Thursday, July 17, 2014

Great Polish Composers: Franciszek Lessel


Franciszek Lessel was a Polish composer renowned for his innovative contribution to the ensemble instrumentation for Grand Trio for Clarinet, Horn and Piano, Op. 4 (1806)

When Lessel was only 19 years of age he left Poland and travelled to Vienna, where he became Joseph Haydn's student and protege. Lessel studied under his tutelage until Haydn died.But Franciszek's first teacher was his own father, Wincenty, who was a pianist and composer in his own right.  (Incidentally, Wincenty studied under the famous Austrian composer, Karl von Ditters.) Franciszek  indeed inherited a musical pedigree.

 In Vienna, Franciszek rose to fame as a pianist, having composed many piano compositions such as Variations,  Sonata op.2, Adagio, and Rondo op.9. He dedicated his famous composition, Fantaisie in E minor,  to his lover Cecylia Beydale.  Alas, his liaison with the beautiful Cecylia was all too short-lived as it was soon discovered that they had the same mother.

After ten years in Vienna, Franciszek returned triumphantly to Poland where he continued to write compositions and perform as a court musician.  In 1820, Lesser had reached the pinnacle of his fame, and his compositions and chamber works were widely celebrated. The National Theatre in Warsaw played his symphonies and piano concertos to great acclaim.  He was the only Polish composer to present his work in his beloved Poland.  Critics enthusiastically applauded Lesser for his genius,  and noted Mozart's influences in his work.

Lesser was a prolific composer however, an enormous amount of his work has been lost or destroyed. Only a few compositions have been preserved to this day. (One can only surmise that many of his manuscripts, as well as that created by other Polish composers, were destroyed by the Nazi Germans during World War 2.  It was the Nazi plan to not only obliterate the Polish nation, but erase any vestige of Polish culture as well.)
In his later years, Lessel occupied various administrative, directorial positions that were far removed from his first love, music. 

Franciszek Lessel died on December 26, 1838 in Piotrkow Trybunalski.


Major compositions

Orchestral works:
Overture in C major op. 10
Symphony in B minor
Symphony in E flat major
Symphony in B flat major
Symphony in D major
Symphony in G minor (1805)

Works for solo instrument accompanied by orchestra:

Adagio et rondeau à la polonaise op. 9 for piano and orchestra (1807)
Caprice et variations op. 10 for piano and orchestra
Potpourri op. 12 for piano and orchestra
Concerto for piano and orchestra in C major op. 14
Concerto for horn and orchestra in E major
Concerto for horn and orchestra in E flat major
Concerto for 2 flutes and orchestra
March for flute and orchestra
Variations for flute and orchestra
Variations for horn and orchestra
Capriccio in D major for clarinet and orchestra
Chamber works:
Three concert duos op. 1 for 2 flutes
Quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello op. 3
Grand Trio in E flat major op. 4 for piano, clarinet and horn (1804)
Trio for piano, violin and cello in E major op. 5
Duo pour deux flûtes et Variations sur un thème de l'opéra Faniska de Cherubini op. 7
Fantaisie caractéristique op. 31 for piano, violin, viola and cello (1822)
Two sextets for 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons
Three partitas for 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons
Piano quartet in E flat major
Piano quintet in F minor
String quartet no. 1 in A major
String quartet no. 6 in D major
String quartet no. 8 in B major (1824)
Fantasia for string quartet
Trio for 2 clarinets and bassoon
Duet for 2 clarinets
Variations for piano for 4 hands and violin

Piano works:

Three piano sonatas op. 2
Fantasia in C major op. 8
Adagio and fugue in D minor op. 11, for 4 hands
Fantasia in E minor op. 13
Variations op. 15 no. 1
Variations op. 15 no. 2
New polonaise in D major

Vocal and instrumental works:
Mass in C major for 4 solo voices, mixed choir and orchestra
Mass in B flat major for 4 solo voices, mixed choir, orchestra and organ (1813)
Funeral mass in G major for 4 solo voices, mixed choir, orchestra and organ
Ave Regina, offertory for 3 voices and orchestra
Graduale Benedictus et venerabilis for voices and orchestra
Three motets for voice, 2 violins, bass and organ
Tantum ergo for 4 voices and orchestra

Songs for voice and piano to the words by Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz:

Bolesław Śmiały
Władysław Jagiełło
Zawisza Czarny
Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk
Jan Tarnowski
Stefan Batory
Jan Kazimierz
Jan III Sobieski
The Funeral of Prince Józef Poniatowski


La Dancomanie
Les marchands de Modes

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