Franz Danzi



Franz Danzi

Franz Danzi

From the perspective of music history Franz Danzi (1763–1826) had the best prospects imaginable for a great career as a composer and court music director. At decisive moments in his life, however, fate always played nasty tricks on him in the form of deaths with far-reaching consequences and so immensely upset the sensitive composer that his production repeatedly came to a standstill.

Danzi was born in Schwetzingen, the summer residence of Prince Elector Karl Theodor of the Palatinate, whose Mannheim Court Orchestra had gained renown as one of Europe’s best orchestras. Danzi’s father Innozenz (ca. 1730–98) was from Italy and had been engaged as a violoncellist by Karl Theodor in 1754. He numbered among the orchestra’s most highly salaried musicians. In 1755 he had married Barbara Toeschi, the sister of the later concertmaster Carl Joseph Toeschi. Eight children were born to the couple. Two died at an early age, and four of the surviving six became musicians: in addition to Franz, his elder sister Franziska (1756–91) was a celebrated singer, and his brothers Johann (1758–after 1814) and Anton (1766–after 1835) served in several court orchestras.

Franz received his initial instruction in music from his father and his sister Franziska (violoncello, piano, and voice), with composition lessons from the enterprising Georg Joseph Vogler (1749–1814), known throughout Europe as “Abbé Vogler”, later supplementing this program. By 1778 at the latest he had advanced sufficiently in order to enter the court orchestra as a cellist.

Already at the end of 1777, however, a change decisive for his continued residence in Mannheim had occurred. Following the death of the childless Prince Elector Max III of Bavaria Danzi’s prince inherited his title and lands. Karl Theodor, the new Prince Elector of Bavaria, transferred his court to Munich in 1778 but not without taking along the most important members of his Mannheim Court Orchestra in order to unite them with the Munich Court Orchestra. Danzi’s father Innozenz followed the Prince Elector to Munich, while Franz for the time being continued to serve as an instrumentalist and répétiteur in Mannheim, where some musicians, mostly younger ones, had been left behind in order to maintain a small orchestra for the recently established National Theater. This state of affairs nevertheless offered the young Danzi some opportunities to come forward as a composer of stage works; he composed his first singspiels (Cleopatra P 1 and Azakia P 2 – the “P” refers to the catalogue of Danzi’s works compiled by Volkmar von Pechstaedt) and a few incidental stage works (including an entr’acte compositian [P 27] – unfortunately no longer extant – for the premiere of Schiller’s Die Räuber). But he too found his way to Munich, where he is documented as a cellist already in 1782.

When his father retired in November 1783, the twenty-year-old Franz received his post – though only with a third of the salary that his father had drawn. Opportunities to compose for the theater were also denied him. Although in the mid-1780s he had asked the theater director for a position that would allow him to display his talents as a composer, it was not until 1789 that he was able to have two stage works performed in Munich, the singspiel Der Triumph der Treue P 4 and the comic opera Der Quasimann P 5.

A year later he married Margarethe Marchand (1768–1800), a celebrated singer and pianist who had received instruction from Leopold Mozart in Salzburg during 1782–84 and would later make a name for herself as a composer of chamber music. In 1792 the newlyweds embarked on a concert tour lasting several years. During its course Danzi assumed the post of music director of the impresario Domenico Guardasoni’s opera troupe, which was performing in Leipzig and Prague, for a few months in the summer of 1792. The couple was in Munich again for a short time in July 1794 for the birth of their son Carl, but they spent the next year and a half in Italy.

In 1796 they returned permanently to Munich, and in 1798 Danzi finally began to enjoy success as an opera composer. His comic opera Die Mitternachtsstunde P6 (1798) brought him considerable esteem, and the successful premiere of this work in Munich on 16 February 1798 earned him the title of assistant music director. A year later another opera by Danzi, Der Kuß P 7, was performed in Munich.

His star was thus on its rise when he was hit by a series of strokes of fate. His father had died already in 1798, and in June 1800 he wife succumbed to a chronic lung ailment at the young age of thirty-two. This loss was a severe blow for him and, as he later confessed, lamed his ambition as a composer.

