10 September 1941 – 24 September 2014
Keyboard player
Christopher's contribution to 'Fund og Forskning'
January 10, 2008

Each year, the Royal Library in Copenhagen publishes a volume 'Fund og Forskning' (Finds and research) featuring articles stemming from or relating to the collections of the library. This periodical displays high quality research in various fields in the humanities. Christopher was invited to write an article for the latest edition, Volume 46/2007:


It is dangerously easy to try to shrink the concept of Danish arts during the 18th-century to fit the area we know today as Denmark. At that time the Danish King’s realm stretched southwards to include the Danish-German Duchy of Schleswig and the German Duchy of Holstein, and outwards to the Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland. To the north, the state of Norway was a province of the Danish kingdom from 1536 to 1814, with no royal court or nobility of its own and closely dependant on the cultural activities of Copenhagen.

It might be expected that, as a result, the country would be merely reactive to German fashion and changes – with the exception of a strong interest in congregational church music in the vernacular (the many Koralbog manuscripts extant bear witness to this constant in Danish musical life). In fact a closer examination shows a continuing determination not to be a backwater; early initiatives in music publishing, many academic and cultural societies, flourishing performances both in civic and court circles and an openness of access to musical instruction and critical thought indicate a dynamism that is usually overlooked by mainstream histories that plot music of the 18th-century on a Vienna-Berlin-Paris axis.

To map the territory in terms of “clavichord awareness” we first need to look at the presence of the instruments themselves, and the publication of ‘Klaveer’ methods and periodicals offering suitable music, before selecting a few composers to present in the context that has been created. As in all such surveys at this period, it is the printed material rather than the individual manuscripts, the listings of instruments 'then' rather than the chance survivors in museums 'now' that most influence the picture.


The clavichord had already permeated Danish society in the previous century. At the highest level we find Christian IV and his consort employing Melchior Schildt in 1626-7 to teach their children the clavichord.(1) Royal letters mention the need for replacement strings, and by 22 July 1632 they are searching for “a decent fellow who can play the clavichord or virginal, and who can wait upon the children…”(2)

At less elevated levels of society, a recent study of the probate accounts for town musicians in Denmark from 1618 to 1829, covering some 170 professional stadsmusikanter has revealed the statistics of clavichord ownership.(3) From the 170 musicians accounted for (both town musicians and organists) a total of 78 “claveer” are listed, (some “small”, some “old”, some “double” and 14 provided with pedal); the imaginative early spellings include “Clauff Kordium”, “Clacordium”, “Klaufcordtium” and “Covcordium” – even the mysterious “ClimCordium” and “Cemi Cordium” in 1625 – before settling to “clavichordium” and eventually “claveer” after 1700. Danish town musicians, unlike their colleagues in Germany, were responsible for the purchase of their own instruments, which may account for the very few harpsichords listed (a “Cymbal” in 1729, a spinet in 1739, and three entries for “Clavis Cymbal” or “Clausumbal” between 1761 and 1780). Even in the year this survey terminates, 1829, a “claveer” is recorded.

Another rich source of information on transactions in domestic instruments are the advertisements in the Adresseavisen;(4) the last advertisement to mention a clavichord, in 1842 (No. 223) states: “Et Klaveer eller simplet Fortepiano ønskes tilkjøbs” (A Clavier or simple Fortepiano wanted). Two adverts in 1834 (Nos. 218 an 224) offered a clavichord for sale, and both times it was described as being a suitable instrument for a beginner(5). The anonymity of these references is balanced by the fact that Constanze Mozart, who lived for ten years in Copenhagen with her second husband, Georg Nissen, wrote to her son Carl in Milan on 13 November 1810 that “My dear Nissen is having one of Stein’s [pianofortes] sent to me from Vienna, but it’ll probably be early next year before I get it, so in the meantime I’ll have to make do with a clavichord… “.(6) It is salutary to picture Constanze, twenty years after Mozart’s death, and the wife of an international diplomat, still playing the clavichord!

Of the extensive tablature and MS collections that are preserved in Denmark, it is important to note some of the most significant items, although it is largely the later, printed material which can better indicate the broader public preferences and changes of taste.

Three mid-17th century tablatures deserve mention for their international repertoire: the Obmaus Tablature (Ny kgl. Saml. 1997 fol), the tablature additions to the Voigtländer Oden und Lieder (mu 6703.2131/6) and the “Copenhagen Tablature” (Gl. kgl. Saml. 376 fol.).(7) All of these mix chorale settings and psalm tunes with embryo suites and dance movements, including some melodies familiar from English virginalists’ repertoire, and many French dances, with original fingering and ornamentation.

The French connection is even more marked in two later tablatures connected with the Copenhagen organist Johan Lorentz:(8) Berlin Deutsche Staatsbibliothek (Mus. ms. 40623) and University Library Uppsala (Ihre 284 and Ihre 285); the first of these, dated 1678, is described as Clavicordium Buch on its final page and contains music by Krieger, La Barre, Lorentz, Lully, Schop, Strie, Brolard and Manoir, again with fingering and ornamentation. The two MSS now in Uppsala were assembled by Thomas Nilsson Ihre while a university student in Copenhagen 1677-8, and, according to Jan Olof Rudén, reflect contemporary musical practice in Denmark.(9) From here it is a short step to the more familiar suites and variations of Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707), who left Denmark in 1688 after spending his childhood and youth in Elsinor and Helsingborg. Only one of his works is attributed to those early years, and since he published none of his keyboard music, we are dependent on what has survived in the Düben and Lübeck tablatures in particular. Mattheson’s 1739 mention of the (lost) seven suites “on the nature and quality of the planets” is specially intriguing.

Other miscellaneous Danish manuscript notebooks from 1688 to as late as 1820 are listed and analysed by Koudal,(10) and the incipits of many tablature items now preserved in Swedish collections are listed in Rudén.

Published sources

The range of didactic literature that was published during the eighteenth century shows that while German texts were available (and later also appeared in translation), Copenhagen saw the publication of the first Scandinavian music method by Carl August Thielo in 1746 and instructions on chorale playing (F.C. Breitendich 1766, 1776), and Norway produced the very individual scientific investigations of J.D.Berlin (1744, 1767) in addition to the expected texts aimed at beginners. Towards 1800 Danish translations appeared of German writings on singing, keyboard playing and tuning (Hiller, Türk, G.F. Wolf and Barthold Fritz). A summary chronological listing follows, plus a few comments:

1700 Friedrich Erhard Niedt:
Musicalische Handleitung oder: Grundlicher Unterricht. Vermittelst welchen ein Liebhaber der edlen Music in kurzer Zeit sich so weit perfectioniren kan, dass er nicht allein den General-Bass nach denen gesetzten deutlichen und wenigen Regeln fertig spielen, sondern auch folglich allerley Sachen selbst componiren und ein rechtschaffener Organist und Musicus heissen konne. Erster Theil: Handelt vom General-Bass, denselben schlechtweg zu spielen (Hamburg).

1706 Friedrich Erhard Niedt:
[Anderer Theil]: Handleitung zur Variation, wie man den General-Bass und daruber gesetzte Zahlen variiren, artige Inventiones machen, und aus einen schlechten General-Bass Praeludia, Ciaconen, Allemanden, Couranten, Sarabanden, Menueten, Giguen und dergleichen leichtlich verfertigen konne (Hamburg).

1708 Friedrich Erhard Niedt:
Musicalisches A, B, C (Hamburg).
Niedt lived in Copenhagen as an organist from 1700 until his death in 1708, though he was published from Hamburg; J.S. Bach, amongst others, borrowed from his General-bass method.

1744 Johan Daniel Berlin:
Musicaliske Elementer eller Anleedning til Forstand paa de første Ting udi Musiquen hvor udi den musicallske signatur saa ogsaa Applicaturen kort og tydeligen anført (Trondheim).
[The elements of music, or an introduction to the understanding of the basic principles of music, including musical notation as commonly used, also fingering, briefly and clearly set forth].

1746 Carl August Thielo:
Tanker og Regler fra Grunden af om Musiken, for dem som vil lære Musiken til Sindets Fornøjelse, Saa og for dem Som vil gjøre Fait af Claveer, General-Bassen, og Synge-Kunsten (Copenhagen). [Thoughts and rules on music providing an introduction for those who wish to learn music to delight the mind, as well as for those who wish to learn keyboard playing, thoroughbass and the art of singing]. See below for a survey of the contents of this publication.(11)

1753 Carl August Thielo:
Grund-Regeln wie man, beÿ weniger Information, sich selbst die Fundamenta der Music und des Claviers, lernen kan.

1766 F.C. Breitendich:
Et lidet Forsøg paa hvorvidt det er mueligt ved Hielp af dette og et Clavichordium at lære sig selv at synge en Choral efter Noder. (Copenhagen).
[A attempt to make possible by means of this and a Clavichord the teaching of oneself to sing a hymn using musical notation]

1767 Johan Daniel Berlin:
Anleitung zur Tonometrie, oder Wie man durch Hulfe der logarithm. Rechnung nach der geometrischen Progressionsrechnung die so gennante gleichschwebende musikalische Temperatur leicht und bald ausrechnen kann; nebst einem Unterrichte von dem 1753 erfundenem Monochordum (Copenhagen/Leipzig).
A Breitkopf edition appeared two years later. Berlin also includes a description of the monochord he invented and constructed in 1752.

