Jan Václav Voříšek, classical music composer

Jan Václav Voříšek image

Jan Václav Voříšek


Jan Václav Voříšek, a Hungarian composer, organist and pianist, is generally regarded as one of the lesser rank composers of the early 19th century, overshadowed by the titans, Beethoven and Schubert. However, in recent years Voříšek's music has drawn more attention, in particular his works for piano, and he has garnered more respect as a composer of some merit.

Voříšek was born in Vamberk, Bohemia on May 11, 1791. His father, a talented musician himself, was the local schoolmaster, choirmaster and organist. Under the tutelage of his father, Voříšek and his siblings received their first lessons in music. Voříšek excelled quickly, and by the age of seven was playing organ at a local church. His skills on the piano progressed rapidly as well, and Voříšek's father began touring his prodigious son throughout Bohemia when he was nine years of age. Voříšek's talents eventually brought him to the attention of Countess Rozina Kolowrat-Libstejinsky, who became his patron and sent him to Prague in 1802 for further study. There he studied piano and composition with Václav Tomásek, and his first extant compositions date from this period.

In 1810, Voříšek began attending the University of Prague where he studied philosophy and later law. Despite building a reputation as a skillful pianist, he found it difficult to find sustainable work as a musician. Thus, in 1813, he left Prague for Vienna. He continued his law studies alongside his work and studies as a musician and composer. A great admirer of Beethoven, Voříšek met the great master, who was impressed with the young man's music and encouraged him to keep composing. He also met Franz Schubert and the two became good friends.

Voříšek completed his law studies in 1821. Continuing to face difficulty in supporting himself wholly by music, he took a position as barrister to the Court Military Privy Councilor. Yet, his fortunes soon changed when he was appointed organist at the Vienna Court the following year. During this time, he was composing a great deal. His music shared traits of both Beethoven, whom he greatly admired, and of his friend Schubert. He produced his one and only symphony in 1821, the Symphony in D major—the first major Czech contribution to the symphonic literature. Along with his piano works, Violin Sonata and Mass in B-flat major, it is among his most well-known compositions.

Tragically, Voříšek's life and career were cut short when he succumbed to tuberculosis in 1825 at the age of thirty-four. He was buried at the Währing cemetery where he would be soon joined by both his idol, Beethoven, and his friend, Schubert.

Composer Title Date Action
Jan Václav Voříšek Vorisek: Mass in B-Flat 03/23/2009 Play Add to playlist
Jan Václav Voříšek Symphony in D Major 03/23/2009 Play Add to playlist
Jan Václav Voříšek Fantaisie in C, Op. 12 01/12/2009 Play Add to playlist