Franz Krommer (1759-1831) was a Czech composer during the turn of the 19th century. For the majority of his career Krommer lived in Vienna, first holding the position of music director at the Court Ballet, then working for Emperor Franz I and lastly being appointed directer of chamber music and court composer. While serving in this position, Krommer became very prolific in chamber works. Krommer wrote several collections of string quartets and quintets, rivaling Beethoven's chamber works, as well as chamber pieces for wind instuments. In the late eighteenth century, the concept of the wind band, or Harmoniemusik, was born. Viennese artistocrats hired professional wind players (oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns) in order for this unique form of musical entertainment. As the wind band started to grow in popularity, Krommer composed works specifically for this group of instruments.
In response to the Viennese requests for more wind band literature, Krommer composed several collections for chamber ensemble including 13 Octet Partitas. In 1806, Krommer composed his first Octet-Partita, also known as Harmonie, Op. 57 in F major. This work is scored for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, and a contrabassoon bass line. The partita is divided into four contrasting movements:
- Allegro Vivace
- Adagio-Andante Cantabile
- Alla Pocalla
After the first collection was published, Krommer's octets became highly sought after within the Viennese court music community. Krommer's unique style combined the simplicity and formal structure of the galant tradition with hints of Romantic elements. Krommer used his "idiomatic writing" to smoothly intersperse each instrumental voice (4 ). Krommer's style is characterized by, "repeated passages with great inventiveness, staccato arpeggios figures, scoring in extreme registers, and difficult passages requiring virtuoso performance" (4 ). Krommer's innovations, use of tone colors, and creation of musical effects all served as stepping stones in order to bridge the gap between Classical tradition and new Romantic ideas.
At one point in time, Krommer and Beethoven were considered rivals due to their successful output of chamber literature. I am comparing Beethoven's last 6 string quartets to Krommer's octets because I believe they share similarities. Though Beethoven did not come out with these radical, off-putting quartets until about 20 years after the publication of Krommer's octets, I believe they were both ahead of their time and had the same intention behind their work. Without these two composers taking musical risks in their compositions and stepping outside of tradition, music would not have been able to progressive or evolve into what it has become today.
Though these works are seen as extremely different from one another, I find that the underlying sentiment is very similar. Each composition was written in response to a specific emotion, experience or even a desire to experiement with something new. It is very interesting to see how stylistic elements and compositional ideas helped make the switch from the classical tradition to new innovations of the 19th century.
- Cummings, Robert. "Franz Krommer (1759-1831)." Classical Archives, 2008. Web. 01 May 2014.http://www.classicalarchives.com/composer/2845.html#tvf=tracks&tv=about
- "Harmonie, Op. 57 (Krommer, Franz)." IMSLP. Score. Accessed 01 May 2014.[http:// file:///Users/laurenasimakoupoulos/Downloads/IMSLP96813-PMLP199014-Krommer_op.57_score%20(1).pdf file:///Users/laurenasimakoupoulos/Downloads/IMSLP96813-PMLP199014-Krommer_op.57_score%20(1).pdf]
- Hoover, Michael. "Octet-Partita in F Major Harmonie, Op. 57 Franz Krommer (1759-1831)." Program notes. Chicago Symphony Winds. 07 March, 2014. http://chicagosymphonicwinds.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/march-7-2014/
- Wahl, Ralph V. "Mixed-Wind Chamber Music in American Universities." Diss. The U of Arizona, 1977. Web. 31 April 2014. file:///Users/laurenasimakoupoulos/Downloads/azu_td_7720632_sip1_m.pdf
- Wessley, Othmar. "Krommer, Franz." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 01 May 2014.[http:// <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/15571>. .]