1777 Niels Hansen:
Musikens første Grundsætninger anvendte paa Syngekonsten i Særdeleshed (Copenhagen).
[The fundamental rules of music, especially in relation to the art of singing]
It is interesting to note that, according to Schiørring, six copies of this tutor (a reworking of Johann Adam Hiller’s Anweisung zur Singekunst from 1773) survived up to the 20th century in six copies in the library of Helsingor Latin School, “evidence of their continued use in theoretical education for well over a century”.(12)

1782 Lorents Nicolaj Berg:
Den første Prøve for Begyndere udi Instrumental-Kunsten… (Christiansand).
[First lessons for beginners in the Art of Instrumental playing]
A Norwegian method.(13)

1791 Anon:
Grundregler for Theorien af Musiken i Almindelighed, og en praktisk Anvendelse for Klaveret i Særdeleshed (Copenhagen).
[Fundamental rules for the theory of music in general, and in relation to the clavier in particular]
The author of this anonymous work was identified by Gerber as Johan Christoph Kleen ; the volume offers instruction on keyboard playing (including the use of Bebung which is illustrated but not so named on p. 40) and also distinguishes between staccato dots and dashes.

[1791] S. Sønnischen:
Kort Klaverskole og 6 lette stykker for Begyndere (Copenhagen).
[Short piano manual and 6 easy pjeces for beginners]
Later editions appeared in 1807, 1812, 1818

1800 J. Fr. Bergsøe:
Claveerskole eller Anviisining til at spille paa Claveer. Et Udtog af Dan. Gottl.Türks større Claveerskole me nogle hist og her i den theoretiske Deel tilføjede Tillæg (Copenhagen).
[Clavier method, or how to play the Clavier. Extracts from Dan.
Gottl. Türk’s larger clavier method with a number of additions hereand there in the theoretical part]
Türk’s Klavierschule had appeared in 1789, with a later edition in 1818.

1801 T. Møller:
Kortfattet Musikalsk Lexikon, sammendraget af Georg Friedrich Wolf, fordansket efter det andet, forbedrede og forøgede Oplag ved T. Møller] (Copenhagen).
[A short music dictionary, compiled by Georg Friedrich Wolf, translated from the second, revised edition by T. Møller]
Translation of G.F. Wolf, with entries for “Bæven” (= Bebung), “Klaveer eller Klavichord” (he suggests starting on the clavichord before proceding to other keyboards, with Bach’s Versuch and Türk’s Klavierschule as the recommended texts) and “Portamento” (= Tragen).

1802 J. Fr. Bergsøe:
Generalbasskole eller kort Anviisning til at spille Generalbas. Uddraget af Türks, Kirnbergers og andre Theoretikeres Skrifter (Copenhagen).
[Thoroughbass manual or a short introduction to playing thoroughbass. Extracts from Türk, Kirnberger and other authors].

1829 H.C. Lund (trans.):
Anviisning til paa en mekanisk Maade at stemme Klaverer, Fortepianoer og Orgeler fuldkommen rene og i alle tolv Tonearter [Copenhagen].
[How to mechanically tune the clavichord, the forte-piano and the organ perfectly and in all twelve keys]
Translation of Barthold Fritz’s Anweisung, wie man Claviere, Clavecins und Orgeln, … stimmen könne of 1756.

Of these many sources, it is particularly useful for the clavichordist to take a closer look at Carl August Thiolo and his Tanker og Regler from 1746.

Thielo was born in Copenhagen, in 1707, a son of one of the town organists, but from the age of eight until twelve he was sent to study keyboard and thoroughbass playing in Germany, and became a pupil of J.G. Walther in Weimar. He returned to Copenhagen in 1726 as a music teacher and organist, and later formed an association with the dramatist Ludvig Holberg, wrote for the theatre and produced music periodicals and even novels.

Thielo explains that in 1746 he was asked by “Det musikalaske Societet” the Musical Society) – one of the many cultural societies that had been established to counteract the recent lack of theatre life in that pietistic period – to publish a “musical companion” with instruction specifically in Danish. The brief of the Society was “to bring Music to flower amongst our countrymen and to provide the public as well as the society itself with an innocent pastime”, primarily through concerts but also through the advancement of musical instruction.

The volume is typeset, but to keep the cost down the author himself cut the music examples in wood, with, as John Bergsagel puts it, “very modest results”. This, “the first book about music in Danish to be published in Copenhagen, provides in addition to its practical information a lively picture of the Copenhagen musical scene in the mid-18th century.”(14)

The contents listing of the first part confirms that Thielo is addressing social as well as technical considerations, and that he is aiming at the professional teacher as well as the enthusiastic amateur listener:

Chap. 1: Music’s origin and progress to the present day, including the music of [King] David
Chap. 2: The necessity of having music at all levels of society
Chap. 3 : Contempt for, and misuse of, music
Chap. 4 : How to improve your status in society with music
Chap. 5 : What a clavier teacher must understand
Chap. 6 : The neccessary qualities of one who would learn music and how the information can most advantageously be organized(15)

The five chapters of the second part (pp. 16-34) cover technicalities – notation, rhythm and tempo, fingering (Applicatio), ornamentation and practical exercises. In the third part (pp. 35-58) he deals with harmony under the heading of General-bass, the fourth part (pp. 59-72) “gives instruction in the art of singing and teaches pronunciation of the Italian language”,16 and pages 73-86 contain “a Musical Lexicon of the musical words, instruments and forms of composition in current use. Also how one can learn to tune a Clavier”.(17)

Thielo writes from considerable experience of the local musical life (he begins by pointing out that he is writing in “the twentieth year since I came to Denmark”),(18) and engages with all areas where music is to be found – including “music in the royal household, opera, music to encourage the army, and also music for the student”, where, he says “it is almost as important as books, because when the brain of the student is exhausted then it will be refreshed by music; if, instead of books he can take up an instrument and play, this will refresh and cheer his spirits and encourage him to read” (p.7).19 He criticises the misuse of music largely on grounds of inappropriateness, the playing of sacred music in secular surrounds, and vice versa (pp.8-9). He also emphasises that, even for an amateur, music makes intellectual as well as sensual demands: “A composer must have learned science (in this context consider Graun, Handel, Scheibe, and Heinchen) and must be a good orator; a good composer through his music must be able to able to arouse Affect like an orator. For this purpose rules are neccessary – but where can you learn them? Since you have not had the opportunity to use your early years for such studies, read the Royal Cappellmeister Scheibe’s Critica Musica; this learned man’s eloquence can better and more clearly cover the issue…” (p. 10).(20)

Social advice on refined behaviour in musical company follows: “When an opportunity arises in any gathering to enjoy a musical master performing on his instrument, it is impolite to continue talking or making any other noise. If you disturb the peace and quiet, either by walking about or coughing or beating out of time, then any master will be disinclined to go on playing and feel distracted from what he is otherwise so good at doing: and so his imagination becomes constrained and his inspiration refuses to flow” (p. 11).(21)

Much of the volume is devoted to basic instruction, with a scheme of tuition which Thielo recommends for both teachers and pupils (p. 15). and finding the right notes on the keyboard. Then in the second month one learns to ‘spell’, namely to play two parts together (with both hands) and thereby find the necessary fingering. “During the third month these skills should show some improvement, and this is when one starts learning the more essential ornaments. Thus in the fourth, fifth and sixth months one can learn many lighter pieces and the various metres and can after six months have come so far that the student is no longer obliged to watch his fingers but looks only at the notes and he can then be ready to learn General-bass. And at the same time he can start to learn galanterie pieces. When learning General-bass, the scholar should be very careful to pay attention to the key and the modes, even though it takes time and care, since you have to know this in advance, before you can go on. “The scholar will be well advised to ask for written down rules from his teacher to study at home, since with so many hundreds of rules they cannot be remembered by word of mouth alone, because they will as quickly be forgotten. “Some teachers direct students to [use] the French [violin] clef which has one real advantage that both hands use the same system – the right hand has G on the bottom line, and in the bass is equally a G on the bottom line. But the French sign has its difficulties also because one is constantly required to add below the bottom line two leger lines to indicate notes such as F, E, D# … But so little music is actually written using this clef that the student is obliged to transpose pieces, and yet if you ask in Denmark why they are teaching students to use this clef they declare it is the easiest” (p. 14 bis, recte 16). Thielo recommends starting with C [soprano] clef, although “the violin clef, where the second line is G, some people consider even better, since it is also already used to notate much keyboard music; in addition because if you want to proceed to the flute or violin after learning the keyboard, you would already know the necessary clef for those instruments as well.”

On Applicatio, or fingering, he advocates use of the thumb in the modern manner: “When the student begins to play the clavier he must get used to holding his fingers rather more bent than stretched out. Note that above all, the thumb must be held close to the index finger, in the course of playing mostly under the index finger. The thumb may well come to be used in playing and not (as some antiquated players teach) to play with the four fingers without the thumb”.

Before the section on ornaments and Manieren Thielo gives recommendations on fingering and explanations of interest to all keyboard players; it is clear that these are aimed at the clavichord player in particular: “The Trill, as far as possible should be played with the third and fourth fingers (counting the thumb as 1), but when 3 and 4 are not convenient then use 2 and 3.(22) “The Vorschlag is again an ornament which all fingers of the right hand should practice. “When several notes are struck at once then all fingers should be equally strong so that each tone can be clearly heard [i.e. this implies a touch-sensitive instrument]. All running notes should be struck evenly and equally.

“When one plays [scales] with the right hand ascending or descending, then the following fingers are used (in the right hand the thumb is 1); 1234 1234. Some practise crossing the fingers, for example a 3 crossing over 4 when going up, which is awkward. Nevertheless it can be done, but with the reservation that it is usually done with semitones, because of the shorter [keys for the] half notes, since one can’t use the thumb there.

“It is impossible to give examples of all the places that will occur otherwise this chapter would be much too long… you should not however consider it a lapse on my part if I simply give you this general rule – Consider first the piece you are going to play and when you have studied it, so chose the fingering with which you can manage it without difficulty”.

The following comments on ornaments have been rearranged from Thielo’s rather discursive descriptions, to bring all references to one ornament together.

“The trill is a very well-known ornament and it is performed as follows: you take a note and the adjacent one, a whole or half tone above depending on the tonality you are dealing with, and play these two keys quickly, the one after the other. A number of students do it well enough, but others do it too slowly which one must practise since a good trill is very pretty. It consists of major second, and a trilletto (as the Italians call it) uses a minor second”. Later, in the section devoted to singing (p. 67) Thielo incorrectly describes a trill with a minor (“small”) second as a tremuletto (recte trilletto), and explains that “the trill with major second sounds sharper, the trilletto with the minor second sounds milder and more gentle”.
“For the Vorschlag or Accent: you touch the note a half or whole tone above or below, depending on the key, quickly before you strike the main note. Usually this note lying above or below is played very legato.

A Vorschlag from above can be used when there are two or three repeated notes,
or as a sliding accent, where you hold the B natural longer than the C:
A Vorschlag is always done after the trill at a cadence [i.e.= anticipation]:

The Slide is made from a third above or below and played quickly upwards or downwards towards the main note so that the main note holds its accent and force. A Slide thus consists of a third…

A Slide is used when the melody has intervals of a third or more, either rising or falling:

The Mordent is best illustrated with notes as in the example given here, where the accent is on the last note:

A Mordent is also done in this way:

A Mordent is indicated with m over the note.

A Mordent is mainly used on the first note of the bar

It is also used when many repeated notes follow each other; then you find this expected [as in the example above, Thielo seems to interpret a turn or gruppetto as an appogiatura attached to a mordent]:

A Trill is abbreviated as “tr”, a trilletto as “t.”

A Trill may be used … on the second half of a tied note, or often four trills one after another:

Passagi are ‘transitions’ or quick runs, and occur both step-wise or jump-wise, either ascending or descending:

Passagi are used in the course of slow pieces with jumps. If you want to use these ornaments observe this essential rule – Note well the required sharps or flats; learn to note the key carefully, so that one uses these ornaments correctly and do not mix up the notes and by mistake play C for C# etc.

Tremuletto is a vibrato or Bebung [Bevning], and therefore it is to be included among the ornaments. It sounds decorative when it occurs in the right place and in such pieces as offer something sad or melancholy or moving; but in cheerful and humorous pieces it is better to use another ornament. This vibrating [Bevægning] (in Italian called Tremuletto), is done in the following manner: you depress the key firmly, then let the finger on the note that is being held gently waver, so that the string of the held note is alternately pressed harder and softer, at the same time taking care not to press the string so hard that it breaks.

Some keyboard players cannot touch a key on the clavier without a bad habit of having to press it so that the most cheerful pieces sound like laments [“lamentabile”]. Many organists use this touch also on the organ from habit, but pointlessly, since the organ sounds no better for it.

On the clavicembalo this device is of no use, but only on the wellsounding clavier and then only when well done. Many claviers do not allow their tone to produce a vibrato or tremulo, not even if one treads on them with one’s feet.(23)

One school of thought amongst clavier players holds that whenever you play a note without adding an ornament you commit a terrible crime, and they thus ruin the entire line by adding ornaments so excessively, one can hardly recognise the melody of the piece. One would be pleased if they used their ornamental skills in the right places, but where a trill should be played, there they play a Mordent, and instead of a Vorschlag or Accent they play a slide, and they shake the tones (specially with Tremuletti) so pathetically that one would imagine one was hearing the echo of a half-starving pack of wolves in coldest winter; nevertheless Mon Maitre plays incomparably! For my part, howl as loud as you like, but do not impose it indiscriminately on others. As the scholars say: “Ulula cum lupis cum quibus esse cupis” [howl with the wolves if you want to join them].

Well-applied ornaments decorate a piece, and are just as essential there as spices are in food. There can be more and even fancier ornaments especially when a singer or instrumentalist ends a movement with a Cadenze (cadence or cadenza), but these I must discuss elsewhere, because for this a proficient and thorough knowledge of General- bass (harmony) is essential”.

In the concluding Lexicon, Thielo presents some useful definitions for the clavichord player, as well as some rather surprising misconceptions: the Clavichordium(24) or Clavier is “an instrument with metal strings, very perfect, and the best on which to learn the elements of music”, while the Spinet is, surprisingly, “a musical instrument with tangents; this instrument is no longer in use and instruments of this type are no longer made.” This is possibly explained by his double definition of tangents as “plectra on harpsichords, used to create the sound, but in claviers a piece of brass which touches the strings”. He also covers terms such as “Bundfry”, “Cembalo” (“a long musical instrument in the form of a wing, and is played like a Clavier”), and repeats the definitions given above for Tremuletto, Trillo and Trilletto.

Thielo’s German instruction volume, Grund-Regeln (see the list above) came out seven years later than the Tanker og Regler, in 1753 (the same year that C.P.E. Bach published the first edition of his Versuch). It is far from being a translation of the Danish volume, as often stated, although it covers the same territory. Grund=Regeln wie man, beÿ weniger Information, sich selbst die Fundamenta der Music und des Claviers, lernen Kan contains additional and corroborative information which can be added to the comments already selected from the earlier volume; the musical examples are more extensive, and also better engraved. After again recommending the clavichord as the ideal introduction to other keyboard types (“A beginner should first practise on the clavichords, because if he should start playing on the spinet, or harpsichord or positive organ which are harder to play, he would become used to a rough and hard manner of playing”, p. 32),25 Thielo adds to his comments on ornaments [p. 51] (the Trillo is done in the left hand with the thumb and second finger, for example), reiterates that the Trillo covers a whole tone, the Trilletto a semitone, and adds that when using Bebung the player should vibrate until the note ends.(26) Again he points out that it cannot be done on a bad clavichord, “nor on organs and other instruments” (p. 55). Most usefully he includes two musical examples at this point, the first to indicate where Bebung should be applied to a melodic line and the second to show a suitable application of all the ornaments he has discussed, including vibrato (p.63); in each case he indicates Bebung with a small “b” above the note.


Just as a study of the first Scandinavian music periodical, the Swedish Musikaliskt Tidsfördrif, gives an indication of the parameters of public taste over nearly thirty years in Stockholm (1789-1823),27 a similar overview can be achieved from a summary of the leading Copenhagen periodicals for the Danish musical public. The major publisher was Søren Sønnischen, who was already active in 1789, when he published the continuation of Cramer’s Magazin der Musik (Hamburg, 1783-6) in Copenhagen under the simple title of Musik; it survived one year, from 1789 to 1790. More lasting was his answer to Musikaliskt Tidsfördrif, titled Apollo, which ran from 1795 to 1808. Other periodicals of interest to the clavier player from various publishers were Eunomia (1803-1810), intended for “harp or clavier”, Nordens Apollo (1804, edited by Philip Barth, and from 1805-9 by Claus Nielsen Schall), followed by Nye Apollo, which ran from 1814-1827, but after 1818 added “et Maaneds Skrift for Pianoforte” to its title, and Polyhymnnia (c 1806- 10) issued by F.L.Ae. Kunzen, and containing few keyboard pieces, and these mostly arrangements (marches, polonoises) from Kunzen’s stage works. Of these publications, Apollo, subtitled Et musikalsk Maanedsskrivt for Sang og Klaveer af forskiellige Componister. and, to a lesser extent, Nordens Apollo are of most interest to the solo keyboard player. In an advance advertisement of 4 March 1795 the publisher of Apollo praises first the vocal pieces and choice of poetry he will be offering in his periodical, then the keyboard music including both “easy and difficult [lette og svaere] Sonatas, Fantasies, Galanterie-pieces, plus airs with variations and arrangements of overtures from operas”. Out of 129 works for Clavier, one finds 22 sonatas or sonatinas, 26 sets of variations, 25 rondos, 26 separate dances and marches, four “tone-paintings” (these include rudimentary battle pieces) and 24 miscellaneous movements (chaconne, divertissement, pastorale, etc.).28 Other periodicals from this period either contain nothing but vocal numbers or are specifically addressed to the “Pianoforte” rather than “Klaveer” in their titles.

Like Musikaliskt Tidsfördrif, Apollo demonstrates the same nice balance between local and international composers, with a similar preference for arrangements over original works, sonatas and theme and variations winning; we note the usual 18th-century delight in arrangements of overtures, which rarely make very effective keyboard solos, but no doubt added an air of expectancy to a musical evening. The larger format and engraving of Apollo was certainly more spacious and impressive than Musikaliskt Tidsfördrif, and also less easily portable.(29) For a summary of the solo keyboard contents of the first four parts, see Appendix I.

