Summary of 2019 Zelenka Conference Prague papers

  • Dear all,

    Below is my summary of the papers which were presented at the Zelenka Conference in Prague, dedicated to the memory of Wolfgang Horn, held on Friday 18 October at the Musicological Library, Puškinovo náměstí 447/9. This was chaired by Samantha Owens, musicologist at the New Zealand School of Music.
    Apologies for not getting this out sooner. I am mostly going by my notes from the conference. Please message me if you would like me to edit/add to them.
    For each paper, I start with the abstracts which were given here on the Zelenka Festival website.
    Important note: I've included a couple links to the free-access journal Clavibus Unitis. There have been some new articles added to the 2019 issue of this journal which compiles papers presented at the Zelenka Conference from 2017-2019. Please see here to access them all. I will post a separate thread about this and also the 2020 issue, so far.

    1. Jóhannes ÁGÚSTSSON: 'Johann Samuel Kaÿser 1708-1750: Composer, Double Bass Player and Zelenka's Colleague and Assistant'

    In November 1731, the twenty-three-year old Johann Samuel Kaÿser was hired as a double bass player in the Dresden Hofkapelle. When his formal employment began on 1 February 1732, Kaÿser became only the second youngest instrumentalist in the famous orchestra and this fact suggests that he was considered a talented musician by his superiors. But who was Kaÿser? This paper looks at his life and musical activities in Leipzig and Dresden, and introduces new sources confirming his close relation to Zelenka.

    Jóhannes Ágústsson (whom you may also know as djdresden on the Zelenka forum) presented research on this colleague of Zelenka's, who was 2nd Bass player, an organist, teacher and composer.

    [The following parts in 'quotation marks' are taken directly from the paper, excerpts of which he kindly shared with me:]
    "The sources presented in this paper give us a fascinating insight into the relation between Kaÿser and Zelenka, both on a personal and professional level. And it is easy to see why they might have been drawn to each other, in spite of the difference in age and religious beliefs. Both were sons of the local schoolmaster and church organist; both learned music from their fathers and later, they took up the same instrument.”
    "Kaÿser applied for an organist position in Leipzig before he came to Dresden. In 1733 he applied for the organist position in the St Sophien church in Dresden, which was awarded to WF Bach. He was a teacher of the Lutheran choristers in that church."
    Ágústsson went into his findings from the church registers of Dresden. This significantly expanded our understanding of how relationships functioned through wedding and baptismal witnesses in the Dresden Hofkapelle. Here are some interesting points related to Zelenka:
    - Zelenka was godfather to J.S.Kaÿser's son. This was a Lutheran baptism, showing that they were crossing denominational confessional boundaries. "The fact that Zelenka was a godfather to a Lutheran child is a very pleasant surprise, because it does not wholly agree with the image presented by Moritz Fürstenau in the 19th century of Zelenka’s supposed bigotry […]. When one considers that Zelenka stood witness alongside his close friend, the Lutheran concertmaster Johann Georg Pisendel, to the wedding of the Catholic Uhlig to a Lutheran woman, in what can only be described as a union of the two religions, it suggests that in spite of his strong beliefs in the Catholic rites, Zelenka’s religious attitude was much more liberal than we have been made to believe. Moreover, this baptismal entry lays to rest baseless statements in the literature that Zelenka was isolated from the family circles of his musical colleagues; clearly he was not."

    Ágústsson then showed some evidence which point to Kaÿser being a student of Zelenka. There are two pieces known to be composed by Kaÿser. Firstly, there is a 1734 cantata written by Kaÿser which borrowsexactly, the opening of the Invitatorium from the 1733 Requiem music for Augustus II by Zelenka. Secondly, there is a motet which Ágústsson found in the Berlin State Library which is currently attributed to another composer but is in fact an autograph of JSKaÿser. There are also three Miserere settings signed as 'S. G. K.' - very likely S[ignor] G[iovanni] K[aÿser]. (As Jan Stockigt has pointed out, we know that Zelenka seems to have set the Miserere for his students as a compositional task). Kaÿser's hand is also seen in several works in Zelenka's collection.

