Graupner - Gavotte in G
Christoph Graupner (1683 – 1760) was a contemporary of J S Bach, Handel and Telemann. Graupner was so admired as a musician that he was offered the kantor’s post in 1723 at Leipzig. Graupner was unable to accept the position due to other professional commitments, so it was given to Bach.
Although Graupner was a respected composer in his own lifetime, writing over 2,000 works including many for harpsichord, his music became neglected due to legal wrangles over copyright. Happily, Graupner’s music enjoyed a revival at the beginning of the 20th century.
Pupil Match & Suitability
For the Grade 2 student, this gavotte will be relatively challenging to learn initially as, due to the Baroque style, the LH is quite complex, with plenty of crotchet movement and also a requirement for detailed articulation.
The piece is rewarding musically however and students who are both musical and determined will enjoy the process of preparing it for performance. Small hands will not be a disadvantage here, as any leaps are best performed with detached articulation.
Style & Tempo
Graupner’s musical style has much in common with that of J S Bach; indeed two of Graupner’s keyboard works were previously attributed to Bach.
Phrasing & Articulation
Composers of the Baroque era rarely wrote in performance directions and that is certainly the case in this gavotte, where any performance directions to be found in the edition will have been added by the editor.
In a reputable edition, the performance markings will often be stylistically appropriate; however, the performer is the one who ultimately decides how the music is to be articulated.
Tone & Texture
Subtle variations in dynamics are all that is needed to define the phrasing. It is important that any dynamic changes coincide with the beginnings and ends of phrases on the second minim beat in the bar, rather than with the first beat of the bar, which would sound unnatural.
The main technical challenges of this piece are in giving articulation detail with elegance and neatness, whilst maintaining even flow of the quavers.
Bars 1 - 3:
Begin with thumb for the RH, finger 3 for the LH. The LH in Bars 2, 9 and similar is fingered as follows:
At this grade, music of the Baroque needs no pedal and inexpert use of the pedal would spoil and otherwise musical performance.
Begin by explaining that the Gavotte was a Baroque dance. Students may see the gavotte danced at the following link:
The texture of this piece is such that the LH has plenty of movement, as well as the RH, so it is essential that the LH should be known just as securely. It is suggested that the LH might be thought of, practised and learnt as a tune, in little two-bar sections.
A common problem in interpreting a piece that requires detailed articulation is that some students attempt to learn the notes and rhythms first and then to learn the articulation detail. This is a misguided approach because, once the notes have been practised with uniform articulation, it is very difficult to change to a mixture of slurred and staccato. A much more successful strategy is to insist on the articulation required right from the beginning. Although this takes a little longer in the initial teaching stages, the end result is much better because the interpretation is integral to the music right from the start of the learning process.
An excellent performance will be one that shows a keen sense of the Baroque dance style in pace and in articulation detail. Convincing use of tonal variety will illuminate the structure of the music and phrasing will be clearly defined. Rhythms and notes will be accurate, with fluency assured.
A good performance will be one in which some feel for the dance is conveyed. There will be variety in articulation and dynamic detail, although the performance may not yet be poised in fluency and tonal control, with the pace, perhaps, cautious.
A secure performance will show overall continuity despite a few mistakes. The pace may be rather slow but some attempt will be made to give a little dynamic contrast and articulation detail.