Metzger Etude or Exercises for the Flute op. 2 Print E-mail
Written by Tom Moore   

The Etude or Exercises for the Flute, op. 2, by Karl Theodor Metzger

The corpus of etudes and exercises for the flute is small enough that it is surprising to find two large collections by a leading flutist that have been neglected since their original publication.

Karl Theodor Metzger (b. 1774) was the son of another leading flutist, Johann Georg Metzger (1746-1793). Johann Georg, after being educated in Mannheim (a student of the flutist J.B. Wendling), first became an unpaid employee (an Accessist, in German, or as we would say now, an intern) at age 14 in 1760, and in 1765 a member of the court orchestra, moving with the orchestra to Munich in 1778. His surviving works include a set of six duets for two flutes, op. 3, published by Hummel in Berlin, where he is identified as “Musicien de la Chambre de S.A.S. l’Electeur de Baviere et Palatine etc.” (the title page is adorned with an engraving showing a mother holding a one-key flute, with two small children) (plate number 442); a set of concertos for two flutes and orchestra (strings with optional horns), op. 4, published by Hummel, with a flute resting on a score; a set of six sonatas for flute with continuo accompaniment, op. 6, also published by Hummel, this time with a cherub holding a flute (plate number 598). These are all held by the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen, which also has a set of quartets which is clearly from the same series by “Mezger”, once more with the same identification as “Musicien….”, op. 5; and a set of six concertos for flute and orchestra, with no opus number, but which is clearly earlier than the other works, since it bears a plate number of 187, though all of them certainly appeared in the early 1780s. Oddly enough, here “Mezger”’s name appears without the usual identification. The Dictionary of musicians from the earliest ages to the present lists the set of six concertos as op. 1, mentions a set of six “Flötentrios” as op. 2, and also an additional set of three concertos for solo flute and orchestra as op. 7 (both op. 2 and op. 7 seem to have been lost).

Karl Theodor seems to have been named for the Churfürst Karl Theodor (1724-1799), with whom Johann Georg must have had a fairly intimate relationship, though there seems to be no indication that Karl Theodor should be numbered among the various illegitimate offspring of the Duke. He was referred to in the court records in Munich as Metzger junior. He also becomes an Accessist (in 1784, when he must have been about ten), second flutist in 1791, and principal flutist in 1793, upon his father’s death.

His surviving works seem to comprise the following: a set of six sets of variations, each published separately, and apparently labeled op. 1 through 6 (with no surviving copy of op. 5); a set of [20] studies or exercises, op. 2, first published in Munich by Falter, and published in a second edition in Mainz by Schott; and a set of 12 etudes or exercises, op. 7, also published by Falter. None of these publications are dated, unfortunately. Falter did not begin publishing until 1796, which provides a terminus post quem that seems to fit with the known dates from Karl Theodor’s professional life. The Schott edition of the studies op. 2 seems to date from between approximately 1810 and 1822, judging from the plate numbers. An antiquarian catalog published in Munich in 1869 lists an op. 11, Preludes in all Keys for the Flute, by K. Metzger, which is likely by Karl Theodor as well, though it has since disappeared.1

The only surviving copy of the Schott edition of op. 2 is held by the Music Library of Cornell University. The composer is identified as “Ch. Metzger, membre de la Chapelle royale de Baviere”, which means that the publication was certainly after the date of the establishment of the Kingdom of Bavaria on January 1, 1806, when the Elector declared himself King. It consists of 20 extensive one-movement works, of which only the first is labeled “Etude”.

No. 1  Adagio-Allegro-Adagio-Allegro C majorC

No. 2  Rondo A minor2/4

No. 3  AllegroA majorC

No. 4  AllegroD majorC

No. 5  AllegroD minorC

No. 6  AllegroB-flatC

No. 7  PrestoG minor2/4

No. 8  AllegroG majorC

No. 9  Andante con variazionenG Major6/8

[The variations are on the very famous “Nel cor non piu me sento”, from Paisiello’s La Molinara (1790)]