Søren Sønnischen’s other output as a music publisher from 1784-1818 can be seen in the catalogues reconstructed by Dan Fog,(30) but apart from the Kort Klaverskole (1791 and later editions), and a four-volume series of Lette Sonater from 1788-1811, he otherwise published little original keyboard music.

Advertisements from the other Copenhagen music dealers indicate that there was little time-lag between the appearance of the most important German publications for clavier and their being available in Denmark. Friedrich Christian Pelt’s catalogue(31) (1784-6) lists the printed music holdings of the firm, with over 40 items for “clavecin eller fortepiano” and 59 for “sang med klaver”.(32) Amongst them we find a wide range of German publications for solo clavier including major collections of C.P.E. Bach, Georg Benda, Doles, Forkel, Hässler, Haydn, Kirnberger, Löhlein, Podbielski, Reichardt, Rosenbaum, Seydelmann, Türk, and E.W. Wolf. (Interestingly, the only Mozart listed is Leopold, with his Violinschule.)


At this point it might help to itemise alphabetically a few of the composers who were more closely associated with Denmark and whose works have been overshadowed by the compositions that originated from Berlin, Leipzig and Vienna. The influence of C.P.E. Bach and his circle can immediately be deduced, but also a more eclectic parentage (Benda, Haydn, the writings of Kirnberger and Marpurg, and even early signs of an antiquarian enthusiasm for J.S. Bach) plus an increasing interest in things Nordic (even the title of Nordens Apollo hints at a movement that was already gathering strength in Scandinavia).

Johan Daniel Berlin (1714-87) was Norwegian born, went to Copenhagen for study in 1730 and returned to Trondheim in 1737. He wrote on many subjects in addition to music (including meteorology and astronomy), arranged concerts, composed, and built instruments. (He was also for many years the head of the city fire-service and inspector of the city waterworks.) One of his instrumental inventions was a mechanism (now lost) which produced a touch sensitive version of his Hass harpsichord. In addition to his two treatises listed above, his keyboard works consist of Musicalisches Divertissement … nach modernen Gusto für das Clavier gesetzen Sonatina (published in Augsburg 1751), an Allegro in D major, an Aria in C major and eight minuets.

His son Johann Heinrich [Henrik] Berlin (1741-1807) left a Sonatina and a Sonata, both in B flat, a set of six variations, two minuets and two polonaises. For the works of both these composers see The Music of the Berlin Family in Trondheim, Norway.(33) Erich Ove Friling (c. 1772-1835) was born in Norway, but is first found listed as a music dealer in Copenhagen in 1799, offering “good music for Claveer” by Mozart, Hoffmeister and Pleyel; he also acquired a license to hire and sell musical instruments. In 1810 he offered for hire “A good Fortepiano and a contra F. Clavier”.(34) After a business trip in the same year he announced himself as returned and “now begin my teaching again on Claveer or Fortepiano”,(35) and as late as 1813 he offers “a very good Fortepiano by a famous foreign master and a ditto Claveer for sale”.(36) Of his compositions, the earlier examples include a mention of Claveer alongside Fortepiano, including Caracteristiske Stykker for Fortepiano eller Klaveer (Characteristic Pieces for Fortepiano or Clavier [1812]), Tolv Variationer paa det bekiendte Thema: Ach! du lieber Augustin for Fortepiano eller Klaveer (Twelve variations on the wellknown tune: Ach! Du lieber Augustin for Pianoforte or Clavier), and Slaget ved Wagram. Et musikalsk Malerie for Fortepiano eller Klaveer (A Musical Painting for Fortepiano or Clavier), a battle piece of little sophistication advertised in 1809. Johann Foltmar (c. 1714-1794) in his VI Morquien ganz neue und auserlesen…singmäßig eingerichtet vors Clavier… (Schmid, Nürnberg c1775) gives the option of adding a flute or violin to the melodic line, and also adds a table of ornaments with several unusual items, including an abbreviation for Bebung; however, the sign occurs only twice in the pieces, once on a long note with prefix, and once on a semi-quaver!

Christian Franz Severin Hägemann (c. 1724-1812) is an example of a German musician working in the court of Duke Friedrich Carl of Schleswig-Holstein-Plön who, when the Duchy of Plön fell to Denmark in 1761, found himself incorporated into the court orchestra at Copenhagen. The manuscript of his Clavier Versuche in sechs Sonaten (1777) survives in the Eutin Landesbibliothek (MS Mh 17), but there is no trace of the twelve keyboard sonatas (in two manuscript volumes, 1782) mentioned by Gerber(37).

In the 1777 sonatas the second movements (all Largo) are musically the most enterprising and expressive, though throughout the set the writing is right-hand dominated. The prescribed dynamics (not only “p” and “f” but “pp” and “f. mezo”) indicate the clavichord, but there is no technical gradation in the pieces and no hint of a “pedagogic method”.

Adolph Carl Kunzen (1720-81) was described by Johann Wilhelm Hertel as ”a fine and accurate clavichord player … even though not in the Bach style, yet still in a good manner … and even more pleasing on the harpsichord and clavichord than on the organ”.38 His XII Sonatas for the Harpsichord…Opera Prima were published in London in 1759 and a further six sonatas are found in manuscript in the Brussels Conservatoire (cat. 6125). In the Royal Library Copenhagen are 3 Chorale fürs Clavier gesetzet… Erste Sammlung with forte and piano indications (MS mu 6506.0934), and a Sonata in C# minor (autograph (?), mu 6504.0730) with lavish dynamic markings (f, ten, fz, poco f., ff, sf, cresc, pp) which might be equally at home on the fortepiano.(39)

His son Friedrich Ludwig Aemilius Kunzen (1761-1817) was an associate of C.F. Cramer and J.A.P. Schulz, and later collaborated with Reichardt in editing the journal Musikalisches Wochenblatt (1791-2) and Musikalische Monatsschrift (1792). His keyboard works survive in contemporary anthologies such as Musikalsk Nyeaarsgave for det smukke Kiøn (A Musical New Year Gift for the Fair Sex, 1798) – several sets of variations, sequences of minuets, and a very fetching Poco Adagio and Vivace in Book 1, all with full expressive dynamic markings. In the preface to his Weisen und Lyrische Gesänge (1788) he states that he wants his songs sung as written, without any of the fashionable additions of trills and embellishments, which suggests that this was exceptional for the period.

Johann Gottfried Wilhelm Palschau (1741-1815) was published by the enterprising Johann Haffner of Nurnberg in his serial Oeuvres melees (VI/6 and VII/4). He studied with Müthel in Riga after having toured internationally at the age of nine, playing “with great accuracy many of the most difficult compositions that have ever been written for keyed instruments, particularly some lessons and double fugues by Sebastian Bach”, as reported in London in 1779.(40) When C.P.E. Bach heard him, he was less complimentary, according to a letter of Matthias Claudius (4 November 1768): “Palachau, said Bach, plays my pieces badly, although his finger technique is beyond improvement, and he plays pieces that are much more difficult than mine; but when he was with me I always asked him to play pieces by my father where you only had to hit the right notes”.(41) Like Hässler, Palschau eventually found his way to Russia, where he also contributed variations to Suite des Airs Russes pour le clavecin ou Pianoforte par diverses auteurs, published in St Petersburg between 1795 and 1800 and an Air varié a quatre mains pour le Clavecin ou Piano Forte… which claimed to be his Op. 1.

Johann Adolf Scheibe (1708-76) was another Copenhagen-born musician, and director of the royal chapel from 1740 to 1748, though now mostly remembered for his hotly-argued critiques of J.S. Bach. It is a reminder of the rural activity in Denmark that many of his manuscripts, including several keyboard sonatas, were found in the private library of Aalholm Manor on the island of Falster, collected by the music loving Count Otto Ludvig Raben in the latter half of the 18th century and rediscovered in the 1990s (now held in the Royal Library), while two others were published by Haffner in Oeuvres melees (III/6 and IV/5). He was recommended as a theorist by Thielo (see below).

Johann Abraham Peter Schulz (1747-1800) studied with Kirnberger, but apparently not with C.P.E. Bach. He became a friend of Reichardt, met Grétry and Haydn, and worked on J.G. Sulzer’s encyclopedia Allgemeine Theorie der schonen Kunste from 1771-74. (Schulz wrote all the music articles from S to Z as well as assisting with and editing several others).

He was employed in Copenhagen as Hofkapellmeister and director of the Royal Theatre (1787-95), and was the teacher of Weyse, Denmark’s first virtuoso pianist/composer (see below). Schulz left a small number of excellent and idiosyncratically varied keyboard works, of which the Six diverses pièces pour le Clavecin ou le Piano Forte… Oeuvre Premier (Berlin and Amsterdam, 1776) are perhaps the most original – and certainly one of the earliest publications to make mention of the fortepiano on the title-page.(42)

The six pieces are in deliberately mixed and challenging styles, and with an apparently arbitrary key-sequence (a, A, E, G, a, g); the opening Prelude in the manner of a two-part invention constitutes a long tribute to the Baroque (an amalgam of the J.S. Bach Duetti and the English Suites springs to mind), while the Andante (IV) offers such endless Alberti figuration that, with repeats taken into consideration, it must set a record for persistence in this pattern. The Larghetto con Variazioni (VI) opts for the extremes of Empfindsamkeit, with further ‘compliments’ to C.P.E. Bach in the form of varied reprises and a penultimate variation that dissolves into figuration in the manner of a Bach fantasy. One unsolved enigma is Schulz’s use of cryptogrammatic inscriptions (G.B***, L.B***, W.S**) at the head of certain pieces. Are these tributes or dedications, and are the works intended as pièces characteristiques?

