Posts by djdresden

    In 2007 I wrote the following here in the Forum, on Zelenka’s student:

    "Harrer, a vital piece in the Zelenka puzzle, is an important link for the distribution of Zelenka's music outside of Dresden. When he passed away his musical library was sold to the Breitkopf firm who then offered it for sale in their famous catalogues, including a number of Zelenka's works which Harrer had copied in his years in Dresden as a Kapellmeister of Count Brühl and as an assistant to Zelenka. A recent book on Harrer gives a good impression on their working relationship and the way they collaborated, f.e. on Harrer's Mass which Zelenka entered in his Inventory. Harrer's Miserere is one of the most extraordinary manuscripts in the Dresden library. Not only is the final fugue probably composed by Zelenka, it also has tempo assignments by Hasse who very rarely directed works by other composers during his time in Dresden. It must have been quite a work! Harrer also copied many of the works in Zelenka's library.”

    The Mass in question was definitely performed in Dresden as was the Miserere, since parts for both works once existed in the Catholic church music archive.

    The Harrer Mass has some wonderful moments, great fugues, and is of course very Zelenka like. I have an excellent live recording from Dresden of this work – email me for a copy.

    Thanks Seb, this was absolutely brilliant to hear! Zelenka's trumpet pieces played freely, and with style and vigour!

    I just want to add for the record, and for my many Forum friends, that I am truly very sorry that these six pieces haven't made it to the official ZWV as promised in the article, even though we provided the very exact documentation of the event in question in 1733 and recommended, as Seb noted above, that the works should be accepted into the official work list. This was research that took me many years to conclude. What hinders these pieces to get an official number in the Zelenka work list is the incredibly strict rules of MGG (die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart), which do not accept works of composers if the manuscripts in question are not signed by the respective composers.


    All very interesting. A further study, showing in a systematic academic way the similarities between the above mentioned examples of CPE and Zelenka, is clearly needed here. Robin, why don’t you present this in a paper for the Zelenka Conference 2018? This would be a good follow up to the study of professor Ottenberg.

    In reference to the last paragraph, however, I’d like to happily state that I do not ascribe to the “general agreement” about the “drawer” myth since it hardly holds up when one examines the sources – for me this is the rhetoric of the “old and romantic” opinions about Zelenka. In light of all the recent archival discoveries, and especially my co-written article with Jan Stockigt (Clavibus Unitis, 4, 2015), I urge everyone to question and challenge the old myths, including this one. Imaging Zelenka writing music simply just to shelf away does not make any sense.

    Great stuff! This sounds quite convincing. And no, I can’t recall this being mentioned in the literature, the reason perhaps being that CPE Bach’s cantata only recently resurfaced in the Sing-Akademie collection among a large cache of his works.

    And: the young and brilliant Bach might indeed have known of Missa Dei Patris, ZWV 19, even if he did not own a score of the work. In his eye-opening “Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach trifft Jan Dismas Zelenka” article in Zelenka-Studien 2, Hans-Günter Ottenberg discusses the similiarities of the Agnus Dei in Zelenka's setting and CPE Bach's Largo con sordini, mesto, the second movement in the Flute Concerto (H 438 /WQ 168), a work also known in two other versions as Harpsichord Concerto (H 437 / WQ 168) and Cello Concerto (H 439 / WQ 172). Examples are easy to find in YouTube, f.e.: (flute) (cello)

    Professor Ottenberg, one of the great Dresden musicologists of the older generation, provides musical examples and tables, noting: “Alle Grundparameter des Satzes stimmen mit den diesbezüglichen Angaben bei Zelenka weitgehend überein.” He then draws the following conclusion:

    “ Bleibt zum Schluß die zusammenfassende Feststellung, daß die Empfindsamkeit als “Komplex affektiv geladener Erwartungs- und Verhaltensdispositionen” sowie als Ausdruck eines neuen Selbstverständnisses des Komponisten in den vierziger Jahren des 18. Jahrhunderts, also in der Zeit von Zelenka’s Spätstil, zu einer dominanten Stilhaltung und richtung avancierte. Beide Musiker, Zelenka und C. Ph. E. Bach, bedienten sich gelegentlich der “empfindsamen” Idiomatik. Daß sie beide in den von uns analysierten Werken so ähnlich ausfällt, dürfte wohl doch eher Zufall sein; nicht zufällig ist der beiden Komponisten eigen verinnerliche Ton!”

    To this I might add, that perhaps it is kein zufall – no coincidence! I’ve recently uncovered archival evidence of a possible visit of CPE to Dresden in 1743. While there, he might well have heard, and been inspired by Zelenka’s Missa Dei Patris. Who would ever forget the overwhelming melody of the Agnus Dei?

    The war loot taken from Dresden in 1745-46 was split between the different institutions in the former Soviet Union. So the music removed from the SLUB, including the missing vesper psalms listed above, likely ended up in the music collections of city and university libraries all over the country. For example, the Russian State Library in Moscow holds what seems to be items from Zelenka’s collection with the letters A (Aldrovandini, Allegri, Ariosti etc.), and other materials as well. These can now be viewed in the online-catalogue of the library.

    This library also holds a large chunk of the missing libretto collection of the SLUB, which always was thought to have perished in 1945. This is of importance for Zelenka research as well, because he would have prepared many of the little labels affixed to these, as a part of his cataloguing and custodianship of the royal music library in Dresden. Moreover, a lot of these librettos are manuscript copies and likely in the hand of the Dresden court poets (Pallavicini etc.), and hold vital information for the authorship of texts of missing works, names of performers, and possibly comments of August III or Maria Josepha on the contents – as we have seen in the few existing Dresden librettos in the SLUB and in the Berlin State Library. This is a major study for which I have already done much work by partly reconstructing the long lost catalogues assembled by Zelenka, but one that can only be finalised with a visit to Moscow.

