Dittersdorf, Karl Ditters von (original name, Karl Ditters)

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Dittersdorf, Karl Ditters von (original name, Karl Ditters)

Dittersdorf, Karl Ditters von (original name, Karl Ditters), eminent Austrian composer and violinist; b. Vienna, Nov. 2, 1739; d. Schloss Rothlhotta, Neuhof, Bohemia, Oct. 24,1799. He played violin as a child, then studied with Konig and Ziegler. The Prince of Sachsen- Hildburghausen made it possible for him to take private violin lessons with Trani and to study composition with Bonno; he played in the Prince’s orch. from 1751 to 1761. In 1761 he went to Vienna, where he was engaged as a member of the Court Theater Orch. (until 1764). He was befriended by Gluck, who took him along on his Italian journey, where he had an occasion to appear in public as a violinist. In 1765 he assumed the post of Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Grosswardein in Hungary, where he remained until 1769. His career as a composer began in earnest at this time; he wrote an oratorio, Isacco, figura del redentore, several cantatas, and many pieces of orch. and chamber music. In 1770 he became Kapellmeister to the Prince-Bishop of Breslau, Count von Schaffgotsch, at Johannisberg in Silesia. There he wrote mostly for the stage, bringing out 12 works between 1771 and 1776. however, he wrote his most important dramatic works in Vienna for the ducal theater in Oels. He gained fame with his first singspiel, Doctor und Apotheker, produced in Vienna on July 11, 1786; it was followed by other successful stage works, Betrug durch Aberglauben, Die Liebe im Narrenhause, Das rote Kappchen, and Hieronymus Knicker. He received several honors during his lifetime: in 1770 the Pope bestowed upon him the Order of the Golden Spur; in 1773 he was ennobled by the Emperor as von Dittersdorf. Upon the death of the Prince-Bishop in 1795, he was granted a small pension, and found himself in straitened circumstances until a friend, Baron von Stillfried, took him into his castle, Rothlhotta, where he remained until his death. Dittersdorf was an important figure in the Viennese Classical school of composition, although he lacked the genius of Haydn and

Mozart. He was able to fuse the common folk-song elements of the period with brilliant ensembles characteristic of opéra buffa. His singspiels reveal a jovial humor, melodic charm, and rhythmic vitality. His syms. and concertos are also of interest as characteristic specimens of the period.


