August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

Performing Baroque Music: A Look at the Bach Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 1030

August 12, 2006

Over the course of this masterclass, six volunteers performed one of the movements from J.S. Bach’s Sonata in B Minor; the first three flutists performed on wooden, one-keyed flutes, while the others used modern metal flutes. Stephen Schultz wanted to demonstrate that there are differences in how to approach the piece depending on which flute you choose. He stressed that while either flute is acceptable, performers of wooden flutes may want to stick to using harpsichord accompaniment as opposed to the modern piano, and modern flutists may want to omit using the cello when playing with a modern piano. The texture created by these combinations might be too thick.

Many key points were addressed in a short amount of time. Schultz covered topics such as mood/character of each movement, how to decide when to keep or change slurs chosen by editors, what the form of each movement is, how to approach the theme when it is presented in different keys, how to make ornaments, slurs, and dynamics sound improvised (as baroque musicians would), emphasizing appoggiaturas, adding direction and meaning to simple figures, and many other performance practice tips.

Overall, flutists were encouraged to learn more about how this piece was constructed and to refer other sources such as Johann Joachim Ouantz’s performance practice books of the baroque era.

—Tess Miller