Jean-Balthasar Tricklir

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Born: 1750 — Dijion — France
Died: 29 November 1813 — Dresden — Germany
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Music

  • Concertos for Cello and Violin
  • Sonatas for Cello and Basso Continuo

Life

Jean-Balthasar Tricklir was born in Dijon, France in 1750 to a family of German descent. From his earliest years Tricklir demonstrated a youthful passion for music. Accordingly his parents directed his interests to serving the Church. Lessons on the violin and cello soon overtook his preparation for the priesthood. By age 15 his musical studies surpassed his ecclesiastical interests and he left Dijon to further refine his cello technique in Mannheim, Germany. It was there where he came to the attention of the powerful Electors Palatine of the Rhine. Tricklir continued to live in Mannheim until 1768 profiting from the experience of what observers portrayed as a musician’s heaven.

During the 1770’s Tricklir made three trips to Italy and performed at the Concert in Paris of May, 1776. It was Europe’s leading concert series and provided an international platform for the presentation of new music by professional performers. Luigi Boccherini headlined the broad register of soloist cellists at the Concert Spirituel along with the brothers Jean-Pierre and Jean-Louis Duport. Jean-Baptiste Janson and Jean-Balthasar Tricklir appeared from the Elector Carl Therodore’s Mannheim orchestra confirmng the elite status of Tricklir among the finest cellists of his day. In 1782 Tricklir was appointed chamber virtuoso to the Francophile electoral court in Mainz, Germany. The composer’s value continued to rise when in March, 1783 he entered the service of the Saxon elector in Dresden, Germany, and he would remain there until his death in November 29, 1813.

Tricklir published a set of three cello concertos issued in Berlin and Amsterdam in 1782. Six sonatas for cello and basso continuo followed in the 1780’s. Tricklir’s thirteen surviving cello concertos, including one edited and published in 1787 as the composer’s Fourth Concerto by Jean-Louis Duport, use the instrument’s full range and project melodies that favor the rich sounds of the C string. The thirteenth and fifteenth supplements to the catalog of Leipzig publisher Breitkopf for years 1779-80 and 1782-84 list two of Tricklir’s cello concertos along with cello works of Luigi Boccherini, Giuseppe Fiala, Franz Anton Hoffmeister, Ignaz Joseph Pleyel, Joseph Reicha and Johann Conrad Schlick. The listing speaks to Jean-Balthasar Tricklir’s significance both as a cellist and composer and has been acknowledged; understanding of the French-born cellist’s music remains constrained by the absence of modern editions of his cello and violin concertos. Tricklir delivered works of advanced craftsmanship and invention into the music market creating quality compositions for the cello.

Judged to be one of the greatest masters of the cello and a tasteful composer for his instrument by biographer Ernst Ludwig Gerber. Author Francois-Joseph Fetis described Tricklir as one of the finest cellists of the late 18th Century. Wilhelm Josef von Wasieliewski in his Das Violoncello und seine Geschichte written in 1889 notes that Tricklir was a highly appreciated artist. Tricklir was an important link between Anton Fils and Bernhard Heinrick Romberg. He was one of the first composers to publish cello music using bass, tenor and treble clefs at pitch in contrast to the prevailing use of moveable C clefs. Unlike other Austro-German cellists, Tricklir made extensive use of separate bowings in his compositions accenting them with light and shade.

Each of Tricklir’s cello concertos begins with memorable patterns that leap out of the sonata first movements. The slow second movements allow subordinate themes to serve as a initiation for the solo cello’s highlights which are routinely marked by the use of double stops and chordal flourishes. Folk music appears in the final movements as cheerful rondos complete the concertos finales. Specifically, in Cello Concerto No. 4 in D major, a Scottish melody adds verve.

Although Triclir falls short of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart genius for translating musical signals, he proves to be an accomplished melodist. Tricklir’s rondos are among the finest creations for the instrument found in the repertoire of 18th Century composition. As a master of the first order, the music scene profits from the exposure of Tricklir’s works to a wide listening audience.

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(1627) Heinrich Schütz: Premiere of Dafne, in Torgau, Germany.
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(1948) André Jolivet: Premiere of the Concerto for Ondes Martenot and Orchestra, in Vienna, Austria.
(1953) Olivier Messiaen: Premiere of Livre d'Orgue, Stuttgart, Germany, with Messiaen at the organ.
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