Myslivecek (Mysliweczek; Mislivecek), Josef

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Mysliveček (Mysliweczek; Misliveček), Josef

Mysliveček (Mysliweczek; Misliveček), Josef, famous Bohemian composer, called “II divino Boemo” and “II Venatorini” in Italy; b. Ober-Sárka, near Prague, March 9, 1737; d. Rome, Feb. 4, 1781. His father was a miller. He was a pupil at the Normalschule of the Dominicans of St. Jilgi (1744–47) and the Jesuit Gymnasium (1748–53), where he received his first instruction in music; also sang in the choir of St. Michal under Felix Benda. He then was apprenticed as a miller, being made a master miller in 1761. He also pursued his musical studies, taking courses in counterpoint with Frantisek Habermann and organ with Josef Seger. In 1760 he publ. anonymously a set of 6 sinfonias, named after the first 6 months of the year. Determined upon a career as a composer, he went to Venice in 1763 to study the art of operatic writing with Giovanni Pescetti. His first opera, Medea, was produced in Parma in 1764. While in Parma, he met the singer Lucrezia Aguiari, who became his mistress in the first of his many romantic liaisons. He was commissioned to write another opera, II Bellerofonte, for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, where it was performed with considerable success on Jan. 20, 1767. This led to other commissions from Italian theaters. His opera Ezio (Naples, June 5, 1775) and his oratorio Isacco figura del Redentore (Florence, March 10, 1776) were successfully performed in Munich in 1777; his career was blunted, however, by syphilis and disfiguring facial surgery. He returned to Italy but never regained his social standing. He succumbed at the age of 43. Myslivecek was one of the most significant Bohemian composers; his operas and oratorios were frequently performed and publ. in his lifetime. Mozart expressed admiration of his talent.


dramatic: opera:Medea (Parma, 1764); II Bellerofonte (Naples, Jan. 20, 1767); Farnace (Naples, Nov. 4, 1767); II trionfo di Clelia (Turin, Dec. 26, 1767); II Demofoonte (Venice, Jan. 1769); L’Ipermestra (Florence, March 28, 1769); La Nitteti (Bologna, spring 1770); Montezuma (Florence, Jan. 23, 1771); II gran Tamerlano (Milan, Dec. 26, 1771); II Demetrio (Pavia, Jan. 25, 1773); Erifile (Munich, 1773); Romolo ed Ersilia (Naples, Aug. 13, 1773); La clemenza di Tito (Venice, Dec. 26, 1773); Antigona (Turin, Carnival 1774); Atide (Padua, June 1774); Artaserse (Naples, Aug. 13, 1774); J7 Demofoonte (Naples, Jan. 20, 1775); Ezio (Naples, June 5, 1775); Merope (Naples, 1775); Adriano in Siria (Florence, fall 1776); Las Calliroe (Naples, May 30, 1778); L’Olimpiade (Naples, Nov. 4, 1778); La Circe (Venice, May 1779); II Demetrio (Naples, Aug. 13, 1779); Armida (Milan, Dec. 26, 1779); Medonte (Rome, Jan. 1780); Antigono (Rome, April 1780). oratorios:La famiglia di Tobia (Padua, 1769); Adamo ed Eva (Florence, May 24, 1771); Giuseppe riconosciuto (Padua, 1771); La Passione di Gesù Cristo (Prague, 1773); La liberazione d’Israele (1775); Isacco figura del Redentore (Florence, March 10, 1776). other: Sinfonias; Overtures; keyboard concertos; sonatas for keyboard; string quartets; trios.


H. Wilkemann, Joseph Mysliweczek als Opernkomponist (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1915); J. Čeleda, J. M., tvûrce prazského náfeõi hudebniho rokoka tereziánského (J. M.: Creator of the Prague Dialect of Theresian Musical Rococo; Prague, 1946); R. Pecman, J. M. und sein Opernepilog (Brno, 1970).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire