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In addition to piano arrangements for two hands, those for four hands or even for two pianos and eight hands gained widespread popularity. Usually only selected parts of the opera were featured, however. The piano arrangement of the prelude of Don Giovanni for four hands by Jan Wenzel also deserves mention.17 Among other requested arrangements of Don Giovanni were those for string quartets. One author of this type of work was the already-mentioned Jan Křtitel Kuchař or Jan Vent.
One of the speciﬁc traits peculiar to the Czech lands was the existence of such arrangements of Don Giovanni in which there were changes to the text of the work. This occurred with respect to the conditions for which the original music was being adapted, especially in cases where it was to be performed in cathedrals. This practice, already tried in the case of The Marriage of Figaro, expanded the borders of acceptability of Mozart‘s works. For example, the canzonetta “Deh vieni alla ﬁnestra” was given the new text “Veni Creator Spiritus,” while the music of Masetto’s aria “Ho capito” was sung to the words “Veni, Jesu.” The instrumental introduction to the dinner scene in Don Giovanni was used in an offertory “De resurrectione Domini.” The instrumentation of these arrangements naturally varied in according to the prevailing organ loft conditions at any given time.18
Harmonic Wind Arrangements of Don Giovanni
Unfortunately it is not always possible to determine the authors of some of the harmonic wind arrangements available to us. Sheet music has not often been preserved and individual parts do not give us nearly enough information. Often we can glean from them only what the author based them on. In spite of this fact though, there are even arrangements whose authors are not only known, but who are also recognized musical personalities.
The arrangements were most often the work of professional performers who knew best the strengths and weaknesses of individual instruments and who dedicated themselves to this activity, as a rule, for the entire period during which they played in a given ensemJ. K. Kuchař (1751–1829), Czech organist and composer, who also did piano arrangements of the following Mozart operas – Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberﬂöte, and La Clemenza di Tito.
Kuchař’s piano arrangement has been preserved in several copies made during the period. Three complete examples are in the archive of the Prague conservatory; a further comprehensive source is the so-called Osecký copy, preserved in the Museum of Czech Music. There also exist several incomplete copies.
Arrangements of the prelude for piano with two or four hands or for two pianos and eight hands were made accessible to the public by the publisher Marco Berra.
See Tomislav Volek and Jitřenka Pešková, Don Giovanni: Exhibition on the Occasion of the 200th Anniversary of its World Premiere in Prague 1787–1987 (Prague, 1987).
ble. Jan Vent and Josef Triebensee fall into this category. The orchestration preferred by them is one to the two basic types of so-called wind harmony.19 Especially the wind octet corresponds best to the basic requirements of Classicist harmony. English horns in the case of Vent’s arrangements, of course, represent a certain rarity and bring up doubts as to how one should picture “standard” orchestration.
Arrangements of Mozart’s operas for wind harmony were even advertised in the press of the period. For example, in the Wiener Zeitung, on 6 June 1787, some Czech musicians oﬀered their arrangements.
In this way we can ﬁnd out what the demands of the market were. In addition to piano arrangements, there was a particular interest in music for wind ensembles.20 In the Czech lands, an inexhaustible quantity of sextets and octets appear, mostly, however, as arrangements of individual parts of larger forms, for example, the arrangement of a single aria from an entire opera.
Arrangements of selected fragments of Mozart’s operas compete with arrangements of entire works, respectively with a greater quantity of individual numbers. These materials originate especially in aristocratic localities in various parts of the Czech lands, especially from the Kinský estate in Budenice, from the Schwarzenbergs in Český Krumlov, the Clam-Gallas estate in Frýdlant, the Chotek’s from Kačina and the Lobkowitz estate in Roudnice nad Labem.
Don Giovanni is the opera for which there are by far the greatest number of wind harmony arrangements in the Czech lands. Each of the aforemetioned palaces could boast of its own adaptation of this opera. In Český Krumlov we can ﬁnd an arrangement of the opera under signature No.37.K.I. The arrangement Frýdlant is stored under the signature XLII E 365.
There are actually two arrangements of Don Giovanni originating from Kačina, the ﬁrst is stored under sign. XLI B 154, and the second under sign. XLI B 150.21 A further arrangement, sign. X.G.f.69, is originally from Roudnice nad Labem.22 The basis of wind harmony is the paired arrangement of wooden wind instruments with two French horns.
The most common combinations are sextets and octets.
...Nebst diesem kann auch pränumerirt werden auf dieses nämliche Werk übersetzter in Quintetten von Hrn.
Abbee Vogel...Auch ist dieses nämliche Werk auf blasende Instrumenten sowohl in 6 als 8stimmiger Harmonie bey mir zu haben.
It is a matter of two identical sources. While in the ﬁrst-mentioned source the last name of its author is directly written on the ﬁrst page of the part for ﬁrst bassoon, in the second mentioned source this is not the case, it is, however, evidently by the same arranger, and evidence for this can be found in the choice of tempos within the framework of the individual parts. In spite of this, though, we also ﬁnd here two relatively important diﬀerences. The ﬁrst is the absence of the introductory thirty-second notes in Mozart’s sheet music in the case of XLI B 154, the second then, is the absence of certain notes in the case of XLI B 150, which forms, in XLI B 154, an allegro molto directly connected to the aria “Dalla sua pace”. These rhythms, of course, do not appear in Mozart’s original at all.
Materials from Český Krumlov are also stored there. In the Museum of Czech Music in Prague we can ﬁnd materials from Frýdlant and from Kačina. Materials from Roudnice nad Labem are stored at the palace in Nelahozeves.
All of the aforementioned arrangements were produced between the end of the 1780s and the end of the ﬁrst decade of the following century. Their authors are: in the case of Český Krumlov, Jan Vent (1745–1801),23 in Frýdlant, Kajetán Vogel, (1750–1794),24 in Kačina, Merklein (1760–?)25 and in Roudnice nad Labem, Josef Triebensee(1772–1846).26 Vent’s arrangement was created shortly after the Vienna premiere, that is, after 7 May
1788. Triebensee’s arrangement probably dates from the beginning of 1790. To chronologically categorize the next adaptation also presents no great diﬃculty. In the case of Kajetán Vogel, his arrangement is the only one of the entire work based on the Prague version.
Therefore we can assume that just this adaptation is the oldest wind arrangement of the above-named opera. Merklein’s arrangement is apparently newer, from the 19th century.
Regarding orchestration, while authors from Frýdlant and Kačina preferred a sextet of two clarinets, two French horns and two bassoons, in Český Krumlov and in Roudnice
nad Labem other authors worked with octets. In the former, the structure was as follows:
two oboes, two English horns, two French horns, and two bassoons. In the latter, it was two oboes, two clarinets, two French horns, and two bassoons.
In all arrangements, priority was given to arias and ensemble singing, which allowed the use of two or more instruments. For this reason, even purely instrumental parts such as preludes and, to a certain extent, ﬁnales, were also very popular. Recitatives did not ﬁnd their place among the chosen few. The overall form of such an arrangement was certainly at odds with the logic of the original plot, but on the other hand it was a compromise between the original opera and its purely instrumental presentation.
Jan Vent began his musical career with Count Pachta in Citoliby, from where he ran away, in 1770, to the Schwarzenbergs in Třeboň. From 1777 to 1782 he was also the second oboe player in the Viennese Burgtheater. In 1782, he was one of the founding members of the Emperor’s Hofharmonie, where he was, in addition to being the second oboe player, also engaged in composing and particularly in arranging. In his creative work, he dedicated himself almost exclusively to wind instruments. Starting in approximately 1770, he systematically devoted himself to arrangements, producing the greatest number of them between 1782 and 1796. Among his work we ﬁnd also a great quantity of ballets.
Father Kajetán Vogel was a member of the Order of Servites, in whose Prague Cathedral of Saint Michael he acquired, in the year 1774 the position of Director of Curates. After the discontinuation of the Order in the year 1786, he began to serve as a preacher in the Holy Trinity Cathedral. In addition to Mozart’s operas, he also arranged compositions by Koželuh and Pleyel.
Merklein’s ﬁrst name is unknown. Apparently he was one of the players of Chotek’s wind harmony. The arrangement of Don Giovanni being referred to is the only documented example of his musical activity.
Josef Triebensee began, in 1789, as a member of the wind octet of the Prince of Liechtenstein, who, in 1794, named him to the position of Musical Director of the Principality. At the same time he ﬁlled the position in the nineties of the second oboe player in Vienna’s Theater auf der Wieden and in the Kärntnertortheater.
The greatest number of his arrangements were created at about the turn of the century. In 1811, he became the ensemble leader of wind harmony for the Prince Hunyady in Vienna, afterwards he was the Conductor of the Brno Opera and in 1816 he took over Weber’s directorship of the Estates Theater.
Vent’s and Triebensee’s Arrangements of the Vienna Version of Don Giovanni
At ﬁrst glance we are bound to notice a greater attachment to the original opera on the part of Josef Triebensee. While a diﬀerence is made in three parts of the ﬁrst act, the Vent’s arrangement was played by the Philidor Ensemble with artistic director Eric Baude Delhommais.
A recording made in 1995 is available from Supraphon on a CD SU under the catalog number 3018–2131.
Triebensee’s arrangement was recorded by the Athena Ensemble in 1980 and was published by Chandos on CD, listed as CHAN 6597.
Whereas in the case of Vent there is only one set of sheet music for study purposes published by Bärenreiter in 1970, Triebensee’s arrangement has been released to the general public. In 1976, a transcription was published in the form of sheet music as well as individual parts by the publishers Musica Rara, which was edited by H. Voxmann.
second act was reduced by Jan Vent to such an extent as to have ﬁve less parts than the Triebensee version.
The overall selection of original material, however, leads us to the impression that they drew from the same source or perhaps one of them copied the other one. Moreover, it is clear in both cases that the arrangers were able to make high demands of the virtuosity of the players available, which is proof that the interpreters of these arrangements were truly talented indeed.
When researching and then comparing arrangements, the question also arises as to what sources the authors drew from. The answer to that question is made more diﬃcult by the fact that there never existed any rules for the production of arrangements. To ﬁnd the original source does make it easier to transfer oddities or even mistakes; on the other hand, any kind of diﬀerence can nullify eﬀorts to unify the resulting form, which should correspond to accustomed expectations.
In the case of Don Giovanni only that which did not serve as the basis for transcription can be excluded. Comparison with piano arrangements by Jan Křtitel Kuchař and, later, František Xaver Němeček shows that it is impossible that either one of the arrangers could have chosen this path. Jan Vent did not have any problems in Vienna with access to the original material. Vent worked in the same way for the Emperor and also for Prince Schwarzenberg. Triebensee served under Prince Liechtenstein. If we admit to the possibility of any cooperation between these two musicians, then the hypothesis that Triebensee knew Vent’s arrangement suggests itself to us. Since it had been prepared for a diﬀerent customer, it was easy to just “borrow” it and redo it, to add a few things.
The apparent concurrence with the selection of the borrowed numbers from Don Giovanni certainly aﬀected instrumentation as well. Even though the original material was changed by the arranger based on his musical imagination, the whole process was determined by the very frontiers of instrument capabilities. This applies particularly to the problem of transposition. The abandonment of the key, without considering playability, led to a less common variant. Quite frequently there were transpositions, particularly into keys without sharps. It was a matter of mechanical recopying, which better suited the new set of players. By comparing Vent with Triebensee, we see that the former used a key with sharps only once, while the latter did so three times.
Both of them left the aria “Dalla sua pace” in G major. Further, Triebensee also used the same key for the aria Ah taci, ingiusto core (Mozart’s original is in A major, whereas Vent shifts the same aria into C major). The key of G major was also used, rather illogically, by Triebensee when recopying the aria “Non mi dir, bell idol mio”. The original key is, after all, F major, which was adopted by Vent as well.28 Both Vent and Triebensee took over some parts of Don Giovanni without changes, on the other hand however, further numbers were conspicuously eliminated. The ﬁrst such case concerns the arias “Ah, chi mi dice mai,” “Giovinette, che fate all’amore,” “La ci darem la mano,” “Non ti Kajetán Vogel, in his sextet, even went so far as to leave out A major, and did so in two arias, “La ci darem la mano” and “Ah taci, ingiusto core”.