Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/462

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450
DIVERTIMENTO.
DITTERSDORF.

the post of capellmeister to the Bishop of Grosswardein, vice Michael Haydn departed to Salzburg. For his new master he composed symphonies, violin-concertos, string-quartets, and his first oratorio, 'Isacco figura del Redentore,' to a Latin adaptation of Metastasio by the Bishop himself. He also started a small theatre in the castle, for which he wrote several pieces, including his first comic opera, 'Amore in Musica.' But in 69 the Bishop received a rebuke from the Empress on the laxity of his life, and dismissed his whole band. At Troppau Dittersdorf made the acquaintance of Count Schafgotsch, Prince Bishop of Breslau, who invited him to his estate at Johannisberg, where he was living in retirement and disgrace. The versatile musician found means to cheer his master's solitude. He got together a band, engaged singers and musicians, set up a theatre, wrote operas and oratorios, and went out hunting, all with equal zest. In return for his services he was made, through the Bishop's influence (in 1770), Knight of the Golden Spur (a distinction enjoyed by Gluck and Mozart), and Amtshauptmann of Freiwaldau (1773), and received a title of nobility—'Ditters von Dittersdorf.' The oratorio 'Davide' and the comic opera 'Il viaggiatore Americano' belong to this period, and it was while rehearsing them that he fell in love with Fraulein Nicolini, whom he had engaged from Vienna, and married her. During a visit to Vienna he composed 'Ester,' words by the Abbé Pintus, for the concerts (Dec. 19 and 21, 1773) in aid of the widows' fund of the Tonkünstler Societät. Between the parts he played a concerto of his own, and so pleased the Emperor, that on Gassmann's death (Jan. 22, 1774), he wished to appoint him court-capellmeister, but Dittersdorf was too proud to apply for the post, and the Emperor was not inclined to offer it unsolicited. 'Ester' was repeated before the court in 1785; 'Isacco' was performed in Vienna (1776); and 'Giobbe,' also written for the Tonkünstler Societät, on April 8 and 9, 1786, one part each night, Dittersdorf himself conducting. In 1789 it was produced in Berlin with marked success. On another visit to Vienna, in 1786, he produced a symphony on Ovid's Metamorphoses at the morning concerts in the Augarten, and it was on this occasion that the often-quoted conversation with the Emperor Joseph II took place. 'Der Apotheker und der Doctor' (July 11), a lively, sound, though somewhat rough operetta, which has kept the stage to the present day; 'Betrug durch Aberglauben' (Oct. 3, 1786); 'Democrito corretto' (Jan. 24, 1787); 'Die Liebe im Narrenhause' (April 12), all at Vienna; and 'Hieronymus Knicker' (Leopoldstadt, July 1789), were brilliant successes, with the exception of 'Democrito.' In the meantime things had changed at Johannisberg. The Bishop's band, dismissed during the war, had reassembled after the Peace of Teschen, 1779. About 1790 Dittersdorf was obliged to attend to his duties at Freiwaldau, and during his absence his enemies slandered him to the Bishop. Dittersdorf nursed him devotedly during his long illness, but on his death (1795) was dismissed with 500 gulden, a sum soon exhausted in visiting the baths with a view to restore his health, shattered by his irregularities. His next asylum was at the house of Count von Stillfried at Rothlhotta in Bohemia, and here, in spite of constant suffering, he composed operas, symphonies, and innumerable pianoforte pieces, for which he in vain sought a purchaser. On his death-bed he dictated his autobiography to his son, and died two days after it was completed, Oct. 31, 1799. Dittersdorf was a thoroughly popular composer. He possessed a real vein of comedy, vivacity, and quick invention, bright spontaneous melody, original instrumentation, and breadth in the 'ensembles' and 'finales,' qualities which, exercised on pleasing librettos, made him the darling of his contemporaries. He held the same position in Germany that Grétry did in France, though inferior to Grétry in delicacy, spirituality, and depth of sentiment. His oratorios, much valued in their time; his symphonies, in the style of Haydn, though inferior to Haydn in grace and liveliness; his violin-concertos, string-quartets (of which 12 were published in 1866), duos, 'divertimenti,' a concerto with 11 instruments obbligato, masses, motets, and songs—all contributed to his fame, and if they did not survive him, were of moment in their day. Besides the operas already named he composed 'Lo sposo burlato' (1775); 'La Contadina fedele' (1785); 'Orpheus der zweite' (1787); 'Das rothe Käppchen' (1788); 'Der Schiffspatron' (1789); 'Hocus Pocus' (1790); 'Das Gespenst mit der Trommel' (1794); 'Gott Mars oder der eiserne Mann'; 'Don Quixotte'; 'Der Schach von Schiras' (all 1795); 'Ugolino,' grand 'opera seria'; 'Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor'; 'Der schone Herbstag' (all 1796); 'Der Ternengewinnst'; 'Der Mädchen-markt'; 'Die Opera buffa'; 'Don Coribaldi' (1798); 'Il Tribunale di Giove,' serenata (1788); and 'Das Mädchen von Cola,' a song of Ossian's, for pianoforte (1795). Of his symphonies, 'Six Simphonies à 8 parties'; 'Trois Simphonies á 4 parties obl., etc.'; and 'Simphonie dans le genre de cinq nations, etc.,' were published in Paris in 1770. On the title-page of the first set he is called 'first violin and maître de musique to Prince Esterhazy.' His autobiography (Leipsic 1801) forms the foundation of Arnold's 'Karl von Dittersdorf, etc. Bildungsbuch für junge Tonkünstler' (Erfurt 1810).

[ C. F. P. ]

DIVERTIMENTO, a term employed for various pieces of music.

  1. In Mozart it designates a piece closely akin to a Serenade or Cassation, usually in 6 or 7 movements—though sometimes only 4, and once as many as 10; indifferently for trio or quartet of strings, wind alone, or wind and strings mixed. Köchel's Catalogue contains no less than 22 of such Divertimenti. The following is the order of the movements in one of them (no. 287):—(1) Allegro; (2) Andante grazioso (6 variations); (3) Minuet; (4) Adagio; (5) Minuet; (6) Andante and Allegro molto. The changes of key are slight; in some there is no change at all.