Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Anton WRANITZKY(1761-1820)
Music for Two Oboes and Cor Anglais
In a Europe reeling from the French Revolution, Viennaoffered some degree of economic security for such aristocratic houses asLichnowsky, Lobkowitz, Kinsky, Waldstein, van Swieten, Esterhazy andRazumovsky. Following the death of Emperor Joseph II in 1790 and the reversalof many of his enlightened reforms by Franz I, Austria found itself plungedinto what one commentator has called the classic example of the police state,with an aristocracy that sought to preserve whatever was left of its status. Theeconomic pressures of the times, however, placed great strain on the nobility'sostentatious lifestyle. As a consequence the more luxurious forms of the artssuffered severe cutbacks in patronage and this led to the dismissal of manyprivate orchestras and opera companies. The situation was such that whenBeethoven arrived in Vienna in November 1792 to study with Haydn only a handfulof these private orchestras remained. Instead, the aristocracy employed chambergroups and instrumental soloists, some doubling as servants. Mozart had nowbecome Vienna's favourite composer, having been ignored while he worked so hardto make his name there. The Magic Flute had been performed at least sixty timesby the time Beethoven arrived. Haydn, too, was now famous after several decadesof Viennese neglect.
It was in this environment that Beethoven found a ready-madeaudience for the chamber music, and particularly the wind chamber music, thathe produced in the period between 1792 and 1801, the Duet in G for Two Flutes(1792), Octet in E flat for pairs of Oboes, Clarinets, Horns and Bassoons(later Op. 103) originally composed without oboes in Bonn (1795), the Sextet inE flat for Clarinets, Horns and Bassoons, later Op. 71 (1796), the Quintet in Eflat for Piano and Wind, Op. 16 (1797), the Sextet in E flat for String Quartetand Two Horns, later Op. 81b (1797), the Serenade in D for Flute, Violin andViola, Op. 25 (1797), Trio in B flat for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 11(1798), Horn Sonata, Op. 17 (1800), Septet in E flat for Clarinet, Horn,Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass, Op. 20 (1800) and the present Trios forTwo Oboes and Cor Anglais, Op. 87 and WoO 28.
Among the musicians in Vienna who would play a r??le inBeethoven's life were the oboists Johann Wenth (Wendt, Went), Georg Triebenseeand his son Josef, Fiala, Rosiniach, Czerwenka, Reuter and the brothers Teimer- Johann, Franz and Philipp. Gustav Nottebohm (1817-1882), scholar ofBeethoven's sketchbooks and thematic catalogue, surmises that Beethoven's oboetrios were inspired by a trio by Wenth performed at a concert of theTonk??nstler-Gesellschaft by the Teimer brothers on 23rd December 1793. Whatevermay have been the inspiration for Beethoven, the number of surviving trioscomposed by the oboists themselves and others for this combination of windinstruments testify to the popularity of the genre.
It is difficult to date precisely Beethoven's completion ofhis trios as there are no dates in either the sketchbooks or the manuscripts.The earliest known performance of WoO 28, however, took place on 23rd December1797 in the National Court Theatre at a concert for Widows and Orphans by theoboists Teimer, Czerwenka and Reuter. The most recent date given for theircomposition, based on the juxtaposition in the sources with other material(such as sketches for Adelaide, on which he was working in 1793) is 1795. Itshould also be noted that Beethoven used a type of paper extremely rare in hisearly manuscripts for both Op.87 (Artaria 151) and WoO 28 (Artaria 149), bothof which are housed in the Staatsbibliotek, Berlin. This piece of informationis important, for it suggests that the two pieces are more closely related thanjust by their instrumentation. It is possible that the variations wereoriginally cast as the finale to Op. 87. Indeed, WoO 28 contains no other titlethan Thema Andante. For supporting evidence we should look at the history ofthe Octet in E flat for Wind, Op.103 and the Rondino in E flat, WoO. 25, bothscored for the same forces. During a revision of the octet in 1793, his firstyear of study with Haydn, Beethoven began writing out the Rondino, WoO. 25, asthe finale, but quickly substituted the present finale (which may already haveexisted in the original version). If the supposition is true that the Mozartvariations were the original finale of the oboe trio it is interesting to notethat in both cases (the trio and the octet) Beethoven would have replaced anandante finale with a presto finale. Opus 87 was originally published in 1806 byArtaria without opus number and in many authorized arrangements. It was alsopublished for two violins and viola as Op. 29 and was still known as such inthe Artaria catalogue of 1893 (Terzett f??r 2 Oboen und englisch Horn oder f??r 2Violinen und Viola Op. 29). The autograph of Op. 87 (Artaria 151) contains fourpages in a copyist's hand of the arrangement for two violins and viola.
Beethoven virtually abandoned wind chamber music after about1800 but the works of the previous years no doubt helped to develop histreatment of wind instruments in his orchestral writing. One reviewer of thepremi?¿re of the First Symphony, conducted by Paul Wranitzky on 2nd April 1800,complained that 'the wind instruments were employed excessively, so that it wasmore military band than orchestral music' (Schmidt-Gorg, 1970, p.35).
Beethoven's circle of friends in Vienna included theWranitzky (Vranicky??) brothers, Paul and Anton. The elder brother, Paul, bornon 30th December 1756, achieved fame in Vienna as a violin virtuoso, prolificcomposer, conductor of the Esterhazy Court Orchestra and secretary of theTonk??nstler-Gesellschaft. Both Haydn and Beethoven favoured him as a conductorof their works. Anton was born at Nova Rise in Moravia on 13th June 1761.Following the usual education in the local Premonstratensian monastery hestudied philosophy, law and music at Brno and the violin with his older brotherPaul. Later studies in Vienna with Mozart, Albrechtsberger and Haydn, combinedwith his considerable skill as a violinist, made him much in demand as ateacher and performer. By 1797 Anton Wranitzky was Kapellmeister of the privateorchestra of Prince Lobkowitz. In 1807 he was appointed director of theImperial Court Orchestra and in 1814 became principal conductor at the Theateran der Wien. He also became assistant to Haydn and made an approved arrangementof The Creation for string quartet. Among his numerous compositions are fifteensymphonies, fifteen violin concertos, string trios, quartets and quintets andthe present trio. Wranitzky died in Vienna on 6th August 1820.
It seems highly likely that the oboists mentioned above hadat one time or another worked with Wranitzky, especially Josef Triebensee andhis father-in-law, Johann Wenth, both of whom were working in the ImperialCourt Orchestra. We can be grateful to the oboists working in Vienna at thistime and for their close personal and professional relationships with Wranitzkyand Beethoven, which undoubtedly provided the impetus for these valuableadditions to the oboist's repertoire recorded here.
The cor anglais and both of the oboes heard on thisrecording are copies of instruments from the workshop of Johann FriedrichFloth, Dresden, and were made by Sand Dalton of Lopez Island, Washington. Flothwas apprenticed to the famous Dresden instrument maker J. H. Grundmann andlater, succeeding him, made instruments under his own name between 1803 and1807. These instruments would therefore come from this period since it is onlyduring this time that Floth cou