Author Topic: Pavel Wranitzky (1758-1808)  (Read 2933 times)

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Pavel Wranitzky (1758-1808)
« on: June 12, 2009, 10:48:52 AM »
Paul Wranitzky (1758-1808)

Czech composer, conductor and violinist active in Vienna, brother of Anton Wranitzky. He studied singing and the organ, violin and viola at the Premonstratensian monastery grammar school in Nová Ríše, and later at Jihlava (1770–71). At Olomouc he studied theology and became an excellent violinist. At 20 he went to Vienna, where he entered the theological seminary and served as its choirmaster. He continued his musical studies with J.M. Kraus (the Kapellmeister to the Swedish court, who visited Vienna in about 1783). Suggestions he was also a pupil of Haydn remain unsubstantiated.

He served as music director for Count Johann Baptist Esterházy in the spring of 1784 and was appointed director of the newly created Kärntnertortheater orchestra in October 1785, a position he held until 1787, when he joined the Burgtheater orchestra. He was named its director in either 1792 or 1793. In about 1786 he started composing symphonies; he was asked to write one for the coronation of Franz II in 1792. He also composed several works for the private use of Franz’s second wife, Marie Therese (1772–1807). Wranitzky conducted a gala performance of his Singspiel Oberon during the coronation festivities of Leopold II at Frankfurt (15 October 1790). During the next 15 years Wranizkty composed at least another 20 works for the stage. He maintained his position with the court theatres until his death in 1808 when his brother Anton replaced him.

Wranitzky played a prominent role in the musical life of Vienna. Both Haydn and Beethoven preferred him as a conductor of their works: Haydn insisted on his direction of the Viennese performances of The Creation (1799, 1800), and at Beethoven’s request he conducted the première of that composer’s First Symphony (2 April 1800). From 1805 he alternated with Gyrowetz as head of the Adelige Liebhaber- oder Cavalier-Konzerte of Vienna. Wranitzky was a member of the same freemasons’ lodge as Mozart, ‘Zur gekrönten Hoffnung’ and after Mozart’s death served as a legal mediator for his widow in her negotiations with the publisher André. As secretary of the Viennese Tonkünstler-Societät he succeeded in settling Haydn’s lengthy quarrel with the society in December 1797. His friendly relations with Haydn are documented by Wranitzky’s letter to John Bland (12 December 1790) and by Haydn’s letter to Wranitzky (3 September 1800). Beethoven’s personal relationship with both Paul and Anton Wranitzky is shown in Czerny’s memoirs. Weber visited Paul Wranitzky in Vienna in 1803.

Wranitzky composed 51 symphonies, most of which have four movements in the standard Classical order, frequently with a slow introduction. The public performance of his Grande sinfonie caractéristique pour la paix avec la République françoise op.31 was forbidden by an imperial resolution (20 December 1797) as the title of the work was felt to be provocative. Like Beethoven’s Eroica, this symphony contains a funeral march as the slow movement, which is given the subtitle ‘The Fate and Death of Louis XVI’. Wranitzky also published 56 string quartets, the majority of which are set in the three-movement format of the Parisian quatour concertant. In these works Wranitzky explored the emerging Romantic style with daring harmonic progressions, theatrical gestures, and virtuoso display. Wranitzky’s music quickly fell out of favour after his death, as noted by Fétis: ‘The music of Wranitzky was in fashion when it was new because of his natural melodies and brilliant style. He treats the orchestra well, especially in symphonies. I recall that, in my youth, his works held up very well in comparison with those of Haydn. Their premature abandonment of today has been for me a source of astonishment’. Wranitzky’s best-known stage work and also one of his longest-surviving compositions was his first Singspiel ‘Oberon‘. The enthusiastic reception of this work in Vienna prompted Schikaneder to conceive Die Zauberflöte for Mozart, whose setting shows certain striking resemblances to Wranitzky’s work. Goethe considered Wranitzky the most appropriate composer to set his Zauberflöte zweiter Teil, and sought his collaboration (letter, 1796). Oberon was eclipsed in popularity only in 1826 by Weber’s opera of the same name. Even more popular in their day were Wranitzky’s ballets, particularly Das Waldmädchen. The symphonic movement below has a series of remarkable similarities to the Overture to Mozart's, 'Le Nozze di Figaro'.


P. Wranitzky (1758-1808)
Symphony in D Major (c.1785)
First Movement