DRA M AT IC :Iιviaggiatore americano in Joannesberg, farce (Johannisberg, May 1, 1771; not extant); L’amore disprezzato (Pancratio; Amove in musica), operetta buffa (Johannisberg, 1771); Ilfinto pazzo per amore, operetta giocosa (Johannisberg, June 3, 1772); tutore e la pupilla, dramma giocoso (Johannisberg, May 1, 1773); Lo sposo burlato, operetta giocosa (Johannisberg, 1773 or 1775; another version as Der gefoppte Brautigam); II tribunale di Glove, serenade with prologue (Johannisberg, 1774); II maniscalco, operetta giocosa (Johannisberg, May 1, 1775); La contadina fedele, opéra giocosa (Johannisberg, 1776); La moda ossia Gli scompigli domestici, dramma giocoso (Johannisberg, June 3, 1776); L’Arcifanfano, re de’ matti, opéra giocosa (Johannisberg, 1776); II barone di Rocca Antica, operetta giocosa (Johannisberg, 1776); I visionari (Johannisberg, 1776; not extant); Doctor und Apotheker (Der Apotheker und der Doctor), Singspiel (Vienna, July 11, 1786); Betrug durch Aberglauben oder Die Schatzgrdber (Der glűckliche Betrug; Die dienstbaren Geister), Singspiel (Vienna, Oct. 3, 1786); Democrito corretto, opéra giocosa (Vienna, Jan. 24,1787; performed under various titles); Die Liebe im Narrenhause, Singspiel (Vienna, April 12, 1787); Das rote Kd’ppchen oder Hilft’s nicht so schadt’s nicht (Die rote Kappe; Das Rotkäppchen), comic operetta (Vienna, 1788); Im Dunkeln 1st nicht gut munkeln oder Irrung tiber Irrung (25,000 Gulden), comic opéra (Vienna, Feb. 1789); Hieronymus Knicker (Lucius Knicker; Chrisostomus Knicker; Hokus Pokus oder Die Lebensessenz), Singspiel (Vienna, July 7, 1789); Die Hochzeit des Figaro, Singspiel (Brunn, 1789?; music not extant); Der Schiffspatron oder Der neue Gutsherr, Singspiel (Vienna, 1789); Hokus-Pokus oder Der Gaukelspiel, comic opéra (Vienna, 1790); Der Teufel ein Hydraulikus, comedy (Gratz, 1790); Der Furst und sein Volk, pasticcio (Leipzig, March 5?, 1791; music not extant; in collaboration with R Piterlin and R Bertoni); Das Gespenst mit der Trommel (Geisterbanner), Singspiel (Oels, Aug. 16, 1794); Don Quixote der Zweyte (Don Chisciotto), Singspiel (Oels, Feb. 4, 1795); Gott Mars und der Hauptmann von Bädrenzahn (Gott Mars oder Der eiserne Mann), Singspiel (Oels, May 30, 1795); Der Durchmarsch, an arrangement of J. Paneck’s Die christliche Judenbraut (Oels, Aug. 29, 1795); Der Schach von Schiras, Singspiel (Oels, Sept. 15,1795); Die befreyten Gwelfen (Die Guelfen), prologue (Oels, Oct. 29, 1795); Ugolino, serious Singspiel (Oels, June 11, 1796); Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Singspiel (Oels, June 25, 1796); Der schoöne Herbsttag, dialogue (Oels, Oct. 29,1796); Der Ternengewinnst oder Der gedemiitigte Stolz (Terno secco), Singspiel (Oels, Feb. 11,1797); Der Mäbdchenmark, singspiel (Oels, April 18, 1797); Die opéra buffa, comic opéra (Vienna, 1798); Don Coribaldi ossia L’usurpata prepotenza, drama (Dresden, 1798?); Ein Stűck mit kleinen Liedern, opéra based on Frau Sybilla trinkt keinen Wein and Das Reich der Toten; comic opéra version based on Amore in musica (Gross-wardein, 1767?; not extant); etc. ORCH.: A great number of syms. have been attributed to Dittersdorf, with over 100 being most likely by him. Most famous are the 12 syms. on Ovid’s Metamorphoses’, only Nos. 1–6 are extant, although Nos. 7–12 have survived in arrangements for Piano, 4-Hands, by Dittersdorf. He also composed many concertos, including 18 for violin, 3 for 2 violins, 1 for cello, 5 for viola, 4 for oboe, 5 for harpsichord, and 1 for flute. CHAMBER : 15 divertimentos, including combattimento dell’umane passioni; 4 string serenades (with 2 horns); numerous string quartets; many sonatas for 4-Hands; preludes; etc. VOCAL: O r a t o r i o s : Isacco, figura del redentore (Grosswardein, 1766); II Davide nella Valle di Terebintho (Davidde penitente) (Johannisberg, 1771); L’Esther ossia La Liberatrice del popolo giudaico nella Persia (Vienna, Dec. 19, 1773); Giobbe (Hiob) (Vienna, April 8–9, 1786). O t h e r : Several cantatas, both sacred and secular; masses; offertories; graduals; motets; etc.


“Briefe iiber Behandlung italienischer Texte bei der Composition,” Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (Leipzig, 1799); an autobiography publ. as K. v. D.s Lebensbeschreibung, Seinem Sohne in die Feder diktiert (Leipzig, 1801; Eng. tr., London, 1896; new ed. by N. Miller, Munich, 1967).


C. Krebs, D.iana (Berlin, 1900); K. Holl, Carl D. v. D.s Opernfur das wiederhergestellte Johannisberger Theater (diss., Univ. of Bonn, 1913); H. Kralik, Carl D. v. D.s Symphonien und Konzerte (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1913); M. Grave, D.’s First-movement Form as a Measure of His Symphonic Development (diss., N.Y.U., 1977); H. Unverricht, Carl D. v.D. 1739–1799: Der Schlesische Opernkomponist (Wiirzburg, 1991); H. Unverricht, ed., C. D. v.D.: Leben, Umwelt, Werk (Tutzing, 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire