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Impossible Interviews March 2019: F. Danzi


Who is Franz Danzi?

Mozart’s 1778 Mannheim-Paris Tour (240th Anniversary 1778-2018/1779-2019) is an important turning point in Mozart’s life. Even though Mozart’s main target was apparently that of finding a solid music job position (at least, this was the intention of Leopold), Mozart seemed more interested in following other different paths, among them, to build a strong personal liaison with the Mannheimers… and probably he was right.

Mozart wants Mannheim instead of Salzburg (1777-1781)

A part from the dispute with Colloredo about Mozart’s violin playing at court (which de facto caused Mozart to leave Salzburg for his Mannheim-Paris Tour), Mozart’s choice to reach and stay in Mannheim and to cultivate the friendship of the composers and musicians there (even against the opinion of an extremely angry and irritated Leopold), according to his own letters, was also due to the provincialism of Salzburg cultural environment.
Beside Michael Haydn and Eberlin and a few great virtuoso players, Salzburg, at that time and under Colloredo, had not much to offer in terms of real State-of-the-Art musical practice. That’s why Mozart’s necessity to find an environment of like-minded people and of people on a similar professional level was a fundamental target of his 1777-1779 Tour across Europe… unfortunately more fundamental than a solid job position.
It is a fact that Leopold’s own account about the concerts organized in Salzburg, out of the strict Court-life, is really rather gloomy with its description of an arena of semi-professional and amateurish individuals performing (almost always badly) good music, now practically disfigured. And we can image how harmful such a provincial environment would have been if the natural talents of Mozart had got accustomed to nourishing his soul with such low level daily practices.
If we see Mozart’s 1777-1779 tour through his eyes and in this way, we well understand why Mozart (against his own father’s will) preferred to stay and live in Mannheim (and then in Munich) also without job and gratis et amore rather than to live in a culturally and professionally harmful environment, like the Salzburg of Colloredo’s years.
Even though the Cannabichs, Wendlings, Ramms and the other Mannheimers really belonged to a bad genre of friends (as Leopold wrote many times in his letters from 1777 to 1781: according to Leopold the old Cannabich was probably the real person responsible for the failed appointment of Mozart as Mannheim Kapellmeister in those years), Mozart knew that the cultural and professional level of those composers, of those musicians, of those conductors and that of their families was much higher than that that could be found in Salzburg at his time…
Mannheim orchestra was considered one of the best ever in Europe and the compositions and the music style of the Mannheimers were considered the cutting edge of their period… and Mozart wanted to stay with the avant-garde… wanted to study the avant-garde… wanted to master and further develop the avant-garde at any cost (i.e. also without money and without job)… and, in the end, he really did it… and, after all, if we consider the quality of his masterpieces imbued with so many Mannheim theories and ways of musical practice, Mozart was right and his father was wrong…
Probably Franz Liszt would say that it is exactly this kind of tragic choice that made Mozart a great artist.

Another aspect about the Mannheim Tour, which is usually not sufficiently investigated, is the fact that Mannheim, being a great orchestra, was considered also a great school for conductors. As a matter of fact, one point of dispute with Colloredo in 1777, before the Mannheim Tour, was that Mozart was treated in Salzburg only as a first violin, and this caused quarrels of any kind. After his Mannheim Tour and experience, in 1779 Mozart (at least!) managed to get a position in Salzburg through a brand new job contract and, apart from a better salary (but burdened with heavy debts), Mozart, finally, managed to be treated (and considered) as a conductor from the keyboard…
The fact that the old Cannabich and his son Carl and also then the other Mannheimer Franz Danzi were all considered important conductors is somehow fundamental.

The Mannheim Triangle: Mozart, Vogler and their Pupils

Franz Danzi was a young cellist of Mannheim orchestra in 1778 and a great admirer of Mozart. Aloysia Weber was both a pupil of Mozart and a love interest of Mozart. von Weber was a close relative of Mozart through his wife Constanze Weber (sister of Aloysia). All these people around Mozart were Mannheimers.
A curious aspect of this story is that Franz Danzi, Aloysia Weber and von Weber were all, at the same time, pupils of that Abbé Vogler (founder of the music school of Mannheim) that Mozart considered a personal enemy (!?).
However, it is a fact that Mozart disliked Abbé Vogler publicly and in his letters, but studied Vogler’s music theory manuals and further developed his own music style by following the instructions of Abbé Vogler and by further developing them through an important practical application.
Moreover, Leopold Mozart, as a music theoretician himself, liked and supported Abbé Vogler and his theories.
But still in 1781 the most important Mannheim pupil of Vogler of that period, another Mannheimer called Peter Winter (1754-1825), was in Vienna, now as a pupil of Salieri, and started a violent defamation campaign against Mozart and the other Mannheim child, Constanze Weber. By spreading the false word of mouth that Mozart was going to ruin Constanze, by making her his personal slut, forced Mozart to prepare, in December 1781, even a written marriage contract for Constanze… Peter Winter caused many problems to Mozart, who had many quarrels with Constanze’s mother and Constanze’s own guardian. In his important letter Vienna 22 December 1781 Mozart wrote: «I may say that on account of Vogler [Peter Winter] has always been my worst enemy». So one may wonder why the Danzis and the Webers, instead, are friends of Mozart…
In 1797 the Mannheimer pupil of Vogler Peter Winter will be the only composer who accepted to write the sequel of The Magic Flute for Schikaneder, Das Labyrinth: Paul Wranitzky refused the offer, as a form of respect for Mozart and his family.
This story is an example of how Mozart’s relationship with Mannheim environment was, somehow, a strange triangulation of music professionalism, Freemasonry connections and wild music rivalry.

Another Mannheim Family of Musicians: the Danzis
Nonetheless, we can say that, after all, Mozart liked the Mannheimers more than the people in Salzburg: the Mannheimers were, in any case, real music professionals, while most of the Salzburgers were just semi-professionals or simple amateurs, often even of bad level.
So the Mannheim family of the Danzis was that kind of family of music professionals of high level Mozart wanted to be in connection with.
The old Danzi was Innocenz Danzi, the famous first cellist at the Mannheim Court since 1754 and whose playing Mozart admired very much. Old Danzi had three children: Johann, who became violinist; Franziska, who became an important international Opera singer (better known as Lebrun, the surname of her husband, the famous oboist Ludwig August Lebrun, another Mannheimer); Franz, an important cellist, who became an important conductor and composer and a great promoter of Mozart and von Weber.
To understand the kind of relationship that existed between the Mozarts and the Danzis one must read a fundamental letter by Leopold Mozart: Vienna, 21 February 1785.
«We lunched on Friday, the 18th, with Stephanie junior, just the four of us and Herr Le Brun, his wife, Karl Cannabich [i.e. son of the old Cannabich, director/conductor of the Mannheim orchestra, who became also a famous conductor and who wrote also a famous Cantata in memory of Mozart] and a priest. Let me tell you [i.e. Nannerl] at once that there was no thought of a fast-day. We were only offered meat dishes. A pheasant as an additional dish was served in cabbage and the rest was fit for a prince. Finally we had oysters, most delicious glacé fruits and (I must not forget to mention this) several bottles of champagne… The two concerts which Herr Le Brun and his wife are giving in the theatre are on Wednesday, the 23rd, and Monday, the 28th. All the boxes for the first concert were sold out on the 18th. These people are going to make an enormous amount of money.»
Furthermore, in 1790 Franz Danzi married a famous music pupil of Leopold Mozart himself, the excellent opera singer Maria Margarethe Marchand, and, just as a curiosity, let us remember that Franziska Danzi Lebrun was born and died in the same years as Mozart… 1756 and 1791!

Munich, before 4 November 1790
Mozart to his wife
«You can well imagine that I have had a good time with the Cannabichs, Herr Le Brun, Ramm, Marchand and Brochard, and that we have talked a great deal about you, my love. […] PS. Gretl [i.e. Maria Margarethe Marchand former pupil of Leopold] is now married to Madame Le Brun’s brother [i.e. Franz Danzi], so her name is Madame Danzi.»

