Quantz, Johann Joachim

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Quantz, Johann Joachim

Quantz, Johann Joachim , famous German flutist, writer on music, and composer; b. Oberscheden, Hannover, Jan. 30, 1697; d. Potsdam, July 12, 1773. His father was a village blacksmith. Young Johann revealed a natural gift for music, and played the double bass at village festivals at age 8. His father died when he was 10, and he was apprenticed to his uncle, Justus Quantz, a “Stadtmusikus” in Merseburg, in 1708, and later to J. A. Fleischhack. He received instruction on string and wind instruments, becoming particularly adept on the violin, oboe, and trumpet, and also studied harpsichord with J.F. Kiesewetter. He completed his apprenticeship in 1713, but remained a journeyman under Fleischhack until 1716. He then became a member of the Dresden municipal band. During a 3-month leave of absence (1717), he studied counterpoint with J. D. Zelenka in Vienna. He subsequently became oboist at the Polish chapel of Augustus II (1718), being active in Dresden and Warsaw, but soon turned to the transverse flute, receiving some lessons from P. G. Buffardin. In 1724 he went to Italy in the entourage of the Polish ambassador and sought out F. Gasparini in Rome for further counterpoint training; after a sojourn in Paris (1726–27), he visited England (1727) before returning to Dresden as a flutist in the court Kapelle (also 1727). He made his first visit to Berlin in the entourage of Augustus II (1728), where he was engaged as teacher to Crown Prince Friedrich. He continued to visit Berlin regularly to instruct the Crown Prince while carrying out his duties in Dresden, which included the making of flutes from 1739. Friedrich ascended the throne as King of Prussia in 1740 and the next year called Quantz to Berlin, where it was his special province to oversee the King’s private evening concerts; he was granted an annual salary of 2, 000 thalers, plus an honorarium for each new composition and flute he produced. Quantz was held in such high esteem by his patron that he was the only individual granted the right to criticize Friedrich’s performances as a musician. His extensive output included some 300 concertos for flute, strings, and basso continuo, 7 concertos for 2 flutes, strings, and basso consome 300 concertos for flute, strings, and basso continuo (1 may not be by Quantz), 2 concertos for oboe, strings, and basso continuo, concerto for oboe d’amore, strings, and basso continuo (not extant), about 200 sonatas for flute and basso continuo, some 60 trio sonatas, 12 duets for 2 flutes or other instruments, 12 Capriccios for flute, 8 fantasias for flute, 22 hymns, 6 songs, etc. On the whole, these works reveal Quantz as a transitional figure in the movement from the Baroque to the Classical style. He publ. the valuable treatise Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (Berlin, 1752; 3rd ed., 1789; many subsequent eds. and trs., including an Eng. tr. by E. Reilly, N.Y., 1966; 2nd ed., rev., 1985). He also wrote an autobiography in F. Marpurg’s Historisch-kritische Beyträge zur Aufnahme der Musik, I (Berlin, 1754; reprint in W. Kahl, Selbstbiographien deutscher Musiker des XVIII. Jahrhunderts, Cologne, 1948).


A. Quantz, Leben und Werke des Flötisten J.J. Q. (Berlin, 1877); C. Zoeller, Thematic Catalogue of the Compositions of J.J. Q. (MS, c. 1886); A. Raskin, J.J. Q.: Sein Leben und seine Kompositionen (diss., Univ. of Cologne, 1923); E. Reilly, Q. and His Versuch: Three Studies (N.Y., 1971); M. Brink, Die Flötenkonzerte von J.J. Q.: Untersuchungen zu ihrer Überlieferung und Form (2 vols., Hildesheim, 1995); H. Augsbach, J.J. Q.: Thematisch-systematisches Werkverzeichnis (QV) (Stuttgart, 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Quantz, Johann Joachim

views updated May 11 2018

Quantz, Johann Joachim (b Oberscheden, Hanover, 1697; d Potsdam, 1773). Ger. flautist and composer. Began mus. training 1708. In 1718 was oboist in Polish King's orch. in Dresden and Warsaw, becoming flautist after study with Buffardin. Engaged 1728 as teacher in Dresden of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia; in 1741, when Frederick became King, entered royal service as court composer, chamber musician, and dir. of royal concerts. Added 2nd key to fl. and invented sliding tuning device. Wrote comprehensive method on fl.-playing (1752 and many subsequent edns.). Comp. 300 fl. concs., 200 fl. sonatas, mostly for the use of his royal patron, 60 trio sonatas, 22 hymns, and some songs.

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Johann Joachim Quantz

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