View Full Version : New source on Zelenka's last years

07-07-2008, 07:31 PM

as promised here is an update on the newly discovered pages from the Jesuit Diarium for the years 1739-42. This information comes from Gerhard Poppe, one of the Dresden Barock scholars and can be found in his article: Ein weiterer Faszikel aus dem "Diarium Missionis Societatis Jesu Dresdae" wiederaufgefunden; on pages 193-204 in the 2006 Yearbuch of Ständige Konferenz Mitteldeutsche Barockmusik in Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt und Thüringen e.V., published by Ortus Verlag, www.ortus.de. Ortus Verlag is run by passion and respect for all things Dresden, so check their website and support their cause. They have released sheet music from Dresden, including ZWV 56 and Ristori's Divoti Affetti along with some excellent books, f.e. the one about Harrer, Zelenka's student.

The Jesuit Diarium books for the years 1710-1738 were discovered during maintenance work behind the gallery of the Organ in the Catholic Church in Dresden in 1985, and filed into the CC archives simply as Church Cronicles. They would probably be still sleeping there if the Grand Old Man of Zelenka research, Dr. Wolfgang Reich hadn't rediscovered them around 10 years later. He then reported on his findings in Zelenka Studies vol. II, giving dates and quotes for musical activities as they were entered into the Diarium in Latin. As a result, much of the current knowledge about Zelenka comes from these priceless books, windows into the past. The newly discovered pages however come from the archives of the Diocese Archives in Bautzen - let's see what they have to say about our composer.

During easter 1739 Zelenka produces (produxit) an oratorio over two days, this could be ZWV 62. On 2nd of July Zelenka produces a new work (sacrum novum), Jan Stockigt suggests that this was Missa Votiva in her booklet notes to the new cd. These are the only times Zelenka's name appears but he will have directed most of the church music in Dresden during 1739 because Hasse and Ristori were in Italy all year long.

In 1740 Hasse is firmly back in control and f.e. produces the oratorio for easter over two days, this could be either Il Cantico de tre fanciulli or Serpentes ignei in deserto. There's an excellent recent recording of the Serpentes on Ambronay. Zelenka's name first pops up 20th of December when he produces the Requiem for Emperor Charles who had earlier died in Vienna. It is noted that Hasse was ill so Zelenka was called upon, here he could have performed the ZWV 46 again - fit for a King and also an Emperor.

In 1741 Ristori is back from Naples and he and Hasse both produce the oratorios for easter. Zelenka performed/made (fecit) the Requiem music for the deceased Jesuit Father Steyerer on 28th of April and also on 26th of September for Maria Elisabetha, who was governor of the Austrian Netherlands and the cousin of Queen Maria Josefa. On 10th of October he is invited for a meal at the Jesuits with the violinist Rein and church composer Butz who had earlier that day produced the music (Sacrum Cantatum). It is especially sad that only one work has survived from the pen of Butz. Think about it: He had the title church composer at the Dresden court at the same time as Zelenka and Bach.

Only on one occasion does Zelenka's name appear in 1742 and it's for a now familiar assignment: In May the Queen's mother Wilhelmina Amalia passed away in Vienna causing great grief in Dresden. Over four days Zelenka and Hasse performed and conducted the music, with Zelenka supplying the "Invitatorium et Lectiones primi Nocturni musica figuralis", again he could have used the music he wrote for the funeral of August the Strong in 1733.

So there we have it. Peter is right in saying it could be the most important find in years when it comes to helping us build a picture of the final years in Zelenka's life. I guess deep inside I was hoping to see some reference to the three last masses but it was not to be and the question remains open if they were performed at the time. It will be exciting to see when the musicologists start working with this info for further evaluation and interpretation.

08-07-2008, 07:56 AM
Fantastic stuff. Thanks for sharing this information. I don't understand how almost all the material of Butz could have disappeared without trace. :o
vape (http://vaporizer.org/)