Myslivecek, Josef


Myslivecek, Josef

Tre otteti per due oboi, due clarinetti, due corni e due fagotti (score and parts)



Josef Myslivecek

Tre Otteti

(b. Prague, 9 March 1781 – d. Rome, 4 February, 1781)

The middle years of the eighteenth century are considered a watershed in music history when the baroque style morphed into the classical. Vienna, though dominated by Italian music, was the melting pot where various influences came to- gether to form what is known as the Galant or Buffo style that resulted in popular forms of instrumental music variously known as Sinfonia, Overture, Cassation, Serenade, and Divertimento. Many of these were modelled primarily on the Italian opera overture, a short three-movement work that bore little or no relationship to the drama to follow and was frequently written to serve a dual purpose as concert music. The first movements were written in a primitive version of what is known by scholars as “Sonata-Allegro Form.” The second movements were usually in the style of an operatic aria, and there were a number of possibilities for the third movement. Serenading parties performed this music both inside and out-of-doors. The main concerns were for the music to appeal to a relatively unsophisticated audience to make an immediate impact and not be too long. The musical vocabulary was common currency: short, perky motifs; scale and ar- peggio figures; and very basic use of the tonic-dominant fulcrum, both harmonically and structurally. This was the milieu in which Myslivecek’s attractive instrumental music – sonatas, symphonies, concertos, and chamber music for various combinations of instruments – was nurtured.
The date given for the birth of Josef and his twin brother Jáchym in the earliest biography is 9 March 1737 in Prague. Their father was a prosperous miller and landowner. Details about the twins’ education is conjectural, but it may be as- sumed that it included some musical training, as was customary in many Czech schools at the time. Also, there were a number of distinguished church musicians living in the vicinity of Blue Ship House where the family lived, so it is quite possible that, with his latent talent, Josef received a grounding in musical rudiments. However, neither he nor his brother excelled in academic pursuits as they both withdrew from the Charles-Ferdinand University without graduating in 1753. Almost immediately they both took up apprenticeships as millers, subsequently as journeymen, and were registered as master millers six years later. One assumes that Josef continued to pursue his musical bent during those years; by repute he was an excellent violinist. He appears to have been stage-struck when Opera Seria productions were resumed in Prague in 1760. Shortly thereafter, Josef declared his intention of pursuing a musical career as a composer of operas. Why he should be lured by this particular medium in a city where opera production had been very spasmodic because of vari- ous wars and disturbances is likely because he saw it as a glamorous and prosperous career, and an opportunity to work independently without being tied to any ducal court or patron.
It is not known if Myslivecek had received any formal instruction in composition prior to this decision, but having de- cided on a musical career he approached a couple of Bohemian church musicians for lessons. He seems to have settled on Josef Seger, organist at the Tỳn Church, and made sufficient progress that after six months he completed a set of sym- phonies and had them performed. Only one of these, a symphony in C major, seems to have survived. Another set of six designated Opus 1 followed and were dedicated to a local noblewoman, the Countess Maria Antonia von Vratislav. This suggests that Myslivecek, perhaps surprised by his progress, realized that if he wished to pursue a lucrative and successful career he would have to leave Prague, and hints that he had already established useful contacts with the local aristocracy. To be a successful opera composer meant that his obvious destination was Italy where Opera Seria was still the ascend- ant musical genre, and he was counting on his own means and the support of aristocratic patrons to get him there. It may also have been links with Venetian theatrical personnel, then working to revive opera in Prague, which persuaded him to choose that city as his destination.
Within two years of his arrival in Venice, having undergone tutelage at the hands of Giovanni Pescetti, Myslivecek pro- duced his first opera, Semiramide, which was successfully staged first in Bergamo, and then Alessandria a year later. This was followed by the opera that is considered one of his best: Il Bellerofonte. Written for the Teatro di Scala, Milan, it was performed by the leading singers of the day. For the next 16 years until his untimely death in 1781, he composed some 26 or so opera seria almost all of which were successesful and whose performances throughout Italy continued to attract the best singers. During this time he seldom left Italy, and Italians, unable to cope…


Read full preface / Komplettes Vorwort > HERE

Score Data


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Set Score & Parts


225 x 320 mm

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