Froberger in Rome: From Frescobaldi's Craftsmanship to Kircher's Compositional Secrets

Annibaldi, Claudio

If the lack of information on Froberger's life is undeniable, so too is the lack of scholarly research in this area. Indeed, all the documents concerning his two visits to Rome were found accidentally by scholars researching other subjects. One such example is the financial records testifying to Froberger's service at the Viennese court. What has enabled reference books to tell us that he studied in Rome with Frescobaldi between September 1637 and April 1641 is the disappearance of his name from the Viennese records during that time. However, the records in question were discovered more than a century ago, not by a Froberger biographer but by a scholar researching the history of the imperial music chapel in Vienna-Ludwig von Kochel, author of the Mozart catalogue. Another example is the two extant letters from Froberger to Athanasius Kircher, a learned German Jesuit living in Rome who included Froberger's fantasy super ut re mi fa solla for harpsichord in his gigantic musical treatise Musurgia universalis (1650). From a biographical standpoint, these letters are of critical importance, as they testify that another extended absence of the musician from the imperial music chapel between October 1645 and April 1653 included many trips to Italy, Germany, France, England, and the Netherlands and that one of these journeys led him back to Rome before September 1649. These letters, however, were discovered and first interpreted by a scholar interested not in Froberger's life but in Kircher's theories of music-Ulf Scharlau-who concluded from the first letter, if with some caution, that Froberger spent his second stay in the papal city studying with Giacomo Carissimi, an interpretation that has been adopted in a number of summaries of Froberger's life in dictionaries, monographs, and editions of his music.



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Columbia University
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May 1, 2015