Text of the booklet "Anton
Ferdinand Tietz. INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC/PRATUM INTEGRUM ORCHESTRA"
Anton Ferdinand Tietz - musician at the
court of Catherine II
Anton Ferdinand Tietz (1742 - 1810),
a German violinist and composer, is an enigmatic figure.
A brilliant performer and a gifted composer who had spent
half of his life in Nuremberg and Vienna, the major centers
of musical life in Europe, came to St. Petersburg in the
hope to make a more successful career there. And he succeded.
In the "Northern capital" Tietz got a prestigious
place of a chamber musician at the court of Catherine the
Great as well as the right to give violin lessons to Great
Prince Alexander Pavlovich. Tietz gained a reputation of
the best ensemblist and his brilliant compositions soon
became very popular. There was a romantic halo of an unsurpassed
virtuoso around the musician's name and the vague circumstances
of his private life only added to the intrigue.
Anton Tietz spent his childhood and youth in Nuremberg.
He was brought up in the family of his uncle, an artist,
who helped him to acquire skills in drawing, besides the
boy took lessons in playing the violin. In 1759 he joined
the chapel of St. Zebald Church and owing to his talent
succeeded in getting "the place of first violin".
In 1762 Tietz, allegedly by recommendation of C.W. Gluck,
was invited to play in the orchestra "at Vienna Opera
House". Nobody knows how he could have managed to attract
the attention of the celebrated composer and Kapellmeister
to the court opera house. But the position he got at such
a prestigious theatre undoubtedly testifies to his talent
as a performer. There is a legend saying that Tietz was
J. Haydn's pupil. The only source of it is a mysterious
inscription "eleve d'Haidn" on the title-page
of Six Quartets for two violins, viola and bass published
Tietz had worked in Vienna for about ten years. Rich musical
life of the city became a powerful incentive for the talented
musician to start writing music. The fashion in this field
was set by the imperial court and aristocracy of Vienna.
Their chapels and musical "academies", patronage
of art and passion for playing music made Vienna a true
musical capital of Europe. The houses of Esterhazy, Likhnovsky,
Toon and Lichtenstein were competing with each other in
patronizing musicians. Thus, Tietz undoubtedly performed
in the "academies" of count Lobkovitz where later
the great Beethoven so often ravished listeners with his
marvellous compositions. Visiting Vienna at the beginning
of 1780s as a chamber musician to the Russian court Tietz
may have performed in the palace of Russian ambassador count
D.M. Golitsin, a well-known connoisseur of art. It was to
him that Tietz devoted his splendid Six Quartets the popularity
of which made major publishing firms Artaria and Bayo print
Tietz arrived in St. Petersburg in 1771. His role in the
musical life of the Russian court can't be overestimated.
A recognized soloist of the First Court orchestra, he dealt
with organizing concerts of "chamber music" during
the leisure hours of the Imperial family. Tietz organized
the first Russian string quartet of wonderful musicians:
O.E. Teves (second violin) or E.G.O. Raab (second violin),
I.F.Stockfisch (viola) and A.Delfino (cello). His contemporaries
said that "nothing could be compared with this quartet
usually played in Hermitage theatre or in the inner chambers
of the palace in the presence of the Empress". After
a stroll in the park Catherine II and her court often listened
to chamber music composed by Tietz in the Arabesque Room
of the Tsarskoselsky Palace. The Empress used to spend evening
time in the Chinese Room where amateur musicians - Great
Prince Alexander Pavlovich, counts P.A. Zubov and A.S. Stroganov
- "gave themselves up to art" under Tietz's guidance.
What music could be heard at these "home" musical
evenings with Tietz participation that for about forty years
charmed the hearing of aristocratic elite? Most often J.
Haydn's music was played - his string trios, divertissements,
quartets, duets for violin and cello, duets for two violins,
symphonies; besides musicians performed quartets by I. Pleyel
and trio by A. Eberl, quintets and symphonies by W.A. Mozart
and, of course, opuses by court chamber musician Tietz.
