Tune in at 1:00p.m. all this week as we celebrate the 277th birthday of the pianist, teacher, and composer Leopold Koželuch. 

Koželuch was born in Velvary in the central part of the Czech Republic in 1747. Bohemia at that time was known as having some of the finest musicians in Europe. One of the reasons for this was the high quality of early childhood music education. Boys and girls were educated in music, and this served Koželuch well, as a young boy he was already becoming noticed as an exceptionally fine pianist. 

Koželuch travelled to Prague where he received his formal music education. He studied with his cousin Jan Antonin Koželuch, and piano and composition with Franz Xaver Dussek. 

He developed a reputation as a pianist and composer, and in 1778 Koželuch moved to Vienna to pursue a career as a professional musician. By 1781 his position in Vienna was so well established that he could afford to turn down a job offer from the Archbishop of Salzburg to become his court organist. The Archbishop was employing Mozart at the time, but the two had a falling out and Mozart was dismissed. Koželuch feared he too would suffer the same ill treatment that Mozart had experienced under the Archbishop’s employ. 

In 1784 Koželuch would start a highly successful publishing house known as the "Musikalisches Magazin." The business would be managed by his younger brother Antonín Tomáš Koželuch, and would publish many of Leopold Koželuch’s works. 

Koželuch wrote prolifically for his instrument, the piano, but he wrote relatively few symphonies. It is thought he wrote 17 Symphonies, all written in his first decade in Vienna, between 1779 and 1787. 

Monday, June 24: Sinfonia in A major, PosK I: 7--(ca. 1780) 

This is a symphony that sparkles. Koželuch makes use of a harpsichord in the background to support the winds and strings. He notably, makes very effective use of horns. Bohemia had some of the finest wind players in Europe and Koželuch would have grown up hearing and learning the possibilities and limitations of wind instruments. The symphony overalll, shows the influence of his teacher Dussek, however the third movement menuetto has a Haydn-esque quality wit to it.  

Tuesday, June 25: Sinfonia in F major, PosK I: 4--(ca 1787) 

Koželuch again makes use of harpsichord continuo. There is some truly genius writing for strings. There are also clear elements of The Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) style of composition that was so popular with the dawning of the Age of Enlightenment.  

Wednesday, June 26: Sinfonia in C major, PosK I: 6--(1786) 

The symphony may be in the typically sunny key of C major, but it takes Koželuch a while to get there. The Symphony starts out with a dark, ominous introduction, reminiscent of Beethoven. Once the introduction is over, Koželuch transitions into the spritely Allegro proper. There is some interesting use of winds in the third movement Menuetto, where Koželuch uses trumpet and solo flute. 

Thursday, June 27: Sinfonia in B flat major, ‘L’Irrésolu’, PosK I: 11--(1787) 

One of Koželuch few so called “narrative” symphonies, the ‘L’Irresolu” tells no clear story, but rather plays around with the idea of irresolution. Examples of this can be found in each of the movements. The first movement has some recitative style writing towards the end of the movement that contains some interesting harmonic twists. The second movement goes directly into the third movement. Musical material from the first movement appears in the final movement suggesting a thematic narrative trajectory. The music is also at times disjointed, and there are agitated outbursts and unexpected introductions of new melodic material. 

Friday June 28 : Sinfonia in A major, ‘À la Française’, PosK I: 10--(1779) 

Although titled ‘À la Française’ there is nothing overtly French about this symphony. There is some question from musicologists as to where the moniker came from.  

The symphony is rich in thematic material, and highly sophisticated in the way the material is linked. In the second movement, Koželuch makes prominent use of oboes and horns, and there is a feeling of forward momentum in all four movements, especially in the bustling final movement. 

Tune in all this week at 1.P.M. to immerse yourself in the symphonic writing of Leopold Koželuch. 

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