Elsner, Joseph (Anton Franciskus) (Józef Antoni Franciszek)

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Elsner, Joseph (Anton Franciskus) (Józef Antoni Franciszek)

Elsner, Joseph (Anton Franciskus) (Józef Antoni Franciszek), noted Polish pedagogue and composer of German descent; b. Grottkau, Silesia, June 1, 1769; d. Warsaw, April 18, 1854. After singing in the local church choir, he studied at the Breslau Jesuit Gymnasium (1781–88), concurrently singing in the opera chorus, playing violin in chamber music concerts, and beginning to compose. After studying theology and medicine at the Univ. of Breslau and the Univ. of Vienna (1789), he turned decisively to music. He was concert-master of the Brtinn Opera orch. (1791–92) and Kapellmeister in Lemberg (1792–99), then settled in Warsaw, where he served as director of the Opera for 25 years. He was also active as a teacher (Chopin was his most famous student) and founded several music schools, one of which later became the Warsaw Cons. In 1823 he was awarded the Order of St. Stanislaw. His compositions presage the development of the Polish national school.


Poczqstki muzyki a szczegolniej epiewania (The Beginnings of Music, Especially of Singing; Warsaw, 1818–21); Szkola epiewu (School of Singing; Warsaw, 1834; 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1855); Sumarius moich utworow z objaenieniami o czynnoeciach i dzialaniach moich jako artysty muzycznego (Summary of My Works with Explanations of My Functions and Activities as a Musician; 1840–49; Krakow, 1957).


(all 1st perf. in Warsaw unless otherwise given): Opera : Amazonki czyli Herminia (The Amazons, or Herminia; Lemberg, July 26, 1797); Sultan Wampum czyli Nieroztropne zyczenie (Sultan Vampum, or The Rash Wish; 1800); Siedem razy jeden (7 Times 1; Dec. 14, 1804); Stary trzpiot i mlody medrzec (The Old Dolt and the Young Sage; Feb. 15, 1805); Wiezczka Urzella czyli To co sie damom podoba (The Soothsayer Urzella, or What Pleases the Ladies; March 7, 1806); Andromeda (Jan. 14, 1807); Chimere et realite or Urojenie i rzeczywistoec (April 22, 1808); Leszek Bialy czyli Czarownica z-Lysej Gory (Leszek the White or The Witch of the Bald Mountain; Dec. 2, 1809); Wawozy Sierra Modena (The Ravines of the Sierra Modena; Jan. 31, 1812); Kabalista (The Cabalist; Jan. 29, 1813); Krol Lokietek czyli Wieliczanki (King Lokietek, or The Women of Wislica; April 3, 1818); Jagiello w Tenczynie (Jagiello in Tenczyn; Jan. 1, 1820). OTHER: Melodramas; duodramas; ballets; 8 syms.; 6 string quartets; Piano Quartet; String Quintet; Septet; 3 violin sonatas; 24 Latin masses; 9 Polish masses; 4 oratorios; offertories; hymns; 55 secular cantatas; some 100 songs.


J. Reiss, Elazak Jozef E.: Nauczyciel Chopina (Silesian J.E.: Chopin’s Teacher; Katowice, 1936); A. Nowak- Romanowicz, Jozef E. (Krakow, 1957).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire