(b Tacoma, WA, 1951). American organ builder. His earliest training was with his father, but he later worked with John Brombaugh and studied organs in northern Europe before opening his own workshop in 1977 in partnership with Ralph D. Richards in Tacoma. In 1988 Richards left to form a partnership with Bruce Fowkes in Tennessee, and Fritts continued under the name of Paul Fritts & Co. From the outset the firm’s instruments had mechanical action and were tonally and visually inspired by historical north European examples. Since about 1990 the decorative carved pipe-shades of several organs have been executed by Fritts’s sister, Judy Fritts. Significant instruments include those in St Alphonsus Church, Seattle (1984), the University of Arizona, Tempe (1991), and the Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma (1997).
L.Edwards, ed.: The Historical Organ in America (Easthampton, MA, 1992)
T.G.Still: Paul Fritts and Company: Organbuilders of the Pacific Northwest (DMA diss., U. of Washington, 1992)
B.Jones: ‘Firm Philosophy’, Choir and Organ, v/6 (1997), 32–4
Fritz [Fritze], Barthold
(b Holle, nr Hildesheim, 1697; dBrunswick, 17 July 1766). German maker of keyboard instruments. He was granted the citizenship of Brunswick on 12 July 1720. Fritz built organs, positives, harpsichords, clavichords, pianos and mechanical instruments of various kinds, including musical clocks and singing birds. His reputation was based on the fine quality of his clavichords and especially on their bass tone. Like a number of German makers, he strengthened the bass register of his clavichords by adding a third string an octave higher. Burney praised his clavichords, although C.P.E. Bach wrote in 1773 that he preferred those made by Friderici. E.L. Gerber (Lexikon, 1790–92) wrote that Fritz had made over 500 clavichords, of which only a handful now exist; one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is dated 1751, has a row of 4' strings for the lowest 20 notes (F' to c), string-gauges (0–7) written in ink on the key-shanks and (probably) overspun strings in the bass. Another of his surviving clavichords, dated 1747, is in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum in Berlin (cat. no.3594), and yet another was lent by the Grotrian-Steinweg Collection to the Städtisches Museum, Brunswick. Fritz’s Anweisung, wie man Claviere … in allen zwölf Tönen gleich rein stimmen könne (Leipzig, 1756, 5/1829), gained some popularity.
(b Geneva, 18 Feb 1716; d Geneva, 23 March 1783). Swiss composer and violinist. His father, Philipp Fritz (1689–1744), came from Celle and settled as a music teacher in Geneva in 1709. Burney mentioned that Gaspard was a pupil of G.B. Somis in Turin, where he undoubtedly learnt composition. At the end of 1736 or the beginning of 1737 he returned to Geneva, where in April 1737 he married. As his four children all had godparents from highly placed families in Geneva, Fritz presumably moved in such circles from an early age as a violin teacher. Between 1738 and 1743 he directed the music at social occasions held by English residents in Geneva; the dedications of his printed works further indicate his connections with aristocrats staying there. In 1756 he went to Paris for the publication of his opp.3 and 4 and on 9 and 12 March and 18 April he appeared at the Concert Spirituel, but his Italian style of playing acted against his success. He returned to Geneva, where, to judge from the legacy he left, he re-established a successful career as a teacher. In June 1759 he played at Voltaire’s residence, but opportunities to appear in public in Geneva arose only gradually after 1770.
Fritz’s excellence as a virtuoso violinist was stressed both by A. Ryhiner of Basle in 1758 (who, however, found his ornamentation excessive and his gestures too vigorous; see Staehelin) and by Burney in 1770 (who particularly emphasized Fritz’s powers of expression). Some of Fritz’s published works had considerable success and were subsequently reprinted. The three-movement sonatas of op.1 (which Handel judged favourably) exhibit sectional contrasts characteristic of the ripieno concerto. In the op.2 sonatas, also in three movements, Fritz approached the style of the Turin school, with a richly decorated solo line supported by a thematically unrelated bass; some of the final movements are sets of chaconne variations. These elements are present on a much larger scale in op.3 and, together with greater demands on the player’s technique, make for a splendidly expressive melodic style. The simpler op.4 trios (in fact trio sonatas) show similarities with the works of Antonio Campioni and Alessandro Besozzi in their clear formal layout and frequent short sections of imitation in all parts. Scherchen, who edited the first of the six symphonies op.6, drew attention to their formal elegance, nobility of expression and highly individual orchestral writing; these qualities lend the symphonies a more original flavour than most of the early Classical works produced by the Mannheim school (it should however be said that the date Scherchen gave them, before 1760, is probably too early).
Edition: Gaspard Fritz: Oeuvres complètes, Musiques à Genève, ii (1994–) [O]
6 sonate a 4 stromenti, 2 vn, va, hpd/vc, op.1 (London, 1742), no.2 ed. R. Bader (Geneva, 1953); 6 sonate, vn/fl, b, op.2 (Geneva, ?1747–9), nos.1 and 3 ed. E. Huber (Berne, 1951–3), nos.1, 2 and 4 ed. F. Schroeder (Zürich, 1976); 6 sonate, vn, b, op.3 (Paris, 1756), as op.2 (London, 1764), ed. E. Huber (Berne, 1953); 6 sonate, 2 vn, b, op.4 (Paris, 1756), as op.3 (London, n.d.), no.5 ed. H. Steinbeck (Zürich, 1974); 6 sonate, 2 vn [op.5] (Geneva or Paris, ?1759); 6 sinfonie a piu stromenti, op.6 (Paris, ?1770–71), no.1 ed. in Das Kammerorchester, ii (Zürich, 1942), no.3 ed. E. Huber (Geneva, 1951); Vn Conc., US-AAu [ed. in O]