But more setbacks were yet to come: Prince Karl Theodor died in February 1799, and his successor Maximilian IV Joseph (from 1806 King Maximilian I) pursued a strict austerity program in order to curtail the staggering state deficit, and these measures did not exactly serve to further the Bavarian capital’s music life. In addition, the newly employed court theater director was Joseph Marius Babo, a close friend of the court music director Peter von Winter (1754–1825), who was not on good terms with his assistant. In short, whether on account of possible intrigues on the part of Babo and Winter or owing to changes that had taken place in public taste, during the years after the turn of the century Danzi was unable to continue his success of 1798. When Carl August Cannabich, a son of the famous Mannheim composer Christian Cannabich, was hired as court music director in Munich in 1801, the assistant music director’s sole remaining task was the performance of sacred music. It was characteristic of Danzi’s person that he nevertheless was on friendly terms with the younger Cannabich, who at the end of 1801 had written an obituary for Margarethe Danzi published in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, while Danzi was the author of the obituary published in the same journal following Cannabich’s death on 1 May 1806.

Danzi shifted his focus to the composition of instrumental music and began to work as an educator. He gave voice and composition lessons, and his pupils included the singers Margarethe and Josefine Lang, the violoncellist and composer Anton Bohrer (1783–1863), and the composer Johann Nepomuk von Poißl (1783–1865). Although Danzi was able to have the one-act singspiel El Bondocani P 8 staged in 1802, five years would pass before a full-length work by him, the opera seria Iphigenie in Aulis P 9, was again performed in Munich (27 January 1807). It was a complete flop: the work pleased neither the court nor the public. It was merely in the music press that the work here and there met with a favorable response. The reporter for the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of Leipzig, for example, took great pains to set this “new very significant work” by Danzi in the context of the history of the German opera from the Hamburg Gänsemarkt to Schweitzer’s Alecste and Holzbauer’s Günther von Schwarzburg and certified that the music had “unmistakable beauties – beauties as music in itself, as music in connection with poetry, as music for the theater”.

Two months later the success of von Winter’s La grotta di Calipso, an opera composed for London in 1803 but new to the Munich public, had completely overshadowed Danzi’s work. The disappointed Danzi left Munich in the summer of 1807 with his pupil Margarethe Lang and assumed a new post as music director at the Stuttgart Court Theater in October. He had applied for the post already in February, directly after the fiasco suffered by his Iphigenie.

In Stuttgart he became acquainted with Carl Maria von Weber; the two became close friends, and Danzi stood by Weber, who was twenty years his junior, as a mentor and supporter. The joint efforts of the two on behalf of a representative, “serious” German-Ianguage opera that would leave behind the character of the singspiel but also be able to win the interest of the public must have been their common ground. Even after Weber had left Stuttgart in February 1810, they continued to be on close terms. This fact is documented in the frequent meetings registered in Weber’s journal in the summer of 1811 in Munich, where Danzi was staying for a cure.

From 1810 an illness manifested itself in Danzi that forced him to take frequent vacations and cures at spas. This weakening of his health may possibly have been the reason why he looked around for a new post – with a lighter workload than in Stuttgart. But he also had many a reason to be unhappy with the circumstances in Stuttgart: King Friedrich I of Württemberg was no lover of instrumental music, and a middle-class music culture that might have formed the backdrop for popular concerts independent of the court, such as Danzi wished, did not exist there. Moreover, the court had failed to pay him the fee for his Camilla und Eugen P 12, a singspiel performed in Stuttgart on 12 March 1812.

He evidently regarded the post of music director to the Grand Duke of Baden, who resided in Karlsruhe, as more attractive than his Stuttgart post. In July 1812 he moved from Stuttgart to Karlsruhe but not without having just before once again considered the possibility of applying for a post at the Munich Court Theater. For Stuttgart and for Karlsruhe he composed further German-language stage works, usually one-act works or singspiels in several acts, but without ever being able to link to them the ambition of achieving what he had not succeeded in doing with his unfortunate Iphigenie: the generally recognized great German opera. He lent his selfless and systematic support, however, to the oeuvre of his young friend Carl Maria von Weber, performing each of his stage works in productions in Karlsruhe shortly after their premieres.

After 1815 Danzi gradually withdrew from public music life. As he communicated a number of times to his Munich friend Joseph von Morigotti, he increasingly regarded his conducting duties as an oppressive burden. At the end of the 1816 he passed on the conducting of the Karlsruhe Museum Society to his concertmaster Friedrich Ernst Fesca (1789–1826), and in March Josef Strauß (1793–1866), who would later succeed him as chapel master, was hired as his assistant. Beginning in December 1825 longer periods of serious illness kept him from discharging his duties. On 13 April 1826 Franz Danzi died, a good month before his sixty-third birthday.

