Stamitz, family of distinguished Bohemian musicians:
(1) Johann (Wenzel Anton) (Jan Waczlaw or Václav Antonín) Stamitz, eminent violinist, teacher, and composer; b. Deutsch-Brod, June 19, 1717; d. Mannheim, March 27, 1757. He most likely began his musical training with his father in Deutsch-Brod; after studies at the Iglau Jesuit Gymnasium (1728–34), he attended the Univ. of Prague (1734–35). About 1741 he entered the service of the Mannheim court, where his first patron was Carl Philipp, margrave of Pfalz. His playing at the coronation of the Emperor Charles VII on Feb. 12, 1742, created a sensation, and Prince Carl Theodor, who in 1743 became Palatine Elector, engaged him as a chamber musician; the court journals reported on his virtuosity in extravagant terms, extolling his ability to perform his own concerto on several different instruments—violin, viola d’amore, cello, and contra-violin solo. In 1743 the Elector made him “first court violinist” in Mannheim; the next year, he married Maria Antonia Luneborn. So widespread was Stamitz’s fame that Baron Grimm publ, in Paris a satirical pamphlet, Le Petit Prophète de Boehmisch-Broda, ridiculing Stamitz’s innovations. By 1746 he was Konzertmeister, and then was promoted to the newly created position of director of instrumental music in 1750, being charged with composing orch. and chamber music for the Mannheim court. On Sept. 8, 1754, he made his debut at the Paris Concert Spirituel; also was engaged as director of La Poupeliniere’s private orch. and made some appearances at the Concert Italien. In 1755 he returned to his duties in Mannheim, where the Court Orch. became the finest in Europe under his discerning leadership. Among his outstanding students were Cannabich, W. Cramer, and I. Fränzl, as well as his own sons, Carl and Anton. Stamitz’s major contribution to music rests upon his skillful adaptation and expansion of the overture style of Jommelli and his Italian compatriots to the Mannheim school of composition. His most important works are his 58 extant syms. and 10 orch. trios. Among his other extant works are violin concertos, 11 flute concertos, 2 harpsichord concertos, an Oboe Concerto, a Clarinet Concerto, much chamber music, and some sacred vocal pieces. For a selection of his orch. and chamber music, see H. Riemann, ed., Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Bayern, IV, Jg. III/l (1902), XIII, Jg. VII/2 (1906), and XXVII, Jg. XVI (1915).
P. Gradenwitz, J. S.: Das Leben (Brno, 1936; second ed., greatly aug., as J. S.: Leben, Umwelt, Werke, 2 vols., Wilhelm-shaven, 1984); P. Nettl, Der kleine “Prophète von Böhmisch-Broda” (Esslingen, 1953); H.-R. Durrenmatt, Die Durchführung bei J. S. (Bern, 1969); E. Wolf, The Symphonies of J. S.: Authenticity, Chronology and Style (diss., N.Y.U., 1972); E. Wolf, The Symphonies of J. S., A Study in the Formation of the Classic Style (Utrecht, 1981).
His 2 sons were also distinguished musicians:
(2) Carl (Philipp) Stamitz, violinist, violist, viola d’amorist, and composer; b. Mannheim (baptized), May 8, 1745; d. Jena, Nov. 9, 1801. He commenced his training with his father, then studied with Cannabich, Holzbauer, and Richter at the Mannheim court, where he played second violin in the Court Orch. (1762–70). With his brother, Anton, he went to Strasbourg in 1770; by 1771 he was in Paris as court composer and conductor to Duke Louis of Noailles. On March 25, 1772, Carl and Anton made their first appearance at the Concert Spirituel, where Carl performed regularly until 1777; he also made tours as a virtuoso to Vienna in 1772, Frankfurt am Main in 1773, and Augsburg, Vienna, and Strasbourg in 1774. After a London sojourn (1777–79), he went to The Hague, where he made appearances at the court as a violist (1782–84). He then toured extensively in Germany, including appearances in Hamburg, Leipzig, and Berlin in 1786 and in Dresden and Halle in 1787; also performed in Prague in 1787. He served as director of Kassel’s Liebhaber concerts (1789–90). In 1795 he settled in Jena as city Kapellmeister and as a music teacher at the Univ. He was a significant composer of orch. music. He wrote at least 51 syms. (28 are extant), some 38 syms. concertantes, and more than 60 concertos, including 15 for Violin, 10 for Clarinet, 7 for Flute, and 7 for Bassoon; many of his concertos are lost. Among his other works are chamber music pieces and vocal music. Some of his works are found in H. Riemann, ed., Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Bayern, XV, Jg. VIII/2 (1907), XXVII, Jg. XV (1914), and XXVIII, Jg. XVI (1915).
F. Kaiser, C. S. (1745–1801): Biographische Beiträge, das symphonische Werk, thematischer Katalog der Orchesterwerke (diss., Univ. of Marburg, 1962); D. Thomason, A Discussion of the Viola d’Amore Music of K. S.(n.p., 1979); M. Jacob, Die Klarinettenkonzerte von C. S.(Wiesbaden, 1991).
(3) Anton (actually, Thadäus Johann Nepomuk) Stamitz, violinist, violist, and composer; b. Deutsch-Brod (baptized), Nov. 27, 1750; d. probably in Paris or Versailles, after 1789. He studied violin with his brother, Carl, and with Cannabich in Mannheim, where he was second violinist in the Court Orch. (1764–70). He then accompanied his brother to Strasbourg, moving on to Paris with him by 1771, where from 1772 he appeared regularly at the Concert Spirituel. He was active in Versailles from 1778, and was the teacher of Rodolphe Kreutzer until 1780; then was a member of the musique du roi from 1782 until disappearing from the musical scene without a trace in 1789. Among his extant compositions are 12 syms., 2 syms. concertantes, over 22 violin concertos, several other concertos, 66 string quartets, many trios, numerous duos, etc.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire