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Lesser-Known Composer of the Month: Leopold Kozeluch

Each month the Allen Music Library highlights an oft-forgotten composer (from the slightly off mainstream to the obscure) represented in our collections, along with short profiles of lesser-known performers, musical scholars, or other musicians.

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Leopold Kozeluch (1747-1818)

Wait, Who?

Leopold Kozeluch was a Bohemian composer, pianist, and publisher.  Born Jan Antonín Koželuh, he adopted the name Leopold some time in his 20s to distinguish himself from his older cousin and teacher of the same name.  His early musical training was in and around Prague, first with his cousin and later with the pianist and composer Franz Xaver Dušek.

He settled in Vienna in 1778 and by the early 1780s was so well regarded there that he turned down an offer of employment from the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.  He began publishing his own works and in 1785 officially opened his own publishing house, through which he developed ties with many other European publishers, particularly George Thomson in Edinburgh for whom he produced numerous folk song arrangements later in his life.  In 1792 he was appointed Kammermusik Kapellmeister and Hofkapelle Compositor under Emperor Franz II, posts he held until his death.

Kozeluch was a transitional figure, producing works in the Viennese Classic style, fashionably simple galant pieces for amateurs, and at times exhibiting traits of early Romanticism.  He enjoyed enormous popularity among amateur performers Vienna, but was sometimes criticized among connoiseurs for pursuing simplicity at the expense of originality.

In the last decade or so of his life his focus shifted away from composition to teaching, arranging, and his court duties.

His daughter, Catherina Cibbini, was among his pupils and also made a name for herself as a composer and pianist in Vienna.

Brief Bibliography

In the Library

Works in Brief

Kozeluch wrote primarily chamber music both as a result of his court appointments and as a composer publishing extensively for the amateur market.  His works for solo piano number around a hundred, half of which are sonatas; another seven sonatas were written for piano 4-hands.  Other chamber works include six string quartets and around thirty duos and sixty trios for various combinations of instruments.  Works for orchestra include eleven symphonies, over twenty keyboard concertos, and several sinfonies concertantes.

His vocal music includes several large-scale cantatas and oratorios, around seventy songs for voice and piano, and a collection of vocal exercises.  He wrote six operas and several ballets, but most are lost.  He also made arrangements of around 170 Scottish and Welsh airs, in part in collaboration with Haydn.

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Laura Gayle Green
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