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Fux, Ivan [Leopol'd] Ivanovich

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Fux, Ivan [Leopol'd] Ivanovich.

See Fuchs, Johann Leopold.

Fux, Johann Joseph

(b Hirtenfeld, nr St Marein, Styria, 1660; d Vienna, 13 Feb 1741). Austrian composer and music theorist. He represents the culmination of the Austro-Italian Baroque in music. His compositions reflect the imperial and Catholic preoccupations of the Habsburg monarchy no less than does the architecture of Fischer von Erlach or the scenic designs of the Galli-Bibiena family. His Gradus ad Parnassum (1725) has been the most influential composition treatise in European music from the 18th century onwards.

1. Life.

2. Music.

3. Theory.

4. Sources and catalogues.



HARRY WHITE (text, bibliography), THOMAS HOCHRADNER (work-list)

Fux, Johann Joseph

1. Life.

Fux's exact date of birth is unknown. According to his death certificate he was 81 when he died; Flotzinger (Fux-Studien, A1985, p.34) has conjectured that he may have been born on 5 January 1660. His antecedents were of peasant stock from the village of Hirtenfeld. His father, Andreas (b before 1618; d 1708), married twice, and Johann Joseph may have been his eldest child. Although a peasant, Andreas Fux was a parish official attached to the church at St Marein and came into contact with a number of musicians, among them the Graz organist J.H. Peintinger and the Kantor Joseph Keller, who probably influenced his son's early musical development. It is also possible, given his father's position, that Fux sang in the parish choir.

In 1680 Fux enrolled as a ‘grammatista’ at Graz University, and in 1681 he entered the Jesuit Ferdinandeum as a student of grammar and music. The remark ‘profugit clam’ (‘he ran away secretly’) added to his matriculation document indicates that he left the Ferdinandeum without completing the formal requirements for graduation: some two months before he would have finished the prescribed three years he left Graz for the Jesuit university at Ingolstadt, where he was registered on 28 December 1683 as ‘Joannes Josephus Fux, Styrian of Hirtenfeld, student of logic, pauper’. He remained there until 1687.

The breadth of Fux's education at Graz and Ingolstadt was mediated through the agency of the Jesuit system of learning: he was a student of languages, logic, music and (at Ingolstadt) law. This undoubtedly prepared him for his future role in the administration of the Hofmusikkapelle in Vienna. By August 1685 he had taken a position as organist at St Moritz in Ingolstadt. A music inventory there, dated 1710, lists two Latin motets and a German funeral ode by him, which are his earliest known compositions; he is twice therein described as a ‘student of law’ and once as a ‘student of law and organist’.

Fux's movements between the beginning of 1689, when a new organist was appointed at St Moritz, and his marriage in 1696 (by which time he was organist at the Schottenkirche in Vienna) remain uncertain. Biographers have followed J.A. Scheibe's pseudo-mythological fable about the composer (published in 1745) in order to account for Fux's progression from provincial student to court musician, which is difficult otherwise to explain. In 1798 J.F. Daube plainly read this fable (by which Scheibe intended to illustrate the ‘prejudice’ of Italian musicians against non-Italian composers) to mean that Fux had attracted the attention of the Emperor Leopold I, who heard two masses by him while Fux was in the service of ‘a Hungarian bishop’ (presumably Leopold Karl von Kollonitsch, Archbishop of Hungary, who frequently resided in Vienna and knew the emperor from youth). The emperor had one of these masses performed in Vienna, but it was condemned by the Italian composers of his own retinue. When a second mass was passed off as the work of an anonymous Italian, it was acclaimed. ‘Much to the annoyance of the Italian party’ (Daube, A1798), Fux was then appointed to the imperial service by the emperor himself.

Three factors support the general thrust of this anecdotal (and patriotic) account: Fux's Missa SS Trinitatis, dedicated to Leopold I, can be dated to 1695. Its dedicatory letter refers to the fact that the emperor had already heard the work, and its title-page states that its subjectum was provided by a singer employed in the Hofmusikkapelle, Franz Ginter; by 1695, when this mass was almost certainly performed for the laying of the foundation stone of the Dreifaltigkeitskirche in Vienna, Fux must have been in the employ of an influential patron; and, finally, Fux's marriage in June 1696 to Clara Juliana Schnitzenbaum, the daughter of a family well-connected in the service of the imperial household, argues strongly that the composer had himself by this time made important contacts with the court. One of the witnesses to the marriage was Andreas Schmelzer, imperial ballet and chamber music composer, and son of the former Kapellmeister to the court, J.H. Schmelzer.

Daube's statement that Fux was in the service of a Hungarian bishop (presumably Kollonitsch) not only accounts for Fux's path to the imperial service, it also provides some explanation for the absorption of Italian style-consciousness (especially as between antico and moderno) in Fux's music. Kollonitsch's extensive visits to Rome may clarify the suggestion that Fux studied in Italy before he joined the Hofmusikkapelle. Kollonitsch travelled to Rome for the 1689 conclave which elected Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, at whose court both Corelli and Bernardo Pasquini were frequently present, and whose titular organist, Ottavio Pitoni, was known as a keen theorist and emulator of Palestrina. All three musicians have been advocated by Flotzinger (Fux-Studien, A1985, pp.55–60) as important influences which Fux may have directly and personally absorbed in Rome.

