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Vaclav Jan Krtitel Tomasek

born: 1774-04-17
died: 1850-04-03
birthplace: Zdarec u Skutce
diedplace: Praha

Czech composer and pedagogue of the period of Czech National Revival; by musical style on the boundary of classicims and romantism. His father was a canvas storekeeper, his mother came from the family of a weaver. He got his basic education from his older brothers, Antonin and Jakub. His first musical education he received from Pavel Josef Wolf, choirmaster and organist in Chrudim. As a boy he sang in a church choir in Jihlava. He went to a college in Jihlava thanks to the help of Earl Wallis who recognized his talent. Later he moved to Prague to continue college studies there. After that, he studied law at the university of Prague. Besides the studies, he devoted himself to music, especially to playing piano. Originally self-taught, he used the opportunity to gain knowledge from the top contemporary musicians (e.g. Jan Ladislav Dusik). He soon acquired the reputation of excellent pianist. Thanks to his social skills he was on good terms with top Prague aristocrats; he met Haydn, Beethoven and Goethe in person. He also kept company with the leading individualities of the Czech National Revival (Hanka, Palacky, Celakovsky). His house became a meeting place of the top Prague artists and scientists. Since 1771 to 1815 Tomasek was in service to Earl Buquoy; he taught his children, organized the orchestra and wrote music for him (the agreement with the earl offered him ideal conditions for composing). In 1824 he married Vilemine Ebert, sister of the German poet Karl Egon Ebert. Vilemine was a good pianist and singer herself. Tomasek founded a musical institution in Prague where he taught piano and composition. Amongst his students were e.g. Jan Hugo Vorisek, Julius Schulhoff and Jan Bedrich Kittl. He was an honorary member of many musical societies and was visited regularly by top artists who came to Prague (Wagner, Paganini, Berlioz). In the end of his life, he went isolated partly bedcause of his pure health, partly because he was not able to understand the social changes leading to revolutionary events in 1