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Johann Friedrich Fasch

A Minute with Miles

Fame, they say, is fleeting. I recently came across a piece of music by a German composer named Johann Friedrich Fasch. Ever heard of him? I hadn’t.

But it turns out that Fasch, who was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, was known throughout Europe, and was in fact admired by Bach and by the other great musicians of his time. He wrote enormous numbers of concertos, overtures, symphonies, and sonatas, and tons of vocal music, including cantatas, masses, and operas. The problem is that none of his music was published during his lifetime, and most of his vocal music was lost. Luckily, much of his instrumental music has survived, and what modern scholars have found is that Fasch’s music represents an important transition between the style of the late Baroque period and the “classical” style of Haydn and Mozart. Johann Friedrich Fasch—another of those fascinating figures who was famous and influential in his own time, but almost completely forgotten in ours.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.