    It is quite possible that Zelenka visited Töplitz/Teplice in July 1739 to direct a musical event held for August III and Maria Josepha at the nearby estate of Dux. There is evidence that places Kaÿser and other virtuosi from the Hofkapelle there and very likely Zelenka as well, who would have directed the performance as the acting Kapellmeister.

    Ágústsson finished by displaying the calligraphic title page of Zelenka's 1741/44 Litaniae Lauretanae 'Consolatrix Afflictorum', which is in Kaÿser's hand. He also demonstrated that Kaÿser assisted Zelenka when the music catalogue of Maria Josepha was compiled in 1743: this important but incomplete catalogue is in Kaÿser’s hand.

    2. Janice STOCKIGT: 'The Genesis and Evolution of Zelenka’s Missa Sanctae Caeciliae (ZWV 1)'

    An overview of the sources of Zelenka’s earliest known mass, whose first reported performance took place in Dresden on 22 November 1711, gives a complex and often confusing history. On 31 January 1712, this mass again was heard in Dresden in the presence of August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland to whom the work is dedicated. The dedication score prepared by Philipp Troyer at an unknown time during the second decade of the eighteenth century probably gives the best record of the performance of 1712. Movements from Missa Sanctae Caeciliae were then were used by Zelenka in his Latin oratorio Attendite et videte (ZWV 59) which was performed in Prague at the Holy Sepulchre of St Salvatore on Good Friday, 1712. Moreover, a set parts for the Credo of this mass came to the collection of the Prague Kreuzherren Order after the death in 1734 of one of the copyists, Kryštof Gayer. In circa 1727, Zelenka used the original score to revise his Missa Sanctae Caeciliae. Such is the confusing state of this manuscript that when, more than a century later, Christian Wilhelm Fischer attempted to make a clean copy, he did not – or could not – proceed beyond the second movement of the Gloria. Examination of these sources, especially the autograph and the copy by Troyer, raises many questions about Zelenka’s reasons for the revisions of 1711, 1712, and circa 1727 (and possibly even later). Alterations to both the structure and scoring of Missa Sanctae Caeciliae lead to hypotheses about the changing personnel within the Dresden Hofkapelle and a shift in musical taste and performance styles of sacred music in the Catholic court church of Dresden.

    Prof. Stockigt took on this monster of a Mass ( in terms of its history), with its multiple revisions and copies. Here is her paper which was made into an article for Clavibus Unitis 2019.


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    3. David R. M. IRVING:'French and Italian Bowholds in the Early Eighteenth Century: Implications for Musical Change within the Dresden Hofkapelle'

    From the 1670s to the 1760s two different styles of bowhold were described by writers on violin technique; these have become known respectively as ‘French’ and ‘Italian’, labels popularised by Michel Corrette in a treatise of 1738. The French bowhold involved placing the thumb under the hair of the bow, or under the frog, with the three middle fingers on top of the stick and the fifth finger beneath or on the side of the stick. For the Italian bowhold, the thumb touched the stick and all other fingers were placed on top of the stick, resembling the conventional ‘modern’ bowhold. Treatises and iconography of the period attest to the prevalence of both techniques, with the former associated strongly with the Italian-born French master Jean-Baptiste Lully. By the mid-eighteenth century, the French bowhold seems to have disappeared entirely from ‘art music’ – although it may have continued as an unbroken tradition in popular fiddling practice – and the Italian technique prevailed throughout Western Europe, including France. Reasons for this shift include the prevalence of Italian and Italian-trained violinists, changes in compositional style which required different kinds of technical capacities, and the emergence of new bow designs with diverse lengths and physical properties. Yet the French bowhold was clearly popular, and remained in widespread use from the seventeenth to mid-eighteenth centuries, especially in French or French-influenced musical centres. It is plausible that Jean-Baptiste Volumier and many violinists of the Dresden Hofkapelle used this bowhold, but equally possible that under the directorship of Johann Georg Pisendel from 1728, the thumb-on-stick bowgrip began to predominate. This paper explores the historical evidence for the use of the French bowhold and co-existence of French and Italian techniques in orchestras of the early eighteenth century, and makes a comparative demonstration of the different aesthetic and timbre through the test case of a violin obbligato from a Mass movement by Jan Dismas Zelenka (“Et unam sanctam” from the Missa Sanctæ Cæciliæ), in a version from 1711 and another from after 1727.

