Dretzel Update

The Divertimento Armonico of Cornelius Heinrich Dretzel settles into an Italian harpsichord perfectly.  The italophilia of Nuremberg is borne out in this piece, and the bright, clear, affirmative tone of my new harpsichord is serving it well.

At the same time, the idea of BWV565 being conceived for harpsichord is appearing (to my fingers, let alone my mind) as ludicrous on the face of it.  The style of the two pieces is identical, but the Toccata and Fugue (or Adagio and Fugue) was conceived for organ.

As I said in my article of some years back, no amount of conjuring can turn 565 into a harpsichord, violin, or other instrumental work.  Removing the organ from the pieture achieves nothing, expect perhaps to dull the sense of cognitive dissonance.  After all, we “know” it was by Bach, right?  Because we were told so.  Because it’s famously identified with Bach.

Name another Bach piece that sounds even a little bit like it.

BWV565 is not by Bach.  If it’s not by Dretzel, then the composer is totally unknown and perhaps unknowable.  The continued circular recitation of A-listers like Kellner, Krebs, et al. eternally fails to achieve anything.

My close study of Dretzel’s major surviving and attributed work convinces me of the stylistic similarity, to the point that I am at ease with my attribution.

And it’s a joy and a privilege to be playing it daily on a beautiful harpsichord.

About Jonathan B. Hall

Keyboard artist, sacred musician, teacher, writer, working in New York City and State. Many interests include music theory and history, literature, astronomy, genealogy, philosophy and theology, gardening, and good food.
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