9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


J C Horn's Parergon Musicum and the North German consort suite tradition

Michael Robertson

The North German keyboard suite has been fairly well explored but the corresponding genre of consort suite is still comparatively unknown. Johann Caspar Horn's Parergon Musicum is a highly important part of a specific tradition of suite composition that first appears in mid-seventeenth century and extends to well beyond the first decade of the following century.

The six parts of the collection were published in Leipzig between 1663 and 1676. The first five books are modestly scored but the sixth is altogether on a grander scale progressing from the seven part opening Intrade to the sumptuous twelve part closing suite. Similarly, parts one, three and five follow a specific choice and sequence of movements while part six is rather more amorphous. Parts two and four are what the title pages call Grossen-Balletten but the remaining parts are suites or suite derived movements. It is these parts of the collection, and in particular part one, that are remarkable. They clearly demonstrate the organisation and unity that was to become so common in this genre of suite composition.

Parergon Musicum has remained largely unknown to modern writers, especially as parts five and six became unavailable at the end of World War ll. Their rediscovery at Kraków twenty years ago allows us to reassess the importance of this suite collection as a whole.

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Last updated on 22 March 2000 by Yo Tomita