Author Topic: The 'Dorf: In Titters over Ditters  (Read 16603 times)

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DavidW

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2009, 02:30:50 PM »
I'm pretty literal, so I could have just not caught onto the joke, but if it's joke it seems Andy Kaufman like in execution since he wouldn't let up! :D

karlhenning

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2009, 06:19:08 AM »
Although Ralph kids about it, yes, he has the most extensive Dittersdorf collection on the eastern seaboard.

(Two discs, I think.)

Offline JoshLilly

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2009, 04:13:22 PM »
I've got a way, way more extensive Dittersdorf collection than that!  Including multiple complete operas and oratorios, symphonies, string quartets, complete known oboe concerti, and various other works.  It is his symphonies that are the most discussed, but in my opinion, his symphonies are his worst music.  About 2 of them I like a lot, the rest I like just a little (practically indifferent to them).

In any case, I was posting here to mention one thing that really should be hyped more, and that is his autobiography.  I finally got to read it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  It really is worth a read, whether or not you've ever heard a note of his music.  I notice the word "humility" in quotation marks up there in the first post, but you'd probably remove them if you read his autobiography.  He doesn't come across as arrogant in the least, and indeed tells at least one embarassing story about himself, where he behaved in an arrogant manner and was put in his place by a servant.  He also names several contemporary violinists that he seems to consider his superior, even though Dittersdorf himself was certainly among the very best.  He even mentions in one case where he got more praise as a performer than Lolli by rewriting a piece so that he "had sufficiently peppered the finale with passages which looked very difficult, but which lay well to the hand."  Basically, he says that he snowed the audience with flashiness.  Although, Dittersdorf really did have a high reputation as a violinist, legitimately; this is just one incident.

The only composition where you get the impression he's really proud of it would probably be his oratorio Hiob, and the closest he comes to boasting even there is to say that it brought in a ton of money very quickly everywhere it was put on.  It was indeed a very popular work in its day.

He talks quite a bit about his time spent with composers such as Gluck - who gave him tremendous help with his career and became something of a mentor - and F.J. Haydn.  Here's a passage from the English translation of this book that I have:


Quote
During the rest of the summer and the following winter, when I was off duty, I often came into contact with the amiable Joseph Haydn.  What lover of music does not know the name and the beautiful works of this distinguished writer?  When we heard any new music by other composers, we criticised it between ourselves, praising, or the reverse, as we saw just.

I advise every young artist to found an alliance, at starting, with one of his colleagues, - stipulating that jealousies and envy are out of the reckoning.  Haydn and I did this in a spirit of inquiry, and if all prejudices are laid aside, I maintain that nothing so materially assists a young musician's progress as mutual and friendly criticism of this kind.  It has this further advantage, that, besides enabling a writer to introduce many a fine effect with certainty, it will teach him carefully to avoid those rocks against which this or that other composer has come to grief.  I am not saying anything new.  All the world knows that criticism - the honest, impartial criticism of real judges - has ever been of the greatest use to the fine arts.

By the way, I noticed a locked thread here talking about (Wolfgang) Mozart being a fraud.  Dittersdorf's own personal encounters and writings concerning Mozart completely contradict this!  He describes him as a "genius" of both piano playing (along with Clementi) and of composing.  I read once in an article on Dittersdorf in a very old book (1920s I think) that he said in his autobiography that Mozart bored him; finally, years after reading that book, I have finally gotten this autobiography, and there's nothing even remotely along these lines, not even the barest hint of the lightest negative criticism of Mozart in any way, shape, or form.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, but this book is really, really worth reading.  Again, I stress that even if you have heard some works of Dittersdorf and disliked them, or even if you've heard not a note, you probably will find this autobiography a pleasant and enlightening experience.


