The Flute Music of Frederick II

Sarah Macken

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    Frederick II ‘the Great’ of Prussia (1712-1786) is regarded as one of the greatest aristocratic dilettante musicians and composers of the 18th century. This Master of Arts in Music (Performance) minor dissertation explores his flute music with particular reference to the compositional style of his flute sonatas and concertos. It commences with an overview of Frederick’s musical background, focusing on relevant biographical details that relate both to the formative influences on his musical training and tastes, and to the development of his compositional style. A historical examination of his abilities as a flautist (citing contemporaneous first-hand accounts) and the actual flutes upon which he played concludes that Frederick, while not faultless, was a skilled flautist judging from the technically difficult music that he and others composed for him to perform. The remaining chapters explore the musical structures and style that he employed in writing for the flute in his sonatas and concertos. Frederick’s flute music adheres to the ‘rules’ set out by Quantz in his Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversière zu spielen (Berlin, 1752). By imitating the forms and style of Quantz’s own flute works precisely, posterity has perhaps judged Frederick’s dilettante compositions for the instrument unfairly in comparison with those of his far more experienced professional teacher. Notwithstanding the formulaic nature of these works, however, the concluding premise of the dissertation asserts that Frederick’s extant published flute sonatas and the four flute concertos have significant artistic merits, warranting a deserved place in the instrument’s repertoire.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Rhodes, David, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


    • Flute music


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