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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000014.txt from 2007/12

From: "Karl Krelove" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Molter Concerti
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2007 08:02:57 -0500


Many, many thanks for the discussion and the sources. As I find the time =
over the next few weeks, I will try to track down at least some of it to =
satisfy my curiosity. I did read through the pages covering this period =
in Geoffrey Rendall's book and was struck by many details of his =
description of clarinets from the middle third or so of the 18th century =
that I'd never paid attention to before. As a recent retiree (as a =
school music teacher), I now have the time to go back and re-read the =
material I already have at hand in addition to some of the sources =
you've mentioned (if I can find them in English).

I'm still troubled by the range citation, which may well be placing too =
much emphasis on Becker's forward in which he quotes Francoeur, possibly =
out of context. Or perhaps misquotes him. Clearly (blostered by your =
citation of Shackleton in Grove) the top of the range (G''') must have =
been meant as our altissimo G (4 lines above the staff), but then E' =
would have to be the one on the first line of the treble staff. But the =
chalumeau, from which Denner's clarinet was extended, already had a =
range, apparently, down to low F, like recorders pitched in F. Or could =
it be that the old chalumeau's low F was actually the one in the first =
space (like an alto recorder), an octave higher than the "chalumeau" =
register of the clarinet as we've known it since at least the time of =
Stamitz and Mozart? If this were the case, the 3rd partial (12th higher =
than the bottom register) would put these notes that are altissimo for a =
modern clarinet into a fingering range corresponding to our clarion =
range. But then the third of these Molter concerti, the one in G Major, =
violates this range by a third, reaching what, by these register =
designations, would be c'. On this point, I'm particularly confused and =
will try to find other authorities than Becker quoting Francoeur for the =
range of those instruments.

Unfortunately, I find old English difficult enough to deal with, much =
less old French. Apart from different word usages, those people back =
then didn't know how to spell! :-)

Thanks again.


-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Bowen []=20
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 4:32 AM
Subject: RE: [kl] Molter Concerti


The fullest reference, which will almost certainly answer most of your =
questions, is Albert Rice "The clarinet in the baroque period", OUP. I =
have the companion "....Classical period" volume and it discusses just =
this sort of issue.

I have dug out what Grove Online has to say, in case you do not have =
access to it. The Clarinet article by Nick Shackleton says:

"In the 1740s J.M. Molter composed six concertos for the D clarinet =
which exploited the clarinet and acute registers fully, extending to =
g=E2=80=B4 and scarcely exploring the chalumeau at all apart from =
passages where leaps between chalumeau and clarinet registers (such as =
Mozart and subsequent composers exploited so effectively) appear, =
perhaps for the first time. The narrowing of bore and mouthpiece =
exemplified by the contrast between instruments by Denner and Zencker =
(fig.4 above) must have contributed to the ease with which such a =
high-lying part could be played. Apart from the questionable =
=E2=80=98clareni=E2=80=99 mentioned above, all the established early =
clarinet parts are suitable for two-key instruments in C or D, =
consistent with surviving instruments. It is possible that the =
lower-pitched clarinets in B=E2=99=AD and A that are standard today did =
not appear before about 1750."

So the dates 1717 - 1734 do look too early.=20

Grove gives a definition of Dessus as follows:

(Fr.: =E2=80=98top=E2=80=99).

The highest part in French vocal or instrumental ensembles from the 17th =
to the early 19th centuries. The term corresponds with the English =
=E2=80=98treble=E2=80=99; hence dessus de viole refers to the treble =
viol. Within divided textures treble parts may be styled premier dessus =
and second dessus, or alternatively haut-dessus and bas-dessus. The term =
may apply collectively to the high instruments within a consort; for =
example, dessus de hautbois or even dessus de symphonie. During the 17th =
and 18th centuries dessus alone sometimes meant violin, more properly =
called dessus de violon. Dessus continued to denote the highest voice in =
France as late as the first edition of Rossini=E2=80=99s Guillaume Tell =
(1829), even though the French terms for other voices had long fallen =
into disuse."

Louis-Joseph Francouer's book does not seem available in translation or =
even a modern edition. The reference is: Diapason g=C3=A9n=C3=A9ral de =
tous les instruments =C3=A0 vent (Paris, 1772, 2/1781/R); ed. E.A. =
Choron as Trait=C3=A9 g=C3=A9n=C3=A9ral des voix et instruments =
d'orchestre principalement des instruments =C3=A0 vent =C3=A0 l'usage =
des compositeurs (Paris, 1813). That's an antiquarian bookseller's =

I think e1 - g3 is bottom to top, but it looks as if Francouer is =
describing the later eighteenth century clarinet. I don't think the =
clarinet had a low E at Molter's time anyway. The high tessitura was not =
unusual. It was well into the classical period before the chalumeau =
began to be exploited, apart from occasional leaps, as Al Rice's =
"classical" book explains. Baroque writings refer to the clarinet as =
"sounding like a trumpet from afar" which confirms this expectation.

The entry on Molter does not add anything relevant except a =

L. Schiedermair: =E2=80=98Die Oper an den badischen H=C3=B6fen des 17. =
und 18. Jahrhunderts=E2=80=99, SIMG, xiv (1912=E2=80=9313), =
191=E2=80=93207, 369=E2=80=93449, 510=E2=80=9350
E.W. B=C3=B6hme: Die fr=C3=BChdeutsche Oper in Th=C3=BCringen =
(Stadtroda, 1931/R)
H. Becker: Preface to Klarinetten-Konzerte des 18. Jahrhunderts, EDM, =
1st ser., xli (1957)
F. L=C3=A4ngin: =E2=80=98Johann Melchior Molter, der Markgr=C3=A4flich =
Baden-Durlachische Kapellmeister und Hofkompositeur=E2=80=99, Badische =
Heimat: Jb f=C3=BCr das Badner Land 1965
N. O'Loughlin: =E2=80=98Johann Melchior Molter=E2=80=99, MT, cvii =
(1966), 110=E2=80=9313
C. Oefner: Das Musikleben in Eisenach 1650=E2=80=931750 (diss., U. of =
Halle, 1975)
K. H=C3=A4fner: Der badische Hofkapellmeister Johann Melchior Molter =
(1696=E2=80=931765) in seiner Zeit: Dokumente und Bilder zu Leben und =
Werke (Karlsruhe, 1996)
K. H=C3=A4fner: Molter-Werke-Verzeichnis (MWV): =
thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der Werke von Johann Melchior =
Molter (forthcoming)

Looks like you are going to have to brush up your languages or get Al =
Rice's book!

There are several editions of the concerti (see June Emerson's website = but I have not looked into the question =
of their accuracy/reliability. The RISM database should tell you where =
the sources are located, but you will need a good library to get access =
to that.

Cheers, Keith Bowen



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