Jan Václav Voříšek

Jan Václav Hugo Voříšek (Czech pronunciation: [jan ˈvaːtslaf ˈɦuɡo ˈvor̝iːʃɛk]; Johann Hugo Worzischek, 11 May 1791, Vamberk, Bohemia – 19 November 1825, Vienna, Austria) was a Czech composer, pianist and organist.

Hugo Worzischek by Engelmann
Jan Václav Voříšek


Voříšek was born in the town of Vamberk, Bohemia, where his father was schoolmaster, choirmaster and organist. As a child prodigy, he started to perform publicly in Bohemian towns at the age of nine.[1] His father taught him music, encouraged his playing the piano and helped him get a scholarship to attend the University of Prague, where he studied philosophy. He also had lessons in piano and composition from Václav Tomášek. He found it impossible to obtain sufficient work as a musician in Prague, so in 1813 at the age of 22, Voříšek moved to Vienna to study law and, he hoped, to meet Beethoven. In Vienna he was able to greatly improve his piano technique under Johann Nepomuk Hummel, but once more failed to gain full-time employment as a musician.

Although Voříšek was enthralled by the classical style of Mozart, he was more intrigued by the incipient romanticism of Beethoven.

In 1814, as he was starting to compose, he did indeed meet Beethoven in Vienna. He also met other leading musicians there, including the composers Louis Spohr, Ignaz Moscheles, Hummel, and especially Franz Schubert with whom he became fast friends.

He completed his law studies in 1821 and was appointed barrister to the Court Military Privy Councillor, for whom he mainly drafted legal documents. But in 1822, he at last found musical employment as second court organist and ended his legal career. He was appointed first organist in 1824.

He soon won esteem as a composer of orchestral, vocal and piano music for orchestra. In 1818 he became conductor of the Friends of Music Society (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde) of Vienna.

Vorišek died, in Vienna, of tuberculosis in 1825 at the age of 34. He was buried at Währing cemetery, where within three years his idol Beethoven (in 1827) and his friend Schubert (in 1828) ended up as well. The cemetery is now a park named after Schubert, although the mortal remains of both Schubert and Beethoven were later moved to the Zentralfriedhof the Central Cemetery of Vienna.


Voříšek wrote only one symphony, his Symphony in D major, in 1821. Its style has been likened to Beethoven's first two symphonies, but its melodically inventive early Romantic idiom was similar to Schubert's.

In his capacity as imperial court organist, Voříšek composed a Mass in B-flat major. Together with his single symphony, some of his piano works and his Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 5, the Mass has been recorded.

The first recorded use of impromptu as a musical term occurred in 1817, in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, an idea of the publisher to describe a piano piece by Voříšek . His Impromptus Op. 7 were published in 1822, pieces known to his friend Schubert who subsequently used the description for several sets of music for piano, as did Frederic Chopin and numerous other composers.

In 1823-24, like Schubert, he was one of the 50 composers to contribute a variation on the same waltz by Anton Diabelli for the Vaterländischer Künstlerverein on which Beethoven composed his 33 variations (Op. 120).

Selected discography

  • Cedille Records recording (CDR 90000 058) of Voříšek's Symphony in D major and Mass in B-flat major with Paul Freeman and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra & Prague Chamber Choir, with program notes by Andrea Lamoreaux
  • Cantus Classics 1993 recording (CACD 8.0019 D) of Voříšek's Symphony in D major and Mass in B-flat major with Oldrich Vlchek (resp. Václav Neumann) and the Virtuosi di Praga & Prague Chamber Choir.
  • ArchivMusic.com first CD recording of Voříšek's chamber music including his Violin Sonata (Praga 250204), played by the Kocian String Quartet with program notes by James Reel, FANFARE
  • Hyperion Records recording (CDA 66800) Voříšek's Symphony in D, with Charles Mackerras and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
  • Opus 111 recording OPS 30241 Fantasia Op. 12, Impromptus Nos 1-6 Op. 7, Sonata in B flat minor and Variations in B flat Op. 19. Olga Tverskaya (piano)
  • Regis Records recording RRC1224 Six Impromptus Op. 7, Sonata in B flat minor Op. 20, Variations in B flat Op. 19 and Fantasie Op. 12, also for piano.
  • Centaur Records recording (CRC 3022) of select pieces for solo piano performed by David Gross


  1. ^ Sleeve note of the CD (Supraphon, SU 3678-2001)

Further reading

  • Olga Zuckerová: Jan Hugo Vorísek (1791 - 1825) - thematic catalogue, Praha, Ed. Bärenreiter, 2003. 95 p. ISBN 80 8638511 6

External links

1791 in music

The year 1791 in music involved some significant events.

