Myslivecek, Josef


Myslivecek, Josef

Six Symphonies (Sinfonia I: Antigona / Sinfonia II: Ezio / Sinfonia III: Demofoonte / Sinfonia IV: Artaserse / Sinfonia V: Demetrio / Sinfonia VI: Adriano in Siria) Urtext after historical sources edited by Daniel Freeman

Art.-Nr.: 1637 Kategorie:


Josef Mysliveček

Six Symphonies
from the Printing by Ranieri del Vivo.

Sinfonia I: Antigona, p 1
Sinfonia II: Ezio, p 41
Sinfonia III: Demofoonte, p 63
Sinfonia IV: Artaserse, p 101
Sinfonia V: Demetrio, p 123
Sinfonia VI: Adriano in Siria, p 165

During the second half of the eighteenth century, the most talented symphonists resident in Italy – the birthplace of the symphony – were actually two Czechs: Josef Mysliveček (1737-1781) and Václav Pichl (1741-1805). Both composed outstanding examples of the three-movement symphonies that were a specialty of Italian musical culture during the early classic period. Pichl lived long enough to see three-movement symphonies and overtures all but disappear, but Mysliveček cultivated them to the end of his days. Along with Luigi Boccherini, J. C. Bach, and W. A. Mozart, he produced the finest Italianate three-movement symphonies of the 1770s.

The son of a prosperous miller—and himself a master miller—Mysliveček made his living in Italy as a composer, violin virtuoso, and music teacher after he left the Bohemian lands in 1763 with only a few years training in musical composition.1 Once established as a major composer of Italian serious opera with the success of his Bellerofonte at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1767, he was able to earn considerable sums of money to help sustain his itinerant lifestyle. Nonetheless, he squandered all of his earnings and died in poverty in Rome in 1781. His position as one of the most prominent composers of vocal and instrumental music in Italy of his day is confirmed in many contemporary accounts.

Mysliveček’s most favored stopping places in Italy were Venice, Florence, Naples, Padua, and Milan. Four periods of residence in Florence can be documented,2 the first in 1765 (before he established himself as a notable composer in Italy); the second in 1769 for a production of his opera Ipermestra; and the third in 1770 and 1771 for productions of his opera Motezuma and the oratorio Adamo ed Eva. The fourth visit, in 1775 and 1776, saw the first performances of his oratorio Isacco figura del redentore (perhaps his greatest composition) and the opera Adriano in Siria. It was in Florence sometime in the late 1760s or early 1770s that Mysliveček met one of his most supportive patrons, George Nassau Clavering, the third Earl Cowper (1738–89), an expatriate English nobleman who was a fixture of musical life in the city.3 Earl Cowper’s household included an excellent orchestra that doubtless gave the first performances of a number of Mysliveček’s compositions.4

Mysliveček must be acknowledged as one of the most prolific and most gifted symphonists of the eighteenth century. He is known to have composed over fifty independent symphonies, and besides these, he produced twenty-nine dramatic overtures for his operas, oratorios, and cantatas, almost all of them disseminated in manuscripts with the intent of performing them as symphonic works independent of the dramas to which they were originally attached.5 A stylistic equivalency between symphonies and opera overtures was generally recognized in mid-eighteenth-century Italy.

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