Sonata V of Jan Dismas Zelenka : a study in style and genre




Vigneau, Michelle

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The music of the late baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679- 1745) was not widely circulated during his lifetime. In the late twentieth century, Zelenka's music experienced a revival due to the rediscovery of his sonatas for double reed ensemble. The thesis examines the stylistic, generic, and historical context for Zelenka's Sonata V (ZWV 181, no. 5), tracing the development of the ensemble sonata for double reeds at the Augustan court. Chapter One focuses on Zelenka's life, as well as the purpose and dating of the six ensemble sonatas for obbligato double reeds (ZWV 181). The subsequent chapter surveys the national styles that were assimilated into the compositional traditions of the Dresden hofkapelle in the early 18th century. The role of the oboist within the court musical establishment and the social status of the hofmusicus are discussed. Chapter Three considers the precedents for and influences on Zelenka's Sonata V, particularly with respect to its inclusion in the little known genre of the sonata auf concertenart. These sonatas in the manner of a concerto adopt the formal outlines of Vivaldi's concertos and concerted sonatas while obscuring the distinctions of genre between the sonata and concerto through the treatment of scoring and texture. Zelenka's Sonata V follows the style of an early sonate auf concertenart of Vivaldi. Zelenka's concerted sonata departs from its model by confounding the identity of the initially distinct ritornello and solo material. The specific use of the oboe in Zelenka's sonatas, including playing techniques, and the degree of specialization are discussed. The conclusion speculates as to why Zelenka's music quickly fell out of favor and why even the composer himself was treated in a critical manner only a few generations after his time at Dresden. An understanding of the Dresden court not only provides a window on Zelenka's music, but also explains its almost immediate eclipse following his death.




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