    Prof. Irving gave a remarkable lowdown on the history of violin performance technique. There were two competing types of bowhold which can be traced, the French & Italian, and each served the music in very specific ways. Here is a small table to illustrate.

    The implications for Dresden's Hofkapelle are significant. During the period of concert master Jean-Baptiste Volumier (the lead violinist and leader of the orchestra), up to his death in 1728, the French style dominated, and there was a transition during the subsequent tenure of Johann Georg Pisendel (†1755) when the Italian style most likely dominated. But this transition may have already have started before the change of concert master.
    Dr. Irving gave musical examples from the Dresden court showing how either particular style would have been suited for particular music. It was interesting to see a link form with Dr. Stockigt's paper, as it was clear that there were differences in how Missa S. Caeciliae would have been performed in 1711 vs. 1727.

    4. Jana PERUTKOVÁ:'Oratoria, určená k provádění u Božího hrobu v českých zemích a Rakousku v 18. století a případ Zelenka' (Eng. Trans[Blocked Image:] "Oratorios intended for performance at God's grave [Holy Sepulchre] in Czech and Austrian lands in the 18th Century and the case of Zelenka"

    The review will focus on specific form of oratorios intended for performances during the Holy Week at the holy sepulchre. This form, originally popular at the Viennese court during the reign of Emperor Leopold I., was abundantly performed in the first half of the 18th century in many religions orders (i.e. Jesuits, Capuchins, Augustinians, Oratorians, Cistercians, Benedictines, The Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, Ursulines, Elizabethans, etc.), in parish churches and also in several noble families. The functional point of view, symbolically defined by the place and purpose of the performance, plays a decisive role in further research of this phenomenon. From the symbolic setting is therefore derived the term sepolcro that is used for all mentioned compositions. Apart from terminological tasks, the paper focuses on clients who requested sepolcri for their personal performance, and form of the compositions and language. Types of subjects used in sepolcri, the transfer of specific works or librettos, and the ways of possible stage performances will be presented on several examples as well. Finally, Jan Dismas Zelenka’s compositions written for performances by the holy sepulchre will be inserted in this broad framework.

    This was a paper on the Viennese & Bohemian tradition of Sepulcro Oratorios. These begun during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, so they are also sometimes called the 'Leopoldian Sepulcro'.
    When this form of art came to Prague, they were held and patronised by religious orders and noble families. Usually they were structured in one or two parts, exceptionally three. Their language was mainly German or Latin, also sometimes Italian and in Moravia, Czech.
    Dr. Perutková argued that Zelenka's Sepulcri are more 'cantatas' than staged 'oratorios' - for example, they have no 'characters' in them.
    There was a whole section on the use of the Chalumeau. Perutková referred to Kjartan Óskarsson's 2018 hypothesis (see his published article on this here in clavibus unitis 2019) that there was a trip by the Hartig family in 1708 to Vienna in which a chalumeau may have been obtained.
    Perutková suggests that Zelenka may have been the first composer to use the instrument with a melancholic & beseeching effect.
    She also pointed to the similarity between the Bass aria 'Deus Dux Fortissime' and an aria by Fux (though I didn't manage to get down which one this was).


