Leopold Koželuch

Leopold Koželuch


• 1747 1818


Leopold Antonin Kozeluch was a well-known composer and music pedagogue in his time who produced many works involving piano, including concertos, chamber works and solo compositions. But his output also encompassed a substantial number of works for orchestra and for vocal/choral forces, as well as for the theater, though most of the scores for his operas and ballets have been lost. For about the last decade-and-a-half of his career, Kozeluch focused primarily on Court musical duties and the arrangement of folksongs of Welsh, Irish and Scottish origin.

Kozeluch was born Jan Antonín Kozeluch but, to avoid confusion with an older cousin, adopted ‘Leopold' as his given name, dropping ‘Jan' altogether. He studied music in his childhood in Velvary and later in Prague with a cousin and with composer Franz Xavier Dussek. But Kozeluch's primary educational activity at this time was the study of law. Beginning in 1771 however, Kozeluch, already a virtuoso pianist whose compositional focus would have seemed to augur a penchant for symphonies and piano music, scored his first successes in ballet and pantomimes. He soon abandoned plans for a law career while continuing to produce popular scores for the theater until 1778, when he relocated to Vienna.

The Austrian capital proved quite hospitable to Kozeluch in the 1780s, as he scored successes with many of his symphonies, piano concertos and vocal works. He produced more than half of his 49 piano sonatas in the 1780s, many received with great enthusiasm. Kozeluch quickly became a highly respected teacher now, as well, successful enough to decline the post of Court organist under the Archbishop of Salzburg, and financially secure enough to establish a publishing house (1785).

Kozeluch's works appeared not only in his own publications now but in those abroad, particularly in England. In 1792 he was appointed Royal Orchestra Master and Court composer under Austrian Emperor Franz II. In about 1797 Scottish publisher George Thomson contracted the composer to provide--for quite handsome sums--arrangements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish folksongs. For the remainder of his life Kozeluch retained his Court posts, teaching and publishing activities, while composing relatively little original music. His last volume of folksong arrangements appeared in London, in 1809. He died a respected composer and musician, though his reputation faded over the next decades in the shadow of Beethoven.