Paul Wranitzky

Paul Wranitzky (1756-1808)

Nationality: Moravian | Czech
Born: December 30, 1756, Nová Říše, Moravia Died: September 29, 1808, Vienna (age 51)

String Quintet in F major, Op. 29, No. 1

(for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello)
I. Allegro
II. Adagio non troppo - Magiore - Allegro - Adagio
III. Finale. Allegro assai - Minore - Magiore
Published: 1794 (age 37-38)
From Edition Silvertrust

Paul Wranitzky Paul Wranitzky (1756-1808) (Pavel Vranický in the Czech form) was born in the town Nová Ríše (then Neureisch) in Moravia. At age 20, like so many other Czech composers of that period, he moved to Vienna to seek out opportunities within the Austrian imperial capital. Wranitzky played a prominent role in the musical life of Vienna. He was on friendly terms and highly respected by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven who preferred him as the conductor of their new works. Wranitzky was, as so many of his contemporaries, a prolific composer. His chamber works number over 100. Although some scholars believe that Wranitzky studied with Haydn, there is no proof of this. But there can be no question that he studied and was influenced by Haydn’s quartets. Like Haydn, Wranitzky’s chamber music writing went through many stages of development beginning with the pre-classical and evolving to the finished sonata form of the late Vienna Classics. The majority of Wranitzky’s quartets and quintets are set in the three-movement format of the Parisian quatour concertant. In these works he explored the emerging Romantic style with (for the time) daring harmonic progressions, theatrical gestures, and virtuoso display.

The Op.29 Quintets date from 1794 and were first published by André in Offenbach. They are a set of three of which the Quintet in F Major is the first. Although the quintets do not bear a dedication, they may have been written with the cello-playing King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II in mind. He had previously written a set of six string quartets for the King the year before. In any event, the cello parts are more prominent than was normal for that period. While Haydn and Mozart raised the cello to an almost equal voice within their works for the King, they avoided giving it virtuoso solo passages. Wranitzky, however, perhaps because he never really abandoned the concertante style of composition, did in fact write such solos. The cello is given substantial solos in all three of the movements, the Allegro, the middle movement Adagio and the finale Allegro assai, The solo passages at times go high in its tenor register requiring the use of thumb position—a rarity at the time. Of particular interest is the middle movement which is really two movements in one. It begins and ends adagio, but the middle section is a lively allegro. Copies of the André edition, upon which ours is based, can still be found in the libraries of Prague, Paris, Basle, Vienna, and London among others.

Writing about Wranitzky's chamber music in the last part of the 19th century, the famous French critic and musicologist Fetis recalled:

“The music of Wranitzky was in fashion when it was new because of his natural melodies and brilliant style…I recall that, in my youth, his works held up very well in comparison with those of Haydn. Their premature abandonment of today has been for me a source of astonishment.”

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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