It is a great pleasure to wish Paul Robey Bryan Jr. a happy centenary! More than anybody else, we have Paul to thank for the modern revival of Waṅhal’s music.
Unlike a composer such as Dittersdorf, who left an elaborate autobiography that ensured that he never receded completely from view, the slim paper trail left by Waṅhal belies his status as a composer. His worth could only be gauged through his music, and it is only through Paul’s perseverance and ingenuity that this has finally been acknowledged.
Paul was not the first scholar to work on Waṅhal: Margrete von Dewitz’ finished her doctoral dissertation on his piano works from 1933, around the same time as the famous dispute between Adolf Sandberger and Jens Peter Larsen over the nature of the famous Quartbuch, in which Waṅhal was copiously mentioned, took place; Alfred Einstein also took a keen early interest in Waṅhal’s works. These efforts remain isolated, however, and it was only with Paul’s tireless work throughout the post-war period and beyond, beginning with his doctoral dissertation of 1957, that Waṅhal, slowly but surely, became accepted as perhaps the finest composer of symphonies in Haydn and Mozart’s Vienna. This seems, in many ways, to have been an upwards struggle. There have, however, been several great triumphs, which deserve recognition. Paul has managed to publish scores of several of Waṅhal’s symphonies, through A-R Edition’s Recent Researches in Music of the Classic Era series and the series The Symphony 1720–1840, and later through the revived Artaria publishing house.
His greatest achievement, however, is his book Johann Waṅhal, Viennese Symphonist - His Life and His Musical Environment, colloquially known as the Big Red Book, which was published by Pendragon Press in 1997. This book belongs to a series of catalogues, but it is far more than a catalogue of Waṅhal’s symphonies: it is a fount for a lifetime of knowledge, and contains essays on his musical style, a thorough biography with extended essays on different aspects of his life, as well as a tour-de-force guide through questions of authenticity and watermark studies. It is one of the most impressive books of its kind, and unlikely to be superseded at any time in the foreseeable future. More than anything, it is the book that could provide the scholarly basis for a rediscovery of Waṅhal’s symphonies.
One of the most impressive aspects of Paul’s work is that he managed to do this under trying circumstances. From 1951 to his retirement in 1988, his main employment was always with the Wind Symphony at Duke University; if he wasn’t exactly working on Waṅhal on the sly, Paul had to balance this project against more immediate matters. What is more, his research was done at the height of the Cold War, when access to music collections in the old Eastern Bloc was far from given. In a stroke of synergetic genius, Paul solved this by bringing the Wind Symphony with him on extended European tours, which meant that he also had the opportunity to study sources in East Germany, Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
Every person who reads these words most likely owes Paul a debt of gratitude, but to those of us who work with Waṅhal on a daily basis he has almost been a musicological Moses: Paul’s work means that every later Waṅhal scholar can assume a relevancy that will not have been obvious to the scholarly world through most of his own career. This puts even greater demands on us to be productive and proactive, but only because we can do so and assume that our work will be of interest to others – and this is largely Paul’s achievement. As Mozart once said of C.P.E. Bach, ‘Er ist der Vater, wir sind die Bub’n’.
Michaela Freemanová, who had had a crucial role in research work done by the Johan Baptist Wanhal Association, died 15 June this year. She will be missed dearly by us all. Paul Bryan, honorary president of the Association, wrote the following piece in her honour:
Michaela Kopecká and Michaela Freemanová: I have known you as both, but met you only a single time – in Prague in 1984.
The internet, in its impersonal way, reminds me and the world about your many accomplishments as a scholar and producer in Prague which to me is still Czechoslovakia, where you were born and which is the land I knew.
I came to know you through correspondence mostly about my man, J. B. Wanhal and his milieu. The most recent letters were sent by email and had to do with our agreement that he was indeed Wanhal and that we were mutually concerned for the success of the JBWA whose members promote his interests and study the man and his music.
I especially treasure our old-time letters with ink-written personal signatures whose envelopes I still have. They concerned projects of mutual concern like which of Wanhal’s symphonies were at Kuks and the watermarks in Czech papers about which there was to be a conference that I wanted to attend and you sent me the information I needed to get there. You, yourself, were planning to attend. But I didn’t succeed.
The most important letters delivered in 2006 clarified my confusion about your husband who was not Daniel but David. And I had only recently “met” and really bonded with him. At about the same time I sent you a card with a picture of two cute little love birds and a little congratulatory message. Within a few days I heard that he had been seriously ill and, in fact, had died. Your immediate gracious answer to my agonized letter comforted me wonderfully. It jumped out of your letter into my heart as you told about him and his death. It revealed you as a warm, charming and thoughtful person who was also a world-respected scholar.
I eagerly anticipate meeting both of you along with other departed beloved friends like Joe and Mlada Rut and Alex Weinmann as we enjoy each other’s company – and observe our JBWA colleagues as they continue our attempt to understand the life and music of Dlabacž’s genial but enigmatic friend Johann Baptist Wanhal.
I also think wistfully about the several times we were to meet but didn’t manage. And I’m proud of your statement to me that “Grandfather or nor not, you will be always the most appreciated Wanhal scholar.”!
The Eybler Quartet presents the premiere period instrument recording of Wanhal’s charming and delightful early quartets, Op. 6 Nos. 1-6. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronical writes, "the charm and exuberance of his creativity shines through in this set of six string quartets… The Eybler Quartet, a Toronto period-instrument ensemble dedicated to the lesser-known composers of the 18th century, is in its element here, and gives the music the vividness and polish required.” Find out more at www.eyblerquartet.com
On June 28 & 29, JBWAs very own Robert Franenberg will talk give a talk about the double bass in divertimentos at the Viennese Double Bass Symposium at the Amsterdam Conservatory. Select examples will be given from trios and divertimentos by Wanhal. The event will also include other workshops, student recitals and instrumental expos.
Time: June 28-29, 10-17 each day.
Place: Amsterdam Conservatory
On November 5 Dr. Martial Leroux held a talk on "Wanhal and Bohemian musicians in Vienna in the classical period" for a packet audience in the Czech embassy in Paris. The audience was also spoiled with two of Wanhal's string quartets. To read a resume of talk press here. (in French)
Donald Macleod introduces a musician and composer whose prodigious gifts took him from rural Bohemia to the very top of the musical world in 18th-century Vienna, where he was celebrated alongside Haydn and Mozart, his occasional quartet partners. Vanhal's story has all the ingredients for a great musical drama: escape from bondage, early success dashed by sudden personal crisis, and a remarkable re-birth won through faith, talent and strength of character. This week, Donald Macleod explores how Vanhal became one of the most celebrated musicians of his age and reveals how his music, despite falling into relative obscurity, has lost none of its shine.
Click on link to hear the programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06dbdk1
(Available until Octobre 27)
These works are performed by the Czech Boys Choir Boni Pueri and soloists, backed up by the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice conducted by the noteworthy Czech conductor Marek Štryncl. This recording was realized with assistance of J. B. Wanhal Association.
Our eminent member Dr. Richard Fuller, playing a fortepiano made by Werner Keil and based on an original by Johann Andreas Stein of Augsburg, 1788, recorded a CD of three mature and beautiful Wanhal's clavier sonatas. For further information please visit www.richardfullerfortepiano.com.
Presently the sole professional webpages dealing with Wanhal in the world. Today when our association, gathering first class researchers and performers, appeared on the Web, is a true event. We address not only all Wanhal fans, professionals and music lovers, but also everyone who wishes to discover his beautiful music and get acquainted with his fascinating personality. We invite you to browse through our pages and communicate interactively with us.
Hailed as a «Gustostück» by Austrian critics. This recording of Wanhal's op. 40 piano quartets with American fortepianist Richard Fuller and members of Peter Zajíček's Musica Aeterna Bratislava remains not only the only recording of these works, but one of the finest testimonies to Wanhal's musical genius. Virtuosic HIP (historically informed performances) yet sensitive lyrical playing and flawless ensemble artistry make this CD a must for every serious classical music listener. Limited quantities available from richardfullerfortepiano.com.
The main issue on the agenda was how to prepare a new and expended thematic catalogue of Wanhal works. Now a catalogue format plus a new numbering system are alive. An extensive dissemination of Wanhal’s works which are preserved largely in manuscript copies all over the Europe and even beyond, reflects an important difficulty to overcome, i.e. to evaluate a physical state of the sources in the numerous locations. This is a first phase on the way to our catalogue.