Inventory and Notes on the pieces Part III

folio 16v-17:

Presto [Weiss]

Smith 454; Manabe, p. 74

No juxtaposition better illustrates the difference between genuine and ‘imitation’ Weiss than that of this piece and its neighbours. Although we have no concordant versions, this Allegro is very similar stylistically to Weiss pieces such as the Bb Presto, Weiss SWL 49/6,(67) the C major Presto 39/6,(68) and 29 above (although the latter piece may be somewhat earlier).

There is a written-out cadenza (meas. 70-74) which virtually excludes the possibility of a repeat of the second half of the piece.

folio 17v:

Click on thumbnail to view in full size.

andantino Allemande

Smith 455; Manabe, p. 79

This is the first movement of a ‘partitta’ in F (note the ‘finis’ at the end of 38, below). Formally it suggests the work of a ‘Weissiste’ follower (or pupil?) of the Dresden lutenist, but certain stylistic features, notably the ‘rhythmic incipit’ (see 3 , q.v., and 32 , above), the repeated harmonic progressions, and the character of the cadence formulae, are quite unlike those of any surviving music that can be unequivocally ascribed to Weiss.

folio 17v-18:


Smith 456; Manabe, p. 80; Suétine 1991, p. 19

folio 18:


Smith 457; Manabe, p. 83

folio 18:


Smith 458; Manabe, p. 84

A typical early ‘German’ polonoise, cited as such in Wilkowska-Chominska 1963, example 3c, p. 28.

folio 18v:

Gigue / (at end:) finis

Smith 459; Manabe, p. 85

folios 18v-19v: [SCALES IN ALL THE KEYS]

Click on thumbnails to view in full size.

This set of scales written out in all the keys is unique in lute tablature, and would be a rarity in any musical source of the period. All the minor scales use the ‘melodic’ form (in which the augmented-2nd interval, otherwise unusually prominent in the MS, is avoided). The order of keys follows the ‘circle of fifths’ progression from g/Bb to d/F, and the tuning of the basses needs to be adjusted to this. That the intabulator recognises the transition from scales 11/12 (ab /Cb) to 13/14 (c# /E) as a point of enharmonic discontinuity (as transcribed here) is shown by the radical change in tuning of the bass strings:

This confirms that by this time in the lute’s history, the relationship between tablature and staff notation was fully established, and that tablature letters had an absolute meaning in terms of pitch. On the other hand, it is the case that the keys are not named in this source.(69) At an earlier period, the lute’s interval tuning bore a much more equivocal relation to absolute pitch, and to the names of the notes on other instruments or voices.

folio 19v-20:

Click on thumbnail to view in full size.

Partitta Signor Veiss. / 1 / Viuace Allemande [S.L. Weiss]

Smith 460; Manabe, p. 87

The movements of this partita (41-46) are numbered 1-6 in the manuscript, presumably because of the interpolation of two pieces (39 and 40), which are in another key and tuning and are possibly not by Weiss.

The allemande is marked ‘Vivace’, which is perhaps reflected in the texture, somewhat simpler than normal for Weiss’s allemandes, and may indicate a faster tempo than usual.

folio 20v-21:

2 / Courente [S.L. Weiss]

Smith 461; Manabe, p. 91

A fine example of Weiss’s mature style (cf. 20 and 28, above). The extraordinary modulations (especially in measures 74-93) are, if anything, more extreme than usual in his large-scale courantes; in this, they present some ambiguities and difficulties in transcription. As Weiss himself put it, in a comment written in an autograph album in 1741, next to an example in lute tablature containing similarly extreme modulations: ’Chi sa, ... L’intendera’ (’He who knows ... will understand’). This aphorism combines a pun on Weiss’s own name (Ger. weiss = ‘know’) with a reference to the mysterious enharmonic modulations.(70)

folio 21v:


Smith 462; Manabe, p. 96

In a running allegro-like style more akin to Weiss’s finale movements than his normal preludes, which normally incorporate some sections of modulating broken-chord figuration. An augmented 2nd appears at a conspicuously-exposed point (measure 5), which together with its unusual style perhaps suggests that this is another product of the composer of 3-6, 11, 32 and 34-38.

folios 21v-22:


Smith 463; Manabe, p. 97

Although the ‘Ukrainian’ augmented 2nd is again given much prominence in this piece, which has the character of ‘imitation’ Weiss, it is not present where expected in measure 6. (The MS has a´ natural rather than the expected a´ flat. However, it should be noted that the scribe had second thoughts at this point: there is a cancelled f present on beat 2 at precisely the point where the a´ in question is placed.)

folio 22v:

3 / Bouree [S.L. Weiss]

Smith 464; Manabe, p. 100

Full of Weiss’s wit, ingenuity and rhythmic felicity, this could hardly present a greater contrast with the simple-minded dances by the ‘Weiss imitator’ (cf. 8 and 36 , above).

folio 23:

4 / Sarabande Andante [S.L. Weiss]

Smith 465; Manabe, p. 103

folios 23v-24:

5 / Presto [S.L. Weiss]

Smith 466; Manabe, p. 105

The order of the Presto (45) and Menuet (46) should probably be reversed in performance, as was Weiss’s invariable practice. In Dresden, for example, the final movement of a sonata is nearly always written on two facing pages to avoid page-turns, with the preceding menuet written on the verso of the second page. In most cases, there is a note indicating that the menuet is to be played as the penultimate movement.

folio 24v:

6 / Menuett [S.L. Weiss]

Smith 467; Manabe, p. 110

(see note to 45, above) There is a ‘Ukrainian’ augmented 2nd present in measure 51. It may have been composed thus by Weiss or be a result of the copyist’s habit, but there is no way to check, since this movement, like the rest of the partita, is unique to this MS.

folio 25:

d. dur / Alternati(m?) Scherzo (?) [S.L. Weiss]

Warsaw 2005, f. 44, n.t.