The Sonata per il Clavicembalo Solo… Opera Seconda (Berlin, 1778) is, despite its title, more pianistic than Op. 1, but includes an intriguing table of ornaments (Spiegazione dei segni) showing both short and long trills starting on the written note.

In addition we find a Sonatina pour le clavecin ou piano-forte [G] in Lette Sonater og Smaa Haandstykker for Klaveret, af forskiellige Mestere. 2det Stykke (Easy sonatas and small pieces for the Clavier by various masters,1790), and several small pieces in anthologies, together with songs “beym Clavier” that make excellent keyboard solos, together with a Largo for the fashionable glass harmonica.

Israel Gottlieb Wernicke (1755-1836), the son of the organist of Bergen Cathedral, was famed for playing the music of J.S. Bach, and studied with Kirnberger (his translation of Die Kunst des reinen Satzes(43) into Danish was lost in the palace fire of 1794). From 1782-1784 he was Hofkapellmeister in Copenhagen (unsuccessfully, since he was opposed to new music), and teacher of the Norwegian organist and music pedagogue Ole Andreas Lindeman (1769-1857). He described Haydn as a joker and charlatan, and Mozart as “a mere naturalist, an incoherent and dirty smearer”.(44) He was understandably fired and went to Kolding. His Arietta con 50 variazioni: per il clavicembalo (based on the folksong “Gestern Abend war Vetter Michael da”)(45) is patently modelled on the Goldberg Variations, with canons, double and triple counterpoint and even pizzicato chords in the final Marcia: Grave, marked “ten” below and “pizz” above (with the note “Istedendfor pizzicato for Klaveret brukes pedalen for piano-forte” – instead of pizzicato on the Clavier use the pedal on the pianoforte) i.e. brushed chords, as in F.W. Rust. “Tasto” is used as the indication to cancel this instruction. In recommendation of these variations, Wernicke (via an advertisment issued by his pupil Ole Lindeman) claimed that “this work is so organized, that both hands may practisein exactly the same way, so that no one who uses the work properly can complain of an under-developed left-hand” (Adresseavisen, May 1797).(46)

Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse, (1774-1842) owned a Hass clavichord of 1761,(47) and is described as “offenbar ein später Verehrer des Clavichords”.(48) He became a pupil of Schulz, on Cramer’s advice, after failing to persuade C.P.E. Bach to teach him, and in 1791 took organ lessons from H.O.C. Zinck; by his own account he “played at first the harpsichord and clavichord and only after many years of practice acquired the touch needed for the Hammerklavier.” He mentions J.S. Bach, Handel, C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Gluck and Schulz as composers he “honours highly” (influences evident in his early music), and while claiming that he was bored by most theoretical writers such as Fux and Kirnberger, he does admit that C.P.E. Bach’s Versuch interested him: ”I leafed through it with considerable attention, and new to me in particular was the chapter on Manieren, most of which I copied”.(49) See especially the volume of the Collected Piano Works(50) where many of the MS pieces from his earlier years are published for the first time; in particular a deliberately archaic Allegro (possibly mirroring Schulz’s opening tribute in his Six diverses pieces mentioned above), several short fugues, and an extended Fantasia in D very closely modelled on the Kenner und Liebhaber examples of C.P.E. Bach. The four earliest sonatas (Eb, A, F and C) were also probably intended for the clavichord, and would provide an attractive counter-foil to C.P.E. Bach and Haydn in recital.

Hardenack Otto Conrad Zinck (1746-1832) was a long-lived German-trained composer, taught by C.P.E. Bach, who in 1777 was recruited as first flautist and chamber musician in the court in Schwerin. In August 1786 he visited Copenhagen, where he gave a highly successful concert, and a year later took the post of Singmeister (first accompanist) in the Kongelige Kapel (where Schulz was the Hofkapellmeister); he later also became organist at the Vor Frelsers Kirke in Copenhagen (1789-1801). His four volumes of Compositioner for Sangen og Claveret / Compositionen fur den Gesang und das Clavier (1791-1793) contain lieder with German and Danish texts, as well as sonatas and variations for keyboard, but it was the earlier set of Sechs Clavier-Sonaten, published in 1783, three years before he settled in Copenhagen, that received widespread encouragement from contemporary critics (and a substantial subscription list of over 300 names, including Carl, Ernst and Friedrich Benda, Fasch, Hässler, Kunzen, Marpurg, Reichardt, Rust, Türk and E.W. Wolf).

The Hamburgischer Correspondent, 18 November 1783, for example, acknowledges the correctness of Zinck’s set and finds the sixth sonata “the most original”, though the others do not lack for “his own turns of phrase and original expression”.(51)

C.F. Cramer writing in his Magazin der Musik (1783, col. 1259ff) placed them amongst the best sonatas of their period, noting that they “can certainly be spoken of in the same breath as the best by Hässler, Türk and others. Their interesting melodic style, highly developed turns of phrase, great diversity of musical ideas unified into one great sonata-style far removed from the routine, and finally, very descriptive tone-painting, elevate them and make them worthy of the approval of connoisseurs”. To back his personal feelings for these sonatas, Cramer quotes a letter from Schulz “in which he speaks of them with all the enthusiasm that Herr Zinck’s work deserves, and through which I became twice as fond of this artist whose theoretical gifts are as great as his practical ones”.

The debt to C.P.E. Bach is also presented in a positive light: “One can see very easily in whose spirit they were conceived. Those familiar with Bach’s works will notice in various places a thorough study of this master, and as proof one need only highlight the whole treatment of the Rondo on page 10 [Sonata II], the transition into the Andante of the third sonata, and various modulations within it, also some passages in the Minuetto con espressione as well as various other ingenious devices of modulation, modification of tempo and melodic figures etc. But I am very far removed from making this observation as a criticism of Herr Zinck’s achievements. There is nothing which anyone who imitates as he does deserves less than to be called a copyist; he does not belong to the common herd, but only follows in these footsteps as he himself follows in the footsteps of nature; and even if Herr Zinck did not posses as many individual qualities as is actually the case (I would cite as proof the Allegro of Sonata II), he would be entitled to apply to himself what Klopstock says of Horace, who undoubtedly, as a poet, produced succesful recreations of far more Greek material than this man, as a composer, has done of Bach’s… Should it not rejoice to the core the heart of this worthy man [Bach] to see so many examples (after Hässler this is the second striking one) of the extent to which the superior part of his artistic contemporaries attempt to emulate him, and how much his immortal work acts both as a banner and as a standard marking the road to glory for composers of sonatas.

From the very well written preface it becomes abundantly clear that Herr Zinck is anything but a workaday, mechanical musician, but rather someone who thinks about his art, and who knows to achieve great aims not by blind groping but by planning them with care. I shall quote it in full, because it provides the true point of view from which the sonatas are to be considered, and at the same time welcome information about the life and education of the composer. I at least am sufficiently interested by the individual who has given me happy hours of pleasure to want to know rather more about him than simply what he is called; and I do not believe that anyone will interpret this as vanity on Herr Zinck’s part or will fail to recognise within it the outpouring of a heart filled with gratitude for others. I need not repeat, after expressing my views so many times in this magazine, to what extent I am in full agreement with him concerning theoretical ideas of what instrumental music should aim to achieve in respect of characteristic and living expression, and so rarely does. It is simply a pleasure for me to be able to congratulate him on not contenting himself with the knowledge of it, but actually bringing it to fruition.

[Here follows the text of Zinck’s Preface, which is translated at the end of this essay, p. 138]

Now a few more detailed remarks about these sonatas. There are six of them, a number which, like the five acts of a tragedy, has become established as almost the norm for such a collection; all based on very different models, and not one which is not better than mediocre. The Allegro of the first, in which the introduction at the end of the second page is especially distinguished, is followed by a short Grazioso of the most lovely, flowing melody. It truly overflows with joy. How delicately he restrains the melody in bars 5 and 21. The only thing which stands out is the B in bar 10, which, it seems to me, would sound better as an A, and is perhaps nothing more than a printing mistake. Thereafter comes a very jolly Presto in 12/8.

I am almost tempted to rank the second sonata above all the others. The way the notes race and chase after each other in the Allegro is exquisite! The characteristic, recurring fall of a seventh in the melody, and the entirely appropriate, joyful trill! One could listen again and again to the Cantabile e sostenuto, which constitutes the second movement, and it is a piece which tests a player’s musicality. Every note of it has melody, nobility, meaning, and the sentiment which characterises it is considerably sweeter than that of the preceding Grazioso.

The closing rondo is good and worthy, and accomplished with Bachian colour and modulation.

The third sonata is most striking and very original; the Allegro expresses the obstinacy of the composer, and melts into an Andante in the sentimental style; a true dialogue-piece, which leaves an indelible mark on one’s memory. It closes with a lively Scherzando e Presto.

