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Apr 26

116. Adam Falckenhagen [365 Composers for 2013]

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26th April – Adam Falckenhagen

Falckenhagen (26th April 1697 – 6th October 1754) is our composer for 26th April, to mark the day of his birth.
Nationality: German
Lifespan: 57 years
Genre: Baroque
Education: Leipzig University
Fame Ranking: 5

Falckenhagen was a composer of music for the lute. He was a musically gifted child and was fortunate enough to receive tuition from Johann Christian Weyrauch, who in turn  had been a pupil of J.S. Bach. He was a court composer, and spent his career serving in courts around Germany as lutenist and composer. In 1734 he took up a position at the court of Margravine of Beyreuth, the elder and favourite sister of Frederick the Great, who was also a composer herself. Falckenhagen stayed in Beyreuth, a town which today is known for its famous yearly Opera festivals, until his death.

Falckenhagen’s music is interesting because it is some of the last to be written for the lute before it fell out of fashion. By the 16th century, the lute had become the most popular solo instrument around, and was also used to accompany vocal music. The instrument evolved to suit the developments in musical style; players began to use their fingers to pluck the strings whereas previously they had used a quill. The increasing virtuosity of compositions meant that more and more strings were added to the instrument. In medieval times, most lutes had five or six pairs of strings, but by Baroque times lutes often had more than 20 or 30 strings! Because the players hand cannot stretch across so many strings, the bass strings were left “open”, not touching the fingerboard. You can see this in the video below. During Baroque times, the lute began to fall out of fashion as a solo instrument, and as an accompaniment provider it began to be superseded by keyboard instruments. Falckenhagen’s music is the the traditional lute’s “swan song”. He also wrote music for flute.

Here is the “Largo” from Falckenhagen’s Sonata no.IV:

 

 

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Listen to more works by Falckenhagen – click the box!

 

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