Valtice – Johannes Matthias Sperger: Sinfonia F-Dur (Ankunfts-Sinfonie)

by ada

Another post in the Travel Series, because I’m totally taking this seriously! This time it’s about Johannes Matthias Sperger, an Austrian composer and double bass player, born in Valtice (which at the time, as part of the Habsburg empire, was called Feldsberg), just about four months before Johann Sebastian Bach died.*

Although according to contemporary sources a virtuoso double bass player, Sperger wasn’t a particularly interesting person, neither did he have a very unusual life (for 18th century standards, that is), so unfortunately there isn’t much to tell about him. He was born (obviously), learnt to play the double bass from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger***, worked for the Hungarian nobility (specifically for Batthyány József and Erdődy Lajos), entered Freemasonry, lost his job, toured Europe and finally ended up at the Ludwigslust court of Friedrich Franz I. He died in some Salmonella infection at the age of 62, and nobody remembers him anymore but the double bass players because nobody has ever composed for the double bass but Sperger and Dittersdorf so they have to appreciate every tiny piece of music they’ve got, poor guys.

Here is a photo of Valtice, in case you’ve already forgotten how it looks. It’s very likely not the same view as Sperger got to enjoy it about 250 years ago, but it’s still rather nice.

Valtice Chateau 117

I decided to post the only work of Sperger that has any historical relevance: the Sinfonia F-Dur, also called Ankunfts-Sinfonie, composed in 1796 for the king Friedrich Wilhelm II von Preußen, a decent violoncello player himself. It is a reference to Joseph Haydn’s Sinfonie Nr 45, the famous Abschieds-Sinfonie, written in 1772 for the prince Esterházy Miklós József.

* and he died just a week before Joseph Wölfl did**

** finding a correlation between intimate biographical details of insignificant composers totally helps you navigate in the jungle of music history, haha

*** a post on him is coming too****, because remember? It was only a few months ago that I went to his birthplace

**** I’m bursting with unnecessary information on the lives and times of minor composers, all deceased at least two hundred years ago, so hold on! Only a few decades until I retire and will have All The Time to write All The Blog Posts!

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