EDIT:  PS - I just want to mention also that there is an extra emotional element to reading this, when you cover the sad last chapter, and realise that Dittersdorf died 2 days after it was complete.  He talks about how his benefactor and best friend fell into Alzheimer's; though of course they didn't know in those days what it was, it's instantly clear as crystal to a modern reader.  Dittersdorf ended up losing everything, after a difficult service as a local politician that included dangerous service during wartime, a close evasion of a trap that would have cost him his life, and a foolish but lucky standoff with armed forces over a large collection of lumber.  In his last couple of years, he was suffering greatly, and about the last words are his apology that he wasn't better able to provide for his family.  He lost everything due to changes of who owned the strip of land where he had his title... you may not be aware of this, but Europe had a war or two during the 18th century where turf switched sides.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 04:22:09 PM by JoshLilly »

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2009, 04:39:19 PM »
I've got a way, way more extensive Dittersdorf collection than that!  Including multiple complete operas and oratorios, symphonies, string quartets, complete known oboe concerti, and various other works.  It is his symphonies that are the most discussed, but in my opinion, his symphonies are his worst music.  About 2 of them I like a lot, the rest I like just a little (practically indifferent to them).

In any case, I was posting here to mention one thing that really should be hyped more, and that is his autobiography.  I finally got to read it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  It really is worth a read, whether or not you've ever heard a note of his music.  I notice the word "humility" in quotation marks up there in the first post, but you'd probably remove them if you read his autobiography.  He doesn't come across as arrogant in the least, and indeed tells at least one embarassing story about himself, where he behaved in an arrogant manner and was put in his place by a servant.  He also names several contemporary violinists that he seems to consider his superior, even though Dittersdorf himself was certainly among the very best.  He even mentions in one case where he got more praise as a performer than Lolli by rewriting a piece so that he "had sufficiently peppered the finale with passages which looked very difficult, but which lay well to the hand."  Basically, he says that he snowed the audience with flashiness.  Although, Dittersdorf really did have a high reputation as a violinist, legitimately; this is just one incident.

The only composition where you get the impression he's really proud of it would probably be his oratorio Hiob, and the closest he comes to boasting even there is to say that it brought in a ton of money very quickly everywhere it was put on.  It was indeed a very popular work in its day.

He talks quite a bit about his time spent with composers such as Gluck - who gave him tremendous help with his career and became something of a mentor - and F.J. Haydn.  Here's a passage from the English translation of this book that I have:


By the way, I noticed a locked thread here talking about (Wolfgang) Mozart being a fraud.  Dittersdorf's own personal encounters and writings concerning Mozart completely contradict this!  He describes him as a "genius" of both piano playing (along with Clementi) and of composing.  I read once in an article on Dittersdorf in a very old book (1920s I think) that he said in his autobiography that Mozart bored him; finally, years after reading that book, I have finally gotten this autobiography, and there's nothing even remotely along these lines, not even the barest hint of the lightest negative criticism of Mozart in any way, shape, or form.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, but this book is really, really worth reading.  Again, I stress that even if you have heard some works of Dittersdorf and disliked them, or even if you've heard not a note, you probably will find this autobiography a pleasant and enlightening experience.


EDIT:  PS - I just want to mention also that there is an extra emotional element to reading this, when you cover the sad last chapter, and realise that Dittersdorf died 2 days after it was complete.  He talks about how his benefactor and best friend fell into Alzheimer's; though of course they didn't know in those days what it was, it's instantly clear as crystal to a modern reader.  Dittersdorf ended up losing everything, after a difficult service as a local politician that included dangerous service during wartime, a close evasion of a trap that would have cost him his life, and a foolish but lucky standoff with armed forces over a large collection of lumber.  In his last couple of years, he was suffering greatly, and about the last words are his apology that he wasn't better able to provide for his family.  He lost everything due to changes of who owned the strip of land where he had his title... you may not be aware of this, but Europe had a war or two during the 18th century where turf switched sides.

Josh,
Wonderful post, as always from you. I have remained a non-combatant in the Ditters Wars, mainly because I think it's silly to argue over what is essentially a question of taste. As it happens, I am very fond of his music, and really don't care a whit who might not be. I can say this; his contemporaries thought the world of him, and that's the crucial and deciding factor for me. They knew more about their music and what was good and bad about it than anyone today ever will. The same holds true of Vanhal and a few others that i won't bother naming, we know who they are. :)

I would be delighted to read his autobiography, although I have never seen it either for sale or in a library. If you got it someplace where I could follow suit, please let me know where.

