Jan Dismas Zelenka,  baroque composer:
born Lounovice 1679, died Dresden 1745.


"Into this world of predictability and clear-cut rules bursts the music of the Bohemian composer Jan Dismas Zelenka..." Uwe Schweikert



Zelenka's praise

   "You, most highly praised, perfect Virtuoso
    Your fame - all of your own making - is world-renowned and great;
    To the glory of God and in order to delight the soul
    You compose church music
    Which is so touching that the rapt breast
    Has a foretaste of the heavenly pleasures;
    So your own praise will forever keep your name green,
    Both here on Earth and on the platform of the stars."

                                             Johann Gottlob Kittel (1740)

Zelenka's music

If you are at all interested in baroque music, but haven't yet explored the music of Jan Dismas Zelenka, this site is for you.

Most musicologists dealing with music of this period agree that the compositions of this long-forgotten musical giant approach or equal those of his contemporaries Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann in their advanced use of counterpoint, their extreme demands on the players and singers, their ingenuity and resourcefulness, and their overall beauty.

To those with pre-conceived ideas of how 18th century music should sound, much of Zelenka's music will seem timeless and unrestricted. Yet he was greatly inspired by the Italian masters of the 1500s and 1600s such as Palestrina and Frescobaldi. As a result of his strong individuality within the baroque tradition, Zelenka's music holds many surprises.

Zelenka wrote instrumental music (including orchestral suites and chamber sonatas), a great amount of church music of various kinds, and also religious music for the "stage". During Zelenka's final years, much of his music was inspired by Italian opera, which became fashionable in Dresden about fifteen years before he died. No-one has yet heard all of his music, as some of it is unpublished. An ever-increasing proportion is being recorded.

Masses known to be by Zelenka Parts of Masses (not included in Zelenka's full Masses) Requiems / Invitatory, Lessons, Responsories for the Offices of the Dead / De profundis
Requiems / Invitatory, Lessons, Responsories for the Offices of the Dead / De profundis includes Lamentations (Lamentationes), Responsories (Responsoria), Miserere settings, oratorios and similar works
includes all Magnificat settings settings of Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina coelorum, Regina coeli, Salve Regina
mainly includes two Te Deum settings and ten Litanies includes Offertoria, some Motets
includes Offertoria, some Motets mixed, including one Melodrama Sonatas, Caprices, Concerto, Ouverture, Hipocondrie
Sonatas, Caprices, Concerto, Ouverture, Hipocondrie


Note that there is a public repository containing electronic representations of little-known or unpublished Zelenka works.

These files have been contributed by regular visitors or forum members - for their interest value and to encourage possible perfomances or recordings. If you wish to contribute, please send an e-mail to obtain information on how to upload your files.

Reach the Zelenka Forum directly at: www.jdzelenka.net/forums/

This website would not exist if Janice Stockigt (Australia) had not written her impressive book on the subject of Zelenka's life and music, and if she hadn't been such a kind and helpful e-mail correspondent.

Wolfgang Reich (Dresden) supplied valuable information and made several very useful suggestions. Johannes Agustsson (Iceland) continues to be a never-ending source of information and encouragement.

A special thanks to Karl W. Geck, Head of the Music Department, Sachsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitatsbibliothek Dresden.

Thanks also to Roger Peters (UK) [website] for his enthusiasm and unselfish attitude to spreading the word about Zelenka. Thank you to Ales Kaderabek (Czech Republic) and Alex Went (UK) for supplying the photographs from Zelenka's birthplace.

I am very grateful to Avner Kenner (Israel) for testing and commenting on the database searches during their development. He also helped to find recordings and in interpretation of the music from Zelenka's manuscripts.

Vassilis Bolonassos of Swedish Radio (Sveriges Radio): thank you for playing Zelenka's Dixit Dominus (ZWV 68) in 1998. This website can be traced back to your desire to inspire people in your very own way.

ABOVE ALL, thank you to David Nelson (UK) for your wonderful intellectual contributions to this website (the CD Survey and the Timeline).


Creative Commons License

The Discover Zelenka website by Alistair Kidd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  

Sources of sheet music

This interactive website will help you find any of the works of Zelenka according to category, title, key, and/or the year composed. It will also show you the recordings of any particular work that have been issued on CD.

New issues are added regularly to the database of recordings. For the sake of the hungry collector, recordings that have been deleted from the catalogue have been retained in the database.

Apart from the trumpet fanfares and shorter recordings duplicated on compilation CDs, this database is now fairly complete. Please send details of any early CDs that are still missing.

Contact details

Please e-mail any suggestions for improvement and information about new recordings to mail@jdzelenka.net
Sources of CDs

The Discover Zelenka site doesn't sell CDs. Click here for a list of online suppliers of most of the recordings.