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Notes about Allegro Assai by Tromlitz

Michael Lynn, editor | March 2009

    Johann George Tromlitz (1725-1805) is one of the rare 18th-century flutists about whom we have considerable information. This is due to the fact that he was an extremely serious author about flute  playing and contemporary musical style. Tromlitz was also very temperamental and easily offended. His writings include numerous negative opinions about other flutists and writers, including Quantz and Burney. These glimpses of personality make his views all the more interesting. He clearly set a goal to write a treatise even more complete than the considerable tome written by Joseph Joachim Quantz in 1752.
    Tromlitz was a virtuoso flutist and flute maker/designer, who spent much of his life in Leipzig and wrote a considerable amount of flute music, mostly in a modern “classical” style that was  quite challenging. In 1791 he wrote his most important treatise, Detailed and Thorough Tutor for Playing the Flute, which he followed up in 1800 with his treatise The Keyed Flute. The treatises are available in excellent English translation by Ardal Powell (Cambridge University Press).
    The Allegro Assai published here is from the fifth Partita of a manuscript edition of Sei Partite per il Flauto Traverso Solo senza accompagnamento. The manuscript is probably a professional copyist version of the original printed edition from Leipzig. These Partitas were favorably reviewed in print in Leipzig in 1768, so obviously they were written prior to that date.
    The notation used is fairly clear. One exception is the sign on the half note in the next to last measure. We normally associated that sign with a mordent, but in this edition it should be interpreted as a trill with termination. Tromlitz does show both versions of the sign in his treatise. Tromlitz describes the tempo marking as a very rapid tempo.