Franz Danzi as Composer
Danzi wrote a great number of Operas, Ballets and Theatre Music Works (Incidental Music). Unfortunately most of his Opera/Theatre works went completely lost and, furthermore, those few still extant scores are presently incomplete or in a miserable state, in most cases… And this is a great loss, because, as far as we know from the surviving fragments, Danzi’s Music Theatre creativity was really original and innovative to such an extent, that various scholars consider Danzi the actual forerunner of his friend von Weber’s musical world, in particular the von Weber of the Freischütz.
As a matter of fact, Danzi started working on Operas, as a pupil of Vogler (who preferred the highly dramatic theatre music, as a musical incarnation of the spirit of Shakespeare: see also Vogler’s 1777-1779 theory works), following in the footsteps of a few experiments on the Singspiel by conjugating the approach of Gluck with that of a few Mannheimers like Holzbauer (and before Mozart’s Serail). Then a fundamental interest of Danzi in Opera Music themes like scenes full of Magic and the rendering of horrendous supernatural situations was, without doubt, an important cause of inspiration for his close friend von Weber (another Mannheimer of Freemasonry descent, relative of Mozart and of his wife Constanze Weber): both friends, Weber and Danzi, were pupils of Vogler and, at the same time, strictly connected to the family of the Mozarts.
Other peculiarities of Danzi’s Opera music certainly reveal the truest pupil of the school of Vogler: pre-romantic atmospheres (based on the musical rendering of the Shakespearean drama), the large use of the minor keys in his compositions, the large use of chromaticism techniques (typical of Vogler and of the second period Mozart and Haydn, probably derived from Vogler himself and from his theory books), the use of dissonant harmony techniques.
Other characteristics of Danzi’s music can be found also in his Orchestral works and in his Chamber music: a throbbing rhythm full of vitality and energy, great beautiful melodies rich also in virtuoso passages and a great passion for the study of an accurate orchestration, based of a full charming sonority which can underline well-built and well-studied nice contrasts of the various instruments chosen for the compositions.
Most of the modern listeners know Danzi only from his marvellous Chamber Music and Concerto works, which, though full of an original and very personal interpretation of the Mannheim tradition and of Mozartian/Hummelian spirit, usually tend to less reveal the dramatic strength of Danzi full-orchestra creative genius. And that’s why the 2nd movements of his Chamber Music/Concerto works always deserve particular attention, for their meditative and sometimes a bit melancholic atmospheres, and that’s why also the musical treatment of the single instruments, as solos, and the odd and rare combinations of instruments are extremely interesting: Danzi’s Chamber Music has certainly an Orchestra perspective.
Among his most remarkable works: the many works for cello, those for bassoon, the works featuring rare combinations of instruments, like those for viola, basson and horn, his Chamber Music for various combinations with Winds.
The fragments and what remains of his Operas practically are not available yet… Nonetheless some good recordings of Danzi’s Symphonies (for example, especially the remarkably dramatic Symphony P. 221, which was written before 1804, that’s to say before Beethoven’s Eroica) may give an idea of his style… his powerful orchestra style, which can be defined, in some ways, full of proto-romantic nuances and musical ideas, which will re-appear much later in the symphonies by Schumann, Schubert and Mendelssohn: most of Danzi’s symphonies belong to the period 1790-1803!
Just to begin with, here 6 CD Albums to build an approach to Danzi’s pre-Weberian music world: The Complete Symphonies (cpo), The Revolutionary Flute Quartets (Uppernote), Psalms (cpo), the highly critically acclaimed Ouverture – Piano & Cello Concertos (Sony; see BBC Magazine), Overtures & Flute Concertos (Coviello), J. Galloway & S. Meyer Danzi’s Concertos (RCA Victor)…
… And then the brand new magnificent series of Danzi’s Chamber Music Music for Piano and Winds performed by the great Ensemble F2 (S. Devine, J. Booth, A. Scott, et alii): the first 2 voll. are already available at





Franz Danzi as the Mannheimer Promoter of Mozart and Weber
In a world without radios and recordings, the promotion of music composers and of their works followed various paths: more concerts, more operas on stage (even though sometimes highly manipulated) and the art of transcriptions, arrangements and variations.
Danzi was a great promoter of Mozart and of his music and involved his friends in this activity, i.e. in particular Spohr and Weber (who was closely linked to Mozart and his wife Constanze Weber through a Mannheim family of Freemasons: the Webers).
Thus Danzi carried on an intense activity of production of Mozart’s operas and of Mozart’s works with the precise intent to reach the largest audience possible through his cultural events on Mozart, in particular across Germany, Northern Italy and Bohemia.
Among such activities, there was also Danzi’s interest in transcriptions of Mozart’s works: the most famous one the arrangement of 16 nos. of The Magic Flute for a String Quartet (ca. 1800).
Like another Mannheim friend of Mozart (the young Cannabich), Danzi wrote also a secular cantata to be performed on 5 December in memory of Mozart (1805). The Mannheimer Constanze Mozart usually adored such works, in particular the 1790s cantata by the Mannheimer young Cannabich, a composition which may have highly influenced also Beethoven in his writing his Choral Fantasy and his 9th Symphony.
Great friend of Weber (another pupil of Vogler and relative and great admirer of Mozart), Danzi worked a lot to develop the style of Opera and the masterpieces by von Weber were largely based also on Danzi’s theories on Opera. And Danzi, then, became a great promoter of Weber’s own operas by producing them in German theatres, in particular PreciosaDer Freischütz and Euryanthe, so to get the widest diffusion possible for Weber’s music.

Franz Danzi, Cleopatra Duodrama, Overture (1780) World Premiere Recording: here some similarity to Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music K477 (1785).

Franz Danzi, Flute Concerto D Minor, 3rd Mv. Polacca (1805)


In 1997 Dr. Hans Schneider has published the Correspondance of Franz Danzi (1785-1826, 339 p.).

