|Abstract: ||Ever since the beginning of my harpsichord career, Johann Jacob Froberger’s plaintive music has been in the focus of my interests. It is there that the development of the idiom of the harpsichord, that took place in the 17th century, is best visible. The phenomenon of these pieces and their groundbreaking character is the main subject of my research. A recording of chosen Lamentations and Meditations, along with the description of the work of art, on a CD titled Memento mori Froberger, is the result of the research.
The thesis is divided into three chapters. The first chapter concentrates on Johann Jacob Froberger himself. I present historical facts from the composer’s life, with special focus on those that had a decisive influence on the shape of his works (journeys, a stay in Rome and studies under G. Frescobaldi, journeys to England, France and Spain). I also mention Froberger’s meetings with eminent artists of his time. These meetings had a direct or indirect influence on his life and work. Among those of significant importance were: Girolamo Frescobaldi, Louis Couperin, Denis Gaultier, Contantijn Huygens, Duchess Sybilla or Athanasius Kircher. The latter part of this chapter concerns the harpsichord works of J.J. Froberger. I outline the general character of the composer’s works, with special focus on plaintive forms.
The second chapter was devoted to the instrumental lament of the 17th century, its origin, history and manifestations. Vocal laments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in various areas of Europe take the shape of various forms as well as titles. I mention the most important ones, with Italian lamenti, French déplorations, which had a direct influence on the creation of an instrumental lament. Examples of French lute pieces – tombeaux – and harpsichord lamentation-style forms that took their origin in French lute music can be found here. I also ventured to define the role and place of Froberger’s Lamentations in comparison with other works of this type from his time. For that reason, a very detailed analysis of Tombeau de Monsieur de Blancrocher by Louis Couperin is presented here.
The third chapter includes an introduction with a detailed discussion of all elements of my interpretation, and subsections where I analyse and describe interpretations of the individual pieces. The key elements for those pieces, i.e. rhetoric, form, texture and harmonic language, are analysed thoroughly. The avant-garde character and the phenomenon of Froberger’s compositions result from these elements. In each of them, the composer fully uses everything that he encountered during his numerous journeys around Europe. In addition, he enriches them with his own, inimitable character. He does not fear experiments with the form or harmony that he encountered. These compositions are filled with countless rhetoric means. Although Froberger transcribes his compositions in the mensural notation, his verbal instructions to play them avec discretion show us that these works have their roots in improvised music and are strongly connected with it. Another vital factor is the sound and texture of these pieces. They are written in the lute style brise that dominated French harpsichord compositions of the 17th century. However, even here Froberger takes a step further – using the lute-playing technique, he transfers music figures and expressions characteristic for that instrument to the keyboard; depending on his needs, he writes in both very low and high tessitura of the instrument. He discovers anew the colouristic possibilities of the harpsichord, defines its idiom and attributes a new dimension and significance to this instrument.
An integral part of this thesis is the enclosed CD with the following compositions by J.J. Froberger: Partita in a FbWV 630: Plaincte faites a Londres pour passer la Melancholie la quelle se joüe lentement et à discretion, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue.
Lamentation faite sur la tres douloreuse Mort de Sa Majeste Imperiale, Ferdinand le Troisiesme, et se joüe lentement avec discretion FbWV 633.
Partita in g FbWV 614 : Lamentation sur ce que j'ay esté volé, et se joüe fort lentement, à la discretion, sans obserueur aulcune mesure, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue.
Lamentation faite sur la tres douloreuse Mort de Sa Majeste, Ferdinand le Quatriesme Roy des Romains 1654, et se joüe lentement avec discretion FbWV 612.
Affligée et Tombeau sur la Mort de Monsieur Blanchrocher, fait à Paris, et se joüe bien lentement et à la discretion FbWV 632a.
Meditation faite sur ma mort future, la quelle se joüe lentement avec Discretion â Paris 1 May Anno 1660 FbWV 620.|