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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » Z » Zelenka, Jan Dismas

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Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679 - 12/1745)

The Bohemian composer Jan Dismas Zelenka played the double bass in the royal orchestra in Dresden, whence he was despatched for study in Italy, eventually returning to spend the rest of his life in the Saxon capital. It was expected that he would succeed Heinichen as court Kapellmeister, but the position went, instead, to Hasse, and Zelenka remained, now as Church Composer, a position of much less importance. He won the admiration of distinguished contemporaries, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, for his use of counterpoint, his harmonic imagination and originality, and made some use of Bohemian folk elements.

Orchestral Music

Zelenka's orchestral compositions include a set of five Capriccios, among other compositions in the musical idiom of his time.

Vocal and Choral Music

Much of Zelenka's surviving work is in the form of sacred vocal music, settings of the Mass or of movements from the Mass, of psalms and of canticles.


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