We proudly announce the publication by our association of the master's two late masses scores for the first time from the early 19th century.
He may have written them on his deathbed.
One of the best known and most intriguing musical anecdotes from the late eighteenth century can be found in the entertaining if not always reliable memoirs of the Irish tenor Michael Kelly. Kelly, who spent several eventful years in Vienna performing at the Burgtheater, was well connected with many of the leading composers and performers in the city including Mozart. In his Reminiscences, Kelly relates that his friend
“[Stephen] Storace gave a quartett party to his friends. The players were tolerable; not one of them excelled on the instrument he played, but there was a little science among them, which I dare say will be acknowledged when I name them:
• The First Violin … HAYDN
• Second Violin … BARON DITTERSDORF
• Violoncello … VANHALL
• Viola … MOZART
The poet Casti and Paesielli formed part of the audience. I was there, and a greater treat, or a more remarkable one, cannot be imagined.
On the particular evening to which I am now specially referring, after the musical feast was over, we sat down to an excellent supper, and became joyous and lively in the extreme”.1
Kelly does not record precisely when this event took place nor does he mention which works were performed. Given that neither Haydn nor Dittersdorf lived in Vienna at this time and Dittersdorf’s visits to the imperial capital were comparatively infrequent, this particular gathering was perhaps even more remarkable than Kelly’s report suggests. Nonetheless, if the gathering of the four composers was unusual they were certainly not strangers to one another. Haydn and Dittersdorf had known each other for many years; Dittersdorf and Wanhal had been acquainted since at least 17632 – and indeed in his autobiography, Dittersdorf makes passing reference to Wanhal as his pupil although there is no independent evidence to substantiate this claim3 – and Haydn and Mozart were close friends. If their playing was not of the highest standard, it was certainly not due to any lack of innate ability. Dittersdorf was a child prodigy, and in his youth and early professional career, he appeared frequently as a soloist often in concertos of his own composition; Mozart too was a fine violinist who until ca 1780 was far more professionally active as a string player than as a fortepianist. He played as a member of the Archbishop’s Kapelle in Salzburg and also performed frequently as a soloist and chamber musician. In 1777, while visiting Augsburg, he performed his G major Concerto, K.216 in one concert and Wanhal’s Violin Concerto in B flat (Weinmann IIb: B1) in another.4 Haydn was also a very proficient violinist – he considered it his best instrument – and although we know considerably less about Wanhal’s cello playing, he was certainly an accomplished violinist. Perhaps the point that Kelly is really making is that he was seeing these famous composers in an unexpected context and none more so than his friend Mozart, the greatest keyboard virtuoso of his time, playing the viola in a string quartet. The implication that the playing was not of the highest standard no doubt reflects the nature of the performance: four friends sight-reading complex chamber music with no audience but themselves and a few close friends. It is highly likely that both Dittersdorf and Mozart were better violinists than Haydn, and assuming Kelly’s recollection was accurate, Haydn’s role in the quartet as the first violinist might better be understood as a gesture of respect from friends and colleagues who held him in such high esteem.
Of the four composers, Dittersdorf was the least experienced in the field of quartet composition with just six works, composed between 1782 and 1788, which were published early in 1789 by Artaria by which time Storace and Kelly had both left Vienna.5 While it is possible that one of Dittersdorf’s string quartets may have been performed that evening, it seems more likely that he and his friends played works by Haydn, Mozart or Wanhal. Haydn’s works would surely have featured and it is possible that one or more works from his epochal Op.33 quartets of 1781 was played, while Mozart’s response to these works, the six brilliant quartets he dedicated to Haydn at the time of their publication in 1785, are also obvious candidates. By an odd coincidence, Wanhal, a prolific and fine composer of string quartets, also published a set of quartets as his Op.33 in 1785 and these too suggest themselves as a possibility. With such riches to choose from, Kelly’s description of the event as a “musical feast” seems very appropriate.