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    5. Andrew FRAMPTON:'Hidden in plain sight: Parody and Reworking in the Sacred Vocal Music of Jan Dismas Zelenka'

    A hitherto neglected area in the study of Zelenka’s compositional practice has been his use of musical borrowing and parody – that is, the repurposing of existing music for a new work. In contrast to the sacred vocal works of Johann Sebastian Bach, which exhibit the frequent reuse of music drawn from occasional (usually secular) pieces, there are relatively few works by Zelenka that have been separately transmitted in different versions. However, a forensic examination of the manuscript sources reveals that Zelenka did in fact employ a variety of borrowing and reworking techniques, including parody of his own compositions, in a more regular and sophisticated manner than has been previously recognised.

    This paper presents some preliminary findings from a new, ongoing research project investigating Zelenka’s working methods in his autograph scores. Through a close analysis of specific examples, with a particular focus on the masses, I seek to classify the various types of reworkings visible in his manuscripts, and offer suggestions about likely parody models. Are there systematic patterns that can be observed in Zelenka’s methods of recycling musical material? I also discuss the possible implications of these findings for the reconstruction of incomplete or lost works, and for what should be considered a ‘version’ in the context of cataloguing.

    Frampton started off by stating that there needs to be more work done on 'large-scale processes' in Zelenka's autographs - like those done by musicologists on J.S.Bach. One of the questions he asked: was Zelenka 'equally economical' with his Sacred Music?
    Frampton identified various 'types' of parody in Zelenka's sacred music:
    Type 1: Using music & reworking to make an entirely different version. Example: Christe Eleison, alto solo in ZWV21 Missa OO.SS. is reworked for 'Patre de coelis Deus' in Litaniae Lauretanae Consolatrix Afflictorum ZWV151. Process: Erasures & alterations
    Type 2: Inserting small models and sections from other works. Reintegrating them so that it seems flawless. Example: ZWV1 Missa Sanctae Caeciliae & ZWV59 Attendite et Videte. The 'crucifixus' as a 4-part choral part and 'Si est dolor' in ZWV59 as a solo recitative.
    Type 3: What Frampton calls the "Hidden Parody", a parody from a setting that's completely unknown, but the evidence points to it. Example: ZWV4 Missa Sancti Spiritus, where the source material hints at there being another source.
    There was also another type which is where a piece is repurposed, such as the ZWV50 De Profundis which was firstly used at his father's Requiem exequies and then repurposed for the Vespers cycle with the change from 'Requiem in eternam' -> 'Gloria Patri - Et in secula'.

    Andrew Frampton made a great case for the value of further studies into the 'systematic patterns' of Zelenka's compositions.

    6. Shelly HOGAN:'A Reconstruction of Zelenka’s Early Membership in the Dresden Hofkapelle (read by Samantha Owens because she was unable to attend)

    Bohemian composer Jan Dismas Zelenka was an important figure in the musical life at the royal court in Dresden during the first half of the eighteenth century. While the court lists his initial engagement as a contrabassist, Zelenka’s later activities at court were principally as a church composer and indeed his sacred works contributed to the music of the Catholic court chapel from the earliest years of his association. He would serve the court for more than three decades from his 1710/1711 arrival to his death in December 1745. Modern scholarly interest centres on Zelenka’s compositional activities while understanding of Zelenka’s earlier years remains substantially incomplete. An important exception is the recent confirmation by Janice B. Stockigt and Jóhannes Ágústsson of Zelenka’s training and career prior to arriving in Dresden—previously the subject of scholarly speculation. This paper examines one further aspect of Zelenka’s early Dresden career: how he contributed as a contrabassist of the Hofkapelle during his first decade of service. This decade saw significant change in the bass section and orchestra as a whole, through a move away from engaging multi-instrumentalists to those specialising on a single instrument, the arrival of a new wave of internationally trained personnel, and transition to new instrument types. Archival sources of the Dresden court record many details of individual employment, and change to the Hofkapelle‘s size and administration from its re-establishment in 1709. Drawing on analysis of these primary sources, this paper argues a reconstruction of the careers of Zelenka’s colleagues in the bass section provides substantial evidence to establish Zelenka’s own role and instrument type. The paper concludes that Zelenka’s activities as a contrabassist in Dresden should be viewed as a key part of a larger plan by the court to transform its orchestra that met the preconditions for the Classicism that followed.

