1697 — 1773
Johann Joachim Quantz
Latest albums featuring Quantz as composerShow all
One of the most significant figures in the early history of the transverse flute, composer and performer Johann Joachim Quantz as a youth had the capacity to master nearly any instrument. Only late in his development did he specialize in the flute, an instrument that would lead him to a highly paid and highly honored position with King Frederick the Great of Prussia.
By age eight, Quantz was already playing double bass in village festivals. When he was 10, upon his blacksmith-father's death, he was apprenticed to his uncle, a town musician, and then his uncle's son-in-law. This apprenticeship led Quantz to proficiency on oboe, trumpet, and most string instruments. He spent some time in the Dresden town band, and in 1717 studied counterpoint in Vienna with Jan Dismas Zelenka. The following year he became oboist in the Polish chapel of Augustus II, King of Poland, spending time in both Warsaw and Dresden. But in 1719, realizing how few opportunities for promotion he faced as an oboist, Quantz took up the transverse flute.
The following years found Quantz traveling through Europe in the entourage of Augustus II, performing and studying counterpoint when he could. As a composer he was already strongly influenced by the concertos of Vivaldi. In 1728, the same year he became a member of the Dresden court chapel, Quantz was engaged to teach Crown Prince Friedrich in Berlin. He commuted between Berlin and Dresden, where he also made flutes starting in 1739. When the Crown Prince became King of Prussia in 1740, he soon summoned Quantz to Berlin to supervise private evening concerts and continue serving as his flute teacher. Quantz's salary was increased by 150 percent, and he received extra payment for each flute and composition he produced. (He was also the only person authorized to criticize the king's flute playing.)
In all, Quantz wrote more than 200 flute sonatas and 300 flute concertos, among other works, as well as an important treatise on flute playing. His music, while influenced by Vivaldi, marks a transition from late Baroque to early Classical styles.