Although Fux's employment as court composer in Vienna dates officially from April 1698, he himself was ambiguous about his length of service in this capacity. In various documents (including the preface to the Gradus ad Parnassum), he implied that he began to work for the imperial household in 1695, or even 1693. His first responsibilities were in church and chamber music: he composed instrumental music in celebration of Archduke Charles's nameday (19 March) in 1698 and he also began to write music for the Sundays and feast days of the Church year, a duty which no longer much interested the incumbent Hofkapellmeister, Draghi, or his deputy, Pancotti. Together with the recently appointed composers Badia, Giovanni Bononcini and Marc’Antonio Ziani, Fux effectively began to introduce elements of late Baroque style into the sacred and secular genres cultivated at court.

In 1699 Fux and his wife adopted the daughter of his step-brother Peter, Eva Maria (1696–1773); upon Peter’s death in 1724 they also adopted his youngest son, Matthew (b 1719). Fux remained as organist at the Schottenkirche until 1702, when he resigned in order to serve the court more efficiently. His first secular dramatic work, Il fato monarchico, was performed as part of the carnival celebrations by boys of the court nobility on 16 February 1700; this was followed in 1702 by a larger commission, L'offendere per amare, given for the birthday of the wife of Crown Prince Joseph, Amalie Wilhelmine, as whose private Kapellmeister he was to serve from 1713 to 1718. After the death of Leopold I in 1705 and the accession of his son Joseph I, Fux retained the office of court composer. In the same year he was appointed deputy Kapellmeister at the Stephansdom, where in 1712 he succeeded J.M. Zacher as first Kapellmeister. He retained this office until the end of 1714, and during the same period he also directed services at the Salvatorkirche (until March 1715). His duties as deputy Kapellmeister at the Stephansdom centred on the music performed before the statue of Our Lady of Pötsch, which the emperor had had placed on the high altar of the cathedral in 1697.

After the unexpected death of Joseph I on 17 April 1711, the empress-regent Eleonora dissolved the Hofmusikkapelle (as was customary on the decease of the emperor), and many of its personnel, including Bononcini and Badia, were pensioned. By October 1711 Fux had been appointed deputy Kapellmeister to the court (with Ziani as Kapellmeister from 1712 until his death in 1715). Following his coronation in Frankfurt in 1711 and the gradual removal of his court to Vienna in 1712, Joseph's brother, Charles VI, restored the Hofmusikkapelle to its former pre-eminence: his personal knowledge of, and commitment to, music are reflected in the fact that the reduced Kapelle of 86 members at the beginning of his reign was increased to 134 by 1723 and remained approximately at this strength until his death. In January 1715 Charles VI appointed Fux as Hofkapellmeister, a position he held for the rest of his life.

As a composer who served three emperors, Fux undertook an especially taxing combination of duties. To judge by the Rubriche generali of 1727, Fux's responsibilities in composing and performing music for the Mass and Office alone were considerable. In addition, his regular commissions for opera and oratorio and for various kinds of Tafelmusik were combined with an administrative function to which his many testimonials and reports on musicians bear witness (see Köchel, A1872, pp.376–456). His coronation opera, Costanza e Fortezza, nominally in celebration of the Empress Elisabeth Christine's birthday but effectively written to mark the coronation of Charles VI as King of Bohemia, represents the peak of his public office. The opera was given in a specially designed open-air theatre in Prague (fig.2). It was directed by Fux's deputy, Caldara, Fux himself being indisposed with his chronic gout. The piece was praised by J.J. Quantz, who took part in the performance, and who preferred Fux's ‘more ecclesiastical than theatrical manner’ to ‘a more galant style of singing, decorated with a lot of little ornaments and grace notes’, given the exposed circumstances for which it was written (see Marpurg, A1754–78, p.216).

The publication of the Gradus ad Parnassum in 1725 has been compared in importance with the publication of Fischer von Erlach's Entwurf einer Historischen Architektur (Vienna, 1721). Both works embody the concept of Habsburg style selfconsciously, and persuasively relate their author's achievements to a coherent past (see Wellesz, A2/1991, pp.38–9). In Fux's case the notion of a ‘conservative-progressive’ conception of music, firmly rooted in the precedent and emulation of Palestrina, should not be permitted to obscure the late Baroque condition of his music. Fux's dispute with Johann Mattheson in 1717–18 (see Lester, D1977) foundered precisely on this conflict between modal and tonal versions of musical grammar (as between the abolition of solmization syllables in favour of tonal letter-names). The conflict was never resolved, and it probably resulted in Fux's refusal to supply Mattheson with biographical information for the latter's Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte (A1740). The attack on Fux therein (without mentioning his name; see Köchel, A1872, p.111) may be contrasted with sporadic but effective praise for the composer in Mattheson's Der vollkommene Capellmeister (1739).

On 8 June 1731 Fux's wife died, and some seven months later the composer drew up his will (5 January 1732). His activities at court notably decreased, with many of his responsibilities being assigned to Caldara and others. He had complained of serious illness at the close of the Gradus (which may have prevented his adding a second volume), and by the late 1720s his rate of composition had sharply declined. His last testimonial is dated 10 March 1740. On 13 February 1741 he developed a ‘raging fever’ (Köchel, A1872, p.266) and died. He was much mourned at court. The most outstanding of his many students were Gottlieb Muffat, G.C. Wagenseil and J.D. Zelenka. According to C.P.E. Bach (see Forkel, A1802, pp.106–7), J.S. Bach placed him first among those contemporary composers whom he most admired.

Fux, Johann Joseph

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