The first part of the fourth sonata is in a style which one rarely encounters in sonatas, legato throughout, and it brings great deal of honour to its composer. Like a long earthworm, wriggling to the end, but a torment for the fingers with awkward stretches. It expresses excellently the permanent emotional turmoil gnawing at the bileladen soul of a man, who cannot rid himself of his melancholy. The Andantino e Grazioso, also very fine in its melody and expression, is placed immediately after the second Cantabile, to which it is similar in atmosphere. The Minuetto which follows impressed me the least of the whole collection, although it is far from ordinary.

The Allegro con Brio of the fifth sonata should earn the loudest applause of music lovers; it has, like the Allegro of the second sonata, something flowingly brilliant, and is accompanied by the longest and most singable Adagio in the collection, in which Herr Zinck has shown how it is possible to use a harp-bass [Alberti bass] of broken chords with novelty and manly sweetness. I have the warmest of feelings towards the last rondo, a rather mischievous creation, full of the oddest whims, nonsense and wit; Haydn himself could be proud to have written it.

Finally the last sonata, about which Herr Zinck talks at length in his preface, is in his great, characteristic wild style. Everything is in place here, even the affected harmonic and melodic writing in the Adagio, which would not in its own right please me as much as one of the preceding ones, but in conjunction with the preceding Allegro, and the despairing Presto e furioso which comes after, does not fail to make the most disturbing effect. This Presto gives way at the end to a vocal piece, the setting of Stolberg’s song: Kain am Ufer des Meers. The idea of having an instrumental piece end by bursting forth into a piece of vocal music has something novel and bold about it, but I doubt that it will often be realised, also because the lyrical vein through which both of these genres flourish is rarely the talent of a single person, and vocal music and instrumental music with words must often in reality tread quite different paths, which in truth the critics who define theory have not yet adequately distinguished from one another in their nature and constituent parts. Herr Zinck will forgive me if I say in all honesty that his setting of Stolberg’s poem, which as an instrumental piece I find well considered and exquisite does not seem so praiseworthy as a piece of vocal music, in that the lengthening of the word ‘geschlagener’ disturbs the passion of the moment, and the ending of almost every verse which could have been written for a bass, in a tenor piece, produces the most unpleasant effect.

It should also be added in praise of these sonatas that they are, overall, as easy to play as they contain beautiful melodies, an advantage which cannot be claimed for all works of this type, which in other respects are worthy of praise. There are very few places which will cause permanent difficulty for those who are acquainted with Bach’s precepts (Sonata IV, p. 24, 1st system, bb. 1-2, where the little finger has to jump from E flat to F is difficult to allow according to Bach’s rules) and in many doubtful cases Herr Zinck, who himself is a very strong and expressive player, has included fingering above the music, according to Bach’s example. For all that, they are anything but easy; they much rather demand and create facility of the hand than assume it. Indeed, they may be used as the most sparkling practice exercises. Nothing is more harmful to art, nothing debases the noble author’s art to mere breadwinning more than the constant, daily spreading obsession with being easy, eliminating all difficulties, suffocating any industriousness of effort, adapting everything for the lame fingers of unpractised hacks or little women; and I readily admit that I become angry when I see the word “easy” in capital letters above a collection of keyboard music, or if I am forced to see that an artist, who to his credit has distinguished himself with something out of the ordinary, appears at the next fair with an announcement “that, as the only criticism of his work was that it was too difficult for the player, he has the honour, in his new collection which is now available” – what pray? – “of serving the public some thin gruel.” How foul! May Herr Zinck’s soul never come under the influence of such men, nor his honour into their company. May he rather make us the gift of something new before too long”.

A full listing of Zinck’s works for Clavier can be found in Appendix II. The Sechs Clavier-Sonaten (1783) were reprinted in the Pro Musica Verlag (Leipzig/Berlin, 1954), including the very revealing German preface but omitting the equally instructive fingering that the composer had provided. Since this preface has never appeared in a complete English version (although both Cramer, and later the Niederrheinische Musik-Zeitung (1858, vol. 32) considered it important enough to reprint complete in German), it is included here as Appendix III (together with the author’s original footnotes).(52)

This preface, as Cramer noted, is patently not a manifesto of a romantic tendency before its time; although an “enlightened artist”, Zinck dispels any mystique about the sources of a composer’s inspiration or the pictorial heights to which the initial germ idea can be driven. Like Haydn, he is bluntly unsentimental about the search for an idea and perceptive that the subsequent “development” relies largely on hard work; but he is far from prosaic about the scenes and emotions that he hopes this “characteristic” music can encompass, and believes (as did several of his contemporaries such as Gerstenberg, Ludwig Tieck and Augusto Apel) that a literary sub-text will help the listener. C.P.E. Bach, despite his Sanguineus and Melancholicus sonata, dissented from this view; in letters to Gerstenberg he discredits the value of texts and the effectiveness of trying to achieve specific feelings in music.(53)

Even viewed simply as local phenomena, the remarks of a Thielo, the musings of a Zinck, the experiments of a Berlin or Wernicke, the erudition of a Schulz, and the enterprise of a Sønnischen are sufficiently distinguished to force a reconsideration of what musical life in Copenhagen was like during the 18th century; the evidence of what they acheived suggests that it would be unreasonable not to include them in broader discussions of the European musical scene as a whole during this fecund period.(54)

Appendix I:
Apollo. Et musikalsk Maanedsskrivt for Sang og Klaveer af forskiellige Componister (1795-1808) (Sønnischen, Copenhagen)

Volume 1 (1795-6)
Solo keyboard music in Part 1:
Wedel: Overture to Lise og Peter
Mozart: Minuet [K.492/3] with [5] Variations [KV. Anh. C 26.17]
Pleyel: Andante cantabile
Mozart: March [from Die Zauberflöte, K. 620/9]
Stadler [Maximilian]: Sonata (Allegro: Adagio: Presto)
Sarti: Overture to J oprørt Vand er godt at fiske
Kozeluch: Rondo
Naumann: March from Gustav Vasa with [7] variations
Haydn: Sonatina [Hob. I/85/ii and Ia/15/ii]
Pleyel: Sonatina (Andante grazioso: Allegro: Andante arioso: Rondo – Allegro)
Kraus: March from Amphytrion
Dalayrac: Overture to Renaud d’Ast
Vanhall: Theme and [5] variations

Solo keyboard music in Part 2
Hoffmeister: Sonatine [E flat] (Andante)
Paisiello: Overture to Il Re Teodoro in Venezia
Haydn: Allegretto [Hob. XVII/10]
Mozart: Rondo [K.485]
Reichardt: Ballet music from Olympiaden
Vogler: Overture to Gustav Adolph
Lorentz: Six variations on a duet from Lilla [Martin y Soler]
Reichardt: Ballo from Andromeda
Sterkel: Chaconne
Kraus: Intermedium from Amphytrion
Bornhardt: Rondo

Volume 2 (1796-99)
Solo keyboard music in Part 1
Kunzen: Overture to Festen i Valhal
Kunzen: March [from Festen i Valhal]
Kraus: Entracte from Amphytrion
Bornhardt: Sonatina (Allegro Spirituoso)
Baumbach: Russian song with [10] variations
Schulz: Allegretto
Kunzen: Finale from Festen i Valhal
Jelinek: Sonata (Allegretto: Andante: Rondo)
Kozeluch: Sonata (Allegro: Andante: Rondo)
Solo keyboard music in Part 2
Vanhal:: Aria from Lila [by Martin y Soler] with [4] variations
Mozart: Rondo [K. 284 c]
Gürlich: Allegretto
Gaveaux: Overture to L’Amour Filiale
Mezger: Sonata (Allegro moderato: Rondo Allegretto)
Lauska: Rondo “for Damer”
Ebers: Rondo
Barth, junior: Walzer
Cimarosa: Overture to Il Matrimonio Segreto
Haydn: Theme with [7] variations [Hob. I/31/iv]
Barth: March
Pleyel: Rondo
Barth: Allegretto

Appendix II: List of Works for Clavier by H.O.C. Zinck

Sechs Clavier-Sonaten, benebst der Ode Kain am Ufer des Meeres als einen Anhang zur sechsten Sonate, 1783 (Hamburg, Heroldsche Buchandlung)

Sonata I
Allegro [C]: Grazioso [G]: Presto [C]

Sonata II
Allegro [F]: Cantabile e sostenuto [D]: Rondo un poco Allegro [F]

Sonata III
Allegro [A] – Andante piu tosto Allegro [a]: Scherzando e Presto [A]

Sonata IV
Moderato e ligato [c]: Andantino e grazioso [C]: Menuetto con espressione e Allegro [c]

Sonata V
Allegro con brio [G] – Un poco adagio [E flat] – Rondo. Allegro [G]

Sonata VI
Allegro con brio [d] – Adagio con espressione [E flat] –Presto e furiose [d] : [ad libitum song-setting] Ode Kain am Ufer des Meeres

Compositioner for Sangen og Claveret… 1791-3, Sønnichsen, Copenhagen
Volume 1:
Sonata I
Allegro scherzando [E flat]: Romance. Andante [B flat] – Allegretto lusingando [E flat]

Finger-Øvelse for unge Klaveerspillere

Volume 2:
Sonata II
Allegro con brio [g]: Adagio con espressione [g]: Presto [g]
[Modern edition: Det Danske Rudolph Willmers Selskap, Aarhus,

Variations on “Lison dormoit…”

“An das Clavier: Süssertönendes Clavier”

Volume 3:
Sonata III
Allegro con brio [G]: Affetuoso con variationi [G]: Rondo lusingando [G]

Sonata IV
Allegro con brio [C]: Andante gazioso [F]: Poco a poco presto [C]

Rundgesang der Kinder in Ludwigslust mit XXIV Veränderungen für’s Clavier… c. 1786 (Hummel, Berlin/Amsterdam)


Appendix III:

Sechs Clavier-Sonaten, Hamburg, 1783

It was probably the pantomime that provided the first occasion for composing characteristic instrumental pieces; and our habit of indicating the essential character of such pieces by inserting a short title may well have come to us from France. But it is enough that we have such pieces and in fact, some of the most splendid masterpieces of this genre have been created by our own fellow countrymen. Anyone who knows music from this particular angle will admit that, whatever emotional state or level of sensibility a man finds himself in when he picks up his instrument, he is generally able to produce melodic and harmonic passages that are appropriate to the particular situation and that in such situations it is often possible to create pieces, perhaps by chance, that have more than a tinge of originality. In fact, I would almost venture to maintain that even in various untitled instrumental pieces our finest masters have based their music on certain feelings that were so strong in themselves that they almost took on the quality of an action.

