ZWV 45 Requiem (Attrib. Zelenka)

  • Dear All,

    Perhaps I can restart a new thread on the Requiem attributed to Zelenka (ZWV 45). I recently started to become interested in this work. I noticed that it was discussed on this site 10 years ago in a thread with a different title (see here). At the time, various members of this forum gave their opinion, some seeming to support the notion that some or all of ZWV 45 could be from the quill of Zelenka, others less convinced. I wondered what is the current status on this issue - have there been any new academic developments which help assign this work?

    I admit I totally dismissed ZWV 45 the first time I heard it - I listened to the old Dähler version. It is so dreamily (and sometimes drearily) performed I just could not reconcile it with the tension and/or energetic devotion of most of Zelenka's output. More recently, a rekindled fascination with ZWV 57 led me to acquire the Fiori Musicali album (I know, the version of ZWV 57 there is not the best). ZWV 45 is on that disk too and listening to it was quite a revelation. Time and again I suddenly found myself being sort of comfortable with Zelenka having written this. That is partly because bits of it are so weird and also there is such a juxtaposition of "ancient and modern" styles I am not sure that there are many composers who it could be fairly attributed to - they were all so normal baroque composers! However, there are still enough un-zelenka traits which bring doubts. The unusual scoring (no oboes) was brought up in the earlier thread. And then there are the slightly frivolous settings of some parts of the Sequenzia (esp. the lethally catchy "Tuba mirum"). That view might be the fault of the performance, however. It would be great to hear what the two current best Zelenka interpreters (Viktora or Luks) might make of those sections. I bet that they could make them sound more Zelenkan and also more appropriate for a requiem. Another concern is the frequent use in ZWV 45 of the tierce de picardy. Maybe I am wrong but I don't think Zelenka uses that device much or even at all. So, overall I could accept that Zelenka composed this work, but probably in a scenario where it was for a very unique occasion where it demanded some differences from his "usual" works (if such a thing existed for him!). I guess one theory, mentioned by djdresden in the old post is that ZWV 45 is the requiem written for Zelenka's dad. Perhaps daddy was a fan of the tierce de picardy or might have been so devout that it was ok for his trumpet of judgement to be jolly merry. The music certainly contains moments of intense emotion which could be consistent with a very personal loss of its composer. Moreover, it would have been improper for Zelenka to demand the royal musicians put on a grand affair for a commoner. Hence the sparse scoring (strings and poignant trombones).

    I would like to throw another theory into the ring that I did not read in the old thread and also nowhere else (but could well have been proposed elsewhere already). How about Heinichen as the composer of part or all of ZWV 45? I listened to quite a lot of Heinichen lately and his vocal music often has almost as much quirkiness and invention as Zelenka's. Moreover, depending on the interpretation, some Heinichen works could easily be mistaken for Zelenka's. There is a recording of Heinichen's Requiem in E flat (Seibel 18) on YouTube - . I encourage you to listen to that in alternation with ZWV 45. While the scoring is richer (oboes, flutes etc), I can't help but notice some similarities. Like ZWV 45, the work is quite reflective and Heinichen also merges ancient and modern. There are also some quirky tunes (like the gently burbling and not at all wrathful Dies Irae). Heinichen's fugues are often a bit less complex (and shorter) than Zelenka's and this also seems to fit with ZWV 45. So, all in all, I reckon he could also be a reasonable candidate. Any comments of opposition or agreement?

    - RNKT

  • Until now I had never dedicated time to listen to the said ZWV 45 Requiem. I'm actually relatively surprised, as it isn't as poor as I thought it would be. There's a number of phrases and sections which do unmistakably hearken to Zelenka's style (as you said, rnkt). For example, the imitative style & melody in the Christe Eleison duet. Also, the relatively frequent use of the passus duriusculus chromatic fourth, something J.Stockigt says is almost like Zelenka's "personal leitmotif".