Bert Hagels


Danzi’s main musical interest was indisputably in the German-language opera (it is not a coincidence that not a single Italian opera is found among his total of seventeen musical stage works – a very unusual omission for a composer from this time who was interested in stage works). This fact nevertheless did not prevent him from composing numerous instrumental works in all the genres then in use.

Although some instrumental works by Danzi had been published already prior to 1800 (same piano pieces and piano sonatas), it is striking that he first began publishing instrumental compositions in greater numbers and rapider succession in 1800. In this year works by Danzi in the grand genres of the piano concerto (E flat major op. 4 P 229), string quartet (op. 5 P 264), and piano sonata (F major op. 3 P 286) were published. During the next four years further string quartets (opp. 6, 7, 16, and 29 P 265–68), a piano sonata (op. 12 P 287), chamber music for larger ensembles (Sextets op. 10 P 283 and op. 15 P 284) followed. Concertos for violoncello (without opus numbers P 241 and 242) and finally his first two symphonies (op. 19/24 P 220 and op. 20/25 P 221) as well as his first published symphonie concertante (B flat major for two violins without opus number P 225) followed.

The circle of his publishers expanded. If around 1800 only Falter in Munich had accepted his works, then some works were also published by Nägeli in Zurich beginning in 1802 and by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig beginning in the autumn of 1803, with this latter publisher remaining his main publisher until 1806. It seems that Danzi, who after 1800 had been forced against his will to abstain from the stage, tried to compensate with the composition or publication of instrumental music (and of vocal music unrelated to the stage) in order to continue to be present in the public eye.


Danzi’s six symphonies can be divided into three groups of two works each:

(a) The Symphonies in D major P 218 and E flat major P 219; both works were composed at the latest in 1790 and remained unpublished.

(b) The Symphonies in D minor op. 19/24 P 220 and C major op. 20/25 P 221; both works appeared in print in 1804; the double opus numbers result from the fact that the opus numbers on the title pages of the part editions (“19” and “20”) were crossed out by hand and replaced with “24” and “25”; the first page of each of the Violin I parts bears the higher opus number in printed form.

(c) The Symphonies in F major P 222 and D major P 223; the two works were printed in 1818 as the Symphony No. 3 and Symphony No. 4.

Symphony in D major (P 218)

1. Ouverture. Adagio non troppo – Allegro non troppo
2. Andonte più tosto allegro
3. Minuetto Scherzando – Trio
4. Presto

Symphony in E flat major (P 219)

1. Adagio non troppo – Allegro
2. Andante
3. Minuetto. Allegro – Trio
4. Allegro non trappo

The two works from the first group have been transmitted only in part copies. They occur together as a group in the holdings of the Berlin State library, and the title pages of the two manuscripts have a note indicating their origin: “Danzi, Le Brun brought with him to you, 1790.” “Le Brun” refers to Danzi’s brother-in-Iaw Ludwig August Lebrun (1752–90), an oboe virtuoso and member of the Munich Court Orchestra. He died unexpectedly on 15 December 1790 during a guest performance in Berlin. The virtuoso evidently had brought Danzi’s two works with him (possibly for use in his concerts), and they had found their way into the repertoire of the Berlin Court Orchestra through a friend among the Berlin court musicians.

While the Berlin manuscript is the only source for the Symphony in E flat major P 219, a further part copy exists for the Symphony in D major P 218 in the holdings of the Prince Thurn and Taxis Court Library in Regensburg. The two versions of P 218 display major differences. In the Berlin version the work is in three movements (without the minuet) and bears the generic designation “Ouverture”; in the Regensburg version the title “Ouverture” refers only to the first movement, while the work as a whole is termed a “Sinfonia”. The instrumentation is also different: the Regensburg version adds bassoons, trumpets, and timpani lacking in the Berlin version to the first movement and finale. In addition, there are some differences in the course of the first movement, which in the Regensburg version is nineteen measures longer than in the Berlin version. Neither these differences nor other bits of evidence to be found in the sources indicate which of the two versions was the one intended by Franz Danzi, whether Danzi may possibly have authorized both versions, or whether one of the two versions or both of them were arrangements by somebody else. It is only Danzi’s authorship that may be regarded as certain in the case of this work (in whatever version); apart from these two sources independently ascribing it to Danzi, there are no further ascriptions. The present recording is based on the larger-scale, “more symphonic” Regensburg version.

