Paul Wranitzky

A composer, that is far less known today than he was during his life, especially among Mediterranean audiences is the Moravian Pavel Vranický, whose name was later Germanized in Paul Wranitzky (Nová Říše, Moravia, 1756 – Vienna, 1808). It was not by chance, as Vienna exerted a fatal attraction on intellectuals coming from the provinces of tha vast Habsburg Empire and the Viennese nobles, who were said to have no passions other than music, invested quite a lot of money in the sector. They hired full, proper private orchestras thus making Vienna a very attractive place to be.

History often dispenses fame or oblivion without any apparent reason. In fact Wranitzky, who today has to be reintroduced to the public, in his times was greatly appraised not just by the Habsburgs (he was one of Maria Theresa’s favorite musicians. The empress, it may be worth to remind, ruled also over Lombardy-Venetia), who offered him prestigious institutional jobs as the direction of the Burgtheater, but by his colleague musicians as well: first of all Haydn himself, but also Mozart and Beethoven. Wranitzky, in fact, directed Beethoven’s 1st Symphony at the start of the new century: the 1800’s.

Wranitzky was both an excellent violinist and a prolific composer of superior quality: his fame was such that his music was executed all over Europe. It may be interesting to remember how one of his Operas, Oberon King of the Elves, had a huge success in Vienna and it certainly inspired Emanuel Schikaneder to write the Magic Flute’s libretto.

Some critics believe his more than 50 string quartets to be even better than Mozart’s, while his Symphonies (about forty of which are still available today) can match Haydn’s with no sense of inferiority. The two had met, needless to say, at the Esterházy court: Wranitzky was, in fact, count Johann Nepomuk Esterházy’s Musikdirektor in Galánta, near Bratislava, a feud which had belonged to the noble Hungarian family since the 1400’s. It was a branch of Eisenstadt where prince Nicklaus’s orchestra resided. As we have seen Haydn was Kapellmeister of such orchestra.

Wranitzky was as dynamic as Haydn: he wrote many theatrical pieces (operas, Singsspiele, operetta…), orchestral pieces ( 51 symphonies, concerts) and chamber music.

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