    The Glinka Museum in Moscow also holds items from the SLUB. In preparation for my article on the secular vocal collection of Zelenka I asked the music director and conductor Nikolay Khondzinsky, who we know for his spirited performances of Zelenka, to visit the museum to look at a volume of cantatas which I suspected to include music from Zelenka’s collection. In spite of several attempts he found it was practically impossible to get access, and this is the problem in a nutshell. The war loot is still a delicate issue in Russia and it is likely that the parts from the Zelenka collection are still kept under lock and key in the largest cities in the country, and in the former territories of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity that was open for a short period during the rule of Boris Yeltsin, and allowed for the return of the Sing-Akademie collection from Ukraine, was firmly shut when Putin took office.

    The cataloguing of the Sing-Akademie collection is long finished and by now well documented in several publications. And our Zelenka was well presented, as I reported on here in 2007. It has proved to be a near bottomless treasure trove, which still is revealing its secrets through the many anonymous works, as I have found out during my ongoing study of Johann Joseph Adam, prince of Liechtenstein and patron of Vivaldi.

    When it comes to the missing works of Zelenka, the situation is this as I see it: we desperately need a very, very wealthy patron burning with passion for the composer, who would be willing to donate large amounts of money to fund a long-standing systematic search in Russian libraries and archives. Anyone, please:)?

    Thank you King Max, this is very good news. It is important that the good and noble work of Alistair will be continued and built upon. So I wish you well for the future in your role as a custodian of the online-home of our Zelenka.

    Two new Zelenka articles are found in the next issue of Clavibus Unitis:

    This includes Anselm Harasim’s fine study about the Magnificats ZWV 107+108. This was the paper he gave in the Zelenka conference last October as reported above. I am hoping that more papers from the conference will be added to this issue soon, especially Michael Maul’s report on the important document he uncovered in Pirna.

    My co-written article with Jan Stockigt on the Te Deum performance in Bautzen in May 1733 is also included. This has been forever in the works so it is a big relief to have it out of the way. Some of the information is already in our big Zelenka article from last year, but here is the full story. It was such a great pleasure to work on this article and to walk in the footsteps of Zelenka in the St Petri Dom, and also to see the house where he stayed with the butchers wife. Enjoy!

    I’ve uploaded to Dropbox a set of 17 pictures of places connected to Zelenka, numbered to match the text below:…1vHbvtKRCkub2Pj3_dCa?dl=0

    1. The amazing model in the city museum in Dresden, showing the city at the end of the 17th century. Attached to the Residenzschloss we can see the old opera theater of Klengel which was reconstructed to serve as the Catholic court church in 1707. The model also shows the Kleine Brüder Gasse, including the house of leather craftsman Flade where Zelenka lived for the last couple of years of his life.

    2. A copy (I think) of the same model showing the Residenzschloss and the attached T- shaped old opera theater of Klengel at end of 17th century.

    3. Beautiful plan of the old Catholic court church, showing well the shape, interior, altar and last but not least, over the entrance, the balcony where the musicians stood and performed, see also the 1733 coloured etching in the Clavibus Unitis article. I can imagine that the accoustics were absolutely fantastic in this space.

    4. A detail from Bellotto’s painting of the Zwinger, showing also a detail of the front of the old Catholic church.

    5. This is one of my favourites: a couple of flying angels from the old Catholic court church. If they only could speak! These are now kept in the Domschatzkammer St. Petri in Bautzen, which is well worth a visit because of all the religious treasures and relics once in the possession of the electoral and royal family.

    6. Coloured drawing of former Catholic court church, and later Ballhaus, after it was rebuilt as the archive of the court. This is a photo taken in an exhibition in today's archive building, which opened in 1915 and miraculously withstood the bombing in 1945.

    7. Another plan showing the size of the archive in comparison with the Schloss.

    8. Beautiful photo of the old archive, which at the time stored the Zelenka related documents we are still mining today. I think Alistair has already showed this one in the website.

    9. The old archive being demolished, ca. 1888-89. What a waste!

    10. And another one, sigh... In the background, the facade of Schloss is being rebuilt in renaissance style.

    11. Moritzstrasse in the 19th century. From at least 1736 Zelenka lived on the left side, round about in the middle of the street. The house changed owners in 1742 and it is likely that Zelenka moved on at that point. This house was destroyed in the Prussian bombing of 1760. Somewhere there exists a sad old painting of the ruins of this house and others in this street, but I can’t recall where. I’ve gathered quite a bit of material on this house, its history and colourful tenants. One day I can hopefully tell this story.

    12. Old Ramschegasse, todays Rampische Straße, picture taken before WWII. The house at No. 31 with the Carl Emanuel store sign is the former residence of Zelenka. In ca. 1743-44 he rented an apartment in the Ramschegasse from the owner, the archivist Schmiedt. This was one of the most beautiful streets of baroque Dresden and all the best architects of the city built houses there. This side of the street has been faithfully rebuilt, except for a modern house totally out of place in the middle of it.

    Incidentally, this modern building once housed a strange cocktail bar on the top floor, where the Australian Zelenka scholar Fred Kiernan once hammered out the Goldberg variations and a couple of Zelenka fugues on the piano to the utter amazment of the few guests, during a very drunken night many years ago. I had introduced him to the barista as a world famous concert pianist :D so he was allowed access to the piano, much to the annoyance of the bar pianist, who, by the way, was not very good. Later, we ended up in the basement of the Hilton hotel, where Fred showed his improvisational skills Cecil Taylor style on a white upright piano, which was curiously placed in the middle of a staff corridor and waiting to be assaulted, while we were trying to find a way out of the labyrinth which is underground Hilton. What a glorius night that was, and it is now on record here!

    13. Archeology digging in the basement of Rampsiche Straße No. 31, left side. Here we can see where Zelenka stored his old stuff.

    14. Rampsiche Straße No. 31, faithfully restored to its former glory. Today it houses a bank, which has decided to ruin the front by placing a bright neon sign over the windows. Make sure to bring shades when checking this house out, and don’t deposit your money there...