(Probably at that very time he composed Three Quartets for
two violins, viola and cello dedicated to Emperor Alexander
I). The preference in the programmes of concerts at court
was given to the works of German and Austrian composers,
with Viennese taste prevailing. And that, of course, can
be put down to Tietz's service.
Trios and serenades performed by his ensemble were often
used by the court as love messages. Thus, count Zubov wishing
to express his gentle feelings to Great Princess Elizaveta
Alekseevna (Alexander Pavlovich's wife) invariably resorted
to musicians' help. Countess V.N. Golovina recollected that
"wonderful music", "harmonic sounds"
"of the instrument of love" extracted by Tietz
from viole d'amour and fading away "in the air in the
reigning silence" drove Elizaveta and her maids of
honour to anxious agitation. Tietz vanquished his listeners
with "charming gentle sounds which flew away from his
strings" and in adagio his "violin was weeping
… and made others weep".
One of the most enigmatic moments of Tietz's biography is
a sudden mental disease which struck him in 1797 and manifested
itself in fits of "melancholy", loss of speech
and even insanity. The cause of the disease was love - "unfortunate
passion for someone unapproachable". Strange as it
may seem, "having lost his mind" Tietz did not
give up his profession and went on charming the public with
his brilliant recitals. In the house of senator A.G. Teplov
Tietz together with "the best virtuosi" performed
symphonies, quartets and his own violin concerto and played
duets with the outstanding violinist L.Schpor.
Tietz not only performed in public but kept on writing music.
Was he really ill or just mystifying the public? Who knows?
In those days "hypochondriac melancholy" when
a sick man preserved his professional skills but behaved
strangely socializing with others was not a rare thing to
meet. But our hero was perceived by the society not only
as a victim of love. His personality caused a general stir
because it was not a mere mortal who got ill having fallen
in love but "a famous insane violinist". At the
outset of the romantic era madness was considered to be
a sign of an artist's genius.
A first-rate musician, Anton Ferdinand Tietz attracted attention
of the general public also by his talent of a composer.
His fellow-musicians and publishers "obeying the demands
of all music lovers" were looking forward to his new
opuses. What do we know about the heritage of Tietz-composer
that secured him fame during his lifetime? Fandangos and
string duets, quartets, quintets, concerto for violin with
orchestra, symphony, sonatas for clavier and violin obligata,
violin and bass, concerto for four-part choir for the celebration
of Transfiguration, a song "Moaning of the dove"
to words by I.I.Dmitriev "which caught the fancy of
the fair" - altogether about four dozens of works.
Information about them with the detailed description of
the extant manuscripts and publications was included in
the subject catalogue of Tietz's works (TTK) published in
the series "Musical Petersburg: concise encyclopaedia.
XVIII century". One can find there also scores of many
of his instrumental works published for the first time.
Compositions presented in this album belong to different
fields of the composer's instrumental work. One can feel
in them the hand of a gifted master possessing also the
talent of a brilliant performer.
Chamber music: Duet for violin and cello in C major (TTK
1:4) , String quartet in D minor from "Golitsin"
opus (TTK 2:1), Quintet for two violins, two violas and
bass in D minor (TTK 3:1) - were created by a composer-ensemblist
for whom it was but natural to try every part of the score
"with his own hands". Violin or viole d'amour
were not the only instruments "close" to Tietz.
Playing in ensembles he also performed, if required or at
his own will, the parts of cello or, indeed, viola.
The character of the brilliant performer can be clearly
traced in Concerto for violin, strings, two oboes and two
French horns in E flat major (TTK 4:1). It is the violin
solo that prevails here in all its masterly glory.
In Symphony C major (TTK 5:1) A.-F. Tietz appeared in a
new role - that of a composer of orchestral music. But here
too the composer who had been playing in ensembles for many
years and was used to "lending an attentive ear"
to their sounding from inside finds himself in his element!
Tietz assimilated the experience of German school of composing
in the process of intensive performing activity. Brilliant
concert style vividly manifests itself in the soloing part
of violin (of course, Tietz wrote it for himself!). His
chamber opuses can be called divertissements in Viennese
ensemble music style.
