The JOURNAL of a TOUR through those

Countries, undertaken to collect Materials for







[volume no.]


Auf Virtuosen sey stolz, Germanien, die du gezeuget;

In Frankreich und Welschland sind grössere nicht.

[Freid. Wilhelm] Zachariae.




[double line]



Printed for T. BECKET, Strand; J. ROBSON, New Bond-

Street; and G. ROBINSON, Paternoster-Row.  1775.

[title page]




[Manheim, ca 5 August 1772]

[…] our military music, at present, must seem to have made great and hasty strides towards [83] perfection, to all such as, like myself, remember, for upwards of twenty years, no other composition made use of in our foot-guards, than the march in Scipio, and in our marching regiments, nothing but side-drums.





[Nymphenberg, ca 17 August]

[…] the Electress dowager of Saxony sung a whole scene in her own opera of Talestri; […] She [141] spoke the recitative, which was an accompanied one, very well in the way of great old singers of better times. […] the air was an Andante, rich in harmony, somewhat in the way of Handel’s best opera songs in that time. […]





[Vienna, 31 August]

                  He [i.e., Gluck] has lately suggested to an able writer, a plan for a new ode on St. Cecilia’s day, which discovers both genius and discernment.  Lord Cowper had, some time since, Dryden’s Ode performed to Handel’s music at Florence; but set to a literal Italian translation given totidem syllabis, in order to preserve the music as entire as possible.  But this tenderness for the musician, was so much at the expence of the poet, that Dryden’s divine Ode, became not only unpoetical, but unintelligible in this wretched version.  The music has since been performed at Vienna to the same words, and many parts of it were very much liked, in despite of the nonsense through which it was conveyed to the ears of the audience. [1:242]




[Vienna, 2 September]

[...] She [i.e., Countess Thun] had been so kind as to write a note to Gluck on my account, and he had returned, for him, a very civil answer; for he is as formidable a character as Handel used to be: a very dragon, of whom all are in fear. [...]





[Vienna, 2 September]

[...] He [i.e., Gluck] told me that he owed entirely to England the study of nature in his dramatic compositions: he went thither at a very disadvantageous period; Handel was then so high in fame, that no one would willingly listen to any other than to his compositions.  The rebellion broke out; all foreigners were regarded as dangerous to the state; the opera-house was shut up, by order of the Lord Chamberlain, and it was with great difficulty and address that lord Middlesex obtained permission to open it again, with a temporary [268] and political performance, La Caduta de Giganti.  This Gluck worked upon with fear and trembling, not only on account of the few friends he had in England, but from an apprehension of riot and popular fury, at the opening of a theatre, in which none but foreigners and papists were employed.





[6 September]

                  Faustina, who is a living volume of musical history, furnished me with many anecdotes of her cotemporary [sic] performers: she spoke much of Handel’s great style of playing the harpsichord and organ when she was in England, […]





[Vienna, 8 September]

[...] In other respects, the music [at St. Stephen’s cathedral], which was chiefly by Colonna, was excellent in its kind, consisting of fugues well worked, much in Handel’s way, with a bold and active base. [...]





[Vienna, 8 September]

[…] he [i.e., Wagenseil] has a great respect for Handel, and speaks of some of his works with rapture; [...]





[Vienna, 9 September]

[...] To aim at equal perfection in both [theatre and church music], is trying to serve God and Mammon; and those excellent composers for the church, whose works have survived them, such as Palestrina, Tallis, Birde, Allegri, Benevoli, Colonna, Caldara, Marcello, Lotti, Perti, and Fux, have chiefly confined themselves to the church, [sic] style.  Alessandro Scarlatti, Handel, Pergolesi, and Jomelli, are exceptions.  But, in general, those succeed [334] best in writing for the church, stage, or chamber, who accustom themselves to that particular species of composition only.

I do not call every modern oratorio, mass or motet, church music; as the same compositions to different words would do equally well, indeed often better, for the stage.  But by Musica di Chiesa, properly so called, I mean grave and scientific compositions for voices only, of which the excellence consists more in good harmony, learned modulation, and fugues upon ingenious and sober subjects, than in light airs and turbulent accompaniments.





[Vienna, 9 September]

                  There are two musical archives or libraries belonging to the Imperial theatre and chapel.  Of one, the emperor had taken away the key; but it contained only the works of composers, who had flourished in the present century, such as Fux, Telemann, Handel, and Porpora. [...]





[Vienna, 11 September]

[...] He [i.e., Gluck] is a great disciplinarian, and as formidable as Handel used to be, when at the head of a band; [...]





[Vienna, 11 September]

[...] He [i.e., Hasse] always spoke respectfully of Handel, as a player and writer of fugues, as well as for the ingenuity of his accompaniments, and the natural simplicity of his melody, in which particulars he regarded him as the greatest genius that ever existed; but said, that he thought him too ambitious of displaying his talent of working parts and subjects, as well as too fond of noise: and Faustina added, that his cantilena was often rude.





