11 Songs, 49 Minutes


About Johann Baptist Vanhal

As a person of bonded peasant birth, it took some time for Vanhal to be released from his station. He learned to play the organ from a village teacher and he himself became an organist at Opocno and Hnevceves. The Countess Schaffgotsch heard his playing and compositions and took him with her to Vienna. Essentially Vanhal remained in Vienna for the rest of his life though travels to European centers were made. His renown for teaching, playing and composing became such that he was freed from bondage shortly after 1761. Among his students was Pleyl and contemporaries included Haydn and Mozart. Vanhal composed in a number of different genres including symphonies, chamber music, concertos for violin, flute, harpsichord, bassoon, cello, and keyboard pieces as well as dance music. There are approximately seven hundred extant works in print speaking not only to his productivity but his popularity as well. His works were distributed throughout Europe and reached the United States. Vanhal's symphonies are often characterized by their sonata forms in the first, second and last movements (if he used a fourth movement it was usually contained in one of the first three movements in a minuet form). Themes between movements were most often related and the movements scored in minor keys were indicative of the Sturm und Drang movement. Some of these works, particularly those scored in the minor keys, are included in the deserved company of Mozart and Haydn. Similarly the concertos which he scored for keyboard indicate a clear development from chamber works to full orchestral and symphonic settings. Though Vanhal lived and produced outside of his Bohemian homeland, much of his music was flavored with Czech folk melodies and rhythms. ~ Keith Johnson

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