Johann Joachim Quantz

Last updated
Johann Joachim Quantz
Quantz by Gerhard.jpg
Portrait by Johann Friedrich Gerhard, 1735
Born30 January 1697
Died12 July 1773(1773-07-12) (aged 76)
Potsdam, Germany
  • composer
  • flutist
  • flute maker
Works List of compositions
Quantz signature.png

Johann Joachim Quantz (German: [kvants] ; 30 January 1697 – 12 July 1773) was a German composer, flutist and flute maker of the late Baroque period. Much of his professional career was spent in the court of Frederick the Great. Quantz composed hundreds of flute sonatas and concertos, and wrote On Playing the Flute, an influential treatise on flute performance. His works were known and appreciated by Bach, Haydn and Mozart.



Portrait by Johann David Schleuen, 1767 Quantz by Schleuen.jpg
Portrait by Johann David Schleuen, 1767

1697–1723: Early life

Quantz was born as Hanß Jochim Quantz [1] in Oberscheden, near Göttingen, in the Electorate of Hanover. His father, Andreas Quantz, was a blacksmith who died when Hans was not yet 11; on his deathbed, he begged his son to follow in his footsteps.[ citation needed ] Nevertheless, from 1708 to 1713 he began his musical studies as a child with his uncle Justus Quantz, a town musician in Merseburg; he also studied for a time with a cousin's husband, the organist Johann Friedrich Kiesewetter. From 1714 on, Quantz studied composition extensively and pored over scores of the masters to adopt their style. [2]

In 1716 he joined the town band in Dresden, where in 1717 he studied counterpoint with Jan Dismas Zelenka. In March 1718 he was appointed oboist in the newly formed Dresden Polish Chapel of August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. As it became clear that he couldn't advance as an oboist in the Polish Chapel, Quantz decided to pursue the flute, studying briefly in 1719 with Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin, principal flute in the Royal Orchestra. He became good friends with Johann Georg Pisendel, concertmaster of the Royal Orchestra, who greatly influenced his style. [2]

1724–1727: Grand tour

Between 1724 and 1727 Quantz completed his education by doing a "Grand Tour" of Europe as a flutist. He studied counterpoint with Francesco Gasparini in Rome, met Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples, befriended the flutist Michel Blavet in Paris, and in London was encouraged by Handel to remain there. During Carnival 1728 the Crown Prince, Frederick the Great, visited Dresden and met or rehearsed with Pisendel and Quantz. In April Frederick suffered from depressions and hardly ate anything; his father feared for his life. In May 1728 Quantz accompanied August II on a state visit to Berlin. [3] The Queen of Prussia was impressed and wanted to hire him for her son. Though August II refused, he allowed Quantz to travel to Berlin and Bayreuth twice a year. In June 1730 he took part in Zeithainer Lustlager and travelled to Berlin. [4] Quantz later told writer Friedrich Nicolai that he and Hans Hermann von Katte one day had to hide in a closet during an outburst of Frederick's domineering father, who disapproved of his son's hairstyle, musical studies, questionable books and fancy dressing gowns. [5] [6] Quantz married Anna Rosina Carolina Schindler in 1737; the marriage was not happy, and it was generally known in Berlin that his wife tyrannized him. Until 1741 Quantz remained at the Saxon Court in Dresden.

1741–1773: Court of Frederick

Frederick the Great playing a flute concerto in Sanssouci, C. P. E. Bach at the harpsichord, Quantz leaning on the wall to the right; by Adolph Menzel, 1852 Adolph Menzel - Flotenkonzert Friedrichs des Grossen in Sanssouci - Google Art Project.jpg
Frederick the Great playing a flute concerto in Sanssouci, C. P. E. Bach at the harpsichord, Quantz leaning on the wall to the right; by Adolph Menzel, 1852

When Frederick II became King of Prussia in 1740, Quantz finally accepted a position as flute teacher, flute maker and composer. He joined at the court in Berlin in December 1741 and stayed there for the rest of his career. [2] He made flutes from at least 1739 and was an innovator in flute design, adding a second key (Eb, in addition to the standard D#) to help with intonation, for example. Frederick owned 11 flutes made by Quantz. [7]

As well as writing hundreds of sonatas and concertos, mainly for the flute, he is known today as the author of Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (1752) (titled On Playing the Flute in English), a treatise on traverso flute playing. It is a valuable source of reference regarding performance practice and flute technique in the 18th century.

