Göttweig: Alternate Readings

The Göttweig Suites for Viola d'Amore solo, alternate readings I.


UPDATE May 13, 2017. This update is in red, and reflects what I have learned when I recently examined the manuscript in person.

About this new edition of previously unknown works for viola d'amore, just published by Helbling.


I'd like to share with you the interesting things I find in this manuscript. There are a number of aspects to consider, among them the kind, time composed,  and place of original of the works. What the various kinds of notation have to tell us about the social sphere of the musicians is another. Yet another aspect are some rare musical inventions contained in this new edition, such as the Chaconnes at the conclusions of suites 19 and 21.


While I have little problem with calling these works Suites, I think they could also be called Partitas. So many pieces in this collection fall between Biber's 1683 Mystery Partitas (Thanks, Charles Brewer) and his 1696 collection the partitas of Harmonia Artificiosa-Arioso.  Furthermore, I think these three works in their entirety might what their first movements are called: Suite 6 might be a Sonatina, Suite 12/13 a Sinfonia, and Suite 20 a Sonate.


Possible composers to consider might be ones like Ganspeckh, Majr, Aufschnaiter, Biber, Pez. But keep an open mind, because the first name connection I was able to make for certain was to Attlio Ariosti. He did spent time in Vienna, where a number of his operas were performed from 1704-1709. Maybe Gottfried Finger should be considered as a possible composer of these works, too; he and Ariosti were god parents of the same children and may well have known one another. And at that time he might have copied 3 movements from this manuscript, or from the sources for this manuscript.

The webpage for the library holding this manuscript of 24 solos for the viola d'amore, catalog number HS 4806, is here. Now that I have examined the original, I think that when it was fully intact it had 25 solos and maybe two other works.

According to the introduction of the edition, 3 volumes of lute music in French tablature were long known to be located at this collection, but it was only recently that the 3rd volume, which had been a mystery to lute players, was noticed for what is was, 196 pages of music for viola d'amore, written, in my opinion, between 1680 and 1720. I will have to say more about the forms of notation unique to this manuscript later.

May 13, 2017 The Adminstrator of the Archive during the time the edition was made, Dr. Friedrich Riedel, now has dementia. The current staff of the Archive told me that, contrary to the account of the provenance of HS 4806 given in the foreward to the Helbling edition, they are no longer certain that HS 4806 came to the collection in 1854 as part of the Fuchs Collection. The Archive has plans that in the next year or two scholars will re-examen the provenance of the Göttweig collection, and it may turn out that HS 4806 did not come to the collection through Fuchs, but by some other means.

I spent 4 hours in all examining the manuscript. While I have have no qualifications, I think there are two types of paper in the manuscript, the bulk of the volume is on what looks to me to be pre-ruled paper with 4 systems of 2 staves each, while Suites 9 and 23 are on a paper which is  now a slightly darker yellow,  and which has hand ruled staff lines. This un-ruled paper was used for both the basso and vda parts. In addition, there are a few places where an extra staff has been added to the pre-ruled paper when more space was needed. I could not see any watermarks, but I also cannot rule out that they are there. All of the paper is still in remarkably good condition.

According to the staff, the catalog number HS 4806 signifies that the viola d'amore manuscript was one of the last manuscripts Dr Riedel cataloged for the Archive, perhaps as recently at the year 2000. They also said the paper was trimmed, (sometimes cutting off tempo markings or even final notes) and bound (in the early 18th century, maybe more than once) then the edges colored red, and then finally gilded, which they said were signs of a volume of importance. They considered current binding to be from the 20 Century.

There are several places in the manuscript where entire works may have been cut out. The first of these is right before the Suite in h, where 5 pages have been cut out. This is why the basso page for the allemande of the Suite in h is missing, and the viola d'amore part of the Gigue that concludes the second Suite in A is likewise missing. I no longer have much hope for finding the missing bass pages for Suites 1, 3, and 14 and 24.

I think it is most likely that the missing work that was between Suite 2 and 3, was either in A or in h. If you find 5 pages of vda music, in A or in h, with the left hand edge of the page cut with a knife, consider that it may come for this manuscript.

Other places where pages have been omitted are at the end of Suite 9, and before Suite 14. The viola d'amore part for the 3rd and 4th movements of Suite 23 is lost, maybe that happened when Suite 24 was added to the manuscript.

