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Happy 257th Birthday to Franz Ignaz Danzi

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The following is a quest post from Senior Music Specialist Susan Clermont:

 Franz Danzi (1763-1845)
Franz Danzi (1763-1845)

Squirreled away at my telework (kitchen) table during the Covid quarantine, I’ve experienced a few unexpected eye openers over the past three months; this period of quasi-isolation has enabled me to take a little extra time to complete certain undertakings – enough time to dig deeper (albeit remotely) into the Music Division’s never-disappointing collections and, as always, to strike gold!  For years, one of my obsessions has been to identify musical manuscripts and early imprints (created before ~1825) located in our general collections that pose access issues to offsite scholars.

Almost all of our musical scores have records in the card catalogs (only available onsite); not all entries appear in the online catalog, however, and when they do – some of the bibliographic information found on the typed or handwritten cards might not be included. Such is the case with the musical scores of the German composer Franz Ignaz Danzi. I never would have pondered Danzi’s 257th birthday (born June 15th 1763), let alone write about him,  had it not been for a few extra hours of research and my subsequent personal discoveries of the numerous and diverse examples of this composer’s music tucked away in our collections.

One of several composers overshadowed by Beethoven (whose music he allegedly disliked), Danzi has a much richer variety of musical offerings than just his popular wind quintets. While gathering data about the Music Division’s Danzi holdings to report to RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales), we ascertained that for every musical genre to which this prolific composer contributed – sacred and secular vocal music, chamber music including sextets, quintets, quartets and trios, some for strings, some for winds and some combining the two, orchestral works (including six symphonies), stage works, comic and German operas (that became models for his friend Carl Maria von Weber and anticipated the development of German romantic opera), concertos, etc., – the Music Division owns examples of first or early print editions, copyist manuscripts and holographs from  every category.

Franz Danzi’s Cantate am Jahrstage von Mozart's Tod
Franz Danzi’s Cantate am Jahrstage von Mozart’s Tod…,
published in 1808 by B. Schott; one of dozens of early imprints found in the Music Division’s rare general collections.

Even better  is when you realize that the sum total of  Danzi’s musical output is essentially a sonic looking glass into the varying periods of his life – beginning as a young 15-year-old cellist with the famous Mannheim Hofkapelle, writing opera and church music while serving as Kapellmeister at Munich’s Hofoper, followed by appointments at the Königliches Hoftheater in Stuttgart and finally at the Badische Hofkapelle in Karlsruhe, or composing his renowned chamber works later in life for music publisher Johann André. Today, Danzi’s lasting musical influence is reportedly twofold: the role he played as an early pioneer of German romantic opera and his many contributions to the solidification of the woodwind quintet form; however, as more of his music becomes available, perhaps this list will expand.

Copyist manuscript of Franz Danzi's Der Kuss
Copyist manuscript of Franz Danzi’s Der Kuss, a Viennese-type magic opera composed in Munich in 1799. The opera was well received and helped him secure an appointment as Assistant Kapellmeister.
Danzi holograph in the card catalog
Entries for Danzi holograph fragments in the Music Division card catalog.

The conclusions of my brief Danzi survey were edifying: although 35 early imprints and 28 music manuscripts were verified in our paper records, only 12 of these compositions currently appear in the online RISM database under the LC sigla; and, only 20 scores have entries in our online catalog.  Now that these oversights have been identified, however, efforts to create new bibliographic records will assure future access to these materials.  According to current RISM statistics, reporting our additional 50+ Danzi items will move us up to the #3 holding library internationally and the #1 U.S. library. This is our birthday present to you, Franz!

Happy 257th!

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