    15. For a full picture of the front of the house in Kleine Brüder Gasse where Zelenka lived, see the article in Clavibus Unitis. This is a plan of the Kurprinzenpalais, today Taschenbergpalais. In 1767 the court bought Flade’s house from his relatives and this was then altered for use for the servants. Here we can see the arrangement of the rooms, but we don’t know (yet) on which floor Zelenka lived:
    E=entrance on the ground floor; and same size (Zzz=sleeping?) rooms above; L=Flade’s workshop on the ground floor, living rooms upstairs; K=kitchen?; C=corridor?; S=round stairs for our old man…; H=courtyard. The Dresden archive holds much more detailed plans which I hope to be able to publish sometime in the future.

    Other members of the Dresden Hofkapelle who lived in this street in 1738-40 were: the castrato Campioli; violinist Rhein and his alcoholic wife (what a desperately sad story that is), and many other good men and women.

    16. An arial photo from 1944. The facade of Zelenka’s house has been altered but each floor still has four windows across, X.

    17. And finally: Here you see the Masters at Work at the Karl May Cocktail bar in Zelenka’s house in Kleine Brüder Gasse. I can recommend the Singapore Sling – the best I’ve ever tasted having drunk quite a few all over Europe. Seriously, these guys are two of the finest in the business, highly-decorated champions in European and World cocktail competitions. They have the awards to show for it. It feels absolutely fantastic to have a drink on this holy ground. And after a few drinks, what better than having a piss in Zelenka’s golden toilets? Sorry, I couldn’t resist:…dining/bars/karl-may-bar/

    And across the street, in the former house of cabinetmaker Mengelberg, Zelenka’s colleague Ristori passed away on 7 February 1753. This house was destroyed in 1945 but the one built in its place today houses an Italian restaurant. I do miss the Shamrock Irish pub that used to be there, and I used to toast Ristori all the time while working on his Naples story. This pub was a great place to have a Guinness and work on new discoveries after a long day at the archive, or to watch the English football when Sir Alex was in charge of my team. The British born owner was a Tottenham fan and the banter was ace. For those who are interested they have now moved next street, to Wilfsdruffer Straße (formerly Wilsche Gasse) and amazingly, again, round about where Ristori once used to live! And WF Bach as well; JC Richter organist in the Sophien Kirche; the castrato Nicolo Pozzi; the lutenist Weiss; The Negri family of singers, and so on.

    I hope you enjoy and forgive the tasteless stories of personal note… :)

    Looking forward to read rnkt and his personal experience of Dresden.

    Thanks for this nice picture (pre-1888) of the old part of Dresden which not only shows Zelenka’s working place but also the street of his last residence: Kleine Bruder Gasse. Funnily enough, just earlier today I came across some pictures of the old Catholic court church in my computer. Over the years I’ve collected quite a bit of visual material for this church and the living places of our man, including the fantastic drawing of the house in Kleine Bruder Gasse which appeared in the Clavibus Unitis article. I’ve also found the architectural plans and arrangements of the rooms in this house, but this is archival material I can not share publicly for now. But in the next few days I will upload to Dropbox some examples from my collection.

    The timeline of the old Catholic court church is found here:

    As for Zelenka and WF Bach, if I remember correctly Gerhard Poppe discussed their possible teacher/student relationship in his article about the students of Zelenka. In his WFB biography, David Schulenberg states that piece No. 5 from the Eight fugues F 31 “with a relatively lengthy subject reminiscent of ones Friedemann might have heard at Dresden in fugues by Zelenka”, while piece No. 6 “is also relatively long, with another Zelenkan subject”.

    Dear Zeluka, welcome to the Forum. First, I am pleased to say that except for the first 30 years Zelenka's life is no longer clouded in obscurity: by now we know a great deal of his time and 35-year tenure as a musician and composer at the Dresden court. The best source is of course Jan Stockigt’s biographic bible, which every Zelenka lover must read. And just recently a large study, drawing on a great number of unknown archival sources, has been published by Stockigt and me, see this and other fine articles on Zelenka’s life and music:

    Second, you pose a good question. It is true that our Zelenka isn’t as frequently mentioned in contemporary literature as one would perhaps expect, but there might be reasons for this and I’ll list two. One is the fact that his sacred music was exclusively Catholic, it was never published at the time and thus enjoyed a limited circulation, especially in what is todays Germany. As a result, Zelenka’s music was not a part of the repertory of the Lutheran cantors (an exception is the Magnificat, several copies of which are found in Lutheran church collections in Saxony, as we heard in the Zelenka conference in Prague last year) and therefore not easily accessible for study. A case in point is the Catholic ouevre of Zelenka’s colleague Heinichen, a widely respected German composer who enjoyed great fame as a writer on music in addition to being the Kapellmeister of the Dresden court: almost no copies of his Catholic sacred music circulated in Germany. Another reason might be the focus of the contemporary German music/lexicon/journal writers (all Lutheran), who more than often concentrated on their fellow countrymen; note that in the example you take from Mattheson he lists only Germans, and not even a great Italian master like Lotti. I am sure if contemporary Lexicons/music journals from Bohemian and Moravia had existed Zelenka would have featured prominently, given the great number of copies of his works held in these lands.

    However, Mattheson does indeed refer to Zelenka in his Der vollkommene Capellmeister from 1739, and in such glowing terms that there is no doubt he considered him to be a major master when it comes to the science of music:

    p. 415
    Zwei und zwantzigstes Haupt-Stück. Vom Doppelten Contrapunct.
    "Der doppelte Contrapunct, und die von ihm herstammenden Doppel-Fugen gehören nicht nur für solche Componisten, die von Natur eine starcke Urtheils-Krafft besitzen, von grossem, unermüdeten Nachdencken und Fleiß sind, auch die Kräffte der Harmonie oder Voll-stimmigkeit tief einsehen, wie man solches von dem Herrn Zelenska zu Dresden rühmet;"

    As for Walther's landmark Lexicon (note that his entry on JS Bach does not mention a word about his church music), he also refers to Zelenka but only as a musician in the Dresden Hofkapelle. To this I might add, that I have examined Walther’s personal copy of his Lexicon (now held in Vienna), which he used to make notes and to add more information, no doubt with the idea of updating his publication at a later date although this did not happen. To the entry on Zelenka Walther added the following:

    "Vermuthlich ist es eben derjenige, von deßen Arbeit in der 4ten Lection des Telemannischen Music-Meisters, p. 16. ein 4 stimmiger Canon mit der Verkehrungen befindlich ist, in welchene der discant u. Alt die worte in Vide, Domine, et Considera laborum meum; der Tenor und Baß aber folgende worte hören laßen: Cantate Domino Canticum Novum."

