Saturday, 27 December 2014

Corri and Dussek

Jan Ladislav Dussek (February 12, 1760 – March 20, 1812) was a Czech composer and pianist. He was an important representative of Czech music abroad in the second half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

Dussek was one of the first piano virtuosi to travel widely throughout Europe. He performed at courts and concert venues from London to Saint Petersburg to Milan and was celebrated for his technical prowess. During a nearly ten-year stay in London, he was instrumental in extending the size of the pianoforte and was the recipient of one of John Broadwood's first 6-foot pianos. Harold Schonberg wrote that he was the first pianist to sit at the piano with his profile to the audience, earning him the appellation "le beau visage." All subsequent pianists have sat on stage in this manner. He was one of the best-regarded pianists in Europe before Beethoven's rise to prominence.

In the spring of 1791, Dussek appeared in a series of concerts, a number of which featured Sophia, the young daughter of music publisher Domenico Corri. In a concert on June 15 that year, the pair played a piano duet together; they were married in September 1792.Sophia Corri was a singer, pianist, and harpist who became famous in own right. They had a daughter, Olivia, but the marriage was not happy, involving a series affairs by both parties.

Some of the concerts in 1791 and 1792 featured both Dussek and Joseph Haydn;

Also, in 1792 Dussek embarked on a music publishing venture with Sophia's father Domenico. It is this collaboration which holds most interest for students of the dances of this period as a considerable amount of the firm's output was dance music and guidance on dance figures under such titles as "For the year 1797 twenty-four new country dances with their proper figures for the harp, piano forte and violin as performed at the Prince of Wales’s and other grand balls and assemblies humbly dedicated to the nobility and gentry subscribers to Willis’s rooms, Festino etc"

From adverts in the Bath papers, we learn that Dussek and his wife came to Bath to perform in 1793 and were resident for a time at number 52 New King Street.

The Corri Dussek company while successful at first fared poorly in later years, and the circumstances of its failure spurred Dussek to leave London in 1799 to go to Germany and leaving Corri in debtors' prison.

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