Oh, stop by the Classical Corner sometime. Your input would be most welcome there, and I think you would find some kindred spirits.

Regards,
Gurn 8)

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Offline JoshLilly

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2009, 04:44:26 PM »

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2009, 05:05:38 PM »
I don't mean to advertise for any specific company, but here's where I got it:

http://www.amazon.com/Autobiography-Karl-Von-Dittersdorf/dp/0554557355/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247449432&sr=1-1

Excellent, thanks. It's in my shopping cart now. :)

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DavidW

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2009, 06:46:47 PM »
I think it's silly to argue over what is essentially a question of taste.

Poor Gurn, he is posting on a forum devoted to arguing over taste! :D

Offline max

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2009, 10:41:20 PM »
Although Ralph kids about it, yes, he has the most extensive Dittersdorf collection on the eastern seaboard.

(Two discs, I think.)

I got 4! Once hooked you remain hooked. The ineffable works of mediocrity hold more fascination for me than all the ostensible works of super genius most of which I heard many times which has not made me a better person or more delightful or insightful. Actually it didn't even do that for the composer. For some time now I prefer to listen to the Frog symphony more than to Beethovens 5th or Mozart's final 3.

The works of Dittersdorf, J.C. Bach, Stamitz, etc remain - at least to me - immensely enjoyable though clearly not equal. Why would I care about the supposed talents of a composer as long as I like the music though still capable of realizing that there is a difference!

To be inferior to the likes of Mozart, Beethoven or Haydn still requires a massive amount of talent and it's only the snob who starts smelling skunk if not equal to the Big Three.

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2009, 06:44:44 AM »
I don't mean to advertise for any specific company, but here's where I got it:

http://www.amazon.com/Autobiography-Karl-Von-Dittersdorf/dp/0554557355/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247449432&sr=1-1

Josh - thank you so much! Is this the first English translation? As all my previous searches for this bio have only located very expensive German versions, and suddenly this pops up :) I'll buy it the moment I can next justify a book purchase.
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karlhenning

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2009, 06:48:50 AM »
I wish to object to the subject header.  I don't even know von Dittersdorf, so how could I have dittered him?

DavidW

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #30 on: July 13, 2009, 07:02:49 AM »
One of the wonderful things about music that's not Greeeeaaat! is that they can use theatrical affectations in their music without loss of face, and their music might not be quite as complex which gives our counterpoint tumors a break.  It's satisfying to listen to lesser music as a break from the harder stuff.  I'm not trying to damn with faint praise, just saying that even if you don't say a composer is great, he/she can still be nice to listen to. 8) 

snyprrr

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #31 on: July 14, 2009, 06:59:29 PM »
It all makes perfect sense now. Dittersdorf, "the humble", is the true face of the Artist of whom we've been searching for this whole time. I mean, his own works are so "white" and bland and "pure", that it is easy to see that he also had a "secret" style!

C'mon guys! What say???

Add Albrechtsberger, and you see why the true face of the Artist was never revealed. Just like in the modern music world when they get the fat lady to sing the hit, but then get the hottie to sing the video, here it is the same:

Albrechtsberger & Dittersdorf

just doesn't have quite the lilt of

Mozart & Haydn

,no?

Offline Leo K.

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #32 on: November 12, 2009, 05:03:03 AM »
I really got to say Dittersdorf's music really has grabbed me this Autumn...especially while working these mean graveyard shifts, Dittersdorf's art has become a wonderful tonic, and putting in mind visions of almost untouchable beauty. 

I like his pictorial style and nuanced orchestration...sounds like much thought went into the color and texture at his disposal.  The repetitious phrases are a glimpse of how most probably wanted to hear music in that era, nothing too demanding but beautiful in the sense each passing phrase was given it's due.

So far, I've listened to the Symphonies (from the Naxos series) and String Quartets, as well as some vocal works such as his Requiem, which is a great choral work in every way, as moving to me as Mozart's Requiem, and fascinating because I'm so used to Mozart and Haydn's style it is amazing to discover another from that era with his own voice, not as complex but just as fascinating and valid as representing the 18th Century in all it's glory.

