Starzer, Josef, outstanding Austrian composer; b. 1726 or 1727; d. Vienna, April 22, 1787. By about 1752 he was a violinist in Vienna’s Burgtheater orch., where he began his career as a composer of ballets. During the winter of 1758–59, he went to Russia, where he was active at the Imperial court in St. Petersburg; gave concerts and later was made Konzertmeister and then deputy Kapellmeister and composer of ballet music; served as maître de chapelle et directeur des concerts in 1763. Returning to Vienna about 1768, he composed several notable ballets; with Gassmann, he helped in 1771 to organize the Tonkünstler-Sozietat, for which he wrote a number of works. In 1779 he retired as a violinist and in 1785 gave up his duties with the society. Starzer was one of the leading Austrian composers of his day, winning distinction not only for his ballets but for his orch. and chamber music; his string quartets have been compared favorably with those of Haydn.
DRAMATIC: Singspiel: Die drei Pachter. Ballet: Diane et Endimione (Vienna, e. 1754); Les Bergers (Laxenburg, 1755); Le Misantrope (Vienna, 1756); L’Amour venge (Laxenburg, 1759); L’Asile de le vertu (St. Petersburg, 1759; in collaboration with H. Raupach); Les Nouveaux Lauriers (St. Petersburg, c. 1759; in collaboration with H. Raupach); La Victoire de Flore su Borée (St. Petersburg, 1760); Siroe (St. Petersburg, 1760); Le Jugement de Paris (St. Petersburg, 1761); Prométhée et Pandore (St. Petersburg, 1761); Le Pauvre Yourka (Moscow, 1762); Le Seigneur de village moqué (Moscow, 1762); Le Vengeance du dieu de l’amour (Moscow, 1762); Apollon et Daphne, ou Le Retour d’Apolon au Parnasse (St. Petersburg, 1763); Apollon et Diane (Vienna, 1763); Le Retour de la déesse du printemps en Arcadie (Moscow, 1763); les Fêtes hollandoises (Vienna, 1763); Pygmalion, ou La Statue animée (St. Petersburg, 1763); Acis et Galatée (St. Petersburg, 1764); Le Triomphe du printemps (St. Petersburg, 1766); Don Quichotte (Vienna, c. 1768); Les Moissonneurs (Vienna, 1770); Agamemnon (Vienna, 1771); Atlante (Vienna, 1771); Les Cinque Soltanes (Vienna, 1771); Roger et Brada-mante (Vienna, 1771); Adèle de Ponthieu (Vienna, 1773); El Cid (Vienna, 1774); Le Ninfe (Vienna, 1774); Les Horaces et les Curiaces (Vienna, 1774); Les Moissonneurs (Vienna, 1775); Montezuma (Vienna, 1775); Teseo in Creta (Vienna, 1775); etc. ORCH.: 7 syms.; Violin Concerto (ed. in Diletto Musicale, LXXXII, Vienna, 1964); Concerto for 2 Orchs. (Vienna, March 23, 1779); Concerto for 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns, Bassoon, and Orch. (Vienna, March 14, 1780); Die Belagerung Wiens, overture (1799); 6 menuetti; Menuetto e contradanze. chamber: About 25 string quartets (2 ed. in Denkmaler der Tonkunst in Österreich, XXXI, Jg. XV/2, 1908); 3 string trios; Musica da camera, 5 pieces for Chalumeaux or Flutes, 3 C-clarinos, 2 D-clarinos, and Timpani; Le Matin et le soir, octet for 2 Oboes, 2 English Horns or Clarinets, 2 Horns, and 2 Bassoons; etc. VOCAL: La passione di Gesii Christo, oratorio (Vienna, 1778). OTHER: Arrangements.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire