The Musical Life of Joseph Martin Kraus

The Musical Life of Joseph Martin Kraus

Letters of an Eighteenth-Century Swedish Composer
Bertil H. van Boer
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/05/2014
Format: Hardback 3 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01274-6
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Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-1792), demonstrated talents as a composer at a young age and went on to lead an illustrious, if brief, career as an acclaimed classical composer. At the age of 26, Kraus embarked on a four-year grand tour, receiving accolades from some of the most important musical luminaries of the period as well as achieving a reputation as one of the top six most important composers of his age (the others being Haydn, Mozart, Rosetti, Pleyel, and Reichardt). Like Mozart, he was a prolific correspondent, whose many observations include musings on the music and musicians of his time. Kraus’s intimate letters to family give an unusual picture of the private man, showing a slice of domestic life in the 18th century among the emerging middle class. These letters include one of the few descriptions of the great Handel Centenary Festival from an outsider, critiques of the operas performed in Paris by Piccinni, the first mention in history of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and descriptions of the art and archeology of Pompeii. These documents are crucial to the understanding of not only Kraus’s life and works, but also of the 18th century life of an important composer and his milieu.

Author Bio

Bertil H. van Boer is Professor of Musicology and Music Theory at Western Washington University. He has also served as President of the Society for Eighteenth Century Music.


“A book of vital importance by a world authority on Kraus.”
 — W. Dean Sutcliffe, The University of Auckland

“[T]his book [is] an important contribution not only to Kraus studies but also to the literature on 18th-century music in general. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“Van Boer's translation is most readable . . . One hopes these letters will get people interested in the musical culture of the late 18th century outside the musical hot-house of Vienna. Jospeh Martin Kraus will be a charming guide.May/June 2015”
 — Fanfare

“Bertil van Boer’s edition of Kraus’s letters is a welcome complement to his already significant contribution to Kraus research . . . There is much here to engage the attention of anyone with an interest in eighteenth-century studies, and scholars from various disciplines will find it a useful resource. ”
 — Music and Letters

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Table of Contents

Part I: Joseph Martin Kraus as a Correspondent
Part II: The Letters
Appendix A. The Last Will and Testament of Joseph Martin Kraus
Appendix B. Letters from Kraus’s family to Fredrik Silverstolpe
Appendix C. Letters from Kraus’s teachers to Fredrik Silverstolpe, 1800-1802
Appendix D. Letters from Pater Romanus Hoffstetter to Fredrik Silverstolpe, 1800-1802

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