Sonata in a minor for Flute and Basso Continuo by Wilhelmine von Bayreuth
Piano score, flute solo part, cello/basso part
Edited by Adelheid Krause-Pilcher and Irene Hagen
The flute sonata, which was only recently discovered and is printed here for the first time, is the second autograph manuscript of Wilhelmine von Bayreuth known at present. The A minor sonata was originally written for the then common transverse flute, and yet it can also be played today with the modern Boehm-flute. The instrumentation of the bass part is not specified: for harpsichord alone, or harpsichord with violoncello to intensify the bass. The presto of the sonata shows that Wilhelmine preferred “wild thundering flute playing” over an affected performance.
“Nothing gives me more pleasure than a beautiful opera. The sweet sounds of the human voice enter my heart.” – Wilhelmine of Bayreuth in a letter to her brother King Frederick the Great.
Wilhelmine of Bayreuth (1709-1758) was the eldest daughter of King Frederick William I and Queen Sophie Dorothea of Hannover. Wilhelmine received a thorough musical education as a child, learning to play the harpsichord and lute in particular and performing regularly at court concerts. Wilhelmine’s close lifelong relationship with her brother Frederick the Great is documented in an extensive exchange of letters in which the two exchanged views on musical themes. Married to the Margrave Friedrich von Brandenburg-Bayreuth, Wilhelmine devoted herself to far-reaching tasks – under her direction Bayreuth developed into a leading center of Italian opera music in Germany. In close contact with Italian opera centers, she designed the repertoire, hired musicians, bought musical instruments, invited ensembles, created a library with a large collection of opera text books, and built the new Margravial Opera House. In Bayreuth, Wilhelmine studied composition. Her most important surviving composition is the opera Argenore, which she composed in 1740 for her husband’s birthday. In a letter to her brother Frederick, Wilhelmine sees herself as a pioneer and hopes that the musicians will treat her composition with kindness, since “women have not yet dealt with such things”.