano's importance lies in his contribution to the four-part sonata, the leading genre in Neapolitan violin music....

Article

Gerald Gifford and Terence Best

(b ?London, c1690; d Islington, London, Sept 23, 1723). English harpsichordist, organist, violinist, composer and arranger. He received his early musical instruction from his father, Charles Babel, a bassoonist in the Drury Lane Theatre orchestra until he was 80, and later from Pepusch and possibly Handel (according to Mattheson, in Der vollkommene Capellmeister, 1739, but denied by Hawkins). Babell led an active professional life in London. As a violinist he was said to have played in the private band of George I, while as a harpsichordist, from about 1711, his name frequently appears in London concert notices, usually in conjunction with those of Corbett, Paisible and (later) Dubourg. He was also associated with Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre. From November 1718 until his death he was organist of All Hallows Bread Street and was succeeded there by John Stanley. Babell was buried at All Hallows.

He acquired an international reputation as a harpsichordist largely through his virtuoso arrangements of fashionable operatic arias and overtures, especially those of Handel. His keyboard style was undoubtedly influenced by his close acquaintance with Handel's playing; it has been proposed that one of the manuscript settings of ‘Vo' far guerra’ (...

Article

Christoph Wolff

Member of Bach family

(18) (b Erfurt, bap. Nov 25, 1676; d Eisenach, June 11, 1749). Composer and organist, son of Johann Aegidius Bach (8). He studied with his father and about 1695 took up his first post, as organist at the Kaufmannskirche in Erfurt; in 1699 he went to Magdeburg, and in 1703 he replaced his kinsman (2) Johann Christoph (13) as town organist and court harpsichordist in Eisenach, a post which Johann Christoph’s son Johann Nicolaus (27) had declined. Repeated rises in salary show the esteem in which he was held, particularly in the court Kapelle, which was directed by Telemann in 1708–12.

His only extant works are instrumental; some of the organ works are in copies made by his pupils in Erfurt, who included J.G. Walther (according to Walther himself). Johann Sebastian Bach evidently valued his orchestral suites, for he had five of them copied (he himself was involved in some of the copying) for his collegium musicum in Leipzig. J.S. Bach’s obituary notice of ...

Article

Christoph Wolff

Member of Bach family

(13) (b Arnstadt, bap. Dec 8, 1642; d Eisenach, bur. April 2, 1703). Composer and organist, son of Heinrich Bach (6). He was probably the most important member of the family before (7) Johann Sebastian (24). He received a thorough musical grounding from his father, and on 20 November 1663 was appointed organist of the Arnstadt castle chapel. Two years later he was invited by the Eisenach town council to apply for the post of organist at St Georg, and after an audition on 10 December 1665 he was appointed to that position and also to the post of harpsichordist in the court Kapelle of the Duke of Eisenach. He retained both positions until his death.

Little is known of his work in the court Kapelle. From 1675 the Kapellmeister was Daniel Eberlin, later to become the father-in-law of Telemann, who also conducted the Kapelle on occasion, and for a short while (...

Article

Christoph Wolff and Peter Wollny

Member of Bach family

(34) (b Eisenach, Jan 28, 1722; d Eisenach, Sept 1, 1777). Composer and organist, son of (5) Johann Bernhard Bach (18). On 16 January 1737 he entered the Thomasschule in Leipzig and became a pupil of his uncle (7) Johann Sebastian (24). After studying law at Leipzig University he returned to Eisenach in 1741 and deputized, without pay, for his ailing father. Plans to go to Frankfurt, Hamburg or Berlin, mentioned in a letter written by his cousin Johann Elias Bach (39), were never realized. In 1748 he became his father's official assistant and the next year his successor. He continued to practise as a lawyer as well, and in addition he was appointed Kapellmeister at the Weimar court in 1756 ‘in view of his well-known skill and musical knowledge’. This entailed regular journeys to Weimar, and during his frequent absences from Eisenach he was permitted to hire a substitute for his organist's duties. When the Hofkapelle was dissolved after the death of Duke Ernst August Constantin in ...

Article

Christoph Wolff

Member of Bach family

(b Thal, nr Eisenach, Feb 4, 1677; d Meiningen, bur. May 1, 1731). Composer, son of Johann Jacob Bach (3/60). Nothing is known of his musical training, but he probably received some early instruction from his father before attending the Gotha Gymnasium in 1688–93. From 1699 he was a court musician at Meiningen, from 1703 Kantor and from 1711 court Kapellmeister. In 1706 he had unsuccessfully applied to succeed A.C. Dedekind as Kantor of St Georg, Eisenach, although he had been interested only in the musical and not the teaching duties of the post. His patron of many years, Duke Ernst Ludwig, died in 1724 and Johann Ludwig wrote the music for his funeral.

Johann Ludwig wrote an imposing number of vocal works. Although orchestral music was probably his principal activity from 1711 onwards, hardly any music at that type is extant. The preservation of the cantatas is due primarily to Johann Sebastian, who performed 18 of them, as well as the two masses, in Leipzig in ...