[Vienna, 12 September]

[...] With respect to the organ and harpsichord, the most original and striking pieces for those instruments have been the productions of great performers, such as Handel, Scarlatti, Bach, Schobert, Wagenseil, Müthel, and Alberti: [...]





[“Leipsic”, 25 September]

[…] the two circles of Upper and Lower Saxony have been extremely fertile in musicians of extraordinary genius and abilities: for they have given birth to Keiser, Handel, the Bach family, to Hasse, and to Graun.





[Berlin, 28 September]

                  John Frederic Agricola was born at Dobitzen, a village near Altenburg, in Upper [91] Saxony, in the year 1720.  His mother was a near relation of the late Mr. Handel, and in correspondence with him till the time of his death. [...]

                  He is more corpulent than Jomelli, or than his relation Handel ever was. [...]





[Berlin, 29 September]

                  Before I left England, M. Snetzler had told me, that I should doubtless find swells in Berlin organs, though he was not certain that this improvement, which was English, had been adopted in other places on the continent; for Mr. Handel, several years ago, had desired him to describe, in writing, the manner in which the swell was produced, that he might send it to a particular friend in Berlin, who very much wished to introduce it there.





[Berlin, Friday 2 October]

                  Francesco Barnardi [sic], called Senesino, had a powerful, clear, equal, and sweet contralto voice *, with a perfect intonation, and an excellent shake; his manner of singing was masterly, and his elocution unrivalled; though he never loaded adagios with too many ornaments, yet he delivered the original and essential notes, with the utmost refinement.  He sung allegros with great fire, and marked rapid divisions, from the chest, in an articulate and pleasing manner; his countenance was well calculated for the stage, and his action was natural a[n]d noble: to [176] these he joined a figure that was truly majestic, but more suited to the part of a hero than a lover.





[Berlin, Friday 2 October]

                  In 1727 he [i.e., Quantz] arrived in London, where he found the opera in a very flourishing state, under the direction of Handel.  The drama of Admetus was now in run, of which, he says, the music was grand and pompous.  Senesino performed the first male part, and Cuzzoni and Faustina were the principal women.

[… 188 ... 191 ...]

                  As it is natural to wish to know the opinion of strangers concerning our own country, I shall proceed a little farther with M. Quantz, in his account of the state of music in London, when he was there.

The opera orchestra, which consisted chiefly of Germans, with a few Italians, and two or three Englishmen, was led by Castrucci, and, being under Handel’s direction, all went well.

The second opera which M. Quantz heard in London, was composed by Buononcini; but this was not so much approved as the other, for Handel’s depth and solidity overpowered the lightness and grace of Buononcini.

Attilio and Tosi were now in London, which at this time did not abound in solo players upon any instrument.  The [192] principal were Handel, on the harpsichord and organ; Geminiani, a great master on the violin; Dubourg, his scholar, an Englishman, who was a pleasing performer on that instrument; the two Castrucci’s, who were brothers, and tolerable solo players: Weidemann, a German, and Festing, an Englishman, on the German flute, with Mauro d’Alaia, who came to England with Faustina; he was a good performer on the violin, and an excellent leader; his manner of playing was clear and distinct, but he never ventured at great difficulties.

M. Quantz acquaints us, that he had the good fortune to be well received by several people of rank, who endeavoured to persuade him to settle in England; Handel advised him to this measure; lady Pembroke, a great judge and encourager of music, proposed to make him a benefit, in which baron Bothmar would have taken care of his interest, but he declined it; for, as he was still [193] a servant of the king of Poland, he did not chuse to perform in public, thinking it a duty to his prince to offer him the first fruits of his travels.

[2:187, 191-93]




[Berlin, 5-9 October]

[…] it is denied, by the other party, that Graun was the creator of his own taste, which is the taste of Vinci; [… 229 …] and think that still more perfect models of sacred music may be found in the chorusses [sic] of Handel, and the airs and duos of Pergolese and Jomelli: [...]





[Berlin, 5-9 October]

                  Upon the whole, my expectations from Berlin were not quite answered, as I did not find that the style of composition, or manner of execution, to which his [233] Prussian majesty has attached himself, fulfilled my ideas of perfection[.]  Here, as elsewhere, I speak according to my own feelings: however, it would be presumption in me to oppose my single judgment to that of so enlightened a prince; if, luckily, mine were not the opinion of the greatest part of Europe; for, should it be allowed, that his Prussian majesty has fixed upon the Augustan age of music, it does not appear that he has placed his favour upon the best composers of that age.  Vinci, Pergolese, Leo, Feo, Handel, and many others, who flourished in the best times of Graun and Quantz, I think superiour to them in taste and genius.  Of his majesty’s two favourites, the one is languid, and the other frequently common and insipid,—and yet, their names are religion at Berlin, and more sworn by, than those of Luther and Calvin.

There are, however, schisms in this city, as elsewhere; but heretics are [234] obliged to keep their opinions to themselves, while those of the establishment may speak out: for though a universal toleration prevails here, as to different sects of Christians, yet, in music, whoever dares to profess any other tenets than those of Graun and Quantz, is sure to be persecuted.





