Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for King Frederick the Great

Music History Monday: The Best Gig in the World!

We wish a spirited and in all ways happy birthday to the composer and flutist Johann Joachim (J. J.) Quantz, who was born in Oberscheden, Hanover (in what today is central Germany) on January 30, 1697, 320 years ago today. (“You say flutist, and I say flautist …” Actually, I say “flutist” because that’s how North Americans denote someone who plays the flute. In English speaking countries outside of North America, the word “flautist” rules. “Flutist” is by far the older term; according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it entered the English language in 1603 having been drawn from the French word flûtiste. It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that the hoity-toits over the pond began using the word flautist, which was drawn from the Italian flautist. And there’s your TMI moment for today!) You want to talk about breaking a father’s heart? On his deathbed, J.J. Quantz’ blacksmith father begged his 10 year-old son to follow him in the family trade. It didn’t happen, as J.J.’s extraordinary promise as a musician was already apparent. Quantz was one of those irksome people who could play (and play well) any instrument he picked up, among them the violin, trumpet, and harpsichord. […]

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