Quantz never joined his orchestra, lived in Berlin-Mitte (Kronenstrasse), [8] but played at Frederick's court until his death in 1773. A biography appeared in 1755 in Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg's Historisch-kritischen Beyträgen zur Aufnahme der Musik; another, in Italian, followed in 1762. His grandnephew, Albert Quantz, published a full-length biography in 1877.


Few of Quantz's works were published during his lifetime. Most of them are for transverse flute, including more than 200 sonatas, around 300 concertos, including several for two flutes; around 45 trio sonatas (mostly for 2 flutes or flute and violin, with continuo); 6 quartets for flute, violin, viola and continuo; various flute duets and flute trios; and unaccompanied caprices and fantasias for flute.

The thematic catalog for Quantz's works was published by Horst Augsbach. [9] 'QV' stands for 'Quantz Verzeichnis', and 'Anh.' for 'Anhang' ("supplement") when the authenticity of the works is in doubt. A number of additional works have been discovered or come to light since its publication.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach</span> German composer (1714–1788)

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, also formerly spelled Karl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, and commonly abbreviated C. P. E. Bach, was a German Classical period composer and musician, the fifth child and second surviving son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach</span> German musician and composer

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach was a German composer and harpsichordist, the fifth son of Johann Sebastian Bach, sometimes referred to as the "Bückeburg Bach".

This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1732.

Jan Dismas Zelenka, baptised Jan Lukáš Zelenka was a Czech composer and musician of the Baroque period. His music is admired for its harmonic inventiveness and mastery of counterpoint.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johann Georg Pisendel</span> German Baroque composer (1687–1755)

Johann Georg Pisendel was a German Baroque violinist and composer who, for many years, led the Court Orchestra in Dresden as concertmaster, then the finest instrumental ensemble in Europe. He was the leading violinist of his time, and composers such as Tomaso Albinoni, Georg Philipp Telemann and Antonio Vivaldi all dedicated violin compositions to him.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin</span> French flutist and composer

Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin was a French flutist and composer of the late Baroque period. He was a son of Jean-Joseph Buffardin, an instrument maker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Friedrich Dülon</span> Virtuoso flutist

Friedrich Ludwig Dülon was one of the most prominent and famous flute-virtuoso musicians of the Classical era, being one of the first flutists to be considered gifted on Western concert flute. At the age of 40 he had acquired more than 300 concerts in his repertoire. Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart devoted a 9-verse poem entitled The blind flute player Dülon on the journey.

Christoph Förster was a German composer of the baroque period.

The Sonata in E major for flute and harpsichord, probably by J. S. Bach, is a sonata in 3 movements:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flute Sonata in E major, BWV 1035</span>

The Sonata in E major for flute and basso continuo is a sonata for transverse flute and figured bass composed by J. S. Bach in the 1740s. It was written as the result of a visit in 1741 to the court of Frederick the Great in Potsdam, where Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel had been appointed principal harpsichordist to the king the previous year. It was dedicated to Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf, the king's valet and private secretary, who, like the king, was an amateur flautist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flute method</span>

In music, a Flute method is a kind of specific textbook style manual for playing the flute. It usually contains fingering charts and/or scales and numerous different exercises, sometimes also simple etudes, in different keys, in ascending order as to difficulty or with a focus on isolated aspects like fluency, rhythm, dynamics, articulation and the like. Sometimes there are duets or even recital pieces, also with accompaniment. Such methods differ from etude books in that they are meant as a linear course for a student to follow, with consistent guidance, whereas volumes of etudes are not as comprehensive.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paris quartets</span>