One composer there that evening who had not written any string quartets was the host, Stephen Storace. His interest lay primarily in the field of opera and it was this which had brought him to Vienna in late 1784 after his sister Nancy, who by this stage was well established as member of Joseph II’s new Italian opera company at the Burgtheater, secured a commission for him to compose an opera.6 Gli sposi malcontenti was performed in Vienna in June 1785 with mixed success (Michael Kelly sang in this production alongside Storace’s sister, Nancy, who lost her voice) but it was subsequently staged in Prague, Leipzig and Dresden. But Storace’s first-hand experience of Vienna’s musical life, as his quartet party suggests, was far deeper and more wide-ranging than its thriving operatic culture. He very quickly came to view the music being composed there as being on a wholly different level to that which he had encountered elsewhere. It was not just his friendship with Mozart that convinced him of this, but also his growing acquaintance with the music of other composers. At some point during his sojourn in Vienna, Storace may have conceived a plan to curate and publish a selection of works that he considered representative of the exciting, progressive ‘new’ style which would later be realized in the ambitious Storace’s Collection of Original Keyboard Music which he published in London between 1787 and 1789.
A cursory glance through the contents of the Collection, which was issued in two volumes, each of six parts, reveals an overwhelming preference for works by living composers working in Vienna or closely associated with the city. Of the thirty-four compositions published over the twelve parts of the Collection, no fewer than twenty-four are by ‘Viennese’ composers: Leopold Koželuh (9), Mozart (7), Wanhal (5), Haydn (2) and Hoffmeister (1). Three of these composers were present at the famous quartet evening and Storace must have known Koželuh personally since he was a prominent musical figure in Vienna. Thus, the Collection, as well being a fascinating anthology of musical works, also gives us an invaluable insight into Storace’s network of personal and professional contacts.
In my paper “Storace’s Collection of Original Harpsichord Music as a Harbinger of Modernity”7 I suggest that the Mozart works published in the Collection offer proof that in selecting them, Storace was acting in part as the composer’s advocate, and as such, their inclusion was part of a larger if rather nebulous plan to promote his music in England. The grounds for reaching similar conclusions concerning the other Viennese composers are considerably weaker, but in the case of Wanhal, the inclusion of two otherwise unknown compositions argues that he too was closely involved in Storace’s choice of works.
Wanhal, a prolific and highly respected composer of instrumental works, was an automatic choice for inclusion in the Collection, but the selection of works was no means as clear cut. As a freelance musician, Wanhal derived a high proportion of his income from teaching and he also composed and published a great deal of music for the fortepiano that was closely related to this field of activity. Although Wanhal seems only to have begun focusing on the composition keyboard music from the early 1780s, Storace would have been confronted with a formidable choice of works by the time he left Vienna in 1787 ranging from easy sonatas for beginners through to impressive multi-movement capriccios and concertos His choice of works, therefore, is particularly interesting: an accompanied sonata, a duetto, two concertos and a set of variations for solo keyboard.
Storace’s edition of the (accompanied) Sonata in C (Weinmann XIa:14) is the earliest known print of the work and he may have acquired the composition in manuscript directly from or through Wanhal himself. This argument is strengthened considerably by the inclusion of two otherwise unknown works in the Collection: a Concerto in B flat (with an accompaniment of 2 oboes, 2 horns and strings) and a set of variations on the arietta, ‘Viva, viva la Regina’ from Martin y Soler’s dramma giocoso, La cosa rara. Neither work is listed in Alexander Weinmann’s thematic catalogue of Wanhal’s compositions.8
From its premiere at the Burgtheater on 17 November 1786, La cosa rara had proved a sensational success in Vienna and it is unsurprising that Wanhal was quick to compose a set of variations on one of its many popular melodies. The choice itself, however, may be of special significance since the duet ‘Viva, viva la Regina’ was sung by Nancy Storace who created the role of Lilla in the production. This apparently circumstantial detail strengthens the argument that the Variations were composed expressly for inclusion in the Collection: as such, the choice of theme might be seen as a personal gesture on Wanhal’s part; a graceful tribute to Nancy united in a personal gift for Stephen.
