Arts-Scène Diffusion

Jean-Luc Ho


Dresde 1649

Pedal clavichord - The musical duel between Froberger and Weckmann


In 1649 the Prince-Elector of Saxony announced a musical duel in Dresden between two giants of the keyboard: Johann Jakob Froberger and Matthias Weckmann. An extended correspondence, along with the exchange of music manuscripts, reveals that the two musicians subsequently became firm friends.

The clavichord, cousin to both the lute and the harpsichord, is the instrument par excellence for expression and intimacy, for meditation and the development of musical ‘affects’ adapted to the character of the dance. It is also a working tool for composers, ideal for learned polyphony such as the ricercar, in which the listener may glimpse an idealised mirror of the world. When equipped with two manuals and a pedalboard with 16-foot register, it is fully equal to the spectacular organ effects characteristic of the stylus fantasticus and of Lutheran chorale settings. No wonder that in the mid-17th century it became recognised as the richest and most versatile of keyboard instruments.


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