... czech and slovak music guide ...

Jan Dismas Zelenka

born: 1679-10-16
died: 1745-12-23
birthplace: Lounovice pod Blanikem
diedplace: Drazdany

The greatest Czech composer of the Baroque period. He got the basic musical education from his father Jiri, the teacher and organist at Lounovice. After studies in Prague and short presence in the band of Baron Hartig, he left to Dresden in 1710 to take the position of double bass player at the Saxon Court of August the Strong. In 1715 studied in Vienna with the famous master, imperial orchestra leader J.J.Fux. On his recommendation, the King August allowed him further studies in Italy with Antonio Lotti. Zelenka was introduced as a composer in 1723 on the occasion of coronation of the Habsburk Emperor Charles 6th as the Bohemian King. For the spectacular celebration in Prague, he wrote several outstanding pieces, e.g. music for allegorical opera on the life of St. Wenceslaus „Sub olea pacis et palma virtutis“, some orchestral works (Ouvertura in F, Sinfonia concertante a moll, Hipocondria) and well-known Trio Sonatas. In 1733, Johann Adolf Hasse replaced Zelenka in the position of the royal bandmaster in order to bring the new musical style. Zelenka works mostly on religious compositions (20 masses, 3 requiems, oratorias etc.) He died on Christmas 1745 in Dresden.His work was archived in the deposits of Dresden Choir as the royal property and was not allowed to copy or issue in public (however, this ban was breached by Wilhelm Friedemann, son of Johann Sebastian Bach, to copy Zelenkas Magnificat for his father). During his life, Zelenka reached the admiration from his fellows (Bach, Telemann) as well as students and followers (J.J. Quantz, J.G.Barter, J.G.Rolling). His music is distinct by harmonical invention, always creative and full of originality. In Czechia, Zelenka was re-discovered by Bedrich Smetana who copied one of his orchestral suites in Dresden and performed it in 1863 in the New Town Theatre, Prague.

  • Religious music (masses, requiems, Te Deum, oratorios, cantatas, melodrams, psalms)
  • Temporal works (Capricios and famous Sonatas)


Mala encyklopedie hudby (dr. Jar. Smolka; &kolektiv, Supraphon 1983)


Recordare,domine,testamenti tu! (MP3) (Aria for alto solo, oboe, viola, cembalo and violon; Jiri Mihule-oboe, Josef Hala-cembalo,Karel Spelina-viola, Frantisek Posta-violon, Libuse Marova voc; CD Portret Jana Dismase Zelenky, Panton 1972)


Last update 2012-07-02