Leopold Kozeluch Keyboard Music

Leopold Antonin Koželuch (1747-1818), one of the better composers of the Classical period, was born in Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia) about 20 miles north of Prague. His father was a local cobbler. Koželuch began studying law in Prague but eventually gave it up in favor of becoming a professional musician. He became famous throughout Europe for his pianism and his compositions.

Koželuch had a pleasant personality and never had trouble getting musical positions and commissions. He was also a good businessman and founded his own publishing firm.

He composed in all the popular forms, writing fifty piano sonatas, eighty piano trios, twenty concertos, and symphonies, oratorios and operas.

As regards the piano sonatas, I have the volume published by Supraphon, Prague, in 1984. This contains five sonatas; unfortunately the preface is in Czech, but I think it says that these are the only sonatas available....please correct me if you know better.

The works are variable in standard. They fit beautifully under the hand, and they flow. Some movements are very good indeed; others are predictable and commonplace.

The pieces: (1780-1793*)

1. Cm
2. Gm
3. Dm
4. Eb maj
5. Fm

The best movements:
No. 4, 1st 2 movements; no. 5, 2nd movement. These three movements played in this order form an effective work. The rest are rather ordinary and not really worthwhile.

Note on the Supraphon edition:
The print has the annoying habit of not quite finishing a phrase towards the bottom of the page - so you have to turn over at inconvenient moments. Why can't typesetters get this right?

Eb sonata, 1st movement, bar 15, beat 3 - replace the 4 semiquavers as written with FGFEb, which smooths out the scale run.

*My lack of Czech means I'm not sure whether the dates refer to the writing or the publication.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Update 2011 .... a new edition consisting of four volumes of 200 pages each is out - containing many more of Kozeluch's sonatas, edited by Christopher Hogwood.

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