    Here, Walther is referring to Zelenka’s Canon (ZWV 179), which was published by Telemann in 1728. In a letter dated 1735 Walther marvelled at this Canon, saying it was wrapped in mystery. But he was clearly not personally familiar with Zelenka nor any of his sacred music.

    Zelenka also lived on in the music and the teachings of his students. Here’s what I wrote a few years ago in here in the Forum:

    The Dresden scholar Gerhard Poppe lists the following as Zelenka's students:
    Quantz - the famous flutist and musical companion of Frederick the Great in Berlin. Referred to Zelenka in his 1752 Versuch.
    Harrer - Kapellmeister of Saxon Prime Minister Count Brühl and later Bach's successor in Leipzig.
    Riepel - composer, violinist and important theorist, worked for 30 years as a Kapellmeister to Prince of Turn and Taxis in Regensburg. Referred to Zelenka in one of his publications.
    J.G. Röllig - composer and vice Kapellmeister in Zerbst where he taught princess Sophie, who would later become Catherine the Great of Russia.
    Schaffrath - keyboard player and composer, later at the Berlin court where he was in the service of Princess Anna Amalia, Frederick's sister.
    W.F. Bach - Bach's son...
    J.G. Schürer - church composer at the Dresden court for decades.
    Peter August - composer, organist and harpsichordist at the Dresden court, teacher and musical companion to Saxon Elector Friedrich Agust III.

    All the above are major players in the late baroque and early classical periods. To this list we can now add Dresden church composer Butz, as can be seen in the Virtuosen poem.



    at last I had a chance to write up my report on the Zelenka Festival and Conference, which has just ended in Prague. I see that Xanaseb and rnkt have already posted their comments about the concerts, and I don’t have much to add to that at the moment.

    I was very excited about the conference, mainly because of the presence of the Bach scholar Michael Maul. Knowing the groundbreaking archival work he has done as a part of his job at the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, this promised to be something. And it was. In his paper Maul presented a stunning new Zelenka document: an unknown letter in German written (by a copyist) from our composer in November 1740, where he vouched for the musical qualities of one Christian Siegmund Nitzschner, who was applying for the cantor and organist position in Pirna, a city in Saxony close to Dresden. From this document we learn that this Nitzschner, of whom we know absolutely nothing until know, was a fine musician and well qualified on numerous instruments and in the art of singing, and that Zelenka had taught him composition “fundamenta". Nitzschner's own petition to the city council in Pirna referred to his studies with the “berühmte (famous)” Zelenka. Amazingly, Nitzscher did not get the post he applied for as he was considered to be too old, even though prime minister Count Brühl, the most powerful man in the Saxony beside August III, also wrote a recommendation for Nitzscher and thus placing an enormous pressure on the Pirna authorities.

    The importance of this document is truly great:
    1. We learn of another Zelenka student. Sadly, no compositions seem to exist from Nitzschner’s pen.
    2. It was the obligation of court musicians in Dresden to nurture young musicians and train promising prospects for possible entry into the court orchestra. However, in this case Nitzschner was 53 years old and therefore no youngster anymore, which leads one to believe that he paid Zelenka for his studies. I also believe that he can not have been the only “outside” paying student/customer of Zelenka like this and if true, then the composer could have supplemented his salary considerably with his teachings. But it must be said also that we do not know when Nitzschner studied with Zelenka – most likely it was in the 1730s but perhaps even earlier.
    3. Nitzschner's reference to the “famous" Zelenka is yet another proof of the esteem in which he was held at the time.
    4. Next to Zelenka’s signature in the letter is his seal in red wax: this is the first and only example we have of this. Unfortunately, we could not see from the scan the details no doubt found in the seal – his official stamp of approval. All will be revealed by Maul in the published conference proceedings.
    5. New Zelenka documents are still surfacing!!

    Jan Stockigt read two papers – first her own overview of the events of the momentous year of 1733, when Saxon Elector and Polish King August II died in Warsaw and his son and successor Friedrich August took over the reigns. He had already by late 1730 taken over the direction of the court orchestra from his father, as I have demonstrated in my article on Zelenka’s secular vocal collection. Based on entries in published court documents, entries in the Jesuit diaries and the Jesuit letters to Rome, diary entries of the young Crown Prince Friedrich Christian, plus the known activities/petitions of the Dresden musicians and musical events, Stockigt presented a calender table for the whole year, each month and the most important dates. Many new conclusions can be reached when seeing the events of the year presented this way, the most important outcome of which is, in my opinion, Jan’s very well argued hypothesis that Missa Eucaristica (ZWV 15) was performed at the end of May that year. Also, by listing in details of the Erbhuldigung (homage) ceremonies held in the various Saxon cities for Friedrich August as the new Elector, Stockigt was able to demonstrate the religious shift of new ruler: the court was now going full blast Catholic, while August II had danced an admirable ballet between the two religions – Protestant and Catholic – after his conversion in 1697, in order to gain the Polish Crown.

    Unfortunately, Andrew Frampton had to cancel his conference appearance, but Jan Stockigt (as his mentor and supervisor in Melbourne) saved the day by reading his thesis study on the Missa Sancti Spiritus (ZWV 4). Having heard Stockigt speak well about this scholar for many years, this was my first exposure to Andrew's research on the manuscript sources of Zelenka. And I and others were very impressed: this was forensic work that uncovered the full compositional history of the Mass and its revisions, through watermarks, palaeography and handwriting. It is hoped that Andrew will devote more of his time to Zelenka studies.