The order in which Storace published the two Wanhal concertos in the Collection suggests that he brought a copy of the Concerto in D (Weinmann IIa: D1) back with him from Vienna in 1787 and acquired the B-flat Concerto at a later date. However, the publication of editions of Concerto D1 in Paris by Barbieri, three months after it appeared in Volume 1 Part 5 of Storace’s Collection, and three months after that, in December 1788, by André in Offenbach am Main, could also constitute evidence that the work was already in circulation. Only a close study of the extant sources would be able to determine their relationship to Storace’s first edition.
The absence of any other sources for the Concerto in B flat, however, argues that like the Variations, Storace very likely acquired the work directly from the composer. Its publication in Volume 2 Part 2 possibly indicates that it was composed later than Concerto D1 and was sent to Storace after his return to London. We know nothing of any contractual arrangements that may have existed between Storace and the composers he published, but the absence of other sources for the B-flat Concerto could indicate that he had exclusive rights to the work, something he clearly did not have in the case of Mozart’s compositions.
What connection any of this has with the quartet party is of course speculative. From Kelly’s account of the evening, it seems highly unlikely that Storace would have taken the opportunity to discuss business arrangements with his guests and we cannot even be certain that at this point he had even thought about such a project. We do not even know when Storace first met Wanhal, but it is difficult to imagine that the first occasion was at the quartet party. It is unlikely that his relationship with him was as close on a personal level as it was with Mozart who was only a few years older than him. Nonetheless, he clearly regarded Wanhal as an important representative of the dynamic musical environment in Vienna that he wished to showcase in the Collection and almost certainly dealt directly with him in the selection of works to be published. The likely composition date of the B-flat Concerto and its publication in 1789 in the second volume of the Collection indicates an ongoing if limited relationship between the two musicians. It also shows that Wanhal, who had a well-developed entrepreneurial streak, was sufficiently impressed with Storace’s plan and confident of his ability to execute it, to assign to him the rights to publish a work of this consequence. It also throws up an interesting point of comparison with Haydn. Not only was he numerically the least well represented of the Viennese composers in the Collection after Hoffmeister,9 but the two works of his that were published were both relatively unimportant: a Minuet with Variations in A (Hob. XVII: 2) in Volume 2 Part 1 and the Arietta with Variations in E flat (Hob. XVII: 3), composed in 1774, in Volume 2 Part 2. While Haydn might have led the quartet at Storace’s party, he seems to have been a rather more reluctant participant in his ambitious publishing venture.
1 Michael Kelly, Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, of the King’s Theatre, and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (London: Henry Colburn, New Burlington Street, 1826), Vol. I, 237-238
2 Wanhal, along with Ditters[dorf], is listed among the members of the first violin section in a repeat performance of Gluck’s opera Orphée et Euridice that took place on 31 July 1763. See A-Wn Mus. Hs. 3480/c: “Repertoire / de / l’Année / i763: / du / Premier Janvier jusqu’ au dernier / Decembre / Compinant / tous le Spectacles, les Acteurs, Dançeurs, Musiciens et autres gens du theatre Receuilli / Par / Philippe de Gumpenhueber / à Vienne”. This is the earliest known documented reference to Wanhal in Vienna. Since he was not listed in the earlier performance of the opera on 14 July, he may have arrived recently and was engaged as a casual player upon the recommendation of Ditters. This is given greater credence by the presence of both Joseph and Alex Ditters in the second violin section which suggests that Ditters had few inhibitions about acting as a fixer.
3 Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, The Autobiography of Karl [sic] von Dittersdorf – Dictated to his Son, trans. Arthur Duke Coleridge (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1896), 225
4 See Johann Baptist Wanhal, Violin Concerto in B flat (Weinmann IIb: B1) edited by Allan Badley and Cliff Eisen (Wellington: Artaria Editions, 2005)
5 Hugo Unverricht, “Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf als Quartettkomponist: Ein Konkurrent Haydns, Mozarts und Pleyels?” Haydn-Studien, 7(3-4), February, 1998, 315-327.