1821 in music

This article is about music-related events in 1821.

1822 in music

This article is about music-related events in 1822.

1825 in music

This article is about music-related events in 1825.

Chronological list of Czech classical composers

List of selected composers born or trained in the Czech lands. The periods need to be taken with some reserve, because some composers, for example Jan Ladislav Dussek, composed music that was way ahead of their time and for example Antonín Dvořák himself was a romantic-classicist synthesist, so he does not have a perfect place in the list.


An eclogue is a poem in a classical style on a pastoral subject. Poems in the genre are sometimes also called bucolics.

Franz Xaver Niemetschek

Franz Xaver Niemetschek (Czech: František Xaver Němeček; Polish: Niemeczek) (24 July 1766 – 19 March 1849) was a Czech philosopher, teacher and music critic. He wrote the first full-length biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart which has remained an important source of information about the composer.


An impromptu (, French: [ɛ̃pʁɔ̃pty], loosely meaning "offhand") is a free-form musical composition with the character of an ex tempore improvisation as if prompted by the spirit of the moment, usually for a solo instrument, such as piano. According to Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Johann Baptist Cramer began publishing piano pieces under the (sub-)title of "impromptu." (AMZ, Mar. No II, 1815, col. 6), which seems to be the first recorded use of the term impromptu in this sense.

Impromptus (Schubert)

Franz Schubert's Impromptus are a series of eight pieces for solo piano composed in 1827. They were published in two sets of four impromptus each: the first two pieces in the first set were published in the composer's lifetime as Op. 90; the second set was published posthumously as Op. 142 in 1839 (with a dedication added by the publisher to Franz Liszt). The third and fourth pieces in the first set were published in 1857 (although the third piece was printed by the publisher in G major, instead of G-flat as Schubert had written it, and remained available only in this key for many years). The two sets are now catalogued as D. 899 and D. 935 respectively. They are considered to be among the most important examples of this popular early 19th-century genre.Three other unnamed piano compositions (D. 946), written in May 1828, a few months before the composer's death, are known as both "Impromptus" and Klavierstücke ("piano pieces").

The Impromptus are often considered companion pieces to the Six moments musicaux, and they are often recorded and published together.It has been said that Schubert was deeply influenced in writing these pieces by the Impromptus, Op. 7 (1822) of Jan Václav Voříšek and by the music of Voříšek's teacher Václav Tomášek.

Leopold Jansa

Leopold Jansa (23 March 1795, Wildenschwert (Czech: Ústí nad Orlicí), far north-east Bohemia, Austrian Empire – 25 January 1875, Vienna) was a Bohemian violinist, composer, and teacher.

He was born in Wildenschwert, Austria-Hungary (present day Ústí nad Orlicí, Czech Republic) and died in Vienna. He took violin lessons as a child in his home town. He completed his education in Brünn. In 1817 he came to Vienna to study law. However, he soon took up composition lessons with Jan Václav Voříšek and Emanuel Förster.

He was a member of the Braunschweig orchestra in 1823, while in 1824 he joined the Vienna Court Orchestra. In 1834, he became music director and professor at University of Vienna. From 1834 to 1850, he participated in various String quartets. He took over from Ignaz Schuppanzigh, with Karl Holz (second violin) and Joseph Linke (cello) from the Schuppanzigh Quartet, adding Karl Traugott Queisser (viola). From 1845 to 1848 he directed quartet soirées at the hall of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. In 1847-48 he taught violin at the Vienna Conservatory.

He lost his positions in Vienna as a result of his participation in a London concert in favour of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. He stayed in London as a music teacher, until 1868 when he was amnestied and returned to Vienna. He resumed his previous duties in 1871.

Among his students was Wilma Neruda, later known as Lady Hallé, and Karl Goldmark.

He composed chamber music and violin works.

List of Czech composers

List of selected composers born or trained in the Czech lands.

List of composers who studied law

The following is a list of composers who studied law.

List of triple concertos for violin, cello, and piano

A triple concerto is a concerto for three solo instruments and orchestra.

This list of such concertos for piano trio (consisting of violin, cello and piano) and orchestra is ordered alphabetically by composer surname.

Louis Schlösser

Louis Schlösser (17 November 1800 – 17 November 1886), born in Darmstadt where he made his career, was a violinist, composer and conductor. He met Ludwig van Beethoven in 1822, and his recollections of this give a useful impression of Beethoven.

Music from Eighteenth-Century Prague

Music from Eighteenth-Century Prague is a CD series published by Czech record label Supraphon since 2009.

