Searching fantasy: Froberger’s fantasias and ricercars four centuries on.

Charlston, Terence (2016) Searching fantasy: Froberger’s fantasias and ricercars four centuries on. Journal of the Royal College of Organists, 10. pp. 5-27. ISSN 0969-1642

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Abstract

The fantasias and ricercars constitute almost a half the contrapuntal keyboard music of Johann Jacob Froberger (1616–1667) and just under a quarter of his entire keyboard music, providing fertile ground from which to study seventeenth-century counterpoint and its keyboard performance. Froberger’s historical significance, e.g. as ‘father’ of the keyboard suite, has often assumed greater importance than his music generating a bias for a small core of more popular genres and pieces amongst performers: a trend reflected across the surviving sources and likewise in current teaching and performance today. Froberger’s autograph collections arrange and group the fantasias and ricercars into single-genre sets, and these complexes display clear agendas of balance, contrast and self-referencing within and between pieces. The wider source dissemination is discussed in this essay as it locates with the context of the music’s reception history. Issues of performance practice, including ornamentation, tempo and meter, articulation and phrasing, instrumental designation, expression and affekt, and notational practices are considered. The composer’s compositional methods and contrapuntal skills are scrutinised and compared with contemporary theories of counterpoint, and a new analytic approach is outlined to understand better Froberger’s reliance on motivic construction which has practical applications to musical theory, historical inquiry and performance. It is proposed that the fantasias and ricercars form a distinctive grouping within Froberger’s contrapuntal keyboard music which complements the toccatas, suites and lamentations and, in comparison with them, represents a less overt, equally rhetorical, and more intellectually ‘virtuosic’ interpretation of the stylus fantasticus.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > Music
M Music and Books on Music > Literature of music
M Music and Books on Music > Musical instruction and study
M Music and Books on Music > Musical Instruments
M Music and Books on Music > Music aesthetics
M Music and Books on Music > Music History
M Music and Books on Music > Music and society
M Music and Books on Music > Systematic musicology
Division: Performance
Depositing User: Terence Charlston
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2017 13:03
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2017 13:03
URI: http://researchonline.rcm.ac.uk/id/eprint/94

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