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Joseph Martin Kraus

June 20, 1756 - December 15, 1792
born in Miltenberg-am-Main, Germany, composed during the Classical period
Joseph Martin Kraus was born in the town of Miltenberg, on the Main River near Frankfurt. Kraus' family encouraged his early interest in music, and at age 12 sent him to study in the nearby city of Mannheim. They also expected him to follow the more germane pursuit of Law in the hope he would obtain a job in the German government. This he did in Mainz and Erfurt; but it was at the University of Göttingen in the 1770s that Kraus made the decisive break with a government career. At Göttingen, Kraus fell in with a literary cadre devoted to the school of "Sturm und Drang" (storm and stress), a proto-Romantic faction belonging to the eighteenth century, inspired by the early works of Goethe. Kraus engaged in writing and publishing short stories representative of this literary approach.

Swedish exchange students suggested Kraus petition the court of King Gustav III in their home country. The opera-loving King had established the first Academy of music in Sweden upon his accession in 1771, but had found native talent slow to develop, and was reaching out to musicians of other nations to help improve the quality of performances at the opera house he had built. After two years of hardship in Stockholm, Kraus' 1780 opera Prosperina gained him a conductor's job with the Royal Opera House. Part of his training involved a four-year sojourn to the capitols of Europe in order to study current trends, a condition that Kraus was happy to accept.

It was during this period of travelling that Kraus composed all but one of his symphonies, upon which his posthumous reputation largely rests. It appears Kraus wrote a total of 15 symphonies; 12 are known to exist. His best known work is the Symphony in C minor, a stormy, aggressive, and vibrantly rhythmic work. Kraus' symphonies were well enough regarded in their time to achieve publication, although some editions bear the name of a better known composer and not Kraus'. At one point, Kraus journeyed to Esterháza to meet his idol, Joseph Haydn. Upon conducting Kraus' work, Haydn remarked that "the symphony (Kraus) wrote here in Vienna especially for me will be regarded as a masterpiece for centuries to come."

His tour of duty ended, Kraus was now required to return to Stockholm and attend to the musical needs of the King. Gustav III was nowhere near as enamored of instrumental music as was Kraus, and Kraus was obliged to spend most of his years in Stockholm writing opera, opera inserts, incidental music, and arias. Like Haydn, Kraus found opera an uncomfortable match for his talent, but he persevered. In 1782, he was named chief conductor of the Opera and educational director of the Academy. In 1792, Gustav III was assassinated, and Kraus memorialized his patron with a Funeral Symphony and a fine setting of the Requiem Mass. Kraus himself expired in Stockholm later that same year at the age of 36.

Kraus was remarkably productive, his brief lifespan yielding over 200 works including the symphonies, five operas, concerti, chamber works, and songs. After his death, his works were forgotten, but in the last part of the twentieth century they came back with a vengeance, especially in Sweden where Kraus is regarded as the most significant figure in Swedish music in the later eighteenth century. As Kraus' international profile evolves, it may become so that, after two centuries of neglect, Haydn's prediction for this ever young composer will come to pass. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis , Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Complete Symphonies 4