All pieces presented in this album were written in accordance
with the canons of classicism though under a great influence
of "Sturm und Drang" style; at the same time the
composer introduced in the texture of his works distinctive
themes and harmonic patterns typical for the language of
Russian musical classicism. A natural question arises: wasn't
Tietz himself the creator of this style? Having absorbed
all the special features of Russian folk song and polyphony
with supporting voices Tietz became one of the first creators
of instrumental music in Russia!
Thus, in the vigorous Allegro of the Quartet deep feeling
shows itself in the melodiously melancholic intonation of
the central theme. In the final Rondo the first minor episode
presented by swift passages of the violin is an inspired
impulse and the second, also in minor, is marked by a somber
cantabile of the soloing cello. They are separated by a
serene recurrent theme with moving exchange of violin and
cello. In the duet, also two-part one with a closing Rondo,
the composer being a master of instrumental dialogue, gives
the soloists only one theme for intercourse - a wonderful
Russian melody. The lively conversation results in the effect
of a careless echo which in fact forms the basis of this
brilliant concert piece. Tietz achieved the effect of "quartet
sound" in the Duet by simultaneous use of double notes
technique in the parts of both instruments.
Quintet is one of the most "romantic" works of
the composer. It begins with an expressive, intense, "fatal"
Adagio. It is in fact mournful music with powerful pathetics
of Allegro intruding into it. In the final a lucidly instrumented
melancholic Siciliana resembling pastoral romances by P.A.
Monsigny or Dmitry. Bortnyansky suddenly appears in the
tragic setting of ensemble ostinato. And the center of the
whole composition is a charmingly beautiful Cantabile. The
composition of the second part is unusual - it is a through
development in the style of operatic scenes where delicate
solo of the first violin is contrasted with strong meaningful
sounding of the whole ensemble at times turning into dramatic
Similar exalted nocturnal intermezzo, written with taste
and feeling inherent to Tietz, can be heard in violin Concerto.
This composition undoubtedly belongs to important achievements
of the artist. All fragments of the solo in the first part
and in the final Rondo form habitually harmonious ensemble
of the strings. But it is the violinist who is the virtual
master of the situation here. However Tietz does not forget
to elegantly orchestrate tutti. The contrast between tutti
and solo is mostly achieved by the solo parts being accompanied
by two violins and bass only. Thus he erases the border
between "symphonic" and "chamber" patterns.
The final of the concerto is an original "rondo in
the Russian style", an analogue to which cannot be
found in European music. At the same time one can feel closeness
of this final to violin concertos of Tietz's colleagues
who lived and wrote music in Russia.
Sinfonia in C major written by Tietz in Petersburg prompted
his contemporaries to consider him a "Russian"
composer who "adhered to the national style".
The starting point for such appraisal was the final movement
- popular dance in Russian style. Giving the leading theme
to the soloing violins the composer stylizes it as a "folk
band" adorning it with supporting voices of oboes and
droning "bagpipe" basses. The final is preceded
by Andantino in which Tietz being a subtle connoisseur of
cantilena does not use oboes but introduces flutes. Their
gentle sound joins the melody of the strings adding to it
the light tint of melancholy. Chamber "Sinfonia"
might have been the introduction to some choral composition
or was performed at the beginning of a court concert carrying
away the listeners by its cheerfulness and festivity.
The creative work of A.F. Tietz, a brilliant virtuoso and
composer, is a particular chapter in the history of musical
Petersburg and Russian music in general. His instrumental
works were meant for musical "academies" of European
elite, private concerts of the Russian imperial family and
court evoking "sentimentality", entertaining and
enlightening at the same time. A.F. Tietz's works are wonderful
samples of classic style and they keep attracting attention
of performers in Russia and Europe.
Natalia Ogarkova translated by Margarita Kirillova
Text of the booklet "Anton
Ferdinand Tietz. INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC/PRATUM INTEGRUM ORCHESTRA"