Project Sanssouci

Project Sanssouci 

This is the theme of an exciting, multi-year project 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. This work has been receiving critical acclaim!


11 March, 2021: New York Flute Club, virtual presentation. I will present a program performing and discussing my latest research on Bach’s Partita in A minor.

Recent news: 

Just published in Nov. 2020 is my extensive article on the Partita in A minor, BWV 1013, in Bach: Journal of the Riemanschneider Bach Institute. In it, I argue for substantial revisions to the text, and offer new insights into the origins and context for each movement. My book, J.S. Bach and His Sons  (Bach Perspectives vol. 11) provides the first study of the music rooms, keyboards, and theatres at the king’s palaces, where the Bachs, Quantz, and other musicians performed daily at court.  At Princeton, David Schulenberg and I performed a lecture-recital on the origins of Bach’s triple concerto for flute, violin, and harpsichord, BWV 1044 for the American Bach Society. 

CD releases:

In Fall 2020 I finished my recording of Bach’s complete flute music, performed in an historical baroque church in Renswoude, NL, together with Dutch harpsichordist Pieter Dirksen, violinist Cynthia Miller-Freivogel, and cellist and viola da gambist Cassandra Luckhardt. The album will be released on the Belgian label Etcetera.

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  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.’

A feature article “Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and the Flute” appeared in the summer 2014 issue of Flutist Quarterly — celebrating the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The article appeared in translation in the journal of the Dutch Flute Society, Fluit.

Mary performed with Newton Baroque in a concert featuring the music of  Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and his contemporaries and lectured 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, and a solo recital with Andrus Madsen, harpsichord, featuring music of C.P.E. Bach, Franz Benda, and Johann Joachim Quantz 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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