    This paper has been adapted and made into an article for Musicology Australia 2020. It was a very interesting and thorough study. I have just one little detail to point out: Hogan argues that Zelenka's instrument is probably not the 8 foot (but the 12 foot), because the music played needed to be 'doubling the bass at the octave below', and the musicians are normally referred to as Contre Basse during the above-mentioned period.


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    7. Pavel JURÁK: 'Nicola Porpora v Inventáriu Jana Dismase Zelenky' Eng. trans: 'Nicola Porpora in Jan Dismas Zelenka's Inventarium

    The discovery that Jan Dismas Zelenka had in his Inventarium compositions by Nicola Porpora, i.e., Dixit Dominus in C major, Laudate Pueri in B major and Magnificat in A minor, was a by-result of the bachelor thesis „J. D. Zelenka’s Magnificats in the context of contemporary compositions“. The paper demonstrates how three compositions in the Inventarium of Jan Dismas Zelenka, which were regarded as works of an anonymous composer, were by Nicola Porpora. These compositions were transcribed by Carl von Winterfeld (1784-1852) during his journey to Italy in 1812. The study of the oldest known surviving manuscript of the composition Magnificat in A minor by Nicola Porpora, copied by Josef Antonín Sehling (1710-1756), was an important step in making this identification. The analysis showed that Sehling arranged this work for the use of the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. And this is why the search for the original version of the Porpora’s composition had to continue and finally ended at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin where the manuscript „Composizioni sacre di Nicolo Porpora“ of Carl von Winterfeld is preserved today. The author also considered the possibility that several other works from the Inventarium could be composed by Nicola Porpora. Furthermore, he deals with the question whether Jan Dismas Zelenka and Nicola Porpora knew each other and where they could meet.

    Jurák presented research from his bachelor's thesis which is about Zelenka's Magnificat settings in the context of contemporary compositions. The paper was an interesting topic with an interesting methodology. He argues that the great composer Nicola Porpora can be identified in three 'anonymous' pieces in the Inventarium. Designations by Zelenka as 'Po: N:' + 'Po:' could be referring to Porpora. And, also he speculates a Salve Regina with 'N: N:' + 'N:' could be, likewise.
    I can't quite remember now how Jurák backed these claims, but I think it partly was by comparison with the key signatures noted by Zelenka and the key signatures of the known pieces. He showed that RISM has a number of mistakes in it which has meant that the attributions to Porpora were made difficult amongst Zelenka's collection. He finished the presentation with a comparison between Zelenka and the Magnificats of Fux and Charpentier.

    8. Frederic KIERNAN: 'Wolfgang Horn and Zelenka'

    This paper uses the late Wolfgang Horn’s own reflections on his relationship with Zelenka as a lens through which to consider broader questions about the nature of Zelenka’s music, its reception history, and music historiography. Based on an interview conducted with Horn during the Zelenka Festival in Prague, October 2017, this paper considers Horn’s legacy as a driver of, and witness to, the rise of Zelenka studies in the 1980s, and the impact of this German scholar on our understanding of Zelenka today.

    This was a very fitting and loving tribute to Prof. Wolfgang Horn (†7 May 2019) which drew upon an interview which Fred Kiernan made with Horn in 2017. Here is the full paper as published in Clavibus Unitis 2019, which is well worth a read. It demonstrates Horn's nuanced and revealing perspectives of the culture of Zelenka within musicology.


    Final comment: the conference was great (also generating a heated discussion afterwards!) and continues the streak of wonderful festivals and conferences in the glorious city of Prague. Here's to more in the future.


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