Born at Dresden in 1723, Christlieb Siegmund Binder probably received his musical education as a choir boy at the protestant Schloßkirche under the court musician Pantaleon Hebenstreit. From 1742 Binder at the instigation of the court learnt to play a dulcimer-like instrument called “Pantaleon” which his teacher had developed; this formed the basis of his being accepted into the Dresden court chapel after Hebenstreit’s death in 1751. After entering the court chapel Binder abandoned the Pantaleon and began to dedicate himself to the harpsichord and organ. In 1764 Binder was appointed as second Hofkirche organist. Next to the first organist, Peter August, Binder in his time became the most important composer for keyboard music at Dresden. Binder’s compositions became known both in courtly and in bourgeois concert life. After the death of Peter August, Binder as “Kurfürstlicher Kammer- und Kapellorganist” advanced to the position of first organist at the Hofkirche. After only two years in this new position he died in 1789.
“M. Binder at Dresden deserves to be praised not only for the quantity of his works but also for their quality. Melody, invention, and a great deal of fire can be found everywhere in his compositions. His pieces appear really to have been written for the harpsichord, where they indeed sound best.” (J. A. Hiller). A central position of Binder’s oeuvre is taken up by his 33 keyboard concertos. These and his 35 works for solo harpsichord were the testing ground upon which Binder again and again reached new and diverse solutions. Compared to this, his chamber music plays a rather subordinate role. Among the altogether twenty works there are thirteen trio sonatas, set mostly for flute or violin, five divertimenti, and the two pieces for two violins, harpsichord, and violoncello that Binder called “Quatro”.
Both with regard to texture and form they are keyboard sonatas with three obbligato upper parts, which cannot deny their origin in the trio sonata with obbligato harpsichord. Occasional sections with continuo figuring and the use of the harpsichord – still the standard instrument in contemporary chamber music – instead of the pianoforte (which only gradually gained acceptance) do not diminish the modernity of Binder’s compositions.
(translation by Stephanie Wollny)