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Anton Ferdinand Tietz. INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC

 


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 in Paris.
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 them.
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 recitative.
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"

 


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