The Paris quartets is a collective designation for two sets of Chamber music compositions, each consisting of six works for flute, violin, viola da gamba, and continuo, by Georg Philipp Telemann, first published in 1730 and 1738, respectively. Telemann called his two collections Quadri and Nouveaux Quatuors. The collective designation "Paris quartets" was only first bestowed upon them in the second half of the twentieth century by the editors of the Telemann Musikalische Werke, because of their association with Telemann's celebrity visit to Paris in 1737–38. They bear the numbers 43:D1, 43:D3, 43:e1, 43:e4, 43:G1, 43:G4, 43:g1, 43:A1, 43:A3, 43:a2, 43:h1, 43:h2 in the TWV.

Johann Adam was a German violist and composer of the Baroque era.

Johann Christian Jacobi was a German oboist and composer of the Baroque period.

The Concerto, BWV 525a, is a trio sonata in C major for violin, cello and basso continuo, based on material otherwise found in Johann Sebastian Bach's first Organ Sonata, BWV 525, and Flute Sonata in A major, BWV 1032. The oldest extant manuscript containing the BWV 525a arrangement, D-B Bach St 345, is dated to the middle of the 18th century. Although this version of Bach's sonata movements may have originated during his lifetime in the circle around him, it seems unlikely that the composer supervised, or even ordered, the manufacture of the string trio adaptation, thus the arrangement has been listed in BWV Anh. II, that is the Anhang (Anh.) of doubtful works, in the 1998 edition of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV). Breitkopf & Härtel published BWV 525a in 1965. Digital facsimiles of 18th- and 19th-century manuscript copies of the arrangement, in which the sonata is titled "Concerto", became available in the 21st century.

<i>Brandenburg Concerto</i> No. 5 Instrumental work by J S Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his fifth Brandenburg Concerto, BWV 1050.2, for harpsichord, flute and violin as soloists, and an orchestral accompaniment consisting of strings and continuo. An early version of the concerto, BWV 1050.1, originated in the late 1710s. On 24 March 1721 Bach dedicated the final form of the concerto to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg.

<i>Tafelmusik</i> (Telemann)

Tafelmusik is a collection of instrumental compositions by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767), published in 1733. The original title is Musique de table. The work is one of Telemann's most widely known compositions; it is the climax and at the same time one of the last examples of courtly table music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sonata in A minor for Solo Flute, Wq. 132</span>

The Sonata for Solo Flute in A minor, Wq.132, H 562, is a sonata for flute, without Basso Continuo or accompanying instruments, composed by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The sonata is considered, along with Telemann's Fantasias for Solo Flute and J. S. Bach's A minor partita, one of the most significant works for unaccompanied flute before the 20th century. It is the sole flute work by Bach that was printed and published during his lifetime. No manuscript of it has been discovered.


  1. Horst E. Gerke, Jühnder Mitteilungen, Vol. 18, Eigenverlag, October 2011, p. 603 (in the Archiv der Ev. Kirche Hannover).
  2. 1 2 3 Biography with translated excerpts of Quantz's autobiography at a Elysium ensemble's website.
  3. Anekdoten von König Friedrich II. von Preussen, p. 145-148
  4. Johann Joachim Quantz, sein Leben und seine Kompositionen by Raskin, Adolf, p. 105
  5. Berlin, Summer 1730; Thomas Campbell: Frederick the great and his times. Volume 1
  6. Leben und charakter Friedrichs II, königs von Preussen: by Carl Philipp Funke, p. 14
  7. Music at German Courts, 1715-1760: Changing Artistic Priorities edited by Samantha Owens, Barbara M. Reul, Janice B. Stockigt
  8. "Nicolai, Friedrich: Beschreibung der Königlichen Residenzstädte Berlin und Potsdam, S. 393" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-09-13. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  9. H. Augsbach, Johann Joachim Quantz: Thematisch-systematisch Werkverzeichnis, (Stuttgart, Carus-Verlag, 1997)

Further reading