Kraus, Joseph Martin

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Kraus, Joseph Martin

Kraus, Joseph Martin, important German-born Swedish composer; b. Miltenberg-am-Main, June 20, 1756; d. Stockholm, Dec. 15, 1792. He attended the Jesuit School in Mannheim; subsequently studied law at the univs. of Mainz (1773–74), Erfurt (1775–76), and Göttingen (1777–78). In 1778 he went to Sweden, making his home in Stockholm; in 1780 he was elected a member of the Swedish Academy of Music, and in 1781 he was appointed deputy conductor of the Court Orch. His great interest in Swedish culture prompted King Gustavus III to send him to Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and England for study purposes between the years 1782 and 1787. During his travels, he met Gluck and Haydn, both of whom warmly praised his music. In 1788 he was appointed Hovkapellmästare in Stockholm, holding this position until his untimely death from tuberculosis. During his short life (he was almost an exact contemporary of Mozart), he composed several distinguished works for the stage; his operas (to Swedish texts) are estimable achievements, especially Aeneas i Carthago (Dido och Aeneas), which was premiered posthumously in Stockholm on Nov. 18, 1799. He also composed a Symphonie funèbre and Begravingskantata for the assassinated Gustavus III. After Kraus’s death, his MSS and letters were deposited in the library of the Univ. of Uppsala. In 1982 the Internationale Joseph-Martin-Kraus-Gesellschaft was organized in Buchen. His writings include Versuch von Schäfergedichten (Mainz, 1773) and Etwas von und über Musik fürs Jahr 1777 (Frankfurt am Main, 1778).


dramatic:Azire, opera (1778; only fragments extant); Proserpina, opera (Ulriksdal Castle, June 1781); Fintbergs Bröllop (Fintberg’s Wedding), comic play with music (Stockholm, Jan. 1788); Soliman II, eller De tre sultaninnorna, comic opera (Stockholm, Sept. 22, 1789); Afventyraren (The Adventurer), comic play with music (Stockholm, Jan. 30, 1791); Aeneas i Carthago (Dido och Aeneas), opera (Stockholm, Nov. 18, 1799); etc. orch.:Wiener Sinfonie (1783); Pariser Sinfonie (1784); Symphonie funebre (1792); Violin Concerto (1777); Sinfonia Concertante (1780); overtures, etc. chamber: 9 string quartets, 4 violin sonatas, pieces for solo piano. vocal:Cantata for the King’s Birthday (1782-83); Begravningskantata (1792); songs; sacred music.


F. Silverstolpe, Biographie af K. (Stockholm, 1833); K. Schreiber, Biographie über den Odenwälder Komponisten J. M. K. (Buchen, 1928); R. Engländer, J. M. K. und die Gustavianische Oper (Uppsala and Leipzig, 1943); V. Bungardt, J. M. K….ein Meister des klassischen Klavierliedes (Regensburg, 1973); I. Leux-Henschen, J. M. K. in seinen Briefen (Stockholm, 1978); F. Riedel, ed., J. M. K. und Italien: Beiträge zur Rezeption italienischer Kultur, Kunst und Musik im späten 18. Jahrhundert (Munich, 1987); B. Van Boer, Die Werke von J. M. K.: Systematisch-thematisches Werkverzeichnis (Stockholm, 1988); idem, Dramatic Cohesion in the Music of J. M. K.: From Sacred Music to Symphonic Form (Lewiston, N.Y., 1989); F. Riedel, Das Himmlische lebt in seinen Tönen: J. M. K., ein Meister der Klassik (Mannheim, 1992); B. Van Boer, J. M. K. (1756–1792): A Systematic-Thematic Catalogue of His Musical Works and Source Study (Stuyvesant, N.Y, 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Kraus, Joseph Martin

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