In many of their details Danzi’s two early symphonies exhibit the character of works from his youth, but they also hold many a surprising innovative idea in store. In both works a slow introduction stands at the beginning of the first movement and in both cases, though the two are very different in structure, exercises a function far transcending that of a pure introduction. In the Symphony in D major P 218 Danzi presents a symphony beginning typical of his time with the multiple confirmation of the main tone in forte and with thematically unspecific but harmonically clear circling around the main key. The rhythm with the twofold sequence of a sharply dotted upbeat motif to the harmony of a cadence is in any case quite pithy. This pithiness is in no way coincidental, for the rhythmic motif is resumed at the end of the exposition (and analogously at the end of the recapitulation) together with the cadential harmony, and at the beginning of the recapitulation even the slow introduction is cited in extenso without a change in tempo but with doubling of the note values. A motivic-thematic significance is thus lent here to the slow introduction. Things are very different in the Symphony in E flat major P 219; here it is not so much the rhythm that is pithy but the melodic contour of the initial theme in the parallel key of C minor with the characteristic leaps to the third e flat and to the sixth a flat. Although rhythmically sharply profiled inserts then also follow in this introduction, here, unlike the melodically imprinting minor characteristics, they have only a passing significance. The complete introduction remains in C minor and ends on its G major dominant, so that the entry of the allegro part in E flat creates the impression of a deceptive cadence. In the further course of the exposition the main key of E flat major is first reinforced cadentially shortly prior to the repetition of the main theme. The sequence of a long part and a fast part here has the effect less of a symphonic opening gesture than of the succession of a pathos-laden recitative and aria of carefree mirth – that is, of a formal idea borrowed from music drama with compositional-technical consequences shown in textural structure in that if is kept largely homophonic – very much in contrast to the first movement of the Symphony in D major, in which imitations and (pseudo)polyphonic segments are employed many times. But in this movement as well the introduction takes on added structural significance: the characteristic third-sixth leap appears at the end of the exposition (or of the recapitulation), and the slow introduction is cited in full detail, as in the Symphony in D major, at the beginning of the recapitulation together with maintenance of the tempo. But here a consequence of the harmonic unclarity at the beginning of the movement is shown, for the main theme of the allegro part now appears, after the citation of the introduction has ended in G major, in the contextually harmonically “correct key” of C minor (the “incorrect key” in terms of the recapitulation function). It is first in a retarding coda that the main motif in the main key is finally supplied.

In the other movements of the two symphonies Danzi also seems to have endeavored, for all his striving for stylistic unity, to bring various expressive areas and formal models into play. The Symphony in D major contains a typical andante movement with a rondo-like recurring romance theme at a “walking pace” punctuated by episodes in the neighboring minor keys and compositional technique occasionally of concertizing character (oboe and flute), while the Symphony in E flat major P 219 offers a swaying siciliano andante in 6/8 time and in abbreviated sonata form (without the development section).

Even the two minuet movements are not excepted from the endeavoring for compositional-technical diversification; the corresponding movement in P 218 unfolds its charm in the alternation of tutti of triadic-chord emphasis in unison and harmonizing inserts of the winds, while the minuet from P 219 is stamped by slide figures ascending in narrow intervals.

The concluding movements both bear the stamp of the type of the rousing finale, with the difference in the compositional technique of the first movements being repeated: in the Presto of the Symphony in D major, which follows the sonata form, there may be a primary theme stamped by simple chordal beats and a secondary theme heard over chordal foundation, but a compositional style dominated by imitations and the makings of polyphony is what prevails, while the Allegro non troppo of the Symphony in E flat major, in complete adherence to the manner of its main theme of rondo-like invention, presents a loose connection of homophonic couplets with thematic material more or less dependent on the initial theme.

Symphony in D minor (P 220)

1. Allegro vivo
2. Andante con moto
3. Menuetto. Moderato – Trio
4. Allegro

It has already been mentioned that Danzi from 1800 began publishing instrumental compositions at nothing less than an explosive pace; in view of the great number of compositions that appeared in printed form within a few years one might be led to think that Danzi also submitted one or the other older work for publication. This conjecture is lent substance by the compositional history of the Symphony in D minor P 220, with more than a decade or more possibly separating its date of composition from its date of publication. In any case, this is what the sources suggest.

In addition to the part edition published in the spring of 1804 and an undated autograph, there is a copy of the parts that probably goes back to the first half of the 1790s. Danzi probably revised the work prior to its publication and made a new autographic copy without any trace of corrections for its publication or had the print copy made after this autograph.

The occasion behind his renewed occupation with a work that was a decade old may have been his contact with the Leipzig publishing company of Breitkopf & Härtel, which, as is to be gathered from Danzi’s letter of 21 September 1803 to this publisher, had approached him just prior to this time, evidently first with the intention of winning him as a collaborator for the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung published by the same company. Danzi did not address the topic of printed music in the letter, but the publishing company and the composer must have soon reached an agreement concerning the publication of musical works by him, for already in November 1803 the company announced the publication of some vocal compositions by him in the “Intelligenzblatt” of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Following chronological order, Danzi’s next extant letter to the company is from 15 November 1803, and in it he reported that he had sent off the manuscripts of two symphonies (in addition to the present work, the Symphony in C major P 221): “With the next post coach you will, my honored gentlemen, [...] receive two of my symphonies.” The symphony was heard in a Gewandhaus Concert in Leipzig on 9 February 1804, even prior to the publication of the part edition; the appearance of the printed version was announced in various advertisements by the company in April 1804.

As for the Symphony P 218, two different versions also exist for this symphony, for the already mentioned early copy from the 1790s differs considerably from the autograph (presumably written later) and the part edition of 1804. In contrast to the earlier symphony, here the composer’s will is clear; since the relative chronology and priority of the sources are clear, the text of the music transmitted in the later sources (the autograph and the part edition) may be seen as the authorized final version.

Although the Symphony in D minor does not have a slow introduction, the work has many features in common with the two early symphonies P 218 and P 219; for example, the pseudopolyphonic textures dominating in the first movement and finale of P 218 are also to be encountered in the corresponding movements (and even in the middle part of the minuet) of P 220 – in the first movement, however, less clearly than in the finale. As in the two earlier symphonies, there is no repetition of the exposition in the outer movements, and, as in the two earlier symphonies, in the first movement the initial theme assumes a structural significance going beyond its function as the head of the main theme in the framework provided by a sonata form: the forceful beginning of the theme in Unisono with the chromatic descent accentuated by upbeats goes on after the second part of the exposition in F major, having the effect of a tonally stable intermezzo, to become the bass fundament of a dramatically animated sequence that ends up yielding to a relaxed dosing group in F major. Here Danzi also displays his innovativeness in the form of the movement; the end of the development section and the beginning of the recapitulation are closely interlocked in that it is not the resumption of the beginning of the movement that appears as the tonal recapitulation but a repetition of the already mentioned dramatic sequence – but now with the main key of D minor as its point of departure; the ascending sequencing character of this passage, however, prevents the reinforcement of the main key. A clear recapitulation effect is set in motion only with the beginning of the secondary theme, which is emphasized by a fermata on the dominant and now stands in the variant of the main key of D major.

The second movement, in A major, is designed in a manner similar to the corresponding movement in P 218, as an andante with a constantly recurring romance theme punctuated by two intermezzi in related keys (E major, D major); even the concertizing character (in this case of the oboe and horn) is again encountered here (in the second episode).

The beginning of the minuet, interestingly, resumes the melodic beginning of the first movement of P 219, the characteristic minor third and sixth that were of structural significance in the earlier work. Here of course one will hardly have to think of a deliberate link but more of an association of melodically catchy material. The contrasting trio in D major is in itself contrastive, in the sequence of solo wind melodies and by means of dottings of emphasized chordal cadential passages.

The finale movement in D major, plainly entitled Allegro, exhibits on independent formal shape similar to the first movement. Although in thematic formation and construction what is involved here is clearly a sonata movement with a powerful opening gesture in Unisono, a playful main theme in the dominant and of triadic emphasis, and a secondary theme marked by pseudopolyphony and sequential passages, the resumption of the main theme in the main key of D major prior to the beginning of the development section means that it also exhibits features of a rondo. Moreover, as in the first movement, the end of the development section and the beginning of the recapitulation are interconnected: the resumption of the beginning of the movement at the beginning of the recapitulation is chromatically distorted and occurs over a pedal point offering room for manifold modulations into remote keys. The entry of the secondary thematic complex in D major first finally clears up the tonal circumstances.

