FIVE FACTS about Anton Reicha’s first set of wind quintets

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1.  Opus 88 was published in 1818 by the House of Simrock;  2.  The frontispiece was printed in French, the internal text in Italian:  Quintour vs. Quintetto;  3.  These intitial three wind quintets set out to compete with then-dominant interest in / availability of string (chamber) music;  4.  There was no published score, only the five parts;  5.  The original ensemble, whose members signed the preface were: J Guillou (flute), G Vogt (oboe), J-J Bouffil (clarinet), L-F Dauprat (horn), and M Henry (bassoon).

Joseph Guillou 1787 - 1853

Joseph Guillou (1787-1870) French flautist.
This post based on article by Charles-David Lehrer.  “The Opus 88 wind Quintets of Antoine Reicha.”  http://www.idrs.org.  accessed 5.4.2016; and image search:  “Joseph  Gillou”. http://www.commons.wikimedia.org. accessed 9.4.2016

 

 

Danzi Quintet opus 56 no. 1

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Franz Danzi, Quintet in B Flat, Op. 56, #1: Mov’t 1: Allegretto played by the Toronto Wind Quintet

Danzi’s first wind quintet from 1821, when he was attempting to storm Paris with the new genre.  He was 58 at the time, and died just five years later.  His wind quintet rival Anton Reicha outlived him by 10 years.

Anton Reicha (1770 – 1836)

cropped-east-windies-logo-small-jpg3.pngAnton ReichaFriend of Beethoven, teacher of Lizst and Berlioz (among others of note), and childhood runaway: Anton Reicha succeeded in the 18th c music world of Vienna and Paris as prolific composer, music-educator and academic scholar.  Most famously, in Paris he consciously strove to establish the new wind quintet genre—to which end he contributed an astonishing 24 Quintets.   More on Reicha in subsequent posts:   we will be following his music (and that of Franz Danzi, a contemporary) over the next few months.
Image Search:  Anton Reicha.  “Anton Reicha:  Biography-Classic Cat”.  http://www.classicat.net. 5.4.2016

 

The Philidor Dynasty

EAST WINDIES LOGO small.jpg  PHILIDOR FRANCOIS ANDRE

                       Francois-Andre Danican Philidor

In the 17th & 18th centuries, the family Philidor served as court musicians and composers to French royalty over several generations. Their original surname, Danican, became Philidor when Louis XIII so-dubbed his oboist Michel Danican, after an Italian virtuoso named “Filidori”.  Michel was Grandad to a number of prominent musicians, among them two Philidors famous for rather divergent interests:  Anne Danican Philidor (1681 – 1728), who started the celebrated concert series Concert Spirituel (he was also an accomplished composer); and Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726 – 1795)—the very late younger brother of Anne Danican—who was a celeb chess master, renoun for “the Philidor defence” (opening) and “the Philidor position” (endgame).  Above is a picture of the chess master, Francois-Andre (Image search “Philidor”. Chessmanias.com. 27.3.16).

This post based on “Philidor”. en.wikipedia.org. 30.3.2016.

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. Wikipedia.org. 27.3.2016)

PHILIDOR ANNE DANICAN

This post based on :  “A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Concert Spirituel”. en.wikipedia.org. 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
 FRANCESCA LEBRUN 1756 - 1791
The Gainsborough Portrait
Image Search “Francesca Lebrun”. En.wikipedia.org. 23.03.2016
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Recording cover for Lebrun’s music
Image search “Francesca Lebrun”. http://www.jewish-music.blogspot.com. 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”. http://www.allmusic.com. 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”. Performing-Musician.com. 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.
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