Carl Ditters Von Dittersdorf (1739-1799)

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01Dittersdorf Is Discovered20140714

Donald Macleod focuses on how Dittersdorf's talent was spotted by the aristocracy.

He was a favourite of the Austrian Emperor and the King of Prussia, and performed in quartets with Mozart and Haydn, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. Dittersdorf described his own music as "an ample and finely served food". His concertos, operas, string quartets, and over a hundred symphonies made him a rival to Haydn, in the late eighteenth century. It wasn't all glamour for Dittersdorf, who was born plain Carl Ditters. Hard work and the support of a number of princely and religious patrons eventuly brought him fame, elevation to the nobility, and that suitably grand augmentation to his surname. Success didn't last, though. During his final years, Dittersdorf's music went out of fashion and his once lavish lifestyle was gone forever. A few days before he died, he dictated his colourful autobiography to his son.

Dittersdorf, born Carl Ditters in Vienna, soon started to outshine his older brother in music. He was a talented violinist and, when he was twelve, he became employed by an orchestra in one of Vienna's churches. During his career, he composed much music for the violin, including a Concerto in G major, and also his Divertimento in D major for violin, viola and cello. He didn't remain long employed by the Church; his talent was soon spotted by the aristocracy and an offer of employment came from Prince Joseph Friedrich von Saxe-Hildburghausen. Dittersdorf went to live with the Prince, where he received tuition in Latin, French, Italian and of course music. He also met numerous interesting artists at court, including many singers.

02Dittersdorf in Trouble20140715

He was a favourite of the Austrian Emperor and the King of Prussia, and performed in quartets with Mozart and Haydn, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.

As a teenager, Carl Dittersdorf was taken on by a local Prince as a Page of the Chamber. At court, he was schooled in languages, and received tuition not only in music, but also dancing, riding, fencing and shooting. Dittersdorf would also have been expected to take part in performances. His musical talents were quickly recognised, and Carl began receiving extra music lessons from court composer, Giuseppe Bonno. However, as he grew older, a weakness for gambling led the young man into terrible debts. He fled to Prague, with his employer in pursuit.

03On Tour In Italy20140716

Donald Macleod focuses on Dittersdorf's tour of Italy with fellow composer Gluck.

He was a favourite of the Austrian Emperor and the King of Prussia, and performed in quartets with Mozart and Haydn, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.

Dittersdorf found himself with a new employer, the Director of the Court Theatre in Vienna, Count Durazzo. At the Burgtheater, Dittersdorf would take part in performances of his own violin concertos, and there would be performances of his other concertos, such as his Flute Concerto in E minor. Dittersdorf was now becoming very popular as a violin virtuoso and composer. Durazzo gave him time off so that he could go on a tour of Italy with fellow composer, Gluck. Whilst in Italy, Dittersdorf gave a number of performances, and was presented with gifts, including chocolate and a gold watch.

04Flying High20140717

Donald Macleod on Dittersdorf's work for the Church and his elevation to the nobility.

He was a favourite of the Austrian Emperor and the King of Prussia, and performed in quartets with Mozart and Haydn, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.

The Bishop of Grossvardein took on Dittersdorf as his orchestral conductor. This top-notch ensemble inspired Dittersdorf to compose many symphonies and concertos for performance, including his Concerto in B flat major for harpsichord and orchestra. This golden opportunity was not to last, though, with the Bishop eventually disbanding his orchestra due to scandal and intrigue.

Help was at hand with another cleric, the Prince-Bishop of Breslau, who offered Dittersdorf a new job. At this time there were no musicians at this new court, so Dittersdorf was initially employed as Chief Forrester. The Prince-Bishop also sent off some of Dittersdorf's music to the Pope, possibly the Requiem in C minor, so that like Gluck and Mozart, Dittersdorf was invested with the Papal order of Knight of the Golden Spur. Further triumphs were soon to follow; his oratorio Ester was enjoyed by the Viennese, Emperor Joseph II, and Dittersdorf found himself elevated to the nobility by the Empress.

05 LASTEmperors And Kings20140718

Donald Macleod focuses on Dittersdorf's final years, when his music fell out of fashion.

He was a favourite of the Austrian Emperor and the King of Prussia, and performed in quartets with Mozart and Haydn, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.

Dittersdorf was doing very nicely for himself; honoured by the Pope and elevated to the aristocracy. He now composed a set of story-based symphonies which became hugely popular, including his Symphony in F major No 4, 'The Rescuing of Andromeda by Perseus'. His newly published set of six string quartets were also selling well and his opera, the Doctor and the Apothecary, became a box office hit. It was performed in Vienna for the Emperor and also for the new Prussian King in Berlin.

In his final years, Dittersdorf's music fell out of fashion and, following the death of his employer the Prince-Bishop of Breslau, he spent his final few years impoverished, forced to rely on the good will of Baron Ignaz von Stillfreid who housed him. A few days before Dittersdorf died in 1799, he dictated his colourful autobiography to his son.