At the end of Suite 9, for which, like Suite 24, the staff lines are hand ruled for both the basso and viola d'amore parts, there is a possible clue to what might have been removed, maybe to make room to insert Suite 9? Unlike the other accordaturas, the accordatura for Suite 10 has been added by hand after the fact:

This is speculation on my part, but it suggests to me space was made for Suite 9 by removing some pages of Suite 10, including the necessary movements of the suite, like Allemande Courante, Saraband and Gigue. Suite 9 is in F, but in a completely different tuning from all the other works in F, and a different kind of paper, with hand ruled staff lines.  So I suspect several of the necessary movements of Suite 10 have been lost and whoever did the insertion also knew the tuning needed to be added.

The structure of the manuscript seemed to based on the key of the piece, not the tuning of the viola d'amore.  The works appear in the manuscript in the order of the scale as it is in German, that is A, h, C F. and finally G....this doesn't account for d, which comes after F, but maybe the answer lies in how the people of the time concieved of d minor, more as a mode than a key. In the manuscript the works in d have no flat in the key signature. If you think of it in terms of accidentals, the structure is 3 #'s, 2 #'s, no accidental, 1 flat, no accidental, and 1 sharp. Roughly, because there are works in 1 flat in the G section.

The next point at which pages are cut out is between Suites 13 and 14, where once again 5 pages are missing. This work might have been in F or in d, given the tonal structure of the manuscript.

The final missing page is the last page of the vda part of Suite 23. we have the basso part, but not the vda part, for a Saraband and Gigue. The Gigue has a fermata at the end of it, maybe signifying that it is the final movement. Perhaps there were 2 previous early 18th century bindings, the first had to be removed, to make it possible to add Suite 24 to the manuscript? If there were 2 previous bindings, it's removal would explain the loss of the basso parts to Suite 1 and vda part to Suite 23. And also might help explain why both suites with 9 line staves are loose.

My view is that the manuscript, at the point where Suites 9 and 24 were added, actually had 25 works in it. For this count I consider the edition's Suites 11 and 12 to be a single work.


The staff at the Archive has some things to say about the scripts in the manuscript. The movements titles are written in antico, which the copyists of the time would have used for Italian, Latin, and French. So if the word is written in Antico script, which has rounded letters, don't think of German words when you are trying to puzzle out what might be written. For example, the Gigue of Suite 18:


The word there might be the Latin word vertare, meaning you turn. And this might be a useful thing to write just here, because although a gigue is often the final movement of a suite, in the case of this particular suite there are 4 more movements.

The other script used by copyists at this time was Kurrentscrift, which is very vertical, with sharp corners. There is no example of Kurrentschrift in the manuscript, which suggests all the words they used for music were foreign ones.

Again from the staff, the final letter of "vertare" in the image is not a letter, but  a symbol indicating an abbreviation This symbol looks to my modern eye like a cursive z, but usually represents the letters er. I showed the staff the many times the abbreviation symbol us used to complete the word gigue, which usually looks like guigz. They thought that this was an adaptation of the abbreviation symbol that would have been understood in a special way by the musicians using the manuscript.


Through most of the 196 pages the basso part is on the left hand page, the solo viola d'amore part on the right hand page.

One of the first things I noticed, is that three movements in this amazing 4 volume publication of 24 works, were movements I already knew from my complete recording of the works for viola d'amore of Attilio Ariosti. Here is one of them, first as it is in  the first volume of Marianne Ronez's new edition:

And below is the same movement, in an edition I made for my recording. The source for this version of the movement is page 61 of the Recueil de Pièces poul la Viole d'Amour, composée par Mr. Attilio Ariosti. This manuscript is in the State Music Library of Sweden, in Johan Roman database. RO:99, the manuscript copy of the works of Ariosti that Johan Roman made in one of his visits to London in the 1710's, it used to be online. Today, July 5, 2016, I was unable to find it online. (Both the Gottweig HS 4806, source for Marianne's edition, and Johan Roman's manuscript of Ariosti's works for viola d'amore, Ro.99 are sole surviving sources, unique versions of their pieces.)


I have scribbled on my edition asterixs at some of the moments that are different. To sum it up, version of the movement in the lower score has a real movement title, Allegro. In the lower version changes have been made to both the solo and to the bass part,  musical changes that to my mind intensify the expression of the piece. In the solo viola d'amore part double stops and divisions are added. In the bass part the harmony of the upper, or Gottweig, version is respected, but often the part has added motion, mostly by division, but sometimes by actual recomposition.

By the way, you can hear this movement or download it here: eclassical.

Most interesting to me at the two points where the music is extended. A whole bar is added to the end of the A section, bar 9 in the lower score, while in the B section two bars of dominant pedal are inserted, bar 17. Personally, I think further elaboration in the viola d'amore part of this dominant pedal would be just fine. The variations between these two versions of the smae movement confirm for me my view that the public parts of a composition of this time are the cadences and the pedal points, or cadenzas. These are the points where the player should feel free to show his hand.


