Project Sanssouci

Project Sanssouci (updated  April 2016)

This is the theme of an exciting, multi-year project I have undertaken to perform and lecture about music at the 18th-century court of Frederick “the Great,” and to create first editions and CD recordings of flute music in his circle. My work is receiving critical acclaim!

Recent news: Mary has been awarded a grant to make her next solo CD (repertory will be a special surprise!). She’s also been honored with a speaking engagement and participation as session-chair at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. where she presented the paper “Keyboards, Music Rooms, and the Bach Family at the Court of Frederick the Great” (relating to an essay and a from her forthcoming book) and gave another invited presentation on “C.P.E. Bach, Sara Levy, and the Forte Piano” at Bowdoin College as part of a Humboldt Kolleg/Symposium. In March 2017 Mary received the special honor of being appointed to the Alumni Council of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Mary’s flute tour of the Bach Flute Sonatas continued in spring and summer 2016 with concerts in Los Angeles and Claremont (Feb., 2016), in which she was joined by flutist John Barcellona and harpsichordist Robert Zapulla. In March, she premiered J.S. Bach’s complete sonatas for flute with Yuan Sheng in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall to over 1,000 enthusiastic audience members. She and Sheng gave a U.S. performance of the program at The Frederick Collection of Historic Keyboard Instruments in August. Mary also has recently completed the manuscript for Bach Perspectives, vol. 11, to which she has contributing an essay on the Bach’s and keyboard instruments at the court of Frederick ‘the Great.’ Currently she is preparing for publication a paper on Quantz as a musical scribe, in which she has established the first chronology of his handwriting.

Recent performances with Newton Baroque included the majestic Concerto in D minor, Wq 22, by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. This work, long known as a work for harpsichord, is now known to be originally for flute: it exists in copies owned by the Jewish salonniere Sara Levi and also her sister, who held similar salon concerts in Vienna during the 18th-century.

CD release:

In July 2013 Naxos released  my world premier CD recording of unknown flute concertos by Johann Joachim Quantz and Frederick “the Great”, performed with Miklos Spanyi and Concerto Armonico, including one lost concerto I recovered from Russia. Listen to it on my Discography. This recording has received critical acclaim and features 18th-century cadenzas written down in one of the concertos. It explores the contrast between the dramatic, Dresden court orchestral-style scoring of Quantz’s concertos versus the intimate chamber music-style scoring typical of the evening soirees held by the flutist-king, Frederick ‘the Great.’

Past events and reviews:

On June 12, 2015 as principle flutist of Newton Baroque, Mary performed a flute and harpsichord recital with Andrus Madsen at the Boston Early Music Festival, including one of the jewels of the repertory: Emanuel Bach’s Sonata in A minor for unaccompanied flute, as well as a wonderfully crazy sonata by his student Muethel in D major.

In April 2014 I was chosen to edit the next volume of Bach Perspectives (vol. 11), entitled J.S. Bach and his Sons for the American Bach Society. This volume is underway.

2014 marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Mary offered a number of contributions, including performances, articles and lectures. As part of these activities, she appeared as a guest speaker at the Brussel’s Royal Conservatory Symposium on C.P.E. Bach in November, presenting on “C.P.E Bach and Quantz’s Solfeggi.”

Her feature article “Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and the Flute” has appeared in the summer 2014 issue of Flutist Quarterly — celebrating the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Part I of this article has already appeared in translation, in the journal of the Dutch Flute Society, Fluit, with part II to follow.

On April 30th, 2014 Mary performed with Newton Baroque in a concert featuring the music of  Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and his contemporaries. On May 2-3 I performed two concerts with Newton Baroque and presented a lecture on Emanuel Bach’s Flute Quartets at Kenyon College, during  the Meeting of the American Bach Society. Her paper was entitled “The Flute Quartets of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.” In it, I discussed the genre and performs issues surrounding the three quartets composed in 1788 for flute, viola and fortepiano, works commissioned by Sara Levy for musicians in her closest circle.

Other performances included a chamber recital with Newton Baroque of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Quartets for Piano, flute and viola (April 2013), and a solo recital with Andrus Madsen, harpsichord, featuring music of C.P.E. Bach, Franz Benda, and Johann Joachim Quantz in Boston (December 2012), hosted by Early Music Thursday at the First Church in Boston.

Mary’s lecture-recital about Frederick as flutist, “The Flutist of Sanssouci: Frederick ‘the Great’ as Performer and Composer,” performed at the invitation of the National Flute Association in Las Vegas, 2012, received an enthusiastic review. You can read it here! Also, look for my article with the same title, which was featured in the fall issue of Flutist Quarterly 18 (2012). A Dutch translation of the article followed in FLUIT, the journal of the Dutch Flute Society.

The year 2012 marked the 300th anniversary of the king’s birth and occasioned a number of events and recordings in which she participated. So far, Project Sanssouci includes five CD releases (see the Discography). If you wish to play any of this music, look for her editions in the publications page, especially the first edition of four previously inaccessible sonatas by Frederick “the Great,” published by Breitkopf & Härtel. An edition of concertos is underway.

In September 2012, at the invitation of the Berlin State Archives and the Berlin State Library, I appeared as a guest speaker on the topic of King Frederick as a musician for the exhibition, Hommes de Lettres –Frederick: The King at His Writing Desk. The exhibition, in the Kulturforum in Berlin, ran from June to October 2012. On November 3 at 12:00pm at the meeting of the American Musicological Society in New Orleans, she presented another lecture-recital, this one focused on the art and meaning of the Adagio in 18th-century Berlin, entitled “Bringing His Audience to Tears:  Frederick ‘the Great’ as Composer and Performer.”


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