John Collins - Organist, Harpsichordist Iberian Musicologist, Translator


In 2013 there are several composers whose anniversaries can be commemorated, albeit some of the dates are not known for certain; many of their works would sound well on the clavichord. There are a few lesser-known names here whose compositions are well worth exploring.

John Bull ca1563-1628 composed a large amount of keyboard music, much of which poses extreme difficulties including fast runs in thirds and sixths for both hands, to the player. A few pieces were included in Parthenia in 1612/13. The fantasias, ostinati, liturgical and Dutch carol settings have been edited by John Steele and Francis Cameron, revised Alan Brown for Musica Britannica vol 14 and, more suitable for clavichord, the over 100 dances, variations and character pieces have been edited by Thurston Dart in vol 19. These include three sets of the Quadran Pavan and Galliard, the 30 variations on Walsingham and the Chromatic Pavan and Galliard thought to be a lament on the death of Queen Elizabeth 1. A good selection is included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (modern edition by J. Fuller Maitland and Barclay Squire for Dover). An excellent book on the keyboard works is The keyboard music of John Bull by Walker Cunningham (1984)

Giles Farnaby ca1563-1640 composer of vocal music and over 50 pieces for keyboard including 11 highly individual Fantasias, Pavans, Variations, other dances (including an Alman for two virginals) and descriptive character pieces, almost all of which are included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Modern edition complete edited by R. Marlow in Musica Britannica vol 24.

Heinrich Scheidemann ca1595-1663 pupil of Sweelinck and organist of the Catharinenkirche, Hamburg, he left a large corpus of keyboard music in several MSS, including over 30 chorale preludes and 12 motet Intabulations (most of which require pedals), Magnificat settings on the eight tones which require pedals, and 20 odd Praeambulae, Fugues, Fantasias, Canzonas and Toccatas, most of which are for manuals only. Three of the latter, along with another 27 variations and dances, all manuals only, and particularly suited to the clavichord, have been edited by Pieter Dirksen for Breitkopf & Härtel EB8688 (reviewed in BCS Newsletter). The keyboard works have been edited by Klaus Beckmann (vols 1-3) and Claudia Schumacher (vol 4- motets) for Schott Music; the earlier edition in three volumes omitting the motets by Gustav Fock for Bärenreiter does contain several pieces which have recently been excised from the canon but are nevertheless attractive.

Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow 1663-1712 Organist in Halle and teacher of Handel, he left some 53 chorale preludes including a splendid set of 12 variations on Jesu meine Freude, the great majority of which are playable on one manual and do not require pedals, and 13 secular pieces that are also suitable for the clavichord including preludes, fugues, fantasia, capriccio and a suite in B minor. There are modern editions by Heinz Lohmann for Breitkopf & Härtel, and Klaus Beckmann for Schott, which omits the suite.

Franz Xaver Murschhauser 1663-1738 Organist in Munich, where he studied with Kerll, he published three volumes for organ of which the first in 1696 included sets of a preambulum, five fugues and a finale on the eight tones followed by four sets of variations for the Christmas season, including one with cuckoo imitations. The second (published in two parts) includes praeambulae, toccatas, canzonas and fugues on the first to third, seventh, eighth and tenth to twelth tones; although the great majority of the pieces in these two volumes are for manuals only, of greater interest to clavichordists will be the set of eight Arias with variations and three Weihnachtslieder with variations published as op.7. All three volumes edited by Rudolph Walter for Alfred Coppenrath, obtainable from Carus Verlag. A suite in E minor was included in the Denkmäler Tonkunst in Bayern.

Fernando di Medici 1633-1713 The MS containing 15 pieces, which can be grouped into four “suites” each of which includes a prelude and an aria alla Francese, bears Medici coat of arms and is probably work of one copyist/composer – possible Ferdinando himself. There are also two lengthy passagagli which seem more closely related to French than to Italian practice. Modern edition by Jörg Jacobi for Edition Baroque eba4011 and by Aapio Häkkinen for Edition Escobar.

Giovanni Benedetto Platti ca 1700-63 Mainly active in Wýrzburg, he left many chamber works in MSS, and published two sets of six sonatas for keyboard opp.1 and 4. Most of the first set sonatas are in four movements (SFSF), but the later set includes three-movement works. One particularly fine piece is the dramatic Fantasia in C minor which opens sonata 2 of the latter set and many of the slow movements work exceptionally well on the clavichord. Modern edition of the two sets by L Hoffman-Erbrecht for Breitkopf EB5833/4., and by G. Pestelli for Ricordi. Other pieces, including a Fantasia-Gavotta, Arioso and two sonatas, from MSS have been edited by A. Iesuè for Boccacini & Spada. A further six sonatas from MSS together with the published 12 have been edited by Fausto Torrefranca in his monograph on the composer for Ricordi 1963, alas, long out of print.