Of course, without words, music cannot describe actions. But if a composer were to provide us with a commentary on his works, would this not make them more comprehensible to the listener and arouse his attention even more strongly? If this is indeed the case then why shouldn’t a commentary be provided? – It would be extremely useful.

A group of discerning listeners to whom I played the 6th sonata of this collection seemed to take an even greater interest in it after I had explained to them what I had had in mind when writing these pieces. And so this has prompted me to do the same here in a more public context – in the hope that all true connoisseurs will be so kind as to communicate their thoughts on the matter to me and, with some consideration of my good will, pass judgement on the weaknesses of this work. This I hope all the more if I may briefly acquaint the gentle reader with the course of my musical education and further progress, before going on to say more about the sonatas themselves.

I am grateful to my dear father(55) for giving me practical instruction on several musical instruments and a certain insight into the problems of harmony. So then I went to Hamburg,56 a city where everyone, in his own way, and therefore even a young musician not only finds encouragement, but also is presented with the opportunity to slake his thirst for knowledge in all aspects of the art of music. Nonetheless, I was not very happy as far as composition was concerned. One teacher assessed my work from the perspective of the wine bottle. Another chose to take me off to Greece, Lydia and Phrygia, or whatever those provinces down there are called. It was almost as if a kitchen boy were being forced to acquaint himself with the history of the migration of plants from their country of origin before learning how to prepare a plate of vegetables. A third would demolish everything in one day that he had so avidly built up the day before. Thus it was that I failed to progress in any way until, finally, assisted by my present, less frantic life-style, though not without unspeakable effort on my part, I consulted what one might call the “silent” teachers.(57) May these sonatas therefore be seen as an attempt to put into practice all the knowledge that I have collected and assimilated up to now.

These pieces were conceived as follows: In each case the first basic material [Urstoff] was stimulated by a particular mood, whether tender, heated, ill-tempered, happy or whatever. Overcome by one of these moods I then crept, danced or thundered across the keyboard of my Clavier (58) in the manner dictated to me by the feeling predominant at the time. The notes produced in this way corresponded approximately to the theme that was then developed further as and when the opportunity and time arose. Thus, the Andante of the third sonata came about after I overheard a dialogue between Madame la Capricieuse and her mild-mannered husband. The last sonata has the following history: I was angry about something (I no longer remember what), in fact I was extremely angry and annoyed and so I sat down at my Clavier in order to vent my feelings on it and rattled off the following:

At this point I stopped, and the similarity between the beginning of this passage and the music I had written for Count von Stolberg’s Cain on the Seashore several months previously suddenly brought that whole ghastly story of fratricide to mind. I could see Cain staring at the blood gushing from his murdered brother’s wound, then fleeing, and stopping again, turning and shuddering violently at the sight of his brother in the throes of death. I envisaged him sighing loudly as he raised his eyes to heaven, still partly in anger but also partly filled with regret, before stamping his foot on the ground, running away, stopping again and stamping his foot and then running off again – I saw how he fell, wringing his hands with his face bent towards the ground, how he tried to pray but could not, stammering out little more than syllables in a way that betrayed the fear in his heart that had been sparked by the judge within him – how, after a short terrible pause, he flew wildly through the wilderness like a hurricane, with streaming hair and rolling eyes in complete desperation. At each winged step he was accompanied by terrible tormenting visions of the Furies, the pale figure of his murdered brother or his bleeding wound, with the accursed club dotted with hair and blood hovering in front of him, until finally he reached the precipitous cliffs on the shore of the ocean and wailed at the waves: ‘Woe, woe is me ! Where have my battered senses been taking me?”

It remains to be asked whether, and if so, in what way such ideas can be executed in a keyboard piece, and indeed have actually been executed here; also whether these sonatas do actually contain the occasional characteristic feature that I feel I managed to include in them. That is indeed the question! And a lenient judgement on this work will give me an indication as to what extent I can continue working in this direction.

Finally, my thoughts still often turn to a number of discerning listeners and friends of music on the banks of the Saale, the Elbe, the Spree and the Havel, etc. with whom I was fortunate enough to become closely acquainted by playing some of these sonatas to them, and whose friendly advice has been extremely helpful. To them, therefore, I should like to express my everlasting appreciation, as indeed I should to my subscribers and players.

Written at Ludwigslust in August 1783.
H.O.C. Zinck

This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Fifth International Clavichord Symposium in Magnano, Italy (5-8 September 2001) and printed in De clavicordio V.



1. See Niels Krabbe: Træk af Musiklivet i Danmark på Christian IV’s Tid, 1988, p.61. For a well-researched, though fictional, account of music at this period in Christian’s court, Rose Tremaine’s Music & Silence, London 2000 is a good read.

2. 22 July 1632: ‘Du sollest deiinen fleiss anuenden, dass du Eiinen guten kerll bekommen ka[n]st, der woll auff dass Symphoneii oder Virginall slagen kan, So den kinderen auffuarten könthe”. See C.F. Bricka & J.A. Fridericia (eds.): Kong Christian den Fjerdes egenhændige Breve 1589-1648, 3, 1878-1880.

3. Jens Henrik Koudal: For borgere og bønder - Stadsmusikantvæsenet i Danmark ca. 1660-1800, 2000, Appendix 18.

4. The Adresseavisen was published twice a week from 1759, three times from 1763, four times from 1766 and six times a week from 1800. The following references to Adresseavisen are based on Dorthe Falcon Møller: Danske Instrumentbyggere 1170-1850, Copenhagen 1983, p. 90.

5. After this date, the next call for a clavichord in Denmark seems to have been a century later with the publication of Carl Nielsen’s Italiensk Hyrdearie…op. 54 (Skandinavisk og Borups Musikforlag, c1930) with an accompaniment for “Clavichord eller Pianoforte”.

6. “Mein lieber Nissen last mir jetz eines von Stein aus wien komen, allein es wird wohl fruhjahr werden bis ich es bekome, bis dahin mus ich mich schon mit einem Clavicort behelfe und thue es auch gerne da mir die hoffnung bleibt ein so schones und gutes zu bekomen…” Original in the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum, Salzburg transcribed by Rudolph Angermuller, Salzburg, and quoted here by courtesy of Dr Faye Ferguson.

7. See Alis Dickinson: A Closer Look at the Copenhagen Tablature in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, Dansk Årbog for Musikforskning, vol. 8, 1997, pp. 5-49, with an appendix which includes substantial transcriptions of movements from the tablature. On the 65 pieces in Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl.kgl.Saml. 376 fol. (1626-39) which include 14 vocal arrangements, 6 preludes, 7 allemandes, 12 courantes, 3 German dances, etc., all anonymous, see P. Hamburger: Ein handschriftliches Klavierbuch aus der ersten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts, Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft, 13, 1930-31, pp. 133-40.

8. Johan Lorentz junior (1610-1689), son of the famous organ builder Johan Lorentz senior. Lorentz was organist at St. Nikolaj Church in Copenhagen where he arranged weekly public concerts, probably similar to Buxtehude’s Abendmusiken in Lübeck. Legend claims that Lorentz taught Buxtehude.

9. Jan Olof Rudén: Music in tablature, Svenskt musikhistoriskt arkiv, Stockholm, 1981, p. 82. Transcriptions of the pieces attributed to Lorentz can be found in Johan Lorentz Klavierwerke, ed. Bo Lundgren, [Lund, 1975, preface dated 1960].

10. Koudal 2000, p. 458

11. Also available on the website of the Royal Library, Copenhagen (

12. Nils Schiørring: Musikkens Historie i Danmark, 2, 1978, p. 122.

13. Also available on the website of the Royal Library, Copenhagen (

14. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians / ed. Stanley Sadie, London 2001, article ‘Thielo’.

15. Kap. 1: Musikens Oprindelse og Fremgang til nu værende Tid, og Davids Musik.
Kap. 2: Musikens Nødvendighed I alle stænder
Kap. 3: Musikens Foragt og Misbrug
Kap. 4: Hvorledes man i Selskan kund føre sig op Musiken
Kap. 5: Hvad en Claver Informator maa forstaa
Kap. 6: Hvorledes den som villære Musiken maa være beskaffen, og hvorledes Informationen med Nytte kand indrættes.

