Sunday, May 12, 2013

Johann Baptist Vanhal - Organ Concerto in C Major

Image via Wikipedia
Johann Baptist Vanhal (Jan Křtitel Vaňha in Czech) is simply an astonishing story, perhaps unique in all of classical music.  Born to a peasant family, his music ended up being conducted by no less than Mozart himself.

Bohemia (nor in the Czech Republic) was one of the major regions of the Austrian Empire.  It was then and remained (until the disaster that was Communism) one of the most prosperous regions of Europe.  It was into a prosperous peasant family in this most prosperous part of the Empire that Vanhal was born. 

His family was well off enough to get his musical training, which showed his genius.  Soon he found employment in a town as organist and choirmaster.  By a stroke of luck a visiting Countess heard him (no doubt playing the organ at Mass) and took him to Vienna.  Vanhal never looked back.

He played with Haydn and Mozart.  He wrote symphonies and operas, voluminously - 73 symphonies, 100 quartets, almost innumerable other works.  Doubtless his peasant upbringing impressed on him the need to be productive if he wanted to eat, and so produce he did.  It's remarkably good - musically well educated people will find him similar to Haydn, and in fact his reputation at the time was comparable.

He was successful enough to end his days relatively well off in Vienna itself.  All in all, an astonishing story, rarely told.


libertyman said...

A new guy to me, one I would never have found were it not for your Sunday Morning Music Appreciation 101 course!

I love the sound of a real pipe organ, I will have to hie off to amazon to find more by this chap.

Just wondering though, the term "prosperous peasant" strikes me as an oxymoron, but also a great name for a pub!

Thanks for the lesson this morning.

Chickenmom said...

Delightful, just delightful!!
Thank you!

Phyllis (N/W Jersey)