Johann Stamitz at 300

The appointment of Johann Wenzel Stamitz (baptized 19 June 1717 in Havlíčkův Brod, died 27 March 1757 in Mannheim) as first violinist of the court orchestra of the Elector Palatine Carl Theodor likely took place in 1741, and from 1750 until his death he was director of instrumental music there. He left a lasting mark on the musical development at the court of the Elector Palatine and began by teaching and training other violinists. The violin virtuoso is considered to be the founder of the Mannheim School, which had great influence on the further development of the symphony and orchestral culture in Europe. The Mannheim style can be seen as an important predecessor to the later development of the Viennese Classical era. Features that can be traced back to Stamitz include uniform bowing in the strings, particular concentration of the orchestra on the conductor, and thorough training of orchestral musicians. Through all this, a degree of precision and effectiveness were reached during performances that caused a sensation throughout Europe but are taken for granted by us today.

The Bohemian composer, who didn't quite reach the age of 40, composed almost exclusively instrumental music, including numerous flute and violin concertos and quite possibly the first clarinet concerto. Many chamber works (sonatas, duets, trios) and around 70 symphonies also count among his output.

The RISM online catalog offers a good overview of his oeuvre with over 450 records for Johann Stamitz. Sixty-five records are for printed editions (series A/I). Many manuscripts are preserved in Sweden at the Musik- och teaterbiblioteket (S-Skma), and most of the 23 digitized items so far are from the university library in Darmstadt (D-DS).

A symposium will be held this weekend, 17-18 June 2017, organized by the research project History of Court Music in Southwest Germany in the 18th Century (a project of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences) and the Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts. Entitled "The Stamitz Family and European Music Migration in the 18th Century," the conference is being led by Prof. Dr. Silke Leopold and Prof. Dr. Panja Mücke and will take place in Schwetzingen. Among the themes that will be explored in detail during the symposium are "the state of being a migrant as a component of musician biographies, traversing national and confessional borders, and the mutual influence of migrant and resident composers in the 18th century."   

Image: Symphony in B-flat, WolS I. B|b-4, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt (D-DS), 1029/7b (RISM ID no. 450002705).


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