No. 10  PrestoE minor2/4

No. 11  AllegroE major

No. 12  Polonois poco moderato B minor3/4

No. 13  AdagioE majorC

No. 14  AllegroE minorC

No. 15  Largo con espress.F major6/8

No. 16  Allegro poco prestoF minor3/8

No. 17  AllegroA-flatC

No. 18  Allegro agitatoE-flat C

No. 19  RondoG minor

No. 20  Adagio-AllegroG majorC

A glance at the keys represented shows that they incline much more to the sharp side than the flat side, indicating that Metzger most likely played a relatively simple system instrument at this time, with the keys ranging from four sharps (E), three sharps (A), two sharps (D, B minor), one sharp (two movements in G, two in E minor), no sharps or flats (C, A minor), one flat (F, d minor), two flats (B-flat, two movements in G minor), three flats (E-flat, no minor movement), and four flats (A-flat, F minor). Of these keys only A-flat would have been unusual sixty years before. In comparison with the 50 Lindpaintner studies (which come from more or less the same time and place – early 19th century Munich), these works are considerably more conservative in idiom, and in addition to the limitations on keys, these studies do not make use of the C-foot (the C-sharp is called for once, in a passage where the composer notates a higher alternative, and the C natural not at all). (Nevertheless the Schott edition notes in small print, on the title page that the publishers have available flutes with low C and B foots, and flutes of “tout autre genre”, as well as other woodwinds and brass instruments.) In compensation, perhaps, the highest register (high F to high A) is extensively used. In their size (frequently running to four pages over two openings, with perhaps 150 to 160 measures), style (making use of scalar passages, arpeggios, octave leaps, and trills), these etudes or exercises are most similar to the grand etudes op. 13 by Antoine Hugot, which seem to have been widely known at the time, with early editions published in Paris, London, Hamburg, and Wolfenbüttel.

A contemporary critic, writing in June 1804, when Metzger would have been about thirty, reported in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, that Metzger “plays the flute splendidly, has a very round, full and splendid tone, and overcomes the greatest difficulties with ease and felicity2”. Somewhat later (March 1812), a critic for the same journal noted that Metzger’s performance of a flute concerto (unfortunately he does not say which) “more than met our expectations, although these were set high”. The same program concluded with a set of variations for flute by Cramer3, performed by Metzger (again, this piece seems to have vanished), about which the critic notes “This artist knows how to elicit a beautiful tone from his instrument at all gradations of forte and piano, and plays all the passagework with the greatest ease and precision, so that in slow movements he is often truly touching. Thus he merited an exceptional ovation.4

It is intriguing to note that a concert report by David Laute, writing in Augsburg, on Dec. 1, 1811, for the Gesellschaftsblatt für gebildete Stände (Vol. 1, pp. 791-2) describes a grand vocal and instrumental concert given there by Royal Bavarian Chamber Musician Herr Karl Metzger that seems to present both of the pieces described in the paragraph above, but with differing names for the composers. The concert began with a new overture by Lindpaintner, followed by a concerto for flute by Krammer5. “….the beautiful full tone, which he enticed from his little piece of ebony, left all the listeners amazed and delighted; a loud Bravo! interrupted him at every rest, and there was a general ovation at the close of the concert.” The concert was concluded by “Variations for the flute, composed by J.B. Moralt6, played by Herr Metzger….everyone left the hall in high spirits and with a satisfied mind”7.

Strangely, Karl Theodor Metzger seems to have left this life without a trace, since no source notes a date of death for composer, beginning with nineteenth-century reference works (one of which notes “after 1812"). The latest evidence I have for his activity is a list of employees of the Bavarian Royal Chapel published in June 1827 (when he would have been about fifty-three) in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, where he is still listed as first among seven flutists (Theobald Boehm is fifth), and a similar list published independently in 1828.8




3. This is probably Franz Cramer, Metzger’s colleague at the Royal Bavarian Chapel.


5. Possibly the E-major Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, published in a modern edition in 1979 by Zimmermann?

6. Another Munich colleague of Metzger’s. This work does not seem to have survived.


8. Anzeige, wie das Personal der königl. Hofmusik das ganze Jahr hindurch in der königlichen Hofkapelle bey Hochämtern, Vespern und Litaneyen etc. wie auch in andern Kirchen nach Abtheilung der Wochen zu erscheinen hat

Tom MooreTom Moore is a journalist, musician, and translator living in Rio de Janeiro. He has recorded Telemann for Lyrichord (USA) and Boismortier for A Casa Discos (Brazil). He writes about music for BrazilMax, Musica Brasileira, 21st Century Music, Opera Today, Flute Talk, Sonograma, Early Music America, and other venues.