01Bohemian Emergent20100208

Donald Macleod explores the early career of Johann Stamitz.

The various members of the Stamitz family are not exactly household names today.

But during the eighteenth century, Stamitz was one of the most famous and celebrated names in music, with a dynasty of composers working all over Europe.

This week, Donald Macleod tells the rags-to-riches-and-back-to-rags-again tale of the most successful Stamitz - Johann - and his two sons, Carl and Anton.

It's a story which begins with fame and fortune.

Johann quickly achieved a reputation across Europe and was snapped up by the Mannheim Court, which was home to the best orchestra in Europe at the time, the envy of the world.

According to Dr Charles Burney,..

there are more solo players and good composers in this, than perhaps in any other orchestra in Europe; it is an army of generals, equally fit to plan a battle as to fight it." Together, "this extraordinary band" and their director set about revolutionizing the sound of the orchestra and its repertoire.

As the series unfolds, the glittering success of Johann ends in a tragically early death, and we meet his two sons, Carl and Anton, neither of whom could match their father's achievements.

Anton must have thought he had it made when he got a job with the King's Music at the French court.

The timing was unfortunate though - this was the 1780s and working for the French king was about to become rather less prestigious than it had been for the previous several centuries.

Anton managed to escape the Revolution intact, but the lives of both brothers ended unhappily, childless, alone, in poverty - a sad end to a fascinating journey through one family's rise and fall, against the backdrop of glorious eighteenth century music.

1: Bohemian Emergent.

In the first episode, Donald traces the early career of the most successful of the Stamitzes - Johann - who single-handedly revolutionized the sound of the orchestra in the eighteenth century, thanks to his work at the Mannheim Court.

Johann Stamitz

Symphony in G major (1st movement)

Concerto Köln

TELDEC 3984-28366-2 T11

Litaniae Lauretanae

Alsfelder Vokalensemble, Barockorchester Bremen, Wolfgang Helbich (conductor)

CPO 999 471-2 T17-24

Viola Concerto in G

Jan Peruska (viola), Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek (conductor)

PANTON 81 1422-2 131 T4-6

Symphony in A major A3

New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, Donald Armstrong (conductor)

NAXOS 8.553194 T12-14."

02Symphonist Triumphant20100209

Donald Macleod on Johann Stamitz's work at the Electoral Palace in Mannheim.


Symphonist Triumphant.

Donald Macleod continues the story of the most successful of the Stamitzes.

The builders were still at work on the Electoral Palace in Mannheim when the new director of music, Johann Stamitz, arrived in 1741.

The building was on a huge scale, with entertainment to match, and it was here that Stamitz teamed up with the best orchestra in the world at the time.

Together, they revolutionized orchestral sound and repertoire.

Johann Stamitz

Symphony in G major

Concerto Köln

TELDEC 3984-28366-2 T11-15.