    Claudia Lubkoll cancelled her talk on the paper and watermark sources on Zelenka’s Psalms, which was a real shame given that in last year’s conference her insights brought a fresh new angle on Zelenka’s compositions. Anselm Hartinger also cancelled his much anticipated talk but once again Jan Stockigt came to the rescue by supplying an unpublished paper about the Italian and French styles in Dresden and the mixed style ("vermischter Geschmack”). Michaela Freemanová, who moderated the conference, read the paper on Stockigt’s behalf. Afterwards, a discussion took place on the terminology in use of the works of Zelenka and others, of the French and Italian, f.e. Hautbois/Oboe, or Sonata or Suonata. Did this perhaps refer to the different way of interpreting the music in question? I look forward to see Stockigt’s conclusions in what is hopefully a forthcoming publication of her study.

    Wolfgang Horn discussed the compositional forms of the late Masses, while Clemens Harasim examined Zelenka’s Magnifcat settings in context with other versions of this text. It will be great to see their studies in print in the forthcoming conference publication.

    To conclude: Like last year, this second Zelenka Festival Conference brought us much new information. But is it possible to have a conference every year with new information and insights into Zelenka’s music? This is the big question and it was much debated amongst the participants this year. I do think this is achievable, but it will only happen if there is more input from the Czech musicologists and/or students of the music of the baroque period. The lack of Czech speakers this year was surprising, and begs the question: why is there no serious systematic research/study project being undertaken in the higher educational institutes in Zelenka's country of birth, now, for what seems to be a very long period? At the same time his music is being championed by all the great Czech baroque ensembles, such as Adam Viktora and his Ensemble Inegale, Vaclav Luks and his Collegium 1704, Marek Stryncl and his Musica Florea, Jana Semerádová and her Collegium Marianum, and last but not least the pioneer Robert Hugo and his Musica Regia. The balance doesn’t seem to be right here.

    But, something wonderful has come out of this all, thanks to Adam and Gabriela. The last year’s proceedings have now been published for all to see, see the link provided by Xanaseb above, containing a wealth of new information which I hope will be welcomed by all Zelenka lovers. Also, Odie, one of the members of the Forum who I had the great pleasure of meeting before the last concert, showed us a recent study which, I think, discussed a church cantor somewhere in the Czech lands, who performed a wide range of Zelenka works over a long period in the years after WWII. A reception study such as this would have belonged to the conference. So, perhaps Czech musicologists are working on our Zelenka after all, but I usually draw blank looks from my Czech colleagues when I ask about these things.

    Finally, one of the best things was the chance to finally meet in person and spend time with some of the contributers to this Forum, like rnkt who was there with his head full of Zelenka, and his exciting plans for making an edition for the keyboard as we have followed here in the Forum. And Xanaseb, whose very impressive knowledge and burning passion for Zelenka we all know so well. I do hope that Jan Stockigt managed to infect him further with the Zelenka virus in their many meetings during the week in Prague, as indeed happened to me in Dresden back in 2005 – a life-altering moment which led to a very rewarding path of discovery with Zelenka.


    here’s a late follow up to the numerous posts in this thread, now that the 3rd Zelenka Festival Prague is approaching: I am told that the dates are 19–23 October 2016. This needs a new seperate thread when the program has been finalized. Hopefully the organizers will do so in timely fashion so everyone can book their travels in advance.

    Jan Stockigt’s article about the recently discovered hymn Iste Confessor ZWV 236, which received its modern-day premiere at the Festival last year, has just been published online in a Festschrift dedicated to the great Vivaldi scholar and Zelenka fan, Professor Emeritus Michael Talbot, see here:

    Stockigt’s article, which includes Fred Kiernan’s edition of the hymn is found in the second PDF, pages 223–234.

    My co-written article with Jan Stockigt, discussing the most recent archival finds and offering a reassessment of Zelenka’s position at the Dresden court, was finally delivered at the end of May and is now in the hands of the editors of the online journal Clavibus unitis (, where it will published as a part of the proceedings from last years Zelenka Festival Conference. Fate has it that this long-awaited article, eight years in the works, will be published in this beautiful online journal (also printed on demand), which allows for the use of numerous illustrations – a rare luxury in the world of musicology. We are hoping that this issue will be out soon, or at least before the Festival. As soon as there is more info on the publication I will post it here.

    Amen to all above. And I’d like to think that Zelenka also had an influence on Heinichen. While the latter had much to give to the former when it came to sharing his experiences from his Italian soujourn and studies with some of the Italian masters, Zelenka would have shared with Heinichen his experiences of learning under Fux, and the finer details of the sacred music traditions of the Habsburgs. Heinichen must have thought well of Zelenka, with the former suggesting that the latter should receive a payment rise of 50% in 1728, see my article on the secular vocal collection of Zelenka, and my forthcoming aricle in the Prague conference proceedings, where this document will be published in full for the first time.

    Great to hear of all this activity. It would be very nice if recordings of these transcriptions could be uploaded so we can hear how this sounds.

    I’ve uploaded a PDF file to my Dropbox, with scans of the earliest known piano arrangements made of Zelenka’s music. These were done by the musicologist Otto Schmid-Dresden and published in 1904. I can’t recall if this has been discussed here in the Forum so here we go. The pieces are:

    1. Largo from ZWV 186.
    2. Menuet I & II from ZWV 190.
    3. Canarie and Aria from ZWV 183.…Tmv5ZAX-2EnH0ADfd8Qa?dl=0

    I would be grateful if a kind soul would play these pieces on the piano and upload a recording: it doesn’t have to be professional but just so we can hear how these first transcriptions are.

    Dear Xanaseb,

    I admire your great enthusiasm, and especially going to the lengths of trying to correct the critic in question. In order to convince him we can always send the details of the OFFICIAL documents of the Hof-und Staats-Calender, as annually published by the Dresden court from 1735-1746, to prove a) that Zelenka enjoyed the prestigious title of Church Composer until his death and b) that Bach’s position was only „tit[ular]” = honorary. If that is not enough, then the death notice in the court’s OFFICIAL documents, of "Johann Dismas Zelenka, the Royal Court Composer” as it was reported on 23 December 1745, should be sufficient. But, I think you have made your point. Also, I’ve updated the Wikipedia entry, which obviously was the source of the claims about Bach vs Zelenka „the battle of 15 rounds” – you might want to inform him of this!

