Franz (Ignaz) Danzi

German Born 15 Jun 1763 Died 13 Apr 1826

One of the most important composers of German opera in Mozart's day and an early pioneer in musical Romanticism, Franz Danzi is today remembered chiefly for his chamber music, which includes a series of popular woodwind quintets. In fact, he composed in all the major genres, and among his output are over 100 sacred choral works, many songs, and works for orchestra.

Danzi was born in Schwetzingen in 1763 and studied the piano, cello and voice with his father. At the age of 15 he joined the famous Mannheim orchestra and began studying composition with G J Vogler, taking over from his father as principal cellist at the Munich court orchestra in 1784. Although desperate to compose operas for the court, he received no major commissions until 1789.

After marrying the singer Margarethe Marchand, and following the successful première of his opera Die Mitternachtstunde, Danzi was appointed vice-Kapellmeister and, on 18 May 1798, was placed in charge of all German opera and church music at Munich. A series of deaths (his father in 1798, his wife in 1800 and, most importantly for his career, the elector Carl Theodor) sent his career in Munich spiralling downward and in 1807 he left for Stuttgart.

While in Stuttgart, Danzi met and advised the young Carl Maria von Weber, though his duties at court and as director of the music institute prevented him from composing much. Another move to Kalsruhe, from where he continued to correspond with Weber, took place in 1812 but he could not recreate his earlier popular successes. The last decade of his life was spent on instrumental composition, and he died on 13 April 1826.

Danzi's music reveals an adventurous approach to harmony alongside a traditional classical attitude to form, hallmarks of the emergent Romantic style. His comic operas, Die Mitternachstunde and Der Kuss are comparable to the best of Winter's and Weigl's works in the genre, and in his choice of exotic subjects and folk tales, he had a sizable influence on Weber.

Related composers: WeberWinterWeiglMozart

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