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The Dresden Manuscript
The Sächsische Landesbibliothek of Dresden has six volumes of French tablatures, referenced as D‑Dl Ms. Mus. 2841‑V‑1,1 à 6. The 34 solo sonatas therein, of various origins, are written in French tablature for the baroque lute (11-course for the earliest, but mainly 13-course). They are scrupulously arranged by key in five volumes, plus a volume of ensemble music of which only the part of a single lute is extant. All pieces were composed by Silvius Leopold Weiss, from 1706 to the last days of his life in 1750. These manuscripts constitute one of our most precious sources for the composer’s music.
The sonatas, either autograph or meticulously copied, were compiled by a collector. He classified them according to age and tuning of the bass courses, very carefully assembled and, later, bound them. Several annotations, pencilled in by Weiss at a late stage, denote an elderly hand.
In the first five volumes, we can identify three different handwritings: that of Weiss himself, that of the manuscripts’ compiler (whose writing style seems to have changed over a long period of time), and that of another copyist, often less careful and precise.
The Sächsische Landesbibliothek purchased the manuscripts in 1929, at the sale of the collection of the musicologist and bibliophile Werner Wolffheim (1877‑1930). Several pages were subsequently damaged during the bombing of Dresden in 1945.
Silvius Leopold Weiss (1687‑1750)
Silvius Leopold Weiss was born in 1687 in the village of Grottkau, near Breslau. His father Johann Jacob, a proficient lutenist, taught his three children how to play, as well as the rules of harmony and the practice of basso continuo. A child prodigy, Silvius Leopold performed before the Emperor Leopold I who, although consumed with his war against Louis XIV, was a great music lover.
From 1707 to 1714 he lived in Italy. In Rome, he met Arcangelo Corelli and befriended the Scarlattis. Subsequently, he is thought to have entered the service of the Governor of Further Austria, who resided in Innsbruck. In 1718, he obtained a well-paid position in the Dresden Court Orchestra.
A first mission took him to Vienna for eight months, where he was immersed in the musical life of Austria, both at the Court and in town. It was there that he discovered the galant style, which would leave its mark on all his future compositions.
Silvius Leopold Weiss frequented the best musicians of his era. He was appreciated by princes, often lutenists themselves. Thus, between 1725 and 1730, he made several sojourns in Prague to teach his art to Prince Lobkowitz and his wife, to Johann Antonin Losy von Losimthal (Count d’Logy), Imperial Governor of Bohemia, or to Ludwig Joseph Cajetan, Baron von Hartig, Imperialo Governor of the city of Prague. Silvius Leopold Weiss met and played music with Johann Sebastian Bach when the latter, living in Leipzig, came to visit his young son Wilhelm Friedmann, an organist in Dresden.
Weiss was the main promoter of fundamental modifications to the lute: the addition of a 13th course and the subsequent lengthening of the lowest courses by means of a second pegbox on a neck extension, similar to the theorbo.
Silvius Leopold Weiss was an accomplished musician whose compositions were very solid, placing him on a par with his most distinguished contemporaries: Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Händel or Jan Dismas Zelenka. However, he only composed for his instrument. His daily practice of continuo and improvisation deeply influenced his entire work. His characteristic touch can be found in his unmeasured preludes and in his skillful handling of very elaborate sequences. He always made brilliant use of the possibilities afforded by the lute’s particular tuning.
Silvius Leopold Weiss died on 16 October 1750, leaving his widow Marie–Elizabeth and his seven children in financial straits. His son Johann Adolf Faustinus (1741‑1814) was the only one to follow in his father’s footsteps, and became a chamber lutenist at the Court of Dresden. Silvius Leopold Weiss was buried outside the city walls, in the Katholischer Friedhof.
Jean-Daniel Forget | Le Luth Doré © 2015
Sonata 4 in B-flat Major
Suonata del Sigre. Sylv. Leop. Weiss.
Prélude, Ouverture, Allegro
Sonata 49 in B-flat Major
Sonata 15/23 in B-flat Major
Sonata 50 in B-flat Major
Sonata 25 in G minor
Sonata 51 in G minor
|Ms. Code||Ms. Name||Library Name||Country|
|Bk||Breitkopf (incipits)||Thematischer Katalog Breitkopf, Supplement IV, 1769||Germany|
|Musikmeister||Georg Philipp Telemann||Der Getreue Musikmeister||Germany|
|A-ROI||A-RO Lauten-Ms.||Rohrau, Graf Harrach'sche Familiensammlung
|A-ROII||A-RO Lauten-Ms. 2||Rohrau, Graf Harrach'sche Familiensammlung
|CZ-Bm372||CZ-Bm Ms. sig. A.372||Brno, Moravské zemské muzeum, oddělení dějin hudby MZM
Provenience: Musicalien-Bibliothek des Stiftes Raigern 5.b.
