View Full Version : Zelenka, the singer

13-07-2013, 05:49 PM
As promised in the thread about the Baroque Conference in Southampton, here is a short report on a new and important piece of information about Zelenka.

Last week Jan Stockigt gave a paper in Warsaw about a source I found in Dresden earlier this year. In short, this was a list of an elite group of twenty-one instrumentalists and nine vocalists from the Dresden Hofkapelle, that travelled to Bautzen in Saxony in May 1733, when the citizens of that city payed homage to the new Saxon Elector, Friedrich August II. The totally amazing and surprising thing was to see Zelenka's name listed amongst the singers for this journey. A Te Deum was heard in the St Petri church on this occasion, and it was almost certainly Zelenka's own composition, the majestic ZWV 146, that was performed. This he would have directed while singing the second tenor part.

This gives us such a new and interesting new perspective, and it is likely that he directed more of his big works in the 1730s in this way. At the same time, it is yet another confirmation of Zelenka's versatility during the interregnum period (1729-33), when he served as the acting Kapellmeister at the Dresden court.

We also came across other sources in connection with this performance, that show without a doubt the high esteem in which Zelenka was held at the Dresden court. For me, this is incredibly important. In all the years I have been working in the Dresden archives I have never seen a negative reference to Zelenka in any court documents or correspondence. It's only positive, and he's spoken about with reverence. Therefore it is almost criminal the way he has been portrayed in the literature by certain musicologists, as being a composer not liked by his superiors or his court. There are simply no sources to back this up. To this I might add, that the contemporary reports of the Bautzen Te Deum describe the music as being excellent.

We will publish the full details of the new source in a co-written article next year. Until then you can listen to Rademann's brilliant version of the Te Deum on Carus, or watch Vaclav Luks and Collegium 1704 perform the work on YouTube. Note the part with the Salvum fac, and the way the tenor Hasan-El-Dunia directs the music at that point. It is fascinating to think that Zelenka did something similiar 280 years ago.



28-07-2013, 12:34 AM
Wonderful wonderful and enlightening news!! Quite fantastic. Sheds lots of new light on things; I must take special notice of Zelenka's tenor parts now. Is it me or Zelenka becomes more and more remarkable the more we discover about him?


18-04-2014, 11:53 PM
The Bach Network UK has just published Jan Stockigt's short conference report of the paper she gave at the Bach Network UK’s Sixth J. S. Bach Dialogue Meeting in Warsaw in July last year. It serves as a delicious taster for our upcoming and full length version of this paper, which focuses on one of the most surprising new source finds (see above) on our Zelenka and his role as a musician, director and composer.

Take special notice of how he is referred to as Kapellmeister by the Dean of the St Petri in Bautzen: ‘Generosus ac Virtuosus D’nus Capelle Magister’. This is one more confirmation of the position he held during the interregnum (and indeed, always when Hasse was away from Dresden – the arrangement was a classic instance of a Kapellmeister/Vice-Kapellmeister collaboration – see my Studi vivaldiani article for more on this topic). It also shows the great esteem in which Zelenka was held, not only by the Saxon Elector who sent him on this journey, but also his contemporaries.

The existing documentation for the May 1733 Te Deum performance is pretty extensive and impressive. Last February we were able to view Dresden sources that were unaccessible last year, when we made the initial research. As a result we should be able to publish the full version in the Bach UK Network website later this year, or early next year.

The Bach Network UK is a free online musicology forum on all things Bach, and run and edited by some of the best Bach scholars out there. Have a look, there's lots of great material there: http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/

Jan Stockigt's report:

And for those of you lucky to be in the 'Sunshine State' of Queensland, Australia (I am in the middle of a storm here in Reykjavik!), Jan will soon be giving another paper based on the same topic:

Date: Friday 9 May, 2014
Time: 2pm - 4.30pm
Venue: Room 275, Global Change Institute (Building 20), Staff House Road, University of Queensland, St Lucia

Speakers: Dr Jan Stockigt (Melbourne Conservatorium, University of Melbourne)
"Transformation from Baroque Ensemble to Classical Orchestra: A Te Deum
performance by members of the Dresden Court Orchestra, May 1733"