Various works by Franz Danzi are available at IMSLP:
Franz Danzi: Scores

A) Compositions by Franz Danzi:

• Various Arrangements of Works by Mozart, in particular 16 nos. from The Magic Flute for String Quartet

• Operas (many lost)
•  Azachia (1780)
•  Cleopatra (duodrama, 1780)
•  Laura Rosetti (Singspiel, 1781)
•  Der Sylphe (Singspiel, 1788)
•  Die Mitternachtsstunde (comic opera, 1788)
•  Der Triumph der Treue (grosse Oper, 1789, lost)
•  Der Quasi-Mann (1789, lost)
•  Deucalion et Pirrha (ca. 1795)
•  Der Kuss (Singspiel, 1799, lost)
•  El Bondocani (1802, lost)
•  Iphigenie in Aulis (1807, lost)
•  Dido (melologue, 1811, lost)
•  Camilla und Eugen (Singspiel, 1812)
•  Rubezahl (1813, lost)
•  Malvina (1814)
•  Turandot (Singspiel, 1817, lost)
•  Die Probe (1817)
•  L’Abbé de l’Attaignant (grosse Oper, 1820)

• Ballets & Theatre Music (many works, most of them lost)

• Sacred Music
•  Preiss Gottes (cantata, 1803)
•  Abraham auf Moria (oratorio, 1808)
•  Der 6. Psalm op. 60 (1823)
•  Der 128 Psalm op. 65 (1823)
•  9 Psalms
•  ca. 10 Masses
•  variousSalve Regina
•  various works:Te DeumAve Regina etc.

• Vocal Music not Sacred
•  Das Freudenfest (cantata, 1804)
•  Kantate am Jahrestag von Mozarts Tod zu singen (cantata, 1805)
•  ca. 100 Lieder (among them Opp. 14, 15, 19, 69, 70)
•  Balladen und Romanzen Op. 46
•  8 Volkslieder
• Vocal Music with Piano (among various pieces):
•  6 dreistimmige Gesänge Op. 16
•  8 vierstimmige Gesänge Op. 17
•  3 Soldatenlieder Op. 58
•  Gesänge der Hellenen Op. 72

• Piano Solo
•  3 Sonatas 4-Hands (among them Op. 2, Op. 9)
•  Sonatas Op. 3, Op. 12, Op. 33
•  Various pieces 4-Hands Op. 11
•  Délassament Musical 2-Hands & 4-Hands 8 voll. (1807)
•  6 Pièces Faciles Op. 73 (ca. 1824)
•  Marches des Chevaliers
•  Marsch aus Agnes Bernauerin
•  6 Monferrine (dubious)

• Symphonic Music
•  7 Symphonies
•  Various Sinfonie Concertanti

• Concertos
•  1 Concerto for Harpsichord
•  2 Concertos for Piano (among them Op. 4)
•  5 Concertos for Cello
•  Concertino for Cello Op. 46
•  5 Concertos for Bassoon
•  4 Concertos for Flute
•  Concerto for Flute & Clarinet Op. 41
•  Concerto for Clarinet & Bassoon Op. 47
•  Concerto for Horn
•  Andante for Harpsichord & Strings
•  3 Pots-pourris for Clarinet
•  1 Pots-pourri for Violin Op. 61

• Chamber Music
•  Sextet Op. 10
•  Sextet Op. 15
•  3 Quintets Op. 66
•  3 Quintets for Piano & Winds Opp. 41, 53, 54
•  9 Quintets for Winds Opp. 56, 67, 68
•  3 Quintets Op. 50
•  19 Quartets Opp. 5, 6, 7, 16, 29, 44, 55
•  3 Quartets with Bassoon Op. 40
•  Pièces détachées
•  Trio with Piano
•  3 Sonatas with Piano
•  3 Trios Op. 7
•  Trio Op. 23
•  Sonata for 2 Pianos & Violin Op. 42
•  6 Sonatas for 2 Cellos Op. 1
•  24 Petits Duos for 2 Cellos
•  3 Duos for Viola & Cello
•  3 Duos for Viola & Cello Op. 9
•  2 Sonatas with Piano Opp. 28, 44
•  2 Sonatinas with Piano
•  Variations with Piano onO Clori, lass ihn schwinden
•  Sonata for Cello & Piano
•  3 Petits Duos for Cello & Flute Op. 64
•  Sonata for Basset Horn or Cello Op. 62

• Manuals for the singers
•  18 Exercises pour le chant (s.a.)
•  Leçons de vocalisation (s.a.)
•  Singübungen für Sopran 2 voll. (s.a.)
•  Neue Singübungen editio aucta of previous one (s.a.)

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