Symphony in C major (P 221)

1. Larghetto – Allegro vivace
2. Andante moderato
3. Menuetto. Allegretto – Trio
4. Grave – Allegro

Unlike the case with the Symphony in D minor P 220, no copy of the Symphony in C major P 221 exists that might point to a date of composition clearly quite some time prior to its publication. The undated autographic scores of the two symphonies nevertheless belong together; they have been transmitted together, are from the same collection of musical papers, and exhibit the same manuscript hand and the same paper format. It may thus also be assumed that the autographs of the two symphonies were written at about the same time. Stylistic criteria suggest, however, that P 221 was composed later than P 220. For P 221 a period of composition situated not too long before its date of publication may be assumed; in any case, however, it was before mid-November 1803, the point in time when Danzi sent the manuscripts of both symphonies to Breitkopf & Härtel. The publication of the part edition was announced by the publishers in various advertisements in April 1804, but a delay seems to have occurred when compared to P 220, for while P 220 is listed already in the book catalogue of the Leipzig Easter Fair 1804, P 221 first appeared (as “Sinfonie à gr. Orchestre. Op. 20”) in the catalogue of the Michael-mas Fair 1804 held during the first week of October.

The first documented performance of it was held at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 29 November 1804, and a repetition followed on 6 December. A short review of the work in connection with the usual quarterly surveys of the repertoire of the Gewandhaus concerts in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (and presumably penned by its editor Friedrich Rochlitz) especially emphasized the innovative features of Danzi’s work but found fault with the burden of the winds in the second movement, which was felt to be an illegitimate transcending of the genre in the direction of “Harmoniemusik” (by which music for wind ensemble was meant): “A new symphony by Danzi (with a fugued concluding movement) showed anew that this composer is not known as he would deserve to be. Here he has in some things – and rightly, even though the broader public will first have to get used to his work – left behind the now usual design and delivered a piece certainly worth being valued. It is to be objected with reason only with respect to the andante that the wind instruments have too much alone – so much that it almost appears to be so-called harmony music and as such is much too long.”

Indeed, the fact that the strings are silent in seventy-two of the total of eighty-eight measures of the second movement is only the most striking of the independent qualities distinguishing the work and deviating from the “now usual design”. At the same time, it represents a clear further development beyond the three preceding symphonies.

For example, the schematic sequential passages dominating long stretches in the outer movements in the three older symphonies are hardly still to be found. Instead, Danzi now develops a very unique feel for harmonic effects and tonal states of suspension in which the harmonic sensibility of his contemporaries must have been greatly taxed by unexpected modulations and sudden shifts between major and minor. Right in the slow introduction of the first movement, for example, an introduction presenting itself as an instrumental recitative with the voice part in the first violin, the tonal center C major is constantly circled but first heard at the beginning of the following Allegro section, alter preparation by a cadence delayed by many a detour. The main theme of this section enters with a certain casualness in sixth parallels between the string bass and first violin; in the consequent phrase if is immediately turned around to A minor, and it is first a concluding cadence that confirms C major as the main key. After an orchestral tutti distinguished by dynamic contrasts the transition, as is customary in a sonata movement, leads to the dominant key; surprisingly, however, the transition comes to a standstill not in the dominant key but in its G minor variant; a short cadencing formula of the flute and the first bassoon, heard already at the conclusion of the main theme, reinstates the “proper” harmonic relations, and the secondary theme begins, according to the rules, in G major. But it is unsettled tonally already after two measures by the use of the minor sixth e flat in the melody port. The further development of the secondary thematic complex leads into tonally remote regions – first to A minor, then to E flat major – and is repeatedly turned back to the actual key of G major by cadential inserts bursting in with what borders on violence. Even the closing group in the “usual design” serving the function of the tonal confirmation at the end of the exposition occasionally goes back and forth between major and minor. The development section, traditionally the place of forceful modulations, stands out not only because of its harmonic variety but also because of what is for Danzi a new technique of motivic isolation and new combination. After the main motif is transferred to E flat major and C minor at the beginning of this section, Danzi uses a combination of the insert of the wind instruments that led back before to the dominant prior to the beginning of the secondary theme, with two motifs deriving from the closing group as a variable hinge, in order to lead into the remotest keys, as far as F sharp major in the first run-through, and, after a cadence in G minor forming a caesura, as far as C sharp minor and C sharp major. The recapitulation also does not remain without harmonic ambivalences: the transition, after the primary theme has been briefly heard in the main key of C major, modulates to E flat major and C minor; the secondary theme likewise maintains the tonal oscillations that characterized it already in the exposition, and it is first the closing group that brings a confirmation of the main key of C major that can no longer be unsettled. But Danzi has yet another surprise in store: after cadential beats of the whole orchestra in fortissimo the cadencing wind formula that set the key of the secondary thematic complex aright in the exposition and attained eminent motivic significance in the development section is heard for the last time (and in piano). The movement fades away in pianissimo.