    I am very very pleased to read the positive reviews of the music itself – this is the most important thing. Knowing what lengths the musicians sometime go to perform the music they wish, as in this case, having followed (through Xanaseb) the director’s sometimes difficult attempts to acquire the music in question, I am always in awe of them.

    I’ve discussed this at length with Jan Stockigt for a number of years, when we were trying to get to the bottom of all this. And we have not been able to find any examples in the literature prior to 1987, that Zelenka suffered in any way or other in his position at the court or Dresden. It might exist in the Czech literature, but unfortunately we do not master that beautiful language. It takes a serious bend to try to twist the things Fürstenau wrote into any sort of negativity. Some of the things Dr. Reich stated are of a much more serious nature, for example his opinion that Zelenka was deliberately downgraded when he was appointed church composer, because the court did not like his music.

    I must also add, that today Jan Stockigt has a totally different view of how Zelenka’s persona was perceived at the Dresden court, than when she wrote her magnum opus, 15 years ago. She has changed her opinion because of the sources now available to us – and here the Virtuosen poem (see the relevant thread) played a key part: it made us question many of the things that had been written about Zelenka. It is for this reason, that I hope she will be able to update her book, as she so dearly wants to do.

    Moritz Fürstenau's study (1861-62) on the Dresden Hofkapelle includes the first attempt to describe Zelenka's personality. According to unnamed contemporaries of the composer, Zelenka was said to be, quote "a reserved, bigotted Catholic, but also a respectable, quiet, unassuming man, deserving of the greatest respect", unquote. Now, is this really so bad? Whether Fürstenau was citing written accounts or if he was repeating rumour is not known, given that he was much too young to have come in contact with anyone who knew Zelenka personally. Thus, these report must be treated with caution, but not ruled out altogether, especially if we consider Fürstenau's postition as the custodian of the music library of the royal family – a position that Zelenka served during the last years of his life – and the fact that Fürstenau's father was also a long serving member of the Saxon Hofkapelle. But Fürstenau falls into the temptation of romanticizing his tale, when he speculates that Zelenka, quote, "seems to have lived a rather lonely and isolated life in Dresden", unquote. Since there were well over 100 years since the composer died, it is practically impossible for Fürstenau to have had any hard evidence for this kind of statement.

    In 1944, the German priest Norbert Schulz wrote his fascinating doctoral thesis on Zelenka. And here we have another view of our composer. It is obvious from the way Schulz writes about his subject that he was impressed by Zelenka's piety, and what he sees as his serene, reflective, and calm character. Schulze comes to this conclusion by studying the handwriting of Zelenka, and the dedications in his works, for example to the Missa dei Patris. Again, such conclusions should be taken with a pinch of salt. What one reads from someone's handwriting might seem completely different to the next person. The fact that Schulz was Catholic might have coloured his judgement.

    Most importantly, we should note that at no point in their discussion do Fürstenau or Schulz question or doubt the importance of Zelenka's role and status at the court of Dresden. On the contrary, they seem to agree that the composer and his music played an integral part in the fame and success of the Hofkapelle.

    My point is this: as long as we do not have any hardcore contemporary sources, stating that Zelenka was, as so elegantly put by rnkt, "shafted by his employers” as is the core of Dr. Reich’s conclusion, the composer should be able to enjoy the benefit of the doubt. And this has unfortunately not been the case.

    Finally, a snapshot from an earlier time, through a quote from the past. In 1848, an article about Zelenka was printed in the music periodical Caecilia. It ended with these words: Zelenka starb nach einer amtlichen Thätigkeit von fast 35 Jahren am 22. Decbr. 1745 zu Dresden, und hinterliess den Ruf eines edlen und braven Künstlers. (Zelenka died on 22 December 1745 in Dresden, after having served in his post for almost 35 years, and left behind a reputation of a noble and good artist.)

    Thank you guys – I am pleased to be able to rant and rave here about this topic which is so close to my heart, and to use foul language which is not allowed in the academic world or from the podium. I understand the point rnkt makes, about the "myth as a phenomenon" and how it can stimulate interest amongst the public: this was indeed one of the things that Jan Stockigt and I did discuss few years back, when we realized to our horror that things were not quite right when it came to the standard image of Zelenka. I had actually forgotten about our correspondence when it came to this, and when I revisit this now I see that we were wondering if the word „misinformation", instead of myth, would be more appropiate to describe the situation with Zelenka.

    In general, I would have no problems with a „Zelenka myth”, let’s say if the composer was blind, had a wooden leg, or if he had a hook instead of a hand, just to take an extreme example, or if it was based on some factual evidence – I hope you know what I mean. A classic example is the „Beethoven myth”, which „...was helped by Wagner’s influential monograph of 1870, written for Beethoven’s centenary, in which he glorified Beethoven’s deafness as a trait of enhanced interiority — the deaf composer forced to listen inwardly. The turn inward is a leading characteristic of 19th-century subjectivity; in this cultural field, Beethoven’s deafness was initially understood as the tragic plight of the suffering artist and then as the guarantee of interiority, the sine qua non for the production of the highest art. This view reached its summit in the treatment by J.W.N. Sullivan, writing in 1927, for whom the late-period music marked a synthesizing vision of life in which all suffering is subsumed, ‘a final stage of illumination’ in the composer’s spiritual development.” (See the entry on Beethoven in New Grove).

