Kotzwara, Franz (DNB00)

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KOTZWARA or KOCSWARA, FRANZ (1750?–1793), musician, of Bohemian origin, was born in Prague about 1750. He seems to have led a vagabond life in Germany and Holland previous to 1784, when he was attracted to England by the Handel commemoration in Westminster Abbey, in which he took part as a member of the band. He was subsequently in Ireland, but returned to London in 1791, when he was engaged by Giovanni Gallini [q. v.] as a double-bass player at the new Italian opera-house. He was about the same time engaged by various music-sellers to compose trios and quartets. His sonata, the ‘Battle of Prague,’ for pianoforte, violin, and violoncello (which is still performed), at once achieved popularity and success. He wrote also three sonatas for piano and violin, three for the piano alone, besides some serenades, and three solos for the viola. In the spring of 1792 he was travelling on the continent, and François Joseph Fétis, then a boy of eight years old, describes a visit which Kotzwara paid to his father at Mons. After Kotzwara had heard Fétis play a sonata of Mozart, he invited him to play at sight on the harpsichord his ‘Battle of Prague.’ Fétis's father accompanied him on the violin, and Kotzwara himself on the 'cello.

Kotzwara was very versatile, and played a great number of instruments with fluency if not distinction. He was, however, as dissipated as he was clever, and on 2 Feb. 1793 he was discovered hanging in a house of ill-fame in Vine Street, Covent Garden. He had been making experiments in hanging in the company of some half-drunken women, and his death was the result of an accident; the parties implicated were arrested, but were ultimately acquitted.

[Fétis, v. 380; Imperial Dict. of Biog. pt. xii. p. 115; Reissmann's Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon; Champlin's Cyclop. of Music, ii. 388; Dictionary of Music (1827), ii. 24; Grove, ii. 69; Brown's Dict. of Musicians, p. 364. The five last-mentioned authorities all give the date of Kotzwara's death wrongly as 1791.]

T. S.