Nikolai Demidenko

Nikolai Demidenko (born 1 July 1955, Aniskino) is a Russian-born classical pianist.

Demidenko studied at the Gnessin State Musical College with Anna Kantor and at the Moscow Conservatoire under Dmitri Bashkirov. He was a finalist at the 1976 Montreal International Piano Competition and the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Competition. He taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School in the UK, where he has been a resident since 1990. He was granted British citizenship in 1995 and currently holds a visiting professorship at the University of Surrey. In addition to a vast amount of the standard Germanic and Russian repertory, he is a specialist of Frédéric Chopin and a noted champion of the works of neglected composers such as Muzio Clementi, Carl Maria von Weber, Jan Václav Voříšek, and Nikolai Medtner, as well as neglected works of well-known composers such as Domenico Scarlatti, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, and Robert Schumann, and transcriptions by Ferruccio Busoni. Demidenko won a Gramophone Award in 1992 in the concerto category for his recording of the Medtner Piano Concertos No. 2 and 3.In 2000, in connection with the 250th anniversary of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach, Nikolai Demidenko was one of four pianists invited to perform Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, subsequently released on DVD by EuroArts.

Demidenko´s extensive discography consists of nearly 40 CDs. For Hyperion Records he has recorded over 20 albums, including most recently Prokofiev Piano Concertos nos 2 & 3 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra released in March 2015, Gramophone Editor´s Choice award-winning album of Medtner and Music for two Pianos (with Dmitri Alexeev).

For the Munich-based AGPL label he has recorded Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, a collection of Scarlatti sonatas and a Chopin CD which won the Preis der Deutschen Schallplatten Kritik Preis. Autumn 2008 saw the release of a new Chopin CD, including his first recording of the 24 Preludes, for Onyx Classics. This CD won the MIDEM 2010 Special Chopin Award for a new recording, a unique occasion edited especially for a Bicentenary of Chopin. Demidenko was one of the pianists invited to perform Chopin Piano Concerto in E minor Op. 11 concert during the celebration of Bicentenary of Chopin organized by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw. This concert was released on DVD by Music Accentus Music

In 2014 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Surrey in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of Music and the University.

He is represented by IMG Artists.

Simon Sechter

Simon Sechter (11 October 1788 – 10 September 1867) was an Austrian music theorist, teacher, organist, conductor and composer. He was one of the most prolific composers who ever lived, although his music is largely forgotten and he is now mainly remembered as a strict music teacher, most notably of Anton Bruckner.

Carl Christian Müller (1831–1914) compiled and adapted Sechter's Die richtige Folge der Grundharmonien as The Correct Order of Fundamental Harmonies: A Treatise on Fundamental Basses, and their Inversions and Substitutes (Wm. A. Pond, 1871; G. Schirmer, 1898).

Six moments musicaux (Schubert)

Six moments musicaux, D. 780 (Op. 94) is a collection of six short pieces for solo piano composed by Franz Schubert. The movements are as follows:

Moderato in C major

Andantino in A-flat major

Allegro moderato in F minor (ends in F major)

Moderato in C-sharp minor

Allegro vivace in F minor (ends in F major)

Allegretto in A-flat major (ends on an open octave in an A-flat minor context)Along with the Impromptus, they are among the most frequently played of all Schubert's piano music, and have been recorded many times. No. 3 in F minor has been arranged by Leopold Godowsky and others.

It has been said that Schubert was deeply influenced in writing these pieces by the Impromptus, Op. 7, of Jan Václav Voříšek (1822).They were published by Leidesdorf in Vienna in 1828, under the title "Six Momens [sic] musicals [sic]". The correct French forms are now usually used – moments (instead of momens), and musicaux (instead of musicals). The sixth number was published in 1824 in a Christmas album under the title Les plaintes d'un troubadour.

Symphony in D (Voříšek)

The Symphony in D major, Op. 24, is the only work in this genre by the Bohemian-born composer Jan Václav Voříšek. He wrote it in 1821 at age 30; he died young, at only 34.

The dedication to Aloys von Fuchs was inscribed in the composer's own hand on 14 April 1823.It is scored for a standard classical orchestra typical of late Haydn or early Beethoven symphonies: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings. Indeed, it has often been compared to early Beethoven, although it was written only six years before that master's death, 16 months after Voříšek. He was a friend of Schubert and may well have been influenced by that composer as well.

The Symphony in D is Voříšek's most famous work, and is the first major Czech contribution to the 19th century symphonic literature.The movements are:

Allegro con brio


Scherzo: Allegro ma non troppo

Finale: Allegro con brio.

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