9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


Johann Joseph Fux and the Question of Einbau Technique

Harry White

Although Einbau or 'embedding' technique in the arias and choral movements of J.S. Bach has received considerable attention (notably in recent research by Stephen Crist and Norbert Dubowy), the extent to which this technique is employed by other composers has been largely neglected. As a means of formal and structural control, Einbau technique is a primary resource not only in the Lutheran cantatas of Bach, but also in the Roman Catholic oratorios of J.J. Fux. In Fux's case, the application of this technique is restricted to certain of his da capo arias, but given the preponderance and formal dominance of the da capo in Fux's oratorios, the use of Einbau therein provides good grounds for a scrutiny of the (da capo) form itself, in a domain which is comparable to but unnconnected with Bach's music.

In this paper, Fux's use of Einbau is disclosed and analysed under three headings: (a) cultural history (b)the psychology of forms (c) expressive capability. Fux's construction and manipulation of ritornello forms, which pre-determine and generate both the vocal elaboration and instrumental counterpoint of his verse settings, can be shown to depend upon Einbau technique in terms which invite comparison with Bach's practice. Given that this technique --- in Fux as in Bach--- inevitably bears upon text setting, a contextual study of Einbau in Fux enriches our understanding of compositional practice and aesthetic expression in the da capo aria as a self-standing form.

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Last updated on 22 March 2000 by Yo Tomita