As far as Classical music is concerned, the 18th Century has been my first love and the era I always return to, and what a discovery to meet Von Dittersdorf's sound world with his ravishing pictures in notes and scales and sense of time suspended.

« Last Edit: November 12, 2009, 05:10:07 AM by Leo K »

Offline Leo K.

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2009, 05:41:52 AM »
Almost through this...real amazing stuff.  Perfect for a cloudy day.




I've gotta sat again this guy's music is really worth one's chill-out time.

 :)

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #34 on: November 16, 2009, 12:18:27 PM »
Almost through this...real amazing stuff.  Perfect for a cloudy day.




I've gotta sat again this guy's music is really worth one's chill-out time.

 :)
Cool to see someone liking Dittersdorf.  :) I have praised that wonderful recording here many times but usually I get nasty remarks for liking "a poor composer". Each to his/her own...
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2009, 11:25:58 AM »
Ditt's biggest problem is that there doesn't yet seem to be a very good recording of his symphonies, only several servicable ones... Vanhal on the other hand I can assume is more widely liked partly because his music has been so widely recorded by ensembles such as the Concerto Köln...
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snyprrr

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #36 on: December 21, 2009, 10:01:58 PM »
I've finally got the second (first) volume of the Dorf's SQs on CPO with the Franz Schubert Quartett. After only having Nos. 2 & 6 on the other disc, I had so grown tired of the "Hello Muddah" variations that it was high time to confront the rest of The Six.

Ultimately, the Dorf delivers smiles, as he has so much of what make M&H so charming, namely, wit. I'm also reminded of the Rosetti CPO disc (or the music on it?). The four remaining SQs of The Six Ditters wrote in 1788 definitely added to my view of the Dorf. They more than make up for the Muddah, and, in fact, justify it. There is something of the Heroic in here, and the Operatic. Unless you count Da Muddah, there is no real "hit" in the set. The melodies flow, but there are no overt ba-bahs that linger in the memory the way, say, the Fifths, Op.76/2 of Haydn, does.

Perhaps the set to compare these to would be Haydn's Op.33. There are many reminders, and I heard a fleeting quote in the spirit (I think it was The Bird). As such, they would be an Op.33 that was ten years older, hence sounding more like the motivic writing of Haydn Op.50 than the "new style" of Op.33. The Dorf set doesn't plumb the depths like Op.33, but then, neither does Op.50. So, an Op.33 set for the year 1788.

Once again, Dorf's friend bragged that these Six were the equal, and even surpassed, those by Haydn and Pleyel. Perhaps, though I don't hear the "hits", the Ditters set was more popular in its day than the Haydn of Opp. 50-55/64. I can hear how people would want to play these. They do have tremendously typical High Classical Mannerisms that are extremely charming. Nothing is out of place; the texture changes often, as characters in... an opera. In a way, the Dorf reminds me of Korngold. The Birth of the Hollywood, haha. The Dorf as Paul McCartney, haha.



So, I had hoped to get the Gewandhaus on Berlin on Ebay the other week, but brainfarted (oooo, I hate that!), so I got the CPO. I had heard some criticism of them in the Franz Schmidt SQs (Nimbus; intonation... of course, they are totally chromatic pieces), which I have (and could see how the ABQ, for instance, might do them a bit better), and, after hearing this second Dorf Disc, I've got to say that I caaan imagine performances of even greater ABQness. I really think the Gewandhaus disc must be a bit more punchy, or something (at least, I can picture it). The first violin isn't my favorite guy ever, but, eh. He "sounds" better in the Schmidt, but perhaps this is the sound they chose, I don't know. It's not bad, just not my fav. There is a third! version by the Sharon Quartet that I know nothing about (and a couple of single SQs on other albums).

If you get Haydn Op.50, I recommend getting these along side that set. Good stuff.

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #37 on: December 22, 2009, 01:45:08 PM »
I've finally got the second (first) volume of the Dorf's SQs on CPO with the Franz Schubert Quartett. After only having Nos. 2 & 6 on the other disc, I had so grown tired of the "Hello Muddah" variations that it was high time to confront the rest of The Six.

Ultimately, the Dorf delivers smiles, as he has so much of what make M&H so charming, namely, wit. I'm also reminded of the Rosetti CPO disc (or the music on it?). The four remaining SQs of The Six Ditters wrote in 1788 definitely added to my view of the Dorf. They more than make up for the Muddah, and, in fact, justify it. There is something of the Heroic in here, and the Operatic. Unless you count Da Muddah, there is no real "hit" in the set. The melodies flow, but there are no overt ba-bahs that linger in the memory the way, say, the Fifths, Op.76/2 of Haydn, does.

Perhaps the set to compare these to would be Haydn's Op.33. There are many reminders, and I heard a fleeting quote in the spirit (I think it was The Bird). As such, they would be an Op.33 that was ten years older, hence sounding more like the motivic writing of Haydn Op.50 than the "new style" of Op.33. The Dorf set doesn't plumb the depths like Op.33, but then, neither does Op.50. So, an Op.33 set for the year 1788.

Once again, Dorf's friend bragged that these Six were the equal, and even surpassed, those by Haydn and Pleyel. Perhaps, though I don't hear the "hits", the Ditters set was more popular in its day than the Haydn of Opp. 50-55/64. I can hear how people would want to play these. They do have tremendously typical High Classical Mannerisms that are extremely charming. Nothing is out of place; the texture changes often, as characters in... an opera. In a way, the Dorf reminds me of Korngold. The Birth of the Hollywood, haha. The Dorf as Paul McCartney, haha.



So, I had hoped to get the Gewandhaus on Berlin on Ebay the other week, but brainfarted (oooo, I hate that!), so I got the CPO. I had heard some criticism of them in the Franz Schmidt SQs (Nimbus; intonation... of course, they are totally chromatic pieces), which I have (and could see how the ABQ, for instance, might do them a bit better), and, after hearing this second Dorf Disc, I've got to say that I caaan imagine performances of even greater ABQness. I really think the Gewandhaus disc must be a bit more punchy, or something (at least, I can picture it). The first violin isn't my favorite guy ever, but, eh. He "sounds" better in the Schmidt, but perhaps this is the sound they chose, I don't know. It's not bad, just not my fav. There is a third! version by the Sharon Quartet that I know nothing about (and a couple of single SQs on other albums).

If you get Haydn Op.50, I recommend getting these along side that set. Good stuff.

I like your thoughts on the Dorf and Haydn's quartets here...

The Dorf appears to be aiming for a simpler style in his quartets (perhaps all his music has this great simplicity) and I think I read somewhere he purposely aimed at a more general audience for his quartets to compete with Haydn and Mozart.  And at the same time his quartet style has so much elegance and style they are arresting on their own terms.  I feel like I am beyond the concerns of history when I listen to his quartets, basking in a wonderful mythical 18th Century world where beautiful  ladies are playing cards under the cool shades of trees and I hear their laughter and gossip.

I have the Dorf Quartet set with the Gewandhaus and it is indeed wonderful playing.  I have not compared with the CPO sets yet though but they are in my iTunes ready to play.


Offline SonicMan46

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #38 on: December 22, 2009, 05:29:45 PM »
Boy, just another exploratory thread created in the new forum!  ;D

We already had great thread going on Ditters in the old forum HERE started by Gurn -  :)

I own over a half dozen discs of this composer, so will be glad to post for those interested?

In addition, he dictated an autobiography to his son The Autobiography of Karl Von Dittersdorf which I read not too long ago and posted a few comments; short and enjoyable w/ a lot of personal remembrances; of course, his real name was Karl Ditters; he was given an aristocratic title for an assigned position which lead to the addition of 'Von Dittersdorf', completely phony - seems that history (or threads on forums) repeat themselves, and not always to their betterment?  ;) :D

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Re: In Titters over Ditters
« Reply #39 on: December 22, 2009, 09:12:01 PM »
I have the Dorf Quartet set with the Gewandhaus and it is indeed wonderful playing.  I have not compared with the CPO sets yet though but they are in my iTunes ready to play.

Yes, please do let us know how they compare.