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Gottfried Reiche & Bach

Gottfried Reiche, trumpet

Continue of discussion from: Concerts of Cantatas & Bach Festivals [General Topics]

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 9, 2009):
Gottfried Reiche, trumpet [was: Major Bach events]

The entry in Boyd, OCC, for Reiche includes:

<he died age 67 [b. feb. 5, 1667, d. Oct. 6, 1734] after being overcome by torch smoke during a performance of the cantata [BWV 215]> (end quote)
Reference: biograhy (1987) by D. L. Smithers.

OTOH, a Grove entry by Christoph Wolff is cited on BCW: <he died the following morning [after the BWV 215 performance] from the exertions of his office>.

Sounds like the same old, same old, to me. If he died at the age of 67 from the exertions of his office, that would be natural causes, no? If, OTOH, he died as the result of smoke inhalation, some entity might in fact have been deemed liable. You get the picture.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 9, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Sounds like the same old, same old, to me. If he died at the age of 67 from the exertions of his office, that would be natural causes, no? If, OTOH, he died as the result of smoke inhalation, some entity might in fact
have been deemed liable. You get the picture. >

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 10, 2009):
Perhaps others will share my interest in unscrambling the legends, re the death of Reiche.

From Martin Geck, <[J.S.] Bach: Life and Works>, 2000; English translation by John Hargraves, 2006, pp. 196-97.

<The city chronicler Johann Salomon Riemer has left us the following detailed account:

<<Toward 9 oclock in the evening [Oct. 5, 1734] His Majesty was serenaded most respectfully by the students residng in this place playing a work for trumpets and drums, composed by [J.S. Bach, BWV 215. Geck has, on the previous page, described the performers as Bachs collegium musicum], whilst 600 students carried wax torches. [...]

On this very day [but after 9:00 PM] the experienced and most artistic Musicus and town piper Herr Gottfried Reiche [...] and senior of the musical compagnie in this city, when he wished to go home, was felled by a stroke in City Piper Alley, not far from his house, such that he sank down, and was carried home dead. And this is said to have come about because earlier in the day he strained himself greatly blowing during the royal music, and also the smoke of the torches caused him much grief>> (end quote)
Reference: Bach-Dokumente, Vol. 2

The translation is presumably by Hargraves, as part of Gecks book. The Dok reference would appear to be the ultimate source for the variety of somewhat differing reports which are scattered throughout the literature. Note that although Reiche did not exactly die during the performance, he was carried home dead from it. Perhaps someone can access the Smithers biography or Reiche for confirmation, and/or additional detail. The very minor discrepancy in date of death (Oct. 6 reported in OCC) appears to be because all of this occurred after 9:00 PM on Oct. 5 (perhaps as late as midnight?). There is no evidence to infer that Reiche died the following morning.

Also note that the technical difficulty (or not) of the writing for trumpet does not appear (at least to me) to be relevant to the reported strain from blowing.

David Topping wrote (November 11, 2009):
Regarding the stress and strain involved in trumpet playing in the Baroque, I witnessed a "demonstration concert" on a spiral, valve-less trumpet, much like the one in the famous portrait of Gottfried Reiche. The concert was part of the "56. Bachfest der Neuen Bachgesellschaft" (which was also the "IV. Internationales Bachfest der DDR") held in Leipzig in 1981 (before the wall fell). I can't remember the name of the trumpeter or exactly what he played, but I remember that he looked like he was about to have a stroke (the same malady that apparently befell Herr Reiche).

I think the concert was in the Nikolaikirche, and I seem to remember that they also did the Eb version of the Magnificat (BWV 243a), including the extra interpolated movements. That was just two months after Kurt Masur conducted the opening concert of the New Gewandhaus. The official Gewandhaus organist was Matthias Eisenberg, who took me on a tour of two Silbermann organs outside of Leipzig, including one in the St. Marienkirche in Rötha. (the brakes on his little Trabant had frozen, so we dragged it into a heated storage room in the back of the Gewandhaus until they thawed)

My wife and I were singing with Helmuth Rilling's Gächinger Kantorei at the time and we performed several cantatas in the Gewandhaus, including the wonderful BWV 36, Schwingt freudig euch empor, and also the motet BWV 225 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied. We were also invited to sit in on a rehearsal of the Thomanerchor, and I also saw Peter Schreier conduct the B-minor mass--he was in between the recording sessions for the disc mentioned here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV232-Schreier.htm

But the highlight was sitting in the Thomaskirche, not far from Bach's grave, listening to the glorious sounds of the Christmas Oratorio coming from the Thomanerchor (with Peter Schreier singing this time, instead of conducting) in the balcony.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 11, 2009):
David Topping wrote:
< I can't remember the name of the trumpeter or exactly what he played, but I remember that he looked like he was about to have a stroke (the same malady that apparently befell Herr Reiche). >
Hmm. There are many opinions (or whatever) posted on BCW, re Reiche. My interpretation of the reports (not the evidence, mind you!) is that he was pretty old (67), he was not thrilled about having to play for the Polish Prince on short notice, and the smoke got up his nose while he was trying to blow his horn (trumpet).

He was old, he was pissed off, he collapsed, he died, and they carried him home.