Christoph Schaffrath 1709-63 keyboard player at the Berlin court, he left several chamber works, and published a set of six sonatas por le clavessin op2. in 1749. Two more sonatas were included in anthologies by Haffner and Venier, and a number of pieces survive in MSS. The op2 sonatas are all in three movements apart from no. 6 which includes a Fuga after the first movement. Modern edition of the OP2, Haffner and miscellaneous pieces by Laura Cerutti for Cornetto CP335/6 (Review in BCS Newsletter 46).

Giuseppe Paganelli 1710-63 worked in Venice, Bayreuth, Munich and Madrid where he may have succeeded D. Scarlatti. In 1756 he published XXX ariae pro organo et cembalo, a collection of short binary form pieces intended for the Elevation. Modern edition by M. Machella for Armelin AMM163. He also published in 1757 Amusement for the fair sex or Six sonatines for the harpsichord, modern edition by Laura Cerutti for Cornetto Verlag CP388 (review in BCS newsletter 38). Three sonatas are included in volumes 2, 3, and 4 of the Haffner Raccolta Musicale di sonate per cembalo solo. Facsimile edition of volumes 2 and 3 in Raccolta musicale… Bibliotheca Musica Bononiensis IV/56 Bologna.

Johann Ludwig Krebs1713-82 pupil of J.S.Bach, organist at Altenburg, in addition to a large corpus of organworks requiring pedals. Most of which survive only in MSS, he also published numerous works for stringed keyboard instruments including Vier Piecen 1740-43 comprising six preludes (1), a suite (2), an overture (3) and a concerto in the Italian style. The Clavierübung Erster Lieferung contains 13 chorale preludes, the Zweyter Theil consists of a Suite in C, the III.ter Theil consists of six Sonatinas and the IVth and final part comprises six suites. There are also three Galanterie Partitas, a sonata in A minor, six Fugues from MSS and a recently discovered MSS of six three-movement sonatas. Other pieces have been tentatively ascribed to Krebs. An overview of published works is included in this newsletter.

Christian Schale 1713-1800 Second harpsichordist at the Berlin court, he left 22 sonatas, including three sets of Sei brevi sonate op 1-3 published ca1758-61; each of these sonatas is in three movements and displays galant traits and a high degree of Empfindsamkeit. Modern edition in three volumes by Laura Cerutti for Armelin AMM34-36.

Wenzel Pirck 1718-63 Pupil of Fux and organist in Vienna, he left mainly chamber music, but did publish two Trattenimenti in 1757, the first of which concludes with a fine Fuga cromatica. There are two Divertimenti and two Parthias in MSS in Vienna. Modern edition by Laura Cerutti for Cornetto Verlag CP302.

Daniel Gottlob Türk 1750-1813 Studied with Homilius, a pupil of J.S.Bach, and with Hiller and Hässler. Although best known for his didactic works, especially his highly informative Clavierschüle of 1789 (facsimile available from Bärenreiter, includes 12 Handstücke in modern notation), some sixteen collections for keyboard were published, the great majority of which still remain unavailable in modern editions, although some are available for download from IMSLP. His very attractive collection of 120 leichte und angenehme Handstücke für Anfänger im Clavierspiel is available in facsimile from Fuzeau (review in BCS newsletter 38), and in a modern edition from the Associated Board.

Two composers who left no works for solo keyboard but whose works for other instruments have been extensively transcribed fro keyboard include John Dowland (1563-1626) and Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713). An excellent compilation of 30 keyboard arrangements of Dowland’s lute works is edited by Christopher Hogwood for Edition HH (HH074.SOL). Many of Corelli’s chamber sonatas and concerti were arranged during the 18th century, but many are not available in modern editions. Those that are available include Edward Miller’s adaptations of opp. 1 and 3, edited by Jörg Jacobi for Edition Baroque eba4001/12, and Thomas Billington’s adaptations of the Celebrated 12 Concertos available in performers’ Facsimiles PF94.


Schott Music:
Breitkope & Hartel:
Cornetto Verlag:
Stainer & Bell:
Boccacini & Spada: available from
Carus Verlag:
Edition Baroque:
Arnaldo Forni Editore - available from:
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© John Collins 2013