Harmonic darkenings also stamp the third movement, which, if the expression did not sound a bit anachronistic, in spite of its key (C major), might be termed a sort of “minuet triste”. Dissonant suspension chords underscored by sforzati and bringing about a suspension of the dancy triple meter by their extension to a whole measure and chromatic changing notes in the melody parts lend the movement a peculiarly melancholy sound character to which the trio in A flat major with its tender violin solo offers a contrast brightening the mood.

Danzi pulls all the stops of his imaginative wealth in the finale movement of this symphony. Here the tonal ambivalences are joined by a pronounced joy in formal experimentation, for Danzi apparently has in mind in this movement to produce a combination of the formal principles of rondo, sonata, and fugue. Friedrich Rochlitz had spoken in simplified terms of the “fugued concluding movement”. In an introductory Grave comprising seven measures a theme is presented in C minor, a typical, pathos-filled introductory gesture, pervaded by rests and stamped by dotted rhythm; it is followed, in Allegro tempo and over a foundation of horn tones, by a theme in C major which in its larger development can be viewed as a rondo refrain and in its passing nature recalls the main theme of the first movement. But already after eight measures a new theme, again in Allegro tempo, abruptly ensues in C minor, with its head with the shaping intervals of the ascending minor sixth and descending minor seventh drawing back on the Grave beginning. The following cadential modulations lead by way of A flat to E flat major; an imitative fugue beginning is briefly to be heard before the movement abruptly comes to a halt on the dominant of E flat major. The fragmentary rondo theme is now immediately heard in B major and afterwards seems to fall into the abyss in incessant descending sequences (harmonically a descending fifth sequence leading from B to the tri-tone f within the shortest space); the movement is caught up by the entry of a regular fugue in F minor (regular at least in its first ten measures) with the already introduced minor theme as the subject; it ends up leading to the return of the rondo theme, this time in E flat major; the rondo theme is then followed by the recapitulation of the cadential modulation of the first part, with slight modification and now leading to C major; the fugue, retaining C major, also returns for a short time, compressed into eight measures and contrapuntally thickened by stretti. After further cadential modulations confirming the main key of C major, the rondo theme fragment is heard one last time.

Symphony in B major (P 222)

1. Adagio – Allegro
2. Andante
3. Minueno. Allegro – Trio
4. Allegro molto

Symphony in D major (P 223)

1. Adagio – Allegro
2. Andante
3. Minuetto. Allegretto – Trio
4. Allegro

After the Symphonies in D minor P 220 and C major P 221, both published in 1804, Danzi let more than a decade pass before again presenting himself to the public with two symphonies. The two symphonies designated as No. 3 [B flat major P 222] and No. 4 [D major P 223] on their respective title pages were published by André in Offenbach in 1818. The publisher announced the appearance of both works in an advertisement in the Allgemeiner Anzeiger der Deutschen on 13 September 1818. The numbering of the symphonies as Danzi’s third and fourth such works results when one omits from consideration his unpublished early symphonies and the two symphonies published already in 1804 are counted as his first and second symphonies.

The date of composition of the symphonies published in 1818 is not known, and one can also only speculate about the occasion of their composition. Danzi may possibly have written them for the concerts of the Karlsruhe Museum Society, but performances of the two works are not documented. It is also possible that they were composed in response to a suggestion by the publisher Johann Anton André, who had begun publishing a number of longer works by Danzi in 1813. The fact that both works pay much greater homage to a certain classical balance than do Danzi’s earlier symphonies indeed suggests the idea that they were composed considerably later than these, possibly only shortly prior to their publication.

It is not that Danzi’s late symphonies too might offer surprising moments, but these are more clearly than before embedded in an overall concept aiming at tonal and formal balance. This may be demonstrated, for example, by the harmony of the slow introduction of the Symphony in D major P 223. It begins with a triadic chord motif in D minor, which is repeated, also in unison, in G minor and C minor, punctuated by harmonic modulations rich in suspensions to C major, then to F major, and finally, after it has been repeated for the third time, without detours to A major, the dominant key of the movement. Thereupon the beginning of the movement is repeated in the string basses but now inserted in a pulsing chordal accompaniment of the high strings – an almost classical model of the integration of a bulky musical fragment, to a certain extent of extrasymphonic character, into the flow of a musical movement amid the simultaneous cadential confirmation of the main key by way of detours.

Moreover, the melodic contour of the beginning of the movement anticipates the outline of the Allegro primary theme, which begins with the tones of the D major triadic chord repeated in Unisono. After the course of the slow introduction the return to the Unisono at the beginning of the Allegro part, however, has the effect not so much of a main theme as of a proclaimed motto; the Allegro movement first gets underway with the consequent phrase in dotted horn sound. A reminiscence of the harmonic peculiarities in the first movement of the Symphony in C major becomes recognizable in the eight-measure secondary theme, with its consequent phrase jumping abruptly from A major to F major; but even this apparent outburst is immediately integrated harmonically in that F major is interpreted as the Neapolitan suspension prior to the E major dominant.

The slow introduction in the first movement of the Symphony in B flat major P 222 has the same function as that of the Symphony in D major, namely, the confirmation and consolidation of the main key of the movement, but it reaches this goal in a manner entirely different from the previously discussed introduction. Here it is not the embellishment or paraphrase but the simple penetration of the B flat main key that in the first seven measures (and again in mm. 14–17) in the bass or in the winds constantly forms the foundation of the harmonic superstructure.

These two examples should suffice to show that Danzi employs the established formal models with skill in his last two symphonies. The first movements of the two symphonies in any case follow the model of the sonata form without noticeable deviations and with developed secondary complexes in the dominant key (with the secondary theme of the Symphony in B flat major representing a variant – checked in its progress by chordal beats – of the whirlingly impetuous main theme), with dramatically animated development sections and complete recapitulations of the primary and secondary parts of the exposition (amid abbreviation of the transitions and closing groups).

In the slow movements as well, in both cases plainly entitled Andante, Danzi does without extravagances; the Andante in the Symphony in B flat major displays a simple symmetrical form with the variative unfolding of the simple main theme in the initial and final parts in F major, while the middle part in F minor is dramatically animated in syncopated rhythms. The Andante of the Symphony in D major, in A major and in swaying 6/8 time, has a wonderfully simple primary theme with a descending melody line, a dominant secondary theme continuing the flow of the main theme after a passing digression, and a sonata form with a short development section touching on various minor regions.

The thematic material of the two minuets is distinguished by complementary motivic pairs; in the Symphony in B flat major a motif gradually leading upward and driving on ahead stands in opposition to a stagnating turn motif, while the minuet of the Symphony in D major is stamped by the contrast of rising triadic chord figures and retarding seventh chords (similar to the minuet of the Symphony in C major P 221).

The finale movements represent the classical rousing type. Although they are in the sonata form, they have loosely connected, playful primary and secondary themes, with the contour of the main themes in both cases vaguely recalling the shape of the main themes in the first movements. Moreover, the finale of the Symphony in D major is endowed, very much like the finale of P 220, with a rondo-like character by the resumption of the main theme in the main key prior to the beginning of the development section.


The music critic Friedrich Rochlitz, already cited above, also wrote the following words – certainly very accurately from the perspective of the times – concerning Franz Danzi’s instrumental compositions in his obituary in honor of him in 1826: “[...] in the great revolution that has occurred in instrumental music during the last decades and that D.[anzi] of course witnessed, recognizing its great results and holding them high, he could not quite appropriate them and even less proliferate them – these his works have fallen asleep or are going to their rest with so many other works likewise worthy of respect and very popular in their time.” Rochlitz surely could not foresee that a time once again might come when these works “worthy of respect and very popular in their time” would enjoy new esteem.

Bert Hagels