16. Giver Anviisning til Synge-Kunsten, og lærer Pronuncationen til det Italienske Sprog.

17. Er et musicalisk Lexicon over de nu brugelige musicaliske Ord, Instrumenter og Stykker. Saa og hvorledes man skal lære at stemme et Claveer.

18. Den Dag, paa hvilken jeg skrev dette Blad, var just den sidste af det 20 Aar siden min Ankomst her til Danmark.

19. Hvor lifligt klinger det ikke I Kongernes Huuse … for de Studerende er Musiken næsten lige saa nødvendig, som Bøger; naar Hiernen og Sindet af studeringer er udmattede, da blive de igjen ved Musik forfrisket, naar man i steden for Bogen kand tage fat og tractere et eller andet Instrument, hvilket 0opvækker hos de Studerende en munter Geist, og igien opmuntrer ham til at læse.

20. En Komponist maa have lært Videnskaber, see til Graun, Scheibe, Hændel & Heinchen, han maa være en god Orator. En musikalisk Componist maa i sine stykkeropvække Affecten saavel som en Orator. Nu hertil er Regler fornøden: hvor har du lært dem? Du har jo ikke haft Lejlig at anvende dine unge Aarpaa saadanne Studie. Læs den kongelige Kapelmesters Scheibens Critische Musicum, denne lærde Mands Veltalenhed kand bedre og tydeligere overbeviise dig Tingen.

21. Naar nu den Lejlighed gives i et Compagnie, at en Mester lader sig høre paa et Musikalisk Instrument, lader det sær abgesmagt, naar Tilhørerne formedelst Discourser eller anden saadan Omstændighed, kommer nogens Støyen af sted; this saasnart man gjør det ringeste, som er Stilhed imod, enten ve at gaae frem og tilbage, ved at sankke, unødvendig Hosten, urigtig Taktslagen, saa taber enhver Mester Lyst til at spille, og bliver i det, han ellers færdig kunde, fouroliget, i Phantasien forhindret, og hans Indfald flyder da ikke.

22. In Thielo’s novel Charlotte eller forunderlige Tildragelser med Frøken von Weisensøe, 1757-1758 (in German as Charlotte die Geschichte der Fräulein von Weissensee, 1758), the music master recommends that children should learn music from an early age, maybe six or seven years old “although many parents feel they should learn to dance first”. He recommends that every keyboard player “should have two trills in each hand”, and reminds his readers that only good clavichords can produce Bebung. Music should not appear to be difficult and for that reason he does not recommend crossing hands, “which is especially unsuitable for ladies wearing corsets or bracelets”. Quoted in Carl Thrane: Fra Klavikordiets Tid, 1898.

23. In the index to the volume, Thielo defines Tremuletto as “a vibrato on the clavier when you keep the fingers on the keys and flex the strings”.

24. mispelt “Glavichordium”.

25. "Ein Anfänger übe sich erst auf dem Claviere, denn will er anfangs auf Spinetten. Flügeln oder Positiven spielen, welche hart zu greifen seyn, so wird er sich ein rauhes und hartes Spielen angewöhnen".

26. On pp. 52-3 however, he does contradict the realization of some ornaments given in the earlier volume.

27. See Eva Helenius-Öberg: Musikaliskt Tidsfördrif as a mirror of clavichord culture in Sweden, De Clavicordio II: Proceedings of the International Clavichord Symposium / Atti del Congresso Internazionale sul Clavicordio, Magnano, 2002, pp.133-52.

28. See Dan Fog: Musikhandel og Nodetryk i Danmark efter 1750, 1984, p.180. A summarylist of the contents of periodical publications by composer is Jørgen Poul Erichsen: Indeks til Danske Periodiske Musikpublikationer 1795-1841, 1975.

29. See listings in Imogen Fellinger: Periodica Musicalia (1789-1830), Regensburg 1986, pp.70-85.

30. Fog 1984, pp. 193-204.

31. Catalogus der neuesten Bücher, welche zu haben sind bey Frid. Chr. Pelt auf der Börse, 1784-85.

32. Fog 1984, pp. 123-144.

33. Vols. 1-2, ed. Bjarne Kortsen, edition Norvegica, Bergen 1977.

34. “Et godt Fortepiano og et contra F. Klaveer”, Adresseavisen, 1810, no. 64.

35. Adresseavisen 1810, no. 209.

36. Adresseavisen 1813, no. 98.

37. Ernst Ludwig Gerber: Historisch-Biographisches Lexicon der Tonkünstler, 1790-92.

38. “Einen braven, besonders properen Clavierspieler … zwar nicht in Bachischer, doch in guter Manier” and as a player “noch beßer auf dem Flügel und Clavier, wie auf der orgel gefiel”. From Hertel’s Autobiographie, ed. Schenk, Graz 1950, p. 50; see also Acta Musicologica, January 1986, p. 199.

39. Modern edition in Gorm Busk and Heinrich W. Schwab (eds): F.L.Ae. Kunzen, Gesammelte Klavierwerke (Monumenta Musica Regionis Balticae, series K, vol. 1, p. 14.)

40. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society… 1779, pp. 183ff. See also Rainer Kaiser: Palschaus Bach-Spiel in London Zur Bach-Pflege in England um 1750, Bach-Jahrbuch1993, p. 225.

41. “Palschau, sagt Bach, spielt meine Sachen schlecht, sein Fingerwerk ist unverbesserlich, er spielt viel schwerere Sachen als meine sind, aber – ich habe ihn, wenn ihr bei mir war, immer gebeten von meines Vaters Sachen zu spielen, wo es bloß aufs Treffen ankömmt”. Quoted in Bach-Jahrbuch 1993, pp. 225-9.

42. Facsimile edition ed. Michael Struck (J. Schuberth, 2001). A modern edition by Schott exists, and a later one by Peters (no. 9179) that tacitly omits the first piece.

43. Berlin 1774-1776.

44. See Torben Krogh: I.G. Wernicke, Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, 15, 1943), p. 358.

45. Facsimile edition, Oslo 1990; modern edition by Einar Steen-Nøkleberg, Oslo 1990.

46. Nanette Gomory Lunde: Israel Gottlieb Wernicke: The Contrapuntist of Scandinavia, SEHKS Early Keyboard Journal, 1, 1982-3, pp. 56ff.

47. Cf. Donald H. Boalch: Makers of the harpsichord and clavichord 1440-1840, 3rd edition, Oxford 1995, p. 372.

48. Quoted in Andreas Peter Berggreen: C.E.F. Weyses biographie, 1876.

49. Ibid, p. 15.

50. C.E.F. Weyse: Samlede Værker for Klaver 1, Dania Sonans VIII, 1, ed. Gorm Busk, 1997.

51. See Mary Sue Morrow: German Music Criticism in the Late Eighteenth Century, Cambridge 1997, p. 211.

52. The only modern overview is Erling Winckel: H.O.C. Zinks klaversonater, Dansk Musiktidsskrift, 26, 1951, pp. 137-43.

53. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Briefe und Dokumente: kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. Ernst Suchalla, Göttingen 1994, letters 44, 45.

54. For the translation which follows I am grateful to John Halliday; for assistance, both musical and linguistic throughout this essay I would like to thank Henrik Palsmar,Claus Røllum-Larsen, Niels Krabbe, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, John Bergsagel, Thomas Howalt, Eva Helenius-Öberg, Edmund Aldhouse, Dorthe Falcon Møller, Øyvind Nordheim, Martin Zeller, Isabel von Hülsen and Heather Jarman.

55. Bendix Friedrich Zinck. At the present time he is the organist of the cathedral church in Schleswig. A number of years ago he published his Short Duets for Various Instruments, but Especially for Two Flutes, which are extremely helpful for flautists at the elementary and intermediate levels, not least because of the enclosed fingering tables and examples – though of course this assumes that they are studied with the same degree of diligence as that with which they were put together. And the small number of the keys on the flute means that they can also preserve a good musical ear relatively undamaged because a player’s hearing is not simply made pure even if those keys manage to communicate the beauty and evenness of the notes.

56. I think back with pleasure to the good things that I saw, heard and enjoyed inthe course of my ten-year stay there: all the fine oratorios by the best composers that I heard, played or sang in in the amateur and public concertos, the German, French and Italian operettas, pantomimes and ballets that I saw being performed in the theatres, the large numbers of foreign musicians performing either in public or for private gatherings, the high standard of much of the church music, the small but intensely competitive musical circles, and, finally, the generous patrons, friends of music and philanthropists who helped increase my happiness. However, of these many I should like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to a man and philanthropist who dedicated his special affection to me, namely the great master of our art, Capellmeister C.P.E. Bach. And now my thoughts turn to you my dear friends – that is, to all of those with whom by age or shared convictions I have been closely associated and in whose company hours seemed like minutes.

57. Mr C.P.E. Bach’s Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments, Kirnberger’s Art of Pure Composition and Marpurg’s theoretical writings succeeded in making me secure in the rules of the art, whilst the practical works of the finest classical masters served as models for imitation.

58. Although fate would have it that I was obliged to practise the flute more than anything else it is the Clavier that is incomparably closer to my heart.