|CZ-Po||CZ-POm s.c. (III)||Podĕbrady, Polabské muzeum v Poděbradech||Czech Republic|
|D-Mbs5362||D-Mbs ms. Mus. 5362||München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Musikabteilung||Germany|
|F-PnThII||F-Pn Rés. Vmc ms. 61 (olim: Bibl. Mad. Thibault)
In Venetiis 7.7br.1712
|Paris, Bibliothèque National
Provenience: Bibl. Mad. Thibault
|GB-Lbl30387||GB-Lbl Add. Ms. 30387||London, The British Library
|PL-Wu2004||PL-Wu RM 4137 (olim Mf. 2004)||Warszawa, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka w Warszawie, Gabinet Zbiorów Muzycznych||Poland|
|Work Title | Piece Title||Ms. Code||Ms. Page|
|Prélude 31* in B-flat Major & Sonata 4 in B-flat Major
Suonata del Sigre Sylv. Leop. Weiss
|Ouverture Allegro, Presto||GB-Lbl30387||17v|
Opera "Tolomeo e Allesandro" by D. Scarlatti
|41r.1 (in B-flat)
41r.2 (in C)
|Sonata 49 in B-flat Major|
|Sonata 15/23 in B-flat Major|
|Sonata 50 in B-flat Major|
|Sonata 21 in F minor|
|Prélude 32* in G minor & Sonata 25 S.L Weiss in G minor|
|Allemande Andante||GB-Lbl30387||122r ("Andante")|
|Menuet||GB-Lbl30387||123v ("La babilieuse en Menuet")|
|Sonata 51 in G minor|
Passionate about the baroque era, Jean-Daniel Forget is a self-taught lutenist. In order to play the forgotten (lute) works of the 17th and 18th centuries, he has copied (and studied) their manuscripts for almost 20 years.
A long career as a computer scientist, having made him expert in programming, allowed him to utilize the normal logic of writing music, especially that which transcribes tablature for instruments with fretted strings.
In collaboration with Guy Grangereau. he has posted his tablatures on a public internet site that is frequented by many lutenists and guitarists.
Forget was enlisted by Miguel Serdoura to help prepare the musical examples for his fine Method of the Baroque Lute. Further on, he continues to assist Serdoura in the preparation of his (lute) editions.
Guy Grangereau is a professional musician who studied guitar playing in Paris, notably with the Brazilian Turibio Santos. Then, he perfected his musical knowledge at Martenot school in Paris.
Since 1984, he gave guitar and piano lessons and, for twenty years, he taught guitar in music schools.
His favorite instrument is a guitar (Maurice Dupont) initially with 13 strings, to which a 14th string was added; more recently were added two strings and a theorbo neck for the last four strings. This 16 strings instrument can be tuned in thirds (open tuning); he uses it to transcribe solo harpsichord works. He also plays a 14-course theorbed baroque lute (Stephen Murphy).
Since 2010, he is collaborating with Jean-Daniel Forget for the copy of German baroque lute manuscripts of the 17th and 18th centuries, in bringing more particularly his musical expertise to the review of the Silvius Leopold Weiss’ work.
• Editor(s): Jean-Daniel Forget & Guy Grangereau
• Music period: Baroque
• Instrument(s): 11c/13c Baroque lute
• Instrumentation: Baroque lute solo
• Notation: French tablature
• Modern edition: Urtext
• Publisher: Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions
• Year of publication: 2015
• Collection: Lute and Theorbo Music Collection
• Pages: pp. 116
• Dimensions: 230x310 mm
• Weight: 0,320g
• Binding: Section sewn glue binding
• ISMN: 377-0-0017-8804-3
Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions
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About Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions
Our editions are urtext: we strive to provide reliable musical texts that are as true as possible to the existing sources and the composer’s intentions. We are aware, of course, that it is impossible to reconstruct the one and only urtext. Often, several manuscript sources exist for the same piece, and there is little reliable guidance for determining which version best represents the composer's intentions.
Although we cannot entirely dissipate historical uncertainty, we can compare texts and correct obvious errors, which sometimes occur even in autograph manuscripts. Sources have been meticulously examined - note by note, mark by mark.
The most important observations and editorial decisions are elucidated in the prefaces, in the critical commentary, in footnotes, or marked as such in the musical text. It therefore comes as no surprise that an editor has to invest a great deal of patience, knowledge and time when piecing together an urtext that is true to the source and, hopefully, to the composers’ intentions as well. Proven specialists with extensive knowledge and experience edit our Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions in close cooperation with our Editorial Department.
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