Smith 468; Manabe, p. 113

The title ‘Alternatim’ implies that this is intended as a ‘trio’ to the previous menuet (46), or forms an optional final movement of the partita. However, although in principle it forms a suitable part of this group of pieces in D minor, there is a practical reason why not: the basses need to be re-tuned as if for D major. In Warsaw 2005 it is one of two D minor movements in a large-scale D major sonata. The Moscow scribe seems to have become confused by this unusual arrangement, however, or has made an unsuccessful attempt to ‘correct’ the tablature for a D-minor tuning.

There is inconsistent use of the augmented 2nd interval: measure 5 gives c# ´- b n ´; measure 45 gives c#´- bb´ for the same music. The title ‘Scherzo’ is entirely editorial. This and 30, above, have some affinity with early works by W.F. Bach from the period when he was acquainted with Weiss and Kropfgans while employed as organist at the Sophienkirche in Dresden (1733-46).(71)

folio 25v:

Sarabande [Silvius Leopold Weiss]

Dresden 10 (Reich 1979, p. 75), Sarab: (autograph)

Weiss SWL 38/4; Smith 265; Manabe, p. 116; Suétine 1991, p. 24

The Moscow scribe has substituted augmented 2nds for the normal 2nd intervals in measures 7, 30 and 31 (the Dresden autograph gives g#´-f#´ in all three cases).

folios 26-62v:

[37 leaves with empty ruled tablature staves.]

folio 63:

Click on thumbnail to view in full size.

[Pen drawings in a childish hand, including an illustration of Pythagorus’s theorem.]

folio 63v:

Click on thumbnail to view in full size.

Arithmetical calculations;

in Russian, hand C: Prinadlezhit’ Ivanu Skariatinu (belonging to Ivan Skariatin)

below: shono (unknown meaning);

in French, hand C: Que tu vois (What you see... );

in Latin, hand C: Concordia res parvae / crescunt (Through concord, small things grow bigger)(72)

folio 64:

Click on thumbnail to view in full size.

An ? architectural diagram; geometrical diagrams, including an illustration of Euclid’s first theorem; in Russian, hand D: a line of unconnected cyrillic letters and an unreadable inscription.(73)

Back to top


65 Back See Crawford forthcoming

66 Back See Schroeder forthcoming.

67 Back Smith 341: Dresden 25 (Reich 1979, p. 214); Warsaw 2004, f. 24v; published in Telemann’s Der getrueue Musikmeister (1728), Zwölfte Lection, p. 45.

68 Back Smith 273: Dresden 11 (Reich 1979, p. 88); Göttweig, f. 7v, Praesto W., published as by Weichenberger, although quite foreign to the Austrian composer’s style, in Koczirz 1942, pp. 16-17.

69 Back J.C. Beyer’s Herrn Professor Gellerts Oden, Lieder und Fabeln (Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1761) clearly assigns absolute pitches to the lute’s strings, and gives a table for all the common tunings used at the time. These range from Eb/c minor to E major/ c# minor. The use of extreme keys in lute music of the eighteenth century is discussed in Ecklund 1991, pp. 39 -44.

70 Back Wolff 1973, p. 221.

71 Back A Scherzo for keyboard in a style not dissimilar to 47 was published in two variant versions in the Bach Gesellschaft edition (vol xlii, pp. 220 and 281, respectively) as a work by J.S. Bach, BWV844 and 844a, but it is now tentatively attributed to his elder son William Friedemann. (See W. Schmieder, Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischer Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach, 2nd edition (Wiesbaden:Breitkopf und Härtel, 1990), pp. 639-40.)

72 Back Sallust, Bellum Iugurthinum, X, 6. (See Otto 1890, p. 89, entry 418.) This popular classical quotation could have had multiple significance for the writer. Firstly, as a political maxim: in Sallust’s original context, it appears in a rhetorical address (133 B.C.) by Micipsa, the aged king of the Numidians, to his two sons and their treacherous half-brother, Jugurtha, imploring them (in vain, as events proved) to settle their differences and divide the kingdom equally:

’Equidem ego vobis regnum trado firmum, si boni eritis, sin mali, imbecillum. Nam concordia parvae res crescunt, discordia maxumae dilabuntur.’

(’I deliver to you three a realm that is strong if you prove virtuous, but weak if you do ill; for harmony makes small states great, while discord undermines the greatest empires’, Sallust 1920, p. 149.)

The first edition of Sallust appeared in 1470; an important edition was published at Leipzig in 1724.

Secondly, as a moral code, again with a fraternal reference: according to Seneca (Epistles, XCIV, 46), the Roman general Marcus Agrippa

’used to say he was greatly indebted to the proverb “Harmony makes small things grow; lack of harmony makes great things decay.” He held that he himself became the best of brothers and the best of friends, by virtue of the saying.’ (Seneca 1925, iii, p. 41).
Thirdly, the incomplete quotation as given in the manuscript could be read out of context as containing an allusion to the legendary power of music: ‘Through concord (= harmony = music) small things grow bigger.’ The phrase may have been used as a family motto, or adopted as a personal one by the owner or writer of the manuscript, who perhaps had two brothers (?).

73 Back See: footnote 12.