Tomaschek, Johann Wenzel



Pianist and eminent composer; born at Skutsch, Bohemia. In a family of thirteen he was the youngest son, and, owing to the sudden failure of his father's business, his education was provided for by two of his elder brothers, a priest and a public official. He was first sent to Chrudin, where he studied violin and singing under Wolf, then to the Minorite School at Iglau, where he became a chorister and studied theory under Friar Donat. When his voice changed in 1790 he went to Prague to study law and philosophy at the University, and gave all his spare moments to the study of music as presented in the works of Kirnberger, Marpurg, Matheson, Turk and Vogler. He also familiarized himself with the works of Mozart and Pleyel. In 1793 he left the University and turned his attention entirely to music. In 1798 he first came under the influence of Beethoven. Count George yon Bucquoy de Longeval became his patron, making him composer to his household, with a liberal salary. He went occasionally to Vienna, and in 1814 made a visit to Beethoven. In 1823 he was married to Wilhelmine Ebert, sister of Egon Ebert the poet, and left the house of Count von Bucquoy, although still retaining a salary from him. His home became the meeting-place of all the musicians of Prague. He was a genial and kindly host, although apt to be autocratic and intolerant and impatient of the opinions of others. He died in 1850 and was buried in the Koscher Churchyard near Prague. As a composer, Tomaschek is worthy of far more attention than he has received of late years. His compositions show a technical excellence that merits study and that exercised considerable influence on the works of such a musician as Robert Schumann. He wrote some excellent church-music, including several requiems and the Missa Solennis in E flat, Te Deum and hymns. Of his operas the two-act Seraphine, oder Grossmuth und Liebe was given successfully at the National Theatre at Prague, but he would never allow two other operas, Albara and Sakuntala, to be put on the stage. For orchestra he wrote two concertos for piano and orchestra; overture in E flat; a symphonic in C, one in D and one in E flat; also Phantasie und Pathetische Sonate for piano; Grand rondeau in G; fifteen rhapsodies in three books; fantasie for harmonica and much chamber-music including the quartet in E flat for piano and strings. Of his many songs, nine books are to poems by Goethe, which he read to the poet himself at Egerj others are six books of Bohemian songs; Schiller's Elegie auf den Tod des Junglinges, An Laura, Leichenphantasie; Der Taubstumme; Marians Abschied von Frankreich, for solo; Gellert's Busslied; Pichler's Die Entstehung der Cistercienserabtei Hohenfurth, and many others. It is unfortunate that he was contemporary with Beethoven, for the works of the master overshadowed his lesser writings and caused them to be forgotten. Besdes being a composer and an excellent teacher he was a performer of no mean powers on piano and organ.