Sunday, November 18, 2012

Johann Stamitz

Johann Stamitz (Johann Wenzel Anton Stamitz) was a Czech violinist, conductor, and composer born (in Deutschbrod, Bohemia) on June 18, 1717.  He is remembered as the concertmaster of the famous Mannheim Court Orchestra and father of two composers, Carl and Anton.  He has been called the “missing link” between Bach and Haydn.  Not too much is known of his early life.  In 1734, he attended the University of Prague but left after a year.  He then traveled as a touring violin virtuoso though little is known about where he went.  Then, in 1741 (or 1742) he was appointed to the Mannheim Orchestra.  He was 24 years old.  He soon became the concertmaster and leader of the orchestra (1745), which he brought to a high degree of excellence, so much so that it has been said that it was the finest in Europe.  It was said in England that Stamitz’ orchestra consisted of “an army of generals.”  He visited Paris in 1754 and performed (in September of 1754) at the Concerts Spirituel, a well-known concert series which attracted much attention in those days.  He also put out some music through French publishers.  However, his music was also published in England and the Netherlands.  After returning to Mannheim in 1755, he died two years later, on March 27, 1757.  He was barely 39 years old and Mozart was a one-year-old child.  Stamitz is credited with having expanded the role of wind instruments in symphonies as well as establishing the four-movement form.  These innovations were later further developed by better-known composers such as Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Mozart, and Ludwig Beethoven.  Stamitz may have composed as many as 75 symphonies (the real number is not known), 10 trios, 12 flute concertos, 2 harpsichord concertos, 14 violin concertos, and a large amount of chamber music.  You can listen to one of his violin concertos here and one of his very difficult trumpet concertos can be heard here 

2 comments:

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