I find the differences between the two versions of the same movement kind of liberating. Even in something as modest as this movement, the notes are not the music! Here are ways to change the notes but not the music?


Here is another movement identical to a work of Ariosti, the third movement from Gottweig Suite V:


I don't have space to put the whole of the movement up on this page, sorry. Nor room enough for the corresponding one as realized in the Roman manuscript that is the source for the Ariosti Stockholm Sonatas. The two viola d'amore versions are very similar, but contrast the two basso versions!

It seems to me that whoever, Ariosti, perhaps, was happy enough with the solo part, but wanted to give the bass part the points of imitation with the solo part, to make it, as it were, more of a conversation with the solo part. The harmonies are not changed, but the basso part imitations makes in my opinion quite a different character to the piece. I wonder if the Roman manuscript version, which we have long attributedto Ariosti, was intended to be played by a bowed bass rather than a keyboard?


So far I have proposed two movements of the Gottweig suites might be attributed to Ariosti. Or they might not be composed by Ariosti; perhaps his Recueil for the viola d'amore is music he copied rather than wrote!

In the first, the changes we find in the Roman manuscript seem to me changes that reflect the freedoms of the players of the time to ornament and repeat things in the music with some degree of freedom, to intensify the expression of the music. In my second example, the rondo, however, the changes made to the bass part seem like a major compositional reworking of the music.


There is one more movement that is also in Ariosti's Lessons, that I have noticed, here it is. This Gigue appears on page 47 of volume 4. Here it is in G major, and in 6/8 time.


And also appears as Giga, but in D, and in 12/8, as the third movement of the 6th Lesson by Ariosti. You can find the facsimile of this in the back of The Viola d'Amore by Harry Danks, in the facsimile of the Ariosti Cantatas and Lessons, published by Forni, I see that there is a verson for violin and piano by George St George on Imslp.

Here is the edition I prepared for my own use on my recording, Bis. 1535.


There are two main things I'd like to direct your attention to.


First of all, notice how very little the scordatura notation was changed! Maybe having to rewrite scordatura to suit the arrangement for violin that is what the Lessons for the Viola d'amore are, would have been too much work?


Secondly, in the second section, where the Gottweig version gets into string crossings, the Lesson version is vastly simplified, compared to the Gottweig version. There are only 9 bars in the Lesson B section, and a full third of them are just dominant pedal, first in the bass, then in the solo part, 3 1/2 bars, really, from the middle of bar 11 to bar 15.


Was Ariosti here just cutting compositional corners at the end of a six lesson long exercise of arranging old viola d'amore material for the violin, for sale to English Gentlemen Amateur fiddle players,  who bought his Cantatas and Lessons by subscription?


These three movements, two from Suite V in Vol. 1, and one for Vol. 4 of the complete edition of the Gottweig suites, are the only ones I have found so far where I am sure I can make an attribution. It does seem to me possible that some other movements in these suites are by Ariosti. Or they are by the same composer Ariosti copied to his own collection of viola d'amore music? The Air that is the second movement of Suite V has an Ariosti feel to it, for example. However, I cannot help wondering if the suites may include movements from an number of composers. In terms of this, I'd like to point out that neither the Gottweig manuscript nor the Johan Roman manuscript Ro.99, neither of them are divided into Suites. Both of them are just collections of movments, that loosely fall into suites by tuning.


I find that a number of other suites that seem very similar to other works I already know, just like this Air. JC Pez and Grob are two known viola d'amore composers, that seem expeclally likely to be represented in Gottweig, the way I hear it, at least. In future pages I will set out these connections as best I can make them.

Update May 2017. I now think it is very likely that Suites 9, 19, and 24 are all by Biber or by someone working closely with him. There are two things that make this seem likely to me.

First, the 9 line staff scordatura notation uses viola, not violin fingerings. Very rare! Prior to the discovery of this manuscript this 9 line notation was known by the Biber Trio for two violas d'amore and bc, and a Cantata. (please do not get confused by the 10 staff used for Suite 19; Suites 9 and 24 were written on hand ruled paper, and inserted into the volume, perhaps later. If that was the case, it would explain why Suite 24 has come away from the binding and Suite 9 has nearly separated from it, also why the first movments of Suite 10 are missing.) Regardless of the 10 lines, the notation for Suite 19 is the same kind as Suites 9 and 24.


The second is the high musical quality of these Suites, and the attention to detail of things like final notes. The final notes of the Aria and the Ciacona from Suite are examples of this, as is the choice of key for the Aria and Trezza.