The concept of stylus phantasticus (or ’fantastic style’) as it was expressed in free keyboard music of the north German Baroque forms the focus of this book. Exploring both the theoretical background to the style and its application by composers and performers, Paul Collins surveys the development of Athanasius Kircher’s original concept and its influence on music theorists such as Brossard, Janovka, Mattheson, and Walther. Turning specifically to fantasist composers of keyboard works, the book examines the keyboard toccatas of Merulo, Fresobaldi, Rossi and Froberger and their influence on north German organists Tunder, Weckmann, Reincken, Buxtehude, Bruhns, Lubeck, Bohm, and Leyding. The free keyboard music of this distinguished group highlights the intriguing relationship at this time between composition and performance, the concept of fantasy, and the understanding of originality and individuality in seventeenth-century culture.
'This lucid and thorough survey of the 17th- and 18th-century writings on the fantastical style brings to life the vital relationship between these theoretical works and the musical monuments of the north German masters. I recommend this book for students, enthusiasts, and scholars'. David Yearsley, Cornell University, USA '… an invaluable source of information and comment… This book is a mine of information, it is eminently readable, and provides inspiration and understanding in a very complex area of repertoire. Every organist (and harpsichordist) should read it and be prepared to rethink how they approach some very well known works!' Choir and Organ '… this work magnificently summarizes all the relevant historical treatises and current literature concerning the term stylus phantasticus… highly recommended for scholars interested in seventeenth-century theories of musical style.' Notes ’Collins skillfully guides the reader… we […] welcome his scholarship… Dr Collins's research is thorough and meticulous.’ The American Organist '… Collins has provided a more richly nuanced and culturally sensitive discussion than previously available of the theoretical concepts of the seventeenth century, how these concepts changed over time, and the ways that an understanding of this process of change in the conceptual frameworks can be applied to provide a deeper understanding of the fantastical music of the late seventeenth century.' Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland ’… a rigorous examination of the history of the style, in both its various theoretical and practical manifestations… Anyone interested in style classification during the Baroque era would benefit from reading Collins's lucid and thoroughly researched account of the topic… a major addition to the scholarly literature on the history of musical style, and it should encourage scholars and performers alike to consider the improvisatory qualities of the north German organ
Contents: Preface; Classifications of musical style during the 17th and early 18th centuries; Kircher's Musurgia universalis (1650) and the stylus phantasticus; The stylus phantasticus in 18th-century writings: Janovka, Brossard, Mattheson, Walther, and Grassineau; The origins of the stylus phantasticus and the style's relationship to rhetoric; The free keyboard works of the north German organ school and the stylus phantasticus; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.