Gyrowetz, Adalbert (Mathias) (original name, Vojtêch Matyás Jirovec)

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Gyrowetz, Adalbert (Mathias) (original name, Vojtêch Matyáŝ Jirovec)

Gyrowetz, Adalbert (Mathias) (original name, Vojtêch Matyáŝ Jirovec), noted Bohemian composer and conductor; b. Budweis, Feb. 19, 1763; d. Vienna, March 19, 1850. He studied piano, violin, and composition with his father, a local choir-master, and began to compose while a student at the Piarist Gymnasium in his native town; then studied philosophy and law in Prague. He subsequently became secretary to Count Franz von Funfkirchen, to whom he dedicated his first syms., a set of 6 in Haydnesque style (1783); was also a member of his private orch. In 1784 he went to Vienna, where he was befriended by Mozart; the latter arranged for one of his syms. to be performed in 1785. He then became secretary and music master to Prince Ruspoli, who took him to Italy. While in Rome (1786-87), he composed a set of 6 string quartets, the first of his works to be publ. After leaving Ruspoli’s service, he studied with Sala in Naples. He made a brief visit to Paris in 1789, and then proceeded to London, where he met and befriended Haydn, who was also visiting the British capital. During his London sojourn, Gyrowetz was commissioned by the Pantheon to write an opera, Semiramis; however, before the work could be mounted, both the theater and his MS were destroyed by fire (1792). He returned to the Continent in 1793; in 1804 he became composer and conductor of the Vienna Hoftheater, where he produced such popular operas as Agnes Sorel (Dec. 4, 1806) and Der Augenarzt (Oct. 1, 1811). He also wrote II finto Stanislao (Milan, July 5, 1818), to a libretto by Romani, which Verdi subsequently used for his Un giorno di regno. He likewise anticipated Wagner by writing the first opera on the subject of Hans Sachs’s life in his Hans Sachs im vorgeriickten Alter (Dresden, 1834). He retired from the Hoftheater in 1831, and his fame soon dissipated; he spent his last years in straitened circumstances and relative neglect, having outlived the great masters of the age. He composed a variety of stage works, including operas, Singspiels, and melodramas, as well as about 40 syms., 2 piano concertos (1796, 1800), and 3 concertantes (for Violin, Viola, and Cello, 1792; for 2 Violins and Viola, 1798; and for Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Violin, and Cello, 1798). Among his sacred compositions are 11 masses, a Te Deum, a Tantum Ergo, and 2 vesper services. He also composed much chamber music, including about 45 string quartets (1788-1804) and some 46 piano trios (1790-1814).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire