ZWV18 Kyrie and Buffardin's concerto a 5

  • Has anyone noticed that there is a clear similarity between Kyrie's 2nd theme and the beginning of the 1st movement of Buffardin's concerto a 5? (someone else on YT pointed this out)

    I find this quite interesting for a number of reasons. We know that Buffardin was employed at Dresden at the same time with Zelenka, and they obviously overlapped professionally. And apparently, Buffardin wrote only a couple of pieces, including the concerto, that were probably not even meant for publication. According to the wikipedia, the concerto was written as an exercise for Quantz (!), which probably means he was still studying at the time. This suggests the timeframe of not later than the early 1720's.

    The question is then, why would Zelenka quote Buffardin, of all people, as opposed to say Vivaldi who was widely imitated at the time, in his probably most intimate mass? Or maybe Zelenka had suggested the theme to Buffardin and then later reused it in his own work? Is there a missing piece by Zelenka from his early days where this theme appears?

  • Assuming I am looking at the bit you mean, you are talking about 8 bars of the Buffardin concerto ritornello theme being very similar to bars 7-10 of the Kyrie opening?

    You're right they are very similar, but it's difficult to say if it's enough material to constitute a theme that is shared between the two. They both use a similar melodic fragment, and both use it sequentially with the exact same harmonic progression. The similarity is made even more audible because the key is the same and therefore the pitches are the same.

    The problem is that Baroque music is full of this type of thing, ie melodic fragments treated in sequence including ones that use the 7th chord like this one. You can find shared thematic material between lots of composers. And since the Vivaldi style (which was popular in the 1720s and 30s) was to put melodic fragments through harmonic sequences in succession, inevitably you're going to find thematic material treated to the same sequential patterns between composers. There are examples of this type of harmonic sequence in Vivaldi.

    All the composers in Dresden share some similarities and some thematic Vivaldian patterns that they used and it seems likely that when they are working and playing together there may be unconscious sharing of similar ideas between them. So yes, its possible Zelenka knew Buffardin's concerto and therefore might have influenced this work. But I don't think (in my view anyway) there is any evidence that Zelenka deliberately quoted Buffardin. I would think that if Zelenka wanted to quote him, he would do so more deliberately rather than extending the idea and adding a scalic phrase (which is also very Vivaldian). I'd also think the quote would be something a bit more specific and in a prominent place of the music, rather than a fairly generic (though striking) Vivaldi pattern.

    Handel for example likely did take themes from other composers like Telemann. You can hear it all the time, but there the themes are more obvious even though handel might have different harmony that the piece the theme came from.

    I think it probably stands out to our ears more so because it's in the same key, and also I don't think it would sound as similar if the harmonic progression was different.

    Sorry that's waffly, just trying to explain in words why I do think it's similar but not necessarily for the reason you suggest. Great spot though, and interesting!

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