    Fortunately, the Zelenka myth/misinformation transmission is a recent phenomenon and it has not been allowed to fester for too long. It all began less than 30 years ago and can be traced directly to an explosive article published in 1987: this is the late Dr. Reich’s oft cited study „An unbeloved composer?”, which literally was a nuclear bomb thrown into the tranquil world of Zelenka. This is an extraordinarily pessimistic read, where every source and situation is interpreted in the most negative way possible for our composer, in order to create the romantic image of the suffering genius. We must, however, remember that Dr. Reich’s article appeared at a time when Europe was divided and when the idealogical battle between East and West was being fought on many fronts, and also in the literature on music. In DDR times everything that was royal, and that includes Zelenka’s employers, was considered decadent (check this DDR TV series out, it’s GROSS: – I bought the 6 DVD set but it made me puke: to see all the truly great great men that ruled Saxony in the 18th century portrayed as freaks), and one has to partly judge Dr. Reich’s writings from this viewpoint. Also, we now have found new sources which Dr. Reich did not know about at the time, which refute some of the things he was saying. Dr. Reich’s biggest fault lies mainly in two things in my opinion. First, he did not discuss and assess the sources available to him in the necessary context. Second, and this is the more serious thing, his article was self-published and it did not go through the all-important peer-review-process. I know at least two musicologists who cited his article – without any questions or criticism – and now deeply regret having done so, knowing that the article was not reviewed at the time.

    It is for this reason this cheap myth/misinformation should be tackled head on, as far as it is possible. I am quite sure that the music itself will do the talking, and that there is no need to prolongate a myth of the sort that is out there. The spirituality of the music will prevail. In my honest opinion, the current myth should be flushed down the toilet. If we really want to cook up a myth it can easily be done: why don’t we just suggest that he had a habit and was shooting up? But I realize that it will be hard to eradicate what has been written. I just hope that people will also be able to see the other side of the coin, and, eventually they might see that there is ony one side: the one where Zelenka is held in great respect by his contemporaries. The myth should be tackled through the sources, and after they have been presented and published there is a firm ground to work on. For some time (actually, for a few years now) I’ve been referring to an upcoming article, co-written with Jan Stockigt, which will discuss all the new things. But all my Zelenka research activity has been on hold for almost two years now, following my entrance into the musicology world of Vivaldi. However, I am pleased to say that our article is almost finished, and soon it should be sent to a journal for publication.

    I’ve updated the Wikipedia entry. It still needs a complete overhaul but this is enough for now. I’ve taken out most of the crap!

    The conference was held on Thursday. It was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Wolfgang Reich, who passed away in the summer. Before the papers were given, Jan Stockigt and Wolfgang Horn spoke about their friendship with Dr. Reich.

    In my paper I gave some of the worst examples of the commonly held view, i.e. the myth that surrounds Zelenka, namely that he was a miserable low life creature at the court of Dresden. It is quite easy to dismiss the things that have been written about his personality, because there are no contemporary sources to back up all the bullshit (pardon my expression!). It was somewhat typical that the day before I gave my paper, I received a google-alert about a short piece in the New York Times on Zelenka, who was described as being an unhappy and unpleasant guy... Ah, OK! Anyway, those who have read some of my posts in the Forum know my strong feelings on this issue. My point is, we can all speculate till kingdom come about what kind of a person he was, but this should be kept out of professional discussion. But old habits die hard, and in the general discussion at the end of the conference, one attendee said that because Zelenka’s late music was so „melancholic", he must have had a „dark side to him”. How can one respond to such personal perceptions in a scholarly debate? Ah.. erm… is it possible that he had „a bright side to him?!” We simply do not know, and this kind of talk will get us nowhere – all it has done is to damage to the reputation of Zelenka’s personality. The purpose of my paper was really to address this situation, and the reaction I received afterwards from some of the Czech’s in attendence was both heartfelt and touching. They are (at least some of them) truly grateful that someone is now finally speaking up for their composer.

    I discussed at length the circumstances leading up to Zelenka’s petitions for the post of the Kapellmeister. I presented a document from 1728 which shows the high regard Heinichen held Zelenka. I gave examples of Zelenka's co-working relationship with Hasse in the 1730s, and I argued that the 8 Italian arias of 1733 were composed as gratuation pieces for the young Italian operas singers that arrived in Dresden in 1730 and also the Bohemian bass singer Rietzschel (see also my article on Zelenka’s Secular Vocal Collection in Studi vivaldiani, 2013). These were all students of Zelenka. Finally, I discussed his activities in the 1740s and his role in compiling one of the key royal catalogues post-1743, and the reaction to his death in 1745. My conclusion is that Zelenka was highly regarded at the court of Dresden, and this can now be backed up by several new sources.

    Jan Stockigt gave an important talk on the same notes as in Southampton in 2012 (see the relevant thread) and backed up my conclusions. She also discussed the Vesper psalms cycles of the 1720s, the first of which Adam Viktora and Ensemle Inegale has just finished recording for the next release on Nibiru. Jan is of that opinion that the great quality of these works has until now been generally overlooked by orchestras and in the literature (except in her own writings – she has long campaigned for the performance of these psalms), compared to the great works of the 1730s and 40s. The new CD should be out before Christmas.

    Wolfgang Horn, one of the great scholars on the music of the Dresden church and a true pioneer when it comes to the study of this music, spoke about the rich diversity of the arias found in Zelenka’s music and especially their relationship to the music of Hasse. Having Horn back at the Zelenka research table is one of the great things that came out of the Festival in my opinion, and Adam Viktora should be thanked especially for this. Horn has much to give, he is extremely passionate about the music of Dresden from this period, and his understanding of the musical sources is second to none. After one the concerts I had the pleasure of hearing his extraordinary account of how he, as a young student in West Germany, went about to aquire microfilm copies of music from the Dresden libary, which then was of course in East Germany, at the hight of the Cold War. Through his hard work and great determination Horn was then able to publish one of the key books on the repertory of the Dresden Catholic court church in 1720-1745. I must add, that I do not agree with his opinion on Zelenka’s personality/status at the Dresden court – but I hope that now he has seen and heard of some of the new sources he might reconsider and reassess his earlier held views.

    Claudia Lubkoll from the SLUB in Dresden spoke about the watermarks found in the autographs of Zelenka’s sacred music. This was an interesting paper which, for example, showed the various paper types used by Zelenka in one and the same work, revealing the different compositional layers. It is to be hoped that she will now incorporate the secular music into her findings, and then we have an invaluable tool for the research of Zelenka’s music, when it comes to dating some of the more problematic works, for example the Trio Sonatas.

