Salon des oubliés: A Bohemian composer who was more highly regarded than Mozart in their day
UPDATE, OCT. 14, 2011: Ben Dunham, editor of Early Music America, wrote a complaint to the Star that I had not obtained permission to reproduce a pdf of the article by Christopher Hogwood here. Since the article is intended for members only, and I hadn't asked for permission, I have removed the link. Non-members or non-subsribers should email email@example.com if they would like to request the article.
I apologise for the poor quality of the image, of Sun of Composers, a 1799 engraving by Augustus Kollmann published in the German Musical Times (Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung).
It shows J.S. Bach at the centre, surrounded by Haydn, Handel and Graun in a holy trinity. Radiating out in primary and secondary leaves are the lessers, which include Gluck, Mozart, Pleyel and Telemann. Next to Mozart is Leopold Kozeluch (a Germanized form of Kozeluh), someone I had never heard of.
It's a beautiful lesson in how the rankings of today will likely mean nothing at all a century (or two) from now.
Period performance master Christopher Hogwood has written an essay on Kozeluh in the current edition of Early Music America. Born in Bohemia in 1747 and living to the age of 70, Kozeluh's life began in the dying days of the Baroque world, and ended in the stormy musical waters of Beethoven's time.
Hogwood believes that the composer should be better known, if, for nothing else, as a key bridge figure of 18th century music.
You can read the article in PDF form here -- it is accessibly written and filled with interesting details.
What caught my eye, in particular, was how Kozeluh resolutely held out as a champion of the amateur musician, writing music that enthusiastic part-timers could prepare for their at-homes -- the sort of fans and supporters that went from being the bedrock of music creation and publishing to being totally left behind by anyone considering themselves to be a "serious" composer in the 20th century (I've read more than one disparaging musicological remark about late-19th and early-20th century composers who wrote art music for popular consumption).
Hogwood has just completed editing all 50 of Kozeluh's keyboard sonatas for Bärenreiter. The first volume is out, and the others are forthcoming. No other editions exist, but you can check out some scanned samples i the Petrucci library here.
From what I can see and hear, there's a lot to like.
Here is a very nice example, a Symphony in G minor with an elegant sense of proportion, development and structure, performed by the London Mozart Players, under Matthias Bamert: