Frederick II (Fredrick the Great)

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Frederick II (Fredrick the Great)

Frederick II (Fredrick the Great), King of Prussia; b. Berlin, Jan. 24, 1712; d. Potsdam, Aug. 17, 1786. He was an enlightened patron of music, a flute player of considerable skill, and an amateur composer. He studied flute with Quantz. In 1740, when he ascended to the throne, he established a Court Orch. and an opera house; Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel was his harpsichordist until 1767. In 1747 J.S. Bach was invited to Potsdam. The fruit of this visit was Bach’s Musical Offering, written on a theme by Frederick II. A collection of 25 flute sonatas and 4 concertos by Frederick was publ. by Spitta (3 vols., Leipzig, 1889; reprinted, N.Y, 1967); other works were publ. in vol. XX of Die Musik am preussischen Hofe. Besides instrumental works, Frederick contributed arias to several operas: Demo-foonte by Graun (1746), II Re pastore (1747; in collaboration with Quantz and others), Galatea ed Acide (1748; in collaboration with Hasse, Graun, Quantz, and Nichel-mann), and II trionfo dellafedelita (1753; in collaboration with Hasse and others).


K. Müller, Friedrich der Grosse als Kenner und Dilettant auf dem Gebiete der Tonkunst (Potsdam, 1847); W. Kothe, Friedrich der Grosse als Musiker (Leipzig, 1869); G. Thouret, Friedrichs des Grossen Verhältniss zur Musik (Berlin, 1895); idem, Friedrich der Grosse als Musikfreund und Musiker (Leipzig, 1898);K. von Forstner, Friedrich der Grosse, Künstler und König (Berlin, 1932); G. Müller, Friedrich der Grosse, Seine Flöten und sein Flötenspiel (Berlin, 1932); E. Helm, Music of the Court of F. the Great (Norman, Okla., I960).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire