Category Archives: Music History

Start of the Concert Spirituel

EAST WINDIES LOGO small.jpg The famous Opera House of Paris (Academie Royale de Musique) traditionally closed during religious festivals. This offered an opportunity for Anne Danican Philidor (1681 – 1728) to promote a new series of concerts:  the so-called Concert Spirituel.  The opportunity cost M. Philidor 1000 francs per year and a promise to present neither French nor operatic music, compliments of the Opera’s Impresario M.Francine.  Hugely successful between 1725 and 1791, the annual rent rose to 9000 francs by 1755.  The Concert Spiritual provided a huge boon for orchestral and instrumental music in France, as well as vocalists. Interestingly the celebrated older sister of Franz Danzi, Madame Francesca Danzi Lebrun, was among those who sang at the venue.  Next post:  more on the Philidor dynasty of musicians.  Just for now, here’s an image of Anne Danican (“Anne_Danican_Philidor”. En. 27.3.2016)


This post based on :  “A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Concert Spirituel”. 27.3.2016.

Franz Danzi’s Disappointments

EAST WINDIES LOGO small.jpgFranz Danzi (1763 – 1826) had all the trappings of a successful musical career. He was born into and lived his entire life within a family of professional musicians:  His father, older sister, wife, brother-in-law, and nieces were all publically recognized musicians and/or composers.  Danzi himself was a gifted cellist, joining the famed Mannheim orchestra at a mere age 15 and replacing his own father as principal Mannheim cellist at the age of 21. Danzi did receive court appointments, for example as Kapellmeister at Stuttgart in 1807 and later at Karlsrughe in 1812.  And yet there were so many disappointments:

1.     His first love was opera, and he sought fame therein;  but Danzi’s operas were never popular and he struggled to achieve recognition (even performance) in that genre.

2.    Danzi’s older sister Franziska Danzi Lebrun was a sensation on the Continent and in England, as a vocal star and composer—Charles Burney, for example, wrote about Franziska; and her portrait was painted by Charles Gainsborough. This was a level of recognition never achieved by her younger brother Franz.

3.    His famous sister died at age 35 of a broken heart, following the early death of her own husband.

4.    His marriage was disappointingly brief: his wife Margarethe Marchand Danzi (a successful opera star in her own right) died just 10 years after their wedding of lung disease.  She was only 31.

5.    His Kapellmeister duties apparently kept him overworked to the extent he did little composing during his Stuttgart period, after which he produced much of the instrumental and chamber music for which we now remember him best.

6.    His final appointment to Karlsruhe was a professional struggle, as Danzi tried to shore up an inexperienced and weak group of musicians.

So Danzi’s would seem a life of professional disappointments and early deaths. All of which  might explain his rush to publish his late wind quintets in the wake of Reicha’s Paris success (see our earlier post “More a Matter of Getting in on the Act…” 8.03.2016)

     Francesca Lebrun (1756-1791) Sister of Franz Danzi
The Gainsborough Portrait
Image Search “Francesca Lebrun”. 23.03.2016
Francesca Lebrun disc pic.jpg
Recording cover for Lebrun’s music
Image search “Francesca Lebrun”. 23.03.2016

This post is based on the following articles:

a ) “Franz (Ignaz) Danzi”.  www.oxfordmusiconline.com23.3.2016
b)  Uncle Dave Lewis, “Francesca Lebrun Artist Biography”. 23.03.2016


The Inexorable Rise of Concert Pitch

EAST WINDIES LOGO small.jpg                  tuner korg
Image Search: Music Tuner.  “A Rough Guide to Compact Stage Tuners”. 21.03.2016

Most musicians are aware that concert pitch has risen in recent years, with current practice more or less around 440+ Hz. They may not know, however, that from the beginning of modern orchestras  (circa 1670) concert pitch rose from 392 Hz to a high of 452 Hz by the end of the 19th century.  Things were reset by international convention in 1939, back to 440 Hz where it more or less remains, albeit straining to rise yet again. The question is:  Why does this happen?  Jeremy Montagu (1) provides us a convincing analysis.  Simplifying his argument:   Larger middle-class public audiences meant Larger concert venues demanding increased instrumental forces to supply sufficient sound/audibility.  At the limit of this spiralling process (how big can a concert venue get, and how can you pay for more than around 100 musicians and still make a profit???), the only way to increase audibility was to modify instruments, to wit by increasing pitch.  Increased pitch ipso facto increased sound and brilliance.  And that, dear readers, is what is still going on.  (Otherwise we must resort to electric amplification, which not coincidentally is happening in parallel!).

1.  Montagu, Jeremy. Origins and Development of Musical Instruments. London: Scarecrow Press, 2007. Page 117.

What to Wear to the Concert Spirituel?

EAST WINDIES LOGO small.jpgIn 1820’s Paris, there was a “buzz” around the newly-fashionable wind quintet genre. So what would you wear to a Franz Danzi or Reicha concert at that most famous venue, the Concert Spirituel? (1)   Here are a couple of trending suggestions from the Empire Era:

EMPIRE FASHION 1812 OLD RAGS              Empire Fashion Men

(images above from 7.03.2016)


concert spiriturel

Tuileries Palace, site of the Concert Spirituel

 Image by Unknown. 19.03.2016
  1. The Concert Spirituel was a concert venue and one of the first public concert series in existence during the 18th Century (1725 – 1790). Later concerts were revived during the Restoration (1814 – 1830). “Concert Spirituel”. 10.3.2016.












The House of Schlesinger-Music Publishers

EAST WINDIES LOGO small.jpgAdolf Martin Schlesinger (1769 – 1838) and Maurice Schlesinger (1798 – 1871) were a father and son music publishing business in Berlin and Paris, respectively.  In an earlier post we mentioned the Paris house of Schlesinger had published Franz Danzi’s early wind quintets (op 56) in 1821.  As a mark of the firm’s respectablilty and status, the Schlesingers also published works of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt and Berlioz.  Interestingly, Richard Wagner was employed by the Paris branch in the 1840’s, to write piano arrangements for the popular market.  That does seem ironic, considering in retrospect the well-known anti-semitic attitudes of Herr Wagner.  And speaking of such attitudes in 19th century Germany, the elder Schlesinger (Adolf Martin) had been the subject of anti-Semitic remarks by Beethoven himself (1).  However, that didn’t stop Beethoven from commissioning the Schlesingers to further publish his late quartets and sonatas (2).  Here’s a portrait of Adolf Martin from the collection of the Beethoven-Haus Archive in Bonn (3):

Anonym: Schlesinger, Martin - Foto nach anonymem Ölgemälde

 Adolf Martin Schlesinger (1769 – 1838)


    1. Anderson, Letters of Beethoven, 1961.
    2. “Adolf martin Schlesinger”. 4.03.2016; “Maurice Schlesinger”. 3.03.2016; and “Schlesinger”. 4.03.20163.
    3. MartinSchlesinger (Berlin). Digital Archives of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn.  Accessed via Google Search “Images – Adolf Martin Schlesinger”. 5.03.2016


More a Matter of Getting in on the Act….


We were fairly confused about which composer (Danzi or Reicha) published first in the new wind quintet genre of the early 19th century. In separate articles, the Double Reed Society indicates that 1) Danzi published first in 1821 (1); and 2) that Reicha finished publishing his series by 1820 (2).  Possibly an article in Editions Silvertrust has the right idea:  That Danzi “chose to write wind quintets after witnessing the tremendous financial success of Anton Reicha’s first set of such works published in 1817.” (3)    Looks like a matter of getting in on the act….(certainly reinforces our suspicion that Danzi was a cheeky fellow….see previous post “Pipped at the Post”)

Logo from Edition Silvertrust’s Facebook site: 8.03.2019
  1. “The Opus 56 wind Quintets of Franz Danzi”. 8.03.2016.
  2. “The 24 wind quintets of Anton Reicha”. 8.03.2016
  3. “Franz Danzi – Wind quintet in d minor, Op. 68 No.3” 8.03.2016

Pipped at the Post, but not Second Best.


If Mozart had good reason to hate Guiseppe Cambini (see our post, 25.02.2016), what about Antoine Riecha and Franz Danzi? In a case of “Pipped at the Post”  Danzi the continental outsider managed to publish three new wind quintets in Paris,  just months before Reicha produced his own version.  Riecha was “king” in Paris, however, and riding a great wave of popularity he went on to write a total of 24 quintets.  Today Reicha is widely accepted as establishing the wind quintet form in the 1820’s.  Danzi eventually produced nine quintets but was seemingly much more interested in other musical forms.  He did know his business though, especially how to get noticed in Paris in the 19th century.  He was cheeky, too:  He dedicated those first three quintets (Opus 56, 1821) to Reicha himself! (1)

 Franz Danzi (1763– 1826)   (2)
 Maurice Schlesinger Publisher
Maurice  Schlesinger  (1798 – 1871)  (3)
Paris Publisher of Danzi’s Opus 56 quintets
(1  )“The Opus 56 Wind Quintets of Franz Danzi”. 3.03.2016
(2)  “Franz Danzi Pictures”. 3.3.2016;
 (3) “Portrait of Maurice F Schlesinger”.  3.03.2016.