6 Jane Girdham, “Storace, Stephen (John Seymour)”, Oxford Music Online https://doi-org.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.41410 (accessed 27.ii.22)
7 Allan Badley, “Storace’s Collection of Original Harpsichord Music as a Harbinger of Modernity”, https://remix.berklee.edu/haydn-journal/vol8/iss2/2/
8 Alexander Weinmann, “Themen-Verzeichnis der Kompositionen von Johann Baptiste Wanhal” Wiener-Archivstudien, Bd.11(Wien: Musikverlag L. Krenn, 1987)
9 Hoffmeister is represented in the Collection by the [accompanied] Sonata in A which appeared in Vol.1 Part 6 (entered at Stationers’ Hall 26.vii.1788)
It's a great plesure to invite you to attend a concert taking place on Sunday 8th of August 2021 at 6 p.m. in the nice castle of Hradek by Nechanice (CZ), very near to Wanhal's birthplace of Nechanice.
On the program, together with small pieces of Mozart and Dvorak, Vanhal quatuor of Prague accompanying P. Hostinsky harpsichord will perform our master's concerto for harpsichord and orchestra in C.
For further details please consult : https://www.dvorakuvfestival.cz/koncert/hradek-u-nechanic/
Prof. Dr. Paul Bryan
March 7, 1920 - March 25, 2021
Only a short time ago we celebrated 100th anniversary of our honorary
president Prof. Dr. Paul Bryan.
We deeply regret to announce his death to Wanhal’s community and all music
Paul Bryan was a spiritual father for us.
His lifelong and pioneering work (notably catalogue of symphonies) to restore
our master’s importance as a composer remains alive for the posterity.
This commits us to continue doing further research and all actions to promote
Wanhal’s beautiful music.
Honour to his memory !
It is with great pleasure that we announce that the first part of a new scholarly catalogue of the works of Waṅhal has now been published. This project is called Catalogus novus Wanhali, and it a cooperation between the University of Auckland and the University of Trondheim (NTNU). It is available through the website of the NTNU research cluster The Classical Ages (https://www.ntnu.edu/classical-ages). It is curated by Dr Halvor K Hosar, who is supported by a board of specialist scholars from the two universities.
At present, the catalogue contains information about the fifty-three masses attributed to Waṅhal, along with a nineteen works whose attributions are considered dubious or spurious, or that are partially or completely lost.
Cataloguing can be extremely demanding, and especially so in a case such as Waṅhal, where an enormous amount of material has survived in his name: RISM lists 3107 manuscripts in his name, which is more than any other Habsburg composer of age generation except for Haydn and Mozart. What is more, unlike other composers, Waṅhal has left us virtually no autographs, and in many cases there are no good criteria for deciding which copies of a work are likely to be good ones. The difficulty of cataloguing this material was shown by the fact that Alexander Weinmann, an extraordinary scholar, died before he could properly finish his catalogue of Waṅhal’s non-symphonic works – his published catalogue is merely a collection of his work notes. At the same time, the financing of such work has gradually become more difficult.
To mitigate these challenges, we have decided to publish the catalogue online. This means that it is possible to gradually publish material. This means that information about genres can gradually be included as they are charted, and that it is not necessary to survey every manuscript copy of a work before publishing basic information about it. More information will therefore be added as it becomes available. It may also be possible to publish “semi-finished” sections of the catalogue, whose content is finished enough to be of interest, but which is still subject to change and not yet included in the catalogue proper.
We intend to create a Waṅhal numbering scheme once we have a good overview of Waṅhal’s production in different genres, but this, realistically speaking, is still years away. We have therefore created a temporary numbering scheme called Nokki numbers. Whilst waiting for a more permanent numbering scheme we would encourage everybody to adopt these.
Dr Hosar has undertaken to catalogue Waṅhal’s smaller sacred works over the next years. We are looking for specialists on other genres or particular music collections to contribute to different fields in the catalogue. Please get in touch with us (look for contact information on the project website) if you are a musicology student or professional who would like to contribute to this process: we will do our best to align the projects with your supervisor or institution.
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.