Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jan Dussek - Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor ("Elégie Harmonique"), Op. 61

The Czech composer Jan Dussek was also the first musical rock star, as we would recognize it.  He became quite famous for his music and toured all over Europe performing for royalty and the hoi polo.  Good looking (called le beau visage) he was the one who established the norm that the piano was not facing the audience, but rather facing to the side.  It seems that he likes the ladies to admire his profile.

He was also somewhat of a rogue, always in financial trouble, hitting up friends for cash, and even causing the bankruptcies of two admirers who he refused to repay.  Instead, he skipped town.

But he was also charming, becoming the close friend of no less than Prussian Prince Louis Ferdinand.  When Ferdinand lost his life leading his troops against Napoleon in the battle of Saalfeld, Dussek composed this for his memory.  In many ways, his music is ahead of its times, sounding perhaps more like Brahams than the music of his contemporaries.

The last comparison to modern rock stars is that he did not age gracefully.  He became so grossly fat that he could no longer reach the keyboard.  Seeking solace inside a bottle, he died before his time. A rather sad tale that is still with us today.

Jan Dussek was born on this day in 1760.


libertyman said...

He made it to 51, imagine if he had lived longer.

Thank you for the introduction to another composer.

Borepatch said...

I'm glad you like these, Libertyman. This one was pretty fun.