    At the moment, I like most the idea that it was someone, perhaps a student, trying to write something in the style of their Master, Zelenka (and they obviously liked the tierce de picardy indeed). Perhaps it was around the time of his death? This would explain the more Classical-sounding progressions. Was it even written for Zelenka's exequies? That's an event which we have no evidence or mention of, but mainly because the Dresden Jesuit diaries are missing from that period :/. Here's another speculative idea: Maybe it could have been a compositional task set by Zelenka for a student? I have no proof... but, say Zelenka had copied and revised their work, as he did with these 3 Misereres by (most likely) his student 'S: G: K:' (I love how Wolfgang Horn was astonished that Zelenka could have spent so much time on such 'mediocre works'!). Then, many years later it was perhaps copied without any knowledge of the context, and named as belonging to Zelenka.

    As for Heinichen, I can hear it in parts, especially in the choral fugues, and some of the sweeter-sounding bits of the piece. The fugues aren't nearly syncopated or gripping enough to be Zelenka, even if the performances for those have been very limp in the available recordings. Although they do sound a lot more natural to a Heinichen piece (judging from what I've listened to and seen so far), I would say they are worse in quality! Maybe the hypothesised student had studied or had access to Heinichen material too?

    Lots of room for discussion!

    Seb :)

  • I believe the MS for ZWV 45 was not in Dresden but found somewhere in the Czech Republic. Zelenka's brother was also a composer, and some works attributed to Zelenka could actually be the work of his brother. Works in Dresden are beyond question, but there are several that are in the Czech Rep, signed simply "Zelenka" that are stylistically quite different. The MS for ZWV 45 on IMSLP is a copy from 1845, and it is likely the attribution to Jan Dismas is incorrect. I have not seen the original, but an examination would probably provide some answers.

  • Perhaps I can throw in another, hopefully exciting, new observation into the ZWV 45 mixer. I just purchased today the very fine new disc by Musica Florea under Marek Štryncl. It contains a requiem and some vesper psalms by a composer I admit is completely new to me: Jan Zach. Zach was born in 1713 (sometimes erroneously reported as 1699) near Prague and after about 30 years in Bohemia, became Kapellmeister in Mainz. He held that position only for a few years, long enough for him to do something very naughty (we don't know what) leading to his dismissal (or forced resignation) and he spent the rest of his life as a freelancer, travelling Europe and living off his music. He died in 1773.

    What is interesting to hear from Štryncl's new disc is that this composer, even more so than Zelenka (or any other composer I can think of right now, perhaps apart from Hasse or maybe Pergolesi) exactly straddles in style the late baroque and early classical. He seems to be, like Zelenka, a pretty quirky type and is really difficult to nail down: One minute stilo antico, the next minute humorous figurations with Haydn and Mozart written all over them, here a Zelenka-like fugue, there a classical aria with merrily chugging strings accompaniment. There's a Zelenka-like chromaticism too.

    I'll get to my point. I only had to hear a few bars of the requiem and I thought - this could be our ZWV 45 composer. Some scholars have suggested ZWV 45 could have been written by several composers because of the broad range in styles. Hearing Zach's requiem on the new disc, I have no doubt that he had the eclectic abilities to have written ZWV 45.

    And there's more. Zach's setting of "Dona eis Requiem" at the end of the Lacrymosa has more than a passing resemblance to the Kyrie fugue of ZWV 45.

    Well, besides highly recommending Štryncl's disc (can be downloaded already from the Supraphonline website) - which also contains some very interesting settings of vesper psalms, in much more classical style than the requiem - I encourage you to consider it as possible evidence for Zach's authorship of ZWV 45.

    Perhaps it got accredited to Zelenka because someone (in the 19th century) muddled their composers names starting with the letter Z!

    PS - a short relevant addition: Zelenka seems to have had one work by Zach in his collection. A Salve Regina by Zach is the last entry in his inventorium in the section for Salve Reginas. Since Zelenka doesn't seemed to have updated his Inventorium beyond around 1738 that means he added the work to his collection when Zach was below the age of 25. Perhaps a nod by Zelenka at someone he considered a rising star?

  • I have now had the possibility to listen to the Zach Requiem. Indeed, I have to say that your idea seems quite plausible, rnkt! In the music itself I see no factor which could exclude him as the composer. And some fugue entries (particularly the stretto attempts) are certainly quirky enough :)

    I see here:…gs/405724535-00000240.pdf that the Dresden Library has another mass by Zach, 'Missa Domine Deus' or something like that, Mus.2479-D-501. I hope it is digitised some day...

    edit: here,_KomZ_A4_(Zach,_Jan) is an organ fugue on the same subject as the Requiem's Kyrie.

  • I agree with this idea, and I've had the CD a couple weeks now. If it were true, it would be a tremendous achievement to finally give that Requiem back to its author and off of the ZWV list.

    As for Jan Zach's Fugue in C minor, you can hear it here from someone's transcription digitally rendered, and here on an actual organ (the fugue starts at 3:06, I am not sure if the prelude was composed by Zach or improvised). Also, here's a chromatic-extravaganza performance of Zach's Fugue in A minor on the organ of the St. Salvatorska at the Clementinum (some of us at the Zelenka Festival 2016 confused with the other St. Salvator on the night of the Bernius-Inégal concert!). Here is the score from IMSLP. It might even be Robert Hugo playing, as he's the organist at the Church. Hearing and reading these organ pieces, I can imagine what sort of stuff Zelenka might have done, if he had dedicated any time to keyboards.

    Rnkt, on your note about Zach's Salve Regina in Dresden: There are two YT video recordings of two different Zach Salve Reginas. One with Musica Florea, 2013 and the other is at a small church choir performance in Kunovice, 2011 with two recorders. If Zelenka had either of them in his collection, he had something very beautiful in his hands! Lovely stuff.

    Edit: Another nice YT video, this time of a short live-action feature for the 'Zach concerti' CD that Barocksolisten Munchen did in 2014.

  • I am a neutral about whether or not Johann Zach wrote ZWV 45 but he wrote a Requien in C Minor that had a World Premiere recording on Arte Nova Classics 74321 54241 2 dated 1995. Over two hours of Zach's sacred choral music on 2 CD's and ten minutes of organ music reveals a composer of considerable talent. The intensity of some of the religious music and the quality of the scoring impresses me greatly. The hints of Haydn and Mozart suggested by an earlier contributer are suggestive of a later period than even 1745 (when Zelenka died) but there is no hint on my CD's about whether the individual items are "early" or "late "Zach". In 1745, Zach appears to have been active in Germany (Frankfurt/Mainz).

    The Requiem on my CD lasted just over 31 minutes and I could supply more details about it and the other works if anyone is interested.

    Andrew Hinds

  • Zach's requiem in c minor is from circa1760. If I may believe wikipedia he was at that time wandering through Europe after having been sacked form his post as court Kapellmeister in Mainz in 1756.

    There is another recent version: ZACH J. (1713-1773) REQUIEM SOLEMNE IN C MINOR, VESPERAE DE BEATA VIRGINE IN D MAJOR / M.Srumova soprano, S.Cmugrova alto, C.Svoboda tenor, J.Nosek bass / Musica Florea, Collegium Floreum / M.Stryncl. I can recommend it.

  • That was my source too. However after further reading I think it may not be correct. suggests it was composed in the 1730s in Prague (It also refers to Zelenka). The description at Amazon of the cd I referred to, which seems to be copied from the cd booklet, also refers to the 1730s. The music is also more baroque than classical (as his later music is referred to). 1730s may also be more likely since at that time he was working in several churches in Prague, while in the 1760 he was more or less jobless.

    In any event the requiem is beautiful. I also recommend his other works.

  • I took your recommendation, Msl, and loved most of it. But why can't they find a soprano who can sing in tune! It is a shame.

    Andrew Hinds

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