Title: Symphony (Sinfonia Con Fugato Per La Chiesa) In D Major, Vb. 146

1. Symphony (Sinfonia Con Fugato Per La Chiesa) In D Major, Vb. 146: Sinfonia Per La Chiesa In D Major

Title: Symphony In F Major (attrib.), Vb. 145

2. Symphony In F Major (attrib.), Vb. 145: I. Largo Maestoso - Allegro Vivace

3. Symphony In F Major (attrib.), Vb. 145: II. Larghetto Amoroso E Semplice

4. Symphony In F Major (attrib.), Vb. 145: III. Presto

Title: Symphony In D Major, Vb. 143

5. Symphony In D Major, Vb. 143: I. Allegro

6. Symphony In D Major, Vb. 143: II. Andante Un Poco Largo

7. Symphony In D Major, Vb. 143: III. Allegro

Title: Symphony In E Flat Major, Vb. 144

8. Symphony In E Flat Major, Vb. 144: II. Larghetto (Alternative Second Movement)

Title: Riksdagmarsch, Vb. 154

9. Riksdagmarsch, Vb. 154: Riksdagsmarsch, Vb154

x

Track List: Joseph Martin Kraus: Complete German Songs

2. Die Henn (The Hen), For Voice & Piano, VB 77: Die Henne

5. Die Mutter Bei Der Wiege (The Mother At The Cradle), For Voice & Piano, VB 92: Die Mutter Bei Der Wiege

7. An - Als Ihm Die - Starb (To - When He Learned Of The Death Of), For Voice & Piano, VB 74: An-als Ihm Die-starb

9. Der Abschied (The Departure), For Voice & Piano, VB 95: Der Abschied

11. Daphne Am Bach (Daphne At The Brook), For Voice & Piano, VB 83: Daphne Am Bach

14. An Den Wind 1 (To The Wind), For Voice & Piano, VB 79: An Den Wind I

15. An Den Wind 2 (To The Wind), For Voice & Piano, VB 80: An Den Wind I

16. Das Schwarze Lieschen Aus Kastilien (Black Liza From Castille), For Voice & Piano, VB 88: Das Schwarze Lieschen Aus Kastilien

18. Ein Wiegenlied: Seht Doch Das Kalte Nachtgesicht (A Cradle Song: See Yet The Cold Face Of Night), For Voice & Piano, VB 93: Ein Wiegenlied: Seht Doch Das Kalte Nachtgesicht

19. Ich Bin Vergnügt (I Am Content), For Voice & Piano, VB 82: Ich Bin Vergnugt

21. An Eine Quelle (To A Spring), For Voice & Piano, VB 75: An Eine Quelle

23. Ich Bin Ein Deutscher Jüngling (I Am A German Lad), For Voice & Piano, VB 81: Ich Bin Ein Deutsche Jungling

25. Rheinweinlied (A Song To Rhenish Wine), For Voice & Piano, VB 73: Rheinweinlied

x

Track List: Joseph Martin Kraus: Fiskarena (The Fisherman Ballet); Pantomimes

Title: Pantomime For Orchestra In D Major, VB 37

1. Pantomime For Orchestra In D Major, VB 37: I. Allegro

2. Pantomime For Orchestra In D Major, VB 37: II. Adagio

3. Pantomime For Orchestra In D Major, VB 37: III. Presto

Title: Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40

4. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: I. Overture; Larghetto Pero Con Moto - Allegro

5. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: II. Andante

6. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: III. Allegro

7. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: IV. Andante Con Moto

8. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: V. Allegretto Ma Non Troppo Presto

9. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: VI. Allegretto

10. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: VII. Andante Con Moto

11. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: VIII. Allegretto

12. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: IX. Angloise

13. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: X. Allegro

14. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XI. Angloise

15. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XII. Allegro

16. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XIII. Allegro

17. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XIV. Allegretto

18. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XV. Con Piu Di Moto

19. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XVI. (No Tempo Indication)

20. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XVII. Andante Con Moto

21. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XVIII. Allegro

22. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XIX. Allegretto Grazioso

23. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XX. Ungherese

24. Fiskarena (The Fishers), Pantomine-ballet, VB 40: XXI. Contradanza Finale

Title: Pantomime For Orchestra In G Major, VB 38

25. Pantomime For Orchestra In G Major, VB 38: I. Allegro

26. Pantomime For Orchestra In G Major, VB 38: II. Tempo Di Marcia

27. Pantomime For Orchestra In G Major, VB 38: III. Adagio

28. Pantomime For Orchestra In G Major, VB 38: IV. Allegro

Title: Ballet Movements (2) For Gluck's "Armide", VB 39

29. Ballet Movements (2) For Gluck's "Armide", VB 39: I. Act 1, Scene 3 - Fieramente

30. Ballet Movements (2) For Gluck's "Armide", VB 39: II. Act 4, Scene 1 - Allegro Moderato

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Exciting composition, very dynamic...br a v o !
Report as inappropriate
Never heard of him, but he never heard of me either. Composing in the romantic era of course it's beautiful. Hayden was right, Kraus will go down in musical history as a talented composer.
Report as inappropriate
It is refreshing to hear something so wonderful for the first time and it is some 25 years old. I did not know Kraus well and now I want to. What a shame to compose 200 pieces and die at 36.
Report as inappropriate
Positive, uplifting composition. Bravo!
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caciaaura
Beautiful,in s p i r a t i o n a l , m u s i c to my ears.
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arico.gabe
Good, clean music.

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