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Ernst Gottlieb Baron

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Biography

Baron was a major influence in developing the role of the lute and the theorbo in late Baroque music, and a composer of significant compositions for both instruments. Ernst Baron was born the son of Michael Baron, who was an artisan who made gold lace. But Ernst Baron followed another direction and in 1710, while a student at the Elisabeth Gymnasium in Breslau, he began to study the lute with Kohott. Instead of immediately proceeding into the musical field, he went to Leipzig in 1715 to undertake the study of law and philosophy at the university. Upon graduation in 1719, he attended several different courts before settling in Jena for two years. From 1723 to 1727, he traveled from Kassel to Fulda, Würzberg, Nuremberg, and Regensburg, meanwhile gathering information on lute practice, which went into his best-remembered writing, Historisch-Theoretisch und Practische Untersuchung des Instruments der Lauten (Historical, Theoretical, and Practical Inquiry into Lute Instruments), published in 1727 when he returned to Nuremberg. The first part of this work presents a history of the lute and a review of its current exponents, and the second part concerns techniques of playing the instrument. Many of Baron's subsequent articles (such as Herrn Barons Abhandlung von dem Notensystem der Laute und der Theorbe (Herr Baron's Treatise on the Notation System for the Lute and Theorbe) expand on these subjects. The next year, Baron became lutenist for the Duke of Gotha. His Suite in D major for the instrument appeared in G. Telemann's Der Getreue Musikmeister (The Authentic Music Master), published in 1728. When the Duke died, Baron moved to Eisenach in 1732. In 1737, he joined the musical ensemble of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia (who became king in 1740). Baron obtained a theorbo on a journey to Dresden and thereafter played the instrument in the ensemble. The few extant compositions by Baron include the suite mentioned above and several isolated suite movements, a Fantasie in F major for lute published in 1757, two Concerti in C major for lute, violin, and bass continuo (each in three movements), a Duet in G major for lute and flute, and other partitas, trios, and sonatas.
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