Born and raised in a Bohemian village, Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) inherited a love of music from his organist father. Having studied in Prague, he finally landed a gig in Dresden, playing bass for Augustus the Strong, Prince Elector of Saxony.
Zelenka’s dream was to be a composer. He was permitted to tour Italy and France to see what he could pick up from their respective geniuses. For three years he was under the tutelage of Johann Joseph Fux (illustrious enough to have been previously featured on this blog).
Over the years, our ambitious bassist was allowed to substitute for Augustus’s court composers in their occasional absences.
Though he was eventually designated “church composer,” however, enabling him to fulfill his calling on a limited but more regular basis, Zelenka was repeatedly turned down for more prestigious appointments.
In my humble opinion, Zelenka’s music is among the most beautiful ever written.
The moral of this story would seem to be either that my taste is innocently but decidedly poor, or that life is simply not fair.
Given that J. S. Bach was a Zelenka fan long before it was cool (and even now most of the world has not caught on), I will humbly but firmly go with the latter.
What do you think? Please comment, subscribe, & forward to friends!