Saturday, 7 April 2018


“April’s air stirs in Willow-leaves...a butterfly Floats and balances” ― Matsuo Bashō 

Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (c.1656 – August 27, 1746) was a German Baroque composer. Johann Nikolaus Forkel ranked Fischer as one of the best composers for keyboard of his day; however, partly due to the rarity of surviving copies of his music, his music is rarely heard today.

Fischer seems to have been of Bohemian origin, possibly born at Schönfeld, but details about his life are sketchy. Fischer was baptised and spent his youth in Schlackenwerth, north-west Bohemia. The first record of his existence is found in the mid-1690s: by 1695 he was Kapellmeister to Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden, and he may have remained with the court until his death in Rastatt.

Much of Fischer’s music shows the influence of the French Baroque style, exemplified by Jean Baptiste Lully, and he was responsible for bringing the French influence to German music. Fischer’s harpsichord suites updated the standard Froberger model (Allemande - Courante - Sarabande - Gigue); he was also one of the first composers to apply the principles of the orchestral suite to the harpsichord, replacing the standard French ouverture with an unmeasured prelude. Both Bach and Handel knew Fischer’s work and sometimes borrowed from it.

Here is his “Le Journal du Printemps” (1695), played by L’Orfeo Barockorchester. It is a collection of eight orchestral suites (ouvertures) for strings (the first and last with two trumpets ad libitum, that is, optional.) Each suite begins with an introductory ouverture and ends with a chaconne or a passacaglia. Le “Journal du printemps”, Georg Muffat’s “Florilegium” and Benedikt Anton Aufschnaiter’s “Concors Discordia” (all published the same year) were the first collections of orchestral suites published in Germany.

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