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




These quotations are presented in random order

"His style may strike us as unusual for the times. It marries brilliant counterpoint and audacious harmonies with a sense of melody and rhythm which remind us of his Bohemian origins." René Depoutot

"Zelenka [...] was able to react to such stimuli with the skill of an excellent practical musician who was among the most lavishly gifted of his generation." Marek Štyrncl

"The uniqueness of Zelenka's music means that it will live on as long as there are people in this world who take pleasure in the quest for the unheard and the unheard-of." Wolfgang Horn

"His [JDZ's] instrumental works are undoubtedly imposing, but hardly representative of the pure Dresden style; their brooding, seemingly always highly wrought genius appears to be the expression of profound personal crises." Reinhard Goebel

"His music is full of large intervals, sudden oppositions (major/minor), juxtaposition of remote tonalities, broken triads, and brisk and often sycopated rhythms." René Depoutot

"Being still a bachelor, he buries himself in his study and, from sheer spite, gives in to his genius." Hans-Josef Irmen (of Zelenka's last 10 years)

"No less interesting than the religious music are Zelenka's instrumental works. Here also, great melody, harmony and contrapuntal beauty are to be found, which seem to place the master far ahead of his time. Only Bach and Händel surpass him in these respects. He leaves the rest of his contemporaries behind." Moritz Fürstenau

"This emotional level, so characteristic of Zelenka's church music, is expressed here with quite exceptional depth and effect." Jaroslav Smolka (referring to the oratorio I Penintenti al Sepolcro del Redentore, ZWV 63)

"Zelenka delivers the most galvanising shock to listeners with his highly idiosyncratic Fifth Sonata." Uwe Schweikert

"Sit back and enjoy a work vibrant with life and colour - music by a composer who is really worth putting back into the foremost limelight of musical performance rather than being just another historical figure we feel duty-bound to resurrect." Brian Northcott (of Missa Omnium Sanctorum)

"Zelenka's late Masses are unmistakeable works. It is to be hoped that the increasing number of editions and performances will help to give an idea of the particular greatness of these works." Wolfgang Horn

Contrary to what is commonly believed (mainly because of a black and white picture of the composer J.J. Fux disseminated on the internet), there is no portrait of Zelenka.

Other than formal letters to his employer(s) and dedications on his manuscripts, very little from his pen has survived (apart from his music).

It is to Zelenka's music that we must look in order to gain insight into his personality.

With some notable exceptions, the majority of these quotations are derived from programme notes which accompany recordings. Some have been translated, mostly from German.


Do you have a relevant quotation?

If you have an apt quotation, please e-mail it to mail@jdzelenka.net.
Do you have comments about this page?

Please e-mail comments or suggestions to the above e-mail address.