[Hamburg, 5-9 October]

                  The compositions of Keiser, Mattheson, Handel, and Telemann, for this theatre [i.e., Hamburg], are the most renowned; [...]





[Hamburg, 5-9 October]

                  In 1761, he [i.e., Mattheson] published a translation of the Life of Handel, from the English, with additions and remarks, which are [238] neither very candid nor liberal. […]

Whoever wishes to be acquainted with the particulars of Handel’s younger years, before his arrival in England, or [239] journey into Italy, will find them in the writings of M. Mattheson: indeed, tradition has preserved so many anec[d]otes concerning Handel’s performance at Hamburg, that many musical people there, who came into the world too late to hear him, think they have been born in vain.

It was in this city that Handel began his career, as a composer, though, upon his first arrival, he was only employed in the orchestra, as a performer on the violin, upon which he played the second ripieno part.

He then pretended to know nothing though he used to be very arch, and had always, says M. Mattheson, a dry way of making the gravest people laugh without ever laughing himself; it was upon occasion of the harpsichord player at the opera happening to be absent, that he was first persuaded to take his place; but he then shewed himself to be a great master, to the astonishment of every one, except Mattheson, who had accidentally [240] met with him at an organ in one of the Hamburg churches in 1703; at which time, he was nineteen, and Mattheson twenty-two years of age.

After this he used frequently to dine with Mattheson, at the house of his father, and he then, according to his own confession obtained, from Handel, a knowledge in modulation, and a method of combining sounds, which no one else could teach him.  These young performers had at this time frequent contests together, for pre-eminence on keyed instruments; and in their several trials Handel had constantly the advantage on the organ, though Mattheson sometimes was thought to equal him on the harpsichord.

Upon a vacancy in an organist’s place at Lubec, they travelled [sic] thither together, and in the wagon composed several double fugues, da mente, says Mattheson, not da penna.  Buxtehude was then at Lubec, and an admirable organ-player; [241] however, Handel’s powers on that instrument astonished even those who were accustomed to hear that great performer.

Handel and Mattheson were prevented from becoming candidates for the place of organist at Lubec, by a condition that was annexed to the obtaining that office, which was no other than to take with it, a wife whom their constituents were to nominate; but thinking this too great an honour, they precipitately retreated to Hamburg.

About this time was performed there an opera composed by Mattheson, called Cleopatra, in which he acted the part of Anthony himself, and Handel played the harpsichord; but Mattheson being accustomed, upon the death of Anthony, which happens early in the piece, to take the harpsichord, in the character of composer, Handel refused to indulge his vanity, by relinquishing to him this post; which occasioned so violent a quarrel between them, that [242] at going out of the house, Mattheson gave him a slap on the face, upon which both immediately drew their swords, and a duel ensued, in the market-place, before the door of the opera-house: luckily, the sword of Mattheson was broke against a metal button upon Handel’s coat, which put an end to the combat, and they were soon after reconciled.

Such is the account, which, long before the death of Handel, Mattheson himself published*, concerning the difference that happened between them, during their youth, at Hamburg.

Handel remained five or six years in this city, and composed here, in 1705, his first opera of Almira, which being greatly approved, he next year produced his second opera of Nero.  From this time, till 1708, when he set two other operas, Florino, and Daphne, he furnished nothing for the stage, though he [243] composed harpsichord pieces, single songs, and cantatas innumerable; but, according to Mattheson, who is not addicted to flattery, without taste or delicacy, though excellent with respect to harmony: indeed, during the last century, harmony was so much attended to by composers, that melody was utterly neglected.

During his residence at Hamburg, Mattheson allows, that Handel improved his style greatly, by his constant attendance at the opera, and says, that he was even more powerful upon the organ, in extempore fugues, and counterpoint, than the famous Kuhnau of Leipsic, who was, at this time regarded as a prodigy.





[Hamburg, Saturday 10 October]

[...] M. Bach has set to music, a Passione, in the German language, and several parts of this admirable composition were performed this evening.  I was particularly delighted with a chorus in it, which for modulation, contrivance, and effects, was at least equal to any one of the best [254] chorusses [sic] in Handel’s immortal Messiah. [...]

[2:255-54; NB: reverse pagination]




[...] When a student upon keyed instruments has vanquished all the difficulties to be found in the lessons of Handel, Scarlatti, Schobert, Eckard, and C.P.E. Bach; […] I would recommend to him, as an exercise for patience and perseverence [sic], the compositions of Müthel; which are so full of novelty, taste, grace, and contrivance, that I should not hesitate to rank them among the greatest productions of the present age. [...]




* M. Quantz calls it a low mezzo soprano voice, which seldom went higher than F; but as this account was drawn up, in the younger part of Senesino’s life [in 1719, when he performed in Dresden for the nuptial festivities of the prince royal of Poland], before he went to England, it is natural to imagine, that his voice may afterwards have lost some of its high notes; for in all the airs which Handel made for him he is strictly confined to the limits of a true contralto.

* Grundlage einer Ehren Pforte.  Hamburg, 1740.

[1] Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands, and United Provinces, 2 vols. (London: T. Becket, J. Robson, and G. Robinson, 1775).