Frederick the Great Playing the Flute

I was listening to Quantz last night. Apparently he’s in this picture, which was painted in the nineteenth century – according to Wikipedia, Quantz is leaning against the wall on the right, and C.P.E. Bach is at the piano. P.D.Q. Bach is, of course, out on the balcony vomiting over the railing, which is why you can’t see him in the picture.

This painting was in my European history survey textbook in college, and although it was intended in that instance to represent the Enlightenment, or maybe enlightened despots, or perhaps simply Frederick the Great, what I do remember wondering was how often concerts had to be interrupted because someone’s music had caught on fire. All those candles! (Most people don’t know this, but a music fire at the court of a small German principality in 1759 which resulted in the loss of two violins, some sheet music, one wig and most of a harpsichord, actually precipitated a palace revolution that changed the course of the Seven Years War. True story.)

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