IMO (specifically not VH), he should have taken a deep breath, and talked to his spouse, before taking on the assignment. Thats what she always says to me: Why didnt you ask me? It just goes to show you.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 11, 2009):
David Topping wrote:
< Regarding the stress and strain involved in trumpet playing in the Baroque, I witnessed a "demonstration concert" on a spiral, valve-less trumpet, much like the one in the famous portrait of Gottfried Reiche. >
Thanks for the reminder. I have yet to look at the portrait, I am still mired in the bookish references. They seem to say he was carried home dead from his final performance, complaining of the smoke.

I am sure he is handsome, holding his horn, perhaps a corna da caccia according to BCW opinion?

David Topping wrote (November 11, 2009):
I think the instrument in the Reiche portrait --
http://www.kunstkopie.de/kunst/elias_gottlob_haussmann/jph51448.jpg
http://associatie.kuleuven.be/ivok/images/Bach/figuur%208.jpg
http://portrait.kaar.at/Musikgeschichte%2018.Jhd%20Teil%203/image16.html

has fascinated people over the years, in that there are modern trumpet makers who offer instruments designed after it. Examples:
http://www.finkehorns.de/English/Detail_NatTrClarin.html
http://www.eggerinstruments.ch/tdc_e.htm
http://www.baroquetrumpet.com/egger.htm
http://www.trumpetguild.org/news/09/0911bb.html

I found a reference to a scholarly article on the instrument, Reine Dahlqvist, "Gottfried Reiche's Instrument: A Problem of Classification," Historic Brass Society Journal (1993): 174-91, but that article doesn't appear to be online.

In January, I'll be singing along with a trumpet in "Großer Herr und starker König" in part I of the Christmas Oratorio, presented on Epiphany at the Arizona Bach Festival. I'm confident that the instrument will have valves. :-)

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 11, 2009):
I previously wrote:
< I am sure he is handsome, holding his horn, perhaps a corna da caccia according to BCW opinion? >
More accurately, in light of day:

Thomas Braatz wrote, Jan 19, 2004:
< The real Corno da tirarsi should look more like the instrument (Corno da caccia in C) which Gottfried Reiche holds in his right hand in his famous portrait (a copper engraving) by Chr. Fr. Rosbach (1727) based upon a painting by E. G. Haußmann. It is rather small, compact, and tightly >coiled. It looks a bit like a miniature French horn >
http://www.bach-cantatas/Topics/Horn.htm

Can anyone recommend an accessible source at which to see the portrait?

Glen Armstrong wrote (November 11, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Can anyone recommend an accessible source at which to see the portrait? >
If you simply google Reiche's name, the horn shows up.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 11, 2009):
I wrote, before reading:
< Can anyone recommend an accessible source at which to see the portrait? >
In fact David beat me by a few minutes, with:
< I think the instrument in the Reiche portrait --
http://www.kunstkopie.de/kunst/elias_gottlob_haussmann/jph51448.jpg
http://associatie.kuleuven.be/ivok/images/Bach/figuur%208.jpg
http://portrait.kaar.at/Musikgeschichte%2018.Jhd%20Teil%203/image16.html >
Thanks. I am sure the details of Reiches life are much more important than the details of his unfortunate, if somewhat spectacular, death.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 12, 2009):
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread, which originiated with Russells seemingly innocent digs, re trumpet player availability in the 21st C., which raised a question on my part.

I like the Geck scenario which I cited, but it appears there are contemporary (with Reiche and Bach) reports with minor discrepancies as to the exact timing of Reiches collapse (called a stroke) while walking home. The reports are in fact *hearsay*, documentation by others of eyewitness accounts. Discrepancies? Quel surprise, no? In any case, I think we improved the accuracy of the BCW archives just a bit, and had some fun (I did, at least) in the process.

Some interesting details from Reiche biographic data, avaialble on-line.

(1) The natural trumpet, without slide, was proprietary to the exclusive horn players guild, of which Reiche was a memeber. The origin of pricey trumpet players? The slide trumpet (tromba de tirasi, per Thomas Braatz) was developed and specified for technical improvements, but also to undermine the lock of the guild, which did not have exclusive rights to the new instrument.

(2) Reiche wrote over a hundred fanfares, but the only one which has survived is the one which can be read from his portrait. Some people suggest that this was actually written by Bach, as a birthday gift for Reiche. This is the fanfare which opens the USA TV program, CBS Sunday Morning. It was originally performed by D. L. Smithers (Reiches biographer), succeeded by Doc Severinsen, and since 2004, by Wynton Marsalis. I remember the morning that the Marsalis version was premiered, I would swear it was just a couple years ago. More hearsay.

Russell Telfer wrote (November 12, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread - >
Thanks, Ed

It made amusing reading. Sorry I wasn't able to contribute much.

I'll just add one snippet about one (very very good) trumpeter who told our group he was no longer available, and a few months later I found out that he was deeply involved in even more pastoral care work with prisoners and ex-prisoners than he had been when he blew for us. Values! 'There's nowt as queer as folk!' (English colloquial expression.)

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 13, 2009):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< Thanks, Ed
It made amusing reading. Sorry I wasn't able to contribute much. >
Well begun is half done. Thanks for the comment which initiated the thread.

RT:
< 'There's nowt as queer as folk!' (English colloquial expression.) >
EM:
I am uncharacteristically at a loss for words.

Julian Mincham wrote (November 13, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] I think it should be made clear that the word is here used in its original meaning---to be strange,, odd or bizarre.

So no need to be concerned, Ed!

 

Gottfried Reiche: Short Biography | Gottfried Reiche & Bach

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Last update: żNovember 13, 2009 ż12:09:10