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František Jiránek and the Italian connection: A study of the influence of Antonio Vivaldi on the bassoon concertos of František Jiránek

The concertos of Antonio Vivaldi rapidly transformed not only Venetian and Italian music but influenced composers across the rest of Europe as well. The older generation of composers felt the need to integrate at least some of the features of the new and malleable Vivaldian ritornello model into their own works, and the younger generation simply fell completely under the inspiring composer's spell. Vivaldi's influence relied on his reputation as a virtuoso performer, Venice's cultural standing and, in particular, the rapid dissemination of his publications throughout Europe. Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot and musicologist Václav Kapsa have accrued a large amount of research on Vivaldi and Jiránek's lives, works and influence but have not spent a lot of time on the composer's bassoon concertos specifically. Inspired by their work, I have been able to create a clear image of both composers' surroundings, influences, and possible motivations to extrapolate my theories regarding the Jiránek bassoon concertos and his relationship with his teacher Vivaldi. This thesis is presented in six chapters, alongside performance editions of Jiránek's four extant bassoon concertos (including the two incomplete works) and a recording of a performance of the two complete concertos (KapM Jiranek 18 in F major and KapM Jiranek 21 in G minor), and two by Vivaldi (RV 496, and RV 501). Chapter 1 sites the study in the well-traversed area of Vivaldi scholarship, surveys the literature and introduces the purpose and processes of the thesis. Chapter 2 provides a detailed overview of the musical life of Bohemian composers of the early eighteenth century, the esteemed musical court of Count von Morzin, and Vivaldi's connection with it. Chapter 3 introduces František Jiránek and highlights his time as a student of Vivaldi. Chapter 4 considers the dominant galant aesthetic of the Bohemian courts and provides a discussion of rhetorical elements. Chapter 5 is a descriptive analysis, after John White, of the first movements of four bassoon concertos, each by Vivaldi and Jiránek. Chapter 6 presents findings and conclusions. During the 1720s, Vivaldi moved away from the earlier 'classic' concerto form of the 1710s creating a more flexible and inventive model. Unlike many of Vivaldi's followers who were influenced by the composer's earlier concertos, it is clear by the information gathered in this research that Jiránek followed his master's lead and composed in a similarly flexible way. The specific formal and motivic characteristics that have been identified here show that Jiránek used a vast array of these Vivaldian traits (such as compositional frameworks, orchestration, and phrasing) effortlessly, which he combined with an impressive working knowledge of the instruments he was writing for, comparably to his teacher, in a very idiomatic way.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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