Wenzel Johann Tomaschek (1774-1850): An Autobiography

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Johann Wenzel Tomaschek was one of the most significant and fascinating musical personalities at the beginning of the 19th century. A brilliant pianist, teacher, composer and critic, he was known as the Musical Pope of Prague. He was a friend of Beethoven and Goethe, and taught such figures as the virtuosos Alexander Dreyschock and Jan Vaclav Voriskek and the critic Eduard Hanslick. Despite the fact that he composed over one hundred compositions, including operas, concerti, string quartets, symphonies, songs and religious works, he is known today almost exclusively for his characteristic piano pieces, variously titled "Rhapsodies", "Dithyrambs", and most often, "Eclogues". Though these titles all have their roots in classical poetry, the pieces in question combine aspects of classic style with fresh, new and even idosyncratic takes on contemporary musical thought.
*This Autobiography first appeared in installments between 1845 and 1850 in the periodical "Libussa". An annotated Czech translation appeared in 1941 and excerpts have appeared in English in The Musical Quarterly in 1946 and The Musical Times in 1974. This volume [published originally by Pendragon Press in 2017] is the first complete English translation of the work. -Michael Beckerman ("Introduction")

This work was translated by Stephen Thomson Moore. (Studies in Czech Music, No. 5)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1.
Birth and family. - Smallpox and earliest melodies. - Study with Wolf in Chrudim in singing and violin. - Study in Skutsch. - Study of German - Departure to become altist in Iglau.

Chapter 2.
Iglau. - Brother Donat. - My mother's death. - Acquaintance with a flageolet maker. - Study of Latin. - Terrible German of the Iglauers.

Chapter 3.
Arrival in Prague, 1790. - New clothes. - An opera by Paisiello. - Regular visits to the theater: opera, tragedies, comedies. - Dambek. - Quartets. - Study of Drawing. - Study of logic, physics. - Beethoven comes to Prague. - Steibelt. - Wolfel.

Chapter 4.
Completion of studies. - First published compositions, opp. 1-8. Abbe Vogler. - Naumann. - Forkel. - Clementi. - Dussek. - Kanne.

Chapter 5.
The Count of Buquoy. - Travel to Vienna. - Return to Prague. - Move to quarters chez Count Buquoy.

Chapter 6.
The Second Part of My Life Begins. - A Viennese woman-violinist. - Mlle. Kirchgessner. - Opp. 31-36. - Dambeck. - Preindl. - Kozeluch. - Haydn. - Coronation in Pressburg. - Spohr.

Chapter 7.
Napoleon and the dogs of war. - Rhapsodies for pianoforte, op. 40, op. 41 - Magister liberarum artium. - Polledro. - Durand. - Pamphlet war.

Chapter 8.
My opera "Seraphine". - C.M. Weber comes to Prague. - The Congress of Vienna. - "Fidelio." - Visit and Conversation with Beethoven. - Prince Napoleaon. - Handel's "Samson". - "Die beiden Kalifen" by Meyerbeer.

Chapter 9.
Georg Bayer, flutist. - "Johann von Paris" by Boieldieu. - "Die Frau von Krems" by Schikaneder. - The Imperial Gallery. - Franzel. - Mozart's Requiem under Salieri. - Battlefields. - Spohr. - K.K. Court Library. - Naturalien-Kabinet. - Another visit with Beethoven. "Vestalin" by Spontini. - Gelinek.

Chapter 10
Return to Prague - Opp. 49-51. -Graz.

Chapter 11
Eglogues, op. 53. - Dithyrambi, op. 65 -Catalani. - Death of my brother Jakob.

Chapter 12.
Five Lieder, op. 69. - Chladni. - Lafont. - Hummel. - Final moments with Dambeck. - Letters from Pichler and from Goethe. - Death of Dambeck. - Spontini. -Dresden.

Chapter 13.
Prague, 1822. - Blahetka. -Crusell. - Carlsbad. - Boucher. - Visit with Goethe. - Gebauer. - Caves at Slaupp and Macocha.

Chapter 14.
Marienbad. - Mad. Szymanowska. - Betrothal and Marriage with Mlle. Ebert.

Afterword: On translation, and Tomaschek

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