Georg Christoph Wagenseil (1715-1777)
Concerto in G Major for Harp, Two Violins and Cello
Iean-Baptiste Krumpholtz (1742-1790)
Concerto No.6 in F Major for Harp and Orchestra, Op. 9
Ian Ladislav Dussek (1760- 1812)
Sonata No.2 for Harp in E Flat Major, Op. 34 Concerto in E FlatMajor for Harp and Orchestra, Op. 15
GeorgChristoph Wagenseil was born in Vienna in 1715 and studied composition with Johann Joseph Fux,the hnperial Court Kapel1meister, before, on his teacher's recommendation,being appointed in 1735 as Court Composer. His first opera, Ariodante, wasstaged in Venice at S Giovanni Grisostomoin 1745 under his own direction and his many compositions found favour widelyabroad, in Paris as elsewhere. He wasan able keyboard-player and was employed as teacher to the daughters of theimperial family, as Hojklaviermeister, his own playing being muchadmired for its expressive power and inventiveness in improvisation. Towardsthe end of his life illness prevented his performance, but he continued toteach and to compose until his death in 1777.
fu style Wagenseil began with a mastery ofcurrent Baroque techniques, proceeding, as time went on, to the stile galantof the mid-century .Earlier in his career a number of sacred works, someninety before 1755, were followed by operas, several to libretti by the CourtPoet Metastasio, an admirer of his ability as a performer. He was prolific inkeyboard music, contributed significantly to the development of the classicalsymphony and composed a number of concertos, primarily for harpsichord,although the alternative of organ or harp is suggested. These concertos alonenumber as many as 75, with others at least mentioned in other sources.
The present Harp Concerto in G major openswith a lightly orchestrated introduction of thematic material, before the soloentry, proceeding with all the clarity of the pre-classical style. The slowmovement turns to the minor key, with the touch of poignancy that found itstrue master later with Mozart, who as a child had played one of Wagenseil'sconcertos before the Empress Maria Theresia. The concerto ends with a cheerfulfinale, its mood at once established, and continued through a series of lightlycontrasted episodes.
TheBohemian composer Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz was himself a harpist as well as aninnovator in the form that instrument took towards the end of the eighteenthcentury. Born in Bohemia, the son of a bandmaster in the service of Count Kinsky, he wastaught by his father, an oboist, to play the horn and to this end wasdespatched to Vienna to perfect histechnique. This he failed to do, preferring to devote his attention to theharp, the instrument played by his mother. After a period in France and in Flanders, hereturned to Prague, where he hadencouragement from Wagenseil's former pupil Frantisek Xaver Dusek, whorecommended him to Haydn. After success in Vienna, he was engaged by the latteras harpist at Esterhaza, where he also had composition lessons from Haydn. Hisfirst appearance there had been at the end ofJuly1773, when he was wellrewarded. His contract for two years was made on 1st August. fu 1776 he isrecorded as having played the harp part in a performance at Esterhaza of Gluck'sOrjeo ed Euridice and in the same year he left to embark on a concerttour of Europe, making a particularimpression with the improved form of instrument he developed. After the deathof his first wife, daughter of a harp-maker in Paris, he married Anne-Marie steckler,his pupil and daughter of an instrument-makerin Metz with whom he himself hadworked. She won an even higher reputation than her husband as a performer,appearing in London at the salomonconcerts, but this after her elopement with Jan Ladislav Dussek. Krumpholtzhimself committed suicide, drowning himself in the Seine in 1790, presumably as a resultof his wife's desertion.
The compositions of Krumpholtz for the harp areamong the most important of the later eighteenth century. They include sixconcertos and two symphonies with solo harp, as well as a quantity of sonatasand shorter pieces. Classical in style, with all the expected clarity oftexture, theConcerto No.6 in F major, written about 1785, openswith an orchestral introduction that offers a statement of the thematic materialthat is to be developed with the entry of the soloist. The novelty of his workfor the instrument lies in part in his use of the possibilities of modulationprovided by the pedal instrument, and perhaps by the form of swell-pedal heintroduced, an eighth pedal that could control the volume of sound by openingand closing a shutter, the harpe ii renjorcements. The first movement ofthe concerto proceeds in the expected form, the solo instrument always in theforefront in a lightly orchestrated work. The slow movement begins with thesolo instrument, offering the principal theme, now in the minor, to be taken upby the orchestra, material that dominates until the major central section,after which the principal theme returns. There is a final movement of greatcharm, with the necessary variety between episodes that contrast with aprincipal theme worthy of comic opera in the idiom of the time.
Anne-MarieKrumpholtz's paramour, Ian Ladislav Dussek, was Bohemian by birth, the son awell known organist and composer, a friend of Haydn, and his wife, a harpist. Dussek'searly career as a pianist took him, largely as a teacher, to the Low Countries, where he taught thechildren of the Dutch Stadtholder. In the 1780she travelled further afield,meeting C.P.E. Bach in Hamburg, playing before Catherine II in St Petersburg and later enteringthe service of Prince Karl Radziwill, father of Chopin's later patron. A tourof Germany, performing on thepiano and on the glass harmonica, was followed by concerts in Paris, where he remaineduntil the early signs of revolution in 1789. The next eleven years were spentin London, distinguishinghimself as a performer and as a teacher. In the first capacity he played at theSalomon concerts and took part in Haydn's concerts in the 1790s, eliciting fromthe latter praise both for his musicianship and his moral probity. Whatever hisrelationship with Anne-Marie Krumpholtz, in 1792 he married Sophia Corri, asinger, pianist and harpist, who also appeared in the Haydn concerts. With herfather Dussek entered into a music publishing venture which, by 1799, hadfailed. Domenico Coni was imprisoned for debt, but Dussek took refuge from debtand from his wife and her family in Hamburg. The new century found himagain in his native Bohemia, followed, from 1804 to 1806, by service asKapellmeister to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and then, after the latter'sdeath, to Prince Isenburg, before moving to Paris in the employment ofTalleyrand. He died in France, possibly in Paris, in 1812.
With a mother, a mistress and then a wife whowere harpists, it was natural that Dussek should write music for theinstrument. This included, notably in the 1790s, a number of sonatinas andsonatas, as well as a number of concertos, some offe