Characteristics of Musical Material, Syntax and Structural Order in F. B. Dusík's Symphony in C Major as Criteria of Stylistic Determination and Evaluation


  • Marija Bergamo



An 1802 issue of the Leipzig musical magazine Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung reads: "Die Komponisten für Instrumentalmusik, vornehmlich die Verf. von Sinfonien, Quartetten und Klavierkonzerten, haben... einen etwas harten Stand. Wir haben und kennen Mozart und Haydn in jennen Gattungen... Man kennet allgemein die Werke jener Heroen und achtet sie über alle, und nimmt sie nun nicht nur zum allgemeinen Massstabe der Beurtheilung der Arbeiten der anderer Künstler, sondern will diese Arbeiten auch in Ansehung der Anwendung der Mittel, wohl gar in der Manier jener Künstler haben. Das Erste ist strenge, das Zweyte ist ungerecht". A review of Sinphonia Grande in C major by F. B. Dusík (1765-after 1817), a versatile musician of Bohemian descent who took his studies, and partly wrote his works, in Italy but came to be a central figure of Ljubljana musical life in 1790–1800, a composer who took interest, above all, in opera, but would dedicate, and make a present of, his serenades and symphonies to the Ljubljana Philharmonic Society from its very year of foundation in 1794 as its member, would seem to offer itself to an analytical approach to the compositional and aesthetic conception of the symphony in question, which should eventually resolve the questions raised by the same symphony. Dusík's symphony was written in the period and manner of Haydn's matured style, which is manifested by the characteristics of its musical material and by the system of interrelations, or, in a manner of speaking, its syntactic, or tectonic-structural intention. Thus, the symphony itself invites:
– a comparison with the "category pattern" of the symphony (and the aesthetics of the "sublime", which has been inherent in the symphonic form since its very beginning), as well as a reflection on the theory of the symphony oriented towards the poetics of the ode, which, in turn, should be done in constant remembrance of the fact that a specific musical form will always actualize the potency such as it is contained in the musical materia/ itself;  
– the positioning of Dusík's symphony into an appropriate stage within the emancipation process of the instrumental music, or within the process of the transition from the form based on mere arrangement in a series towards one based on balance and proceeding not only from setting things in order but from a creative "working" process, where the highest aim is not a sequence of musical types, but rather a combination of individual features into a complete cycle, an organic whole;
– an essay at viewing the form of Dusík's symphony as a symbol of the classicist rationalism, or of the Kantian reason which is capable of arranging and systematizing reality through its a priori forms and principles;
– an examination of the term "classical" as another case of the confirmation of the conventionalized, obligatorily semanticized musical elements, which are the communicative basis of the whole sphere of music. The symphony, in fact, lends itself to a historical interpretation from the standpoint of the "horizon of expectation" which is based on the system of interrelations and proceeds from the foreknowledge of the types, form, and themes of the related works known then;
– an evaluation by the criteria of the time when Dusík's symphony took rise, which is in respect for, and observance of, the guide-lines of the contemporary and still valid theory of composition of J. Riepel and H. Ch. Koch, and further supported by the historically conditioned evaluative standards of the beautiful, especially by the normative position of Hegel's philosophic aesthetics.
Thus, the microcosm of Dusík's symphony can hope to be assigned its own place and identity as a relevant fragment of the musical macrocosm within the coordinates of the above-stated values.


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How to Cite

Bergamo, M. (1988). Characteristics of Musical Material, Syntax and Structural Order in F. B. Dusík’s Symphony in C Major as Criteria of Stylistic Determination and Evaluation. Musicological Annual, 24(1), 39–46.