    Michaela Freemanová discussed the incerts of two of Zelenka’s motets, Solicitus fossor and Barbara dira effera, into Leonardo Leo’s oratorio Sant Elena al Calvario, which was performed in the Clementinum College in Prague in 1734. This was an important paper based on Freemanová’s co-written article with Jan Stockigt about this topic, which has just been published by Hudebni veda, the Czech musicology journal.

    Karel Veverka spoke about the musical patronage of Jan Hubert Hartig, the former teacher and employer of Zelenka in Prague. It is well known that this Hartig was considered to be a great musician, who corresponded with many of the great Italian composers. He had an extensive and a famous musical library, which Zelenka had access to. Veverka has published an article on Hartig, which I think appears in the same issue of Hudebni veda, see above.

    Jana Vojtěšková from the National Museum – Czech Museum of Music, gave a great paper which listed for example all the known Zelenka scores now kept in the Prague libraries and archives. She also discussed the revival of Zelenka’s music in Prague in the 19th century and argued that it was not Smetana who was responsible for the famous performance of one of Zelenka’s works in 1863, but rather, that he was acting on the wishes of other Czech’s, when he travelled to Dresden to aquire copies of Zelenka’s works from the then royal library. It is to be hoped we will hear more from Jana, whose knowledge of the sources in the Czech lands is unsurpassed. She presented a nice little new Zelenka document – a little slip of paper with Zelenka’s autograph and the date 7 January 1726, which is kept in a autograph collection in Prague.

    The best paper was saved for last. Fred Kiernan gave a truly masterful presentation of his current research into the reception of Zelenka’s music in the 19th century. In short, he has found countless previously unknown 19th century manuscript copies of Zelenka’s works in libraries all over Europe and the US. What this tells us is, that already very early in that century, some of the great collectors of that time were actively trying to aquire the music of Zelenka, and that it was widely performed by some of the key musical societies that were dedicated to the music of the earlier times. It also tells us that the Zelenka’s music was really never forgotten as is generally believed – it was always being collected, performed and studied, all the way from his death and until our times. Fred has just begun to dip into a world which is still being discovered: this is the topic of his doctoral thesis and is due for completion in 2017.

    The precedings of the conference will be published. Further information will be given here when things become clear. But I have to say that we were all surpised by the great attendence to the conference. People came from all over the world, some even at very short notice, like Maria from Moscow, a Zelenka lover and choral director, who has performed his music in the Russian capital, and is currently working on a study of the masses. She flew in for only one day!! Wow. That is a true commitment to the cause. It was fantastic to meet such passionate lovers of Zelenka’s music, and we had many reasons to toast the old Bohemian afterwards.

    Fellow Zelenkians: finally here’s my report of the Festival that was held in Prague last week. Please accept my sincere apologies for not having posted earlier and having kept you waiting for further news. After my return to Iceland earlier this week, and the workload that did await me, today is the first opportunity I have to write up what took place.

    Since this website does not allow for posts over 10000 characters, my report is in two parts, first the concerts and later the conference.

    The first concert saw the fine Italian countertenor Filippo Mineccia sing the motets Solicitus fossor and Barbara dira effera. The highlight for me was the modern premiere of Zelenka’s secular motet Qui nihil sortis, which Mineccia sang with Gabrieal Eibenová. Once again Zelenka took me by complete surprise – the motet was a pure opera duet, and an absolutely brilliant one, with concertante solo parts for oboe, bassoon and cello. It is one of the most pleasant Zelenka works in his canon, and urgently calls for a recording.

    In the second evening Ensemble Inégal played with modern instruments. This might bother some but not me – when I arrived at the concert I had completely forgotten they intended to this and frankly I did not notice until the second part of the concert because the music was so well played. As in the previous night the orchestra was in excellent form and they had the phenomenal horn player Radek Baborák playing the most difficult horn parts. He did well.

    The highlight this evening was the first performance in modern times of three works: two Ave Regina settings from 1737, ZWV 128, nr. 5 and 6, both in the edition of the Australian Zelenka scholar Fred Kiernan, who is the student of Janice Stockigt. The first setting was a short choral piece, but the second, with three soloists and choir was truly brilliant, and resembled some of the music and thematic material used in the vocal trios of the late masses.

    The third vocal work was the one which had been announced as the newly discovered piece. There was a misunderstanding in Adam Viktora’s interview which had been cited here in the Forum: he said that it had been found only three weeks ago but this is not correct. While doing research in the Dresden library (SLUB) in 2013, I ordered a piece of music which in the card catalogue had been attributed to another composer, because I found the name and this attribution to be somewhat dubious. And indeed, inside the envelope I received were unknown materials in the hand of Zelenka and some of his copyists. I instantly suspected that I had found at least one of the missing Zelenka hymns. A few months later, Jan Stockigt confirmed my suspicions on our visit to the library. The hymn, Iste Confessor ZWV 236, was then edited for performance by Fred Kiernan. Hearing this little hymn was a nice moment for the three of us. I do not wish to go into further details, because Jan Stockigt has written an article about this discovery, and this will be published soon. I ask for your understanding and patience. But the great story is, that there is still hope in finding unknown, or missing works of our composer.

    The last night of the Festival saw Ensemble Marsyas perform three of Zelenka’s Trio Sonatas. This was an elegant reading of these ever fascinating works. I especially liked the tempi – the music did breath in a very natural way. This was a fitting end to four days devoted to our composer. All this was made possible by Adam and Gabriela. Their devotion to Zelenka is admirable. And this is just the start. Make sure to book your tickets in advance for next year.

    As a follow up on Alistair Kidd’s announcement of the Zelenka Festival Prague 2015, I am hoping that the many readers of the Forum will join us for what promises to be a great time in the Czech capital. The programme looks very exciting and indeed, there is a nice surprise in store for those who will attend. It will also be interesting to see what the speakers at the conference will reveal, following their research on all things Zelenka.

    With your support, this festival has the chance to grow into something truly special. So see you there!