Sunday, November 13, 2011

Froberger - Suite No. 26 In B Minor

Johann Jakob Froberger (1616 - 1667) was a German composer, keyboard and organ virtuoso.  He helped to develop the keyboard suite of dances and influenced many composers, including J.S. Bach.

Froberger's father was Kapellmeister  of the court in Württemberg. He got his first instruction in music from his father who also had a large (for the time) library of music with over 100 pieces in it. Young Froberger had this music at his disposal growing up, as did three other brothers who all became musicians.

Froberger became court organist in Vienna, Austria in 1637. While there, he received leave to go to Rome to study with Frescobaldi. He stayed for three years in Italy, went back to Vienna and made several trips back and forth. He also traveled widely in Europe, visiting London, Paris, Brussels and other areas. Because of these travels, he was able to absorb different styles of music in different parts of Europe and incorporated them in his music.

Only two of his pieces were published in his lifetime, but he became famous because of hand written copies of his music that circulated  He not only wrote keyboard suites, but pieces for organ and highly personal programmatic pieces. He actually did not originate the keyboard Suite of dances, as dances had been organized into suites in France long before him. What he did do was develop this form and the standards for it.

The Suite #26 in B Minor consists of 4 dances. There is still some question as to the order of the dances, sbut in the recording attached the four dances in order are:

Allemande -  The allemande originated in the 16th century as a duple metre dance of moderate tempo, derived from dances supposed to be favored in Germany at the time. It was usually the first movement in the suite.
Gigue - A lively baroque dance originating from the British jig. Many times it is the final movement in the suite, but here it is placed 2nd.
Courante - n a Baroque dance suite, an Italian or French courante typically comes between the allemande and the sarabande, making it the second or third movement.
Sarabande - A dance in triple metre. The second and third beats of each measure are often tied, giving the dance a distinctive rhythm of quarter notes and eighth notes in alternation. The quarters are said to corresponded with dragging steps in the dance.

Froberger's Suite In B Minor : 

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