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Wassenaer, Count Unico Wilhelm van

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Wassenaer, Count Unico Wilhelm van

(b Delden, 2 Nov 1692; d The Hague, 9 Nov 1766). Dutch composer and statesman. He was born into one of the oldest and most influential families of the Dutch nobility and spent his childhood in his parents' house in The Hague and at Twickel Castle in Delden. He probably studied music with the organist, harpsichordist, composer and theorist Quirinus van Blankenburg in The Hague. From October 1707 until April 1709 he possibly accompanied his father on a mission to the Palatine Elector Johann Wilhelm in Düsseldorf. In September 1710 he matriculated in the University of Leiden and after completing his studies embarked on a grand tour which took him to England, Germany, France and probably Italy between 1714 and 1718. Between 1713 and 1715 he had contacts in The Hague with Duke Friedrich Ludwig von Württemberg, to whom he dedicated three sonatas for recorder and continuo. He was a close friend of Count Willem Bentinck, who also had a keen interest in music, and with him organized concerts which took place alternately in their homes in The Hague. At these concerts, held for a small circle of nobles, Carlo Ricciotti, known as Bacciccia, played first violin. It was for these gatherings, between 1725 and 1740, that van Wassenaer wrote his Concerti armonici, published in 1740 in The Hague by Carlo Ricciotti without the composer's name and with a dedication to Willem Bentinck. The Concerti armonici were reprinted in England with Ricciotti named as the composer. A manuscript score at Twickel Castle contains annotations in van Wassenaer's hand. In a manuscript dating from the beginning of the 19th century (in US-Wc, formerly owned by the composer Franciszek Lessel) the concertos are attributed to Handel, whose name was later covered by a label with the name of Pergolesi in the same handwriting. An early 20th-century manuscript (in F-Pc), also with an attribution to Pergolesi, was probably copied from the Washington source. The Concerti armonici acquired considerable popularity under Pergolesi's name, and have proved no less popular under the name of the real composer. The three sonatas for recorder and continuo follow the Corelli model, while the Concerti armonici reveal a strong personal stamp.

As ambassador extraordinary of the General States, van Wassenaer made diplomatic missions to France (in 1744 and 1746) and Cologne. Louis XV's court heard the music he wrote in France, and during his stay there he also composed a motet, Nunc dimittis. The French praised him as a ‘grand compositeur: il accompagne fort bien’ and considered his music ‘presque aussi bonne que celle de Corelli’.


VI concerti armonici, 4 vn, va, vc, bc (The Hague, 1740); ed. F. Caffarelli (Rome, 1940) [attrib. G.B. Pergolesi]; ed. in HM, cl, lxxxii, clix, cxlix; cliv, clv (1951–9) [attrib. C. Ricciotti or Pergolesi][3] Sonate, rec, bc, *D-ROu; ed. A. Dunning and W. Brabants (Amsterdam, 1992)Gebed voor de predicatie, *NL-DEta [in an exemplar of G.F. Witvogel: De zangwysen van de CL Psalmen Davids (Amsterdam, 1731)]Doubtful: Menuet van de Hr. van Opdam, De tweede menuet, Hollantsche schouburgh en plugge dansen (Amsterdam, 1718); Laudate Dominum, SSB, bc, DEtaLost: Nunc dimittis, B; concs., fl, 3 vn etc.; 3 concs., 4, 5, 7 insts; sonata, vc, bc; sonata, 2 vn, bc


C.L. Cudworth: ‘Notes on the Instrumental Works Attributed to Pergolesi’, ML, xxx (1949), 321–8

C.L. Cudworth: ‘Pergolesi, Ricciotti, and the Count of Bentinck’, IMSCR V: Utrecht 1952, 127–31

A. Dunning: ‘Zur Frage der Autorschaft der Ricciotti und Pergolesi zugeschriebenen Concerti armonici’, Anzeiger der philosophisch-historischen Klasse der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaft, c (1963), 113–29

A. Dunning: ‘Ricciotti und die Concerti armonici: eine Erwiderung’, Mf, xxii (1968), 343–4

J.P. Hinnental: ‘Zum Problem der Autorschaft der Pergolesi zugeschriebenen Concertini’, Mf, xxi (1968), 322–3

A. Dunning: Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer (1692–1766): a Master Unmasked, or The Pergolesi-Ricciotti Puzzle Solved (Buren, 1980)

A. Dunning: ‘Un gentilhomme hollandais, diplomate-compositeur, à la cour de Louis XV: nouvelles recherches sur le comte Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer’, RdM, lxxiv (1988), 27–51

R. Rasch and K. Vlaardingerbroek, eds.: Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer 1692–1766: componist en staatsman (Zutphen, 1993)


Wassermann, Heinrich Joseph

(b Schwarzbach, nr Fulda, 3 April 1791; d Riehen, nr Basel, 3 Sept 1838). German violinist and composer. He was the son of a village musician and studied with the Kantor Michael Henkel in Fulda, 1804–6, and with Spohr in Gotha, 1810–11. In 1811 he became a violinist in the court orchestra in Meiningen. He was subsequently conductor of the orchestra of the Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft in Zürich, 1817–20, first violinist at Donaueschingen, 1820–29, and from 1829 conductor of the Concertgesellschaft at Basel. Between 1811 and 1836 he gave many concerts throughout southern and middle Germany; he was also the first to introduce the symphonies of Beethoven into Switzerland. His own works include a Quatuor brillant op.14, a flute quartet op.18, variations and violin duos.


A. Beer: Heinrich Joseph Wasserman (1791–1838): Lebensweg und Schaffen: ein Blick in das Musikleben des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts (Hamburg, 1991)




See Water organ.

Water, John.

See Walter, John.


A percussion instrument which makes use of the special sound-conducting qualities of water. There are two types: this article discusses the type without a membrane; for discussion of the type with a membrane, see Drum, §I, 2(iv). Water-drums without a membrane are found in Africa and the African diaspora and New Guinea. The commonest type, used mostly by women over a wide area of the West African savanna region, is made by floating a half-gourd with its concave side face downwards in water within a larger vessel (half-gourd or pail); the floating piece is then beaten with a small spoon or stick. The instrument is often played in pairs. The resultant sound, which is used rhythmically, sometimes in ensemble with other percussion instruments and usually as an accompaniment to song, combines the concussive click of two hard objects with a soft low-pitched tone. Sometimes water-drums are beaten by hand, as in reported cases where calabash hemispheres are simply laid floating face down in the shallows of a river. One origin tale relates that they were sounded thus by hunters to attract crocodiles and water lizards.

Examples of water-drums are the assakhalebo of the Tuareg, the tembol of the Kotoko people of Chad and the dyi dunu of the Bambara of Mali, last named being played by young women for domestic calendar rituals and at the death of an aged woman. Use for funeral rites has also been reported among the Kurumba of Upper Volta (Griaule and Dieterlen), in Haiti and in Cuba where the instrument is known as jícara de jobá (Ortiz).

In New Guinea the instruments have a hollow wooden body shaped like an hourglass drum, but with open ends. They are used like a stamping tube and are sounded against the surface of water during male initiation ceremonies in the Chambri Lakes.


F. Ortiz: Los instrumentos de la música afrocubana, i (Havana, 1952), 203–4

M. Griaule and G. Dieterlen: ‘La mort chez les Koroumba’, Journal de la Sociéte des Africanistes, xii (1942), 12

G. Dieterlen and M. Ligers: ‘Notes sur les tambours-de-calebasse en Afrique Occidentale’, Journal de la Sociéte des Africanistes, xxxiii/2 (1963)


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