Franz 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”. En.wikipedia.org. 23.03.2016
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.com. 23.3.2016
b) Uncle Dave Lewis, “Francesca Lebrun Artist Biography”. http://www.allmusic.com. 23.03.2016