The Identification of the Handel Entry in the Brtnice Stately Home Music Inventory

The Brtnice stately home.

For several decades, musicologists have been interested in the Brtnice Stately Home Music Inventory (‘Inventario per la musica’), which contains 1059 incipits of works by 130 composers, none of which have survived.

The Inventory, written between 1752 and 1769, covers the music collection of the Brtnice [Pirnitz] stately home (near Jihlava, South-West Moravia) from the time of Count Thomas Vinciguerra of Collalto and San Salvatore (1710–1769), who was himself keenly interested in music, and most probably initiated the writing of the Inventory by Silvestr Weltz (1712–1777), appointed from 1759 by Collalto as ‘Director musicae’. This important manuscript was bought from a Brtnice second-hand shop in 1921 by the famous architect, designer and Brtnice native Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956), who presented the unique document to the Brtnice archive. Today it is in the Music Department of the Moravian Regional Museum, Brno [shelfmark: G 84], where it was systematically researched and classified by the leading Czech musicologist Theodora Straková (born 1915) [† 2010].

On page 17 [27 according to new pencil pagination], under the name ‘Hendl’, there is listed a ‘Sinfonia à tre’, which Pavel Polka, the Chairman of the Czech Handel Society, identified, on 27 August 2001, as George Frideric Handel’s Trio Sonata No. 5b in G minor for two Violins, Bass and Organ, Op. 2, HWV 390b (Adagio – Allegro – Largo – Allegro).

The Handel entry in the Brtnice Stately Home Music Inventory.

This composition was written around 1730. It is the second version of Handel’s Trio Sonata No. 5a in G minor for two Violins and Basso Continuo, Op. 2, HWV 390a (from around 1718). It was first published by Friedrich Chrysander (1826–1901) in his complete edition of Handel’s works (vol. 48: Sonata VI). In Handel’s time it was frequently copied – and in this way it probably came to Brtnice. As a variant with an obbligato bass organ part, obviously not written by Handel himself, it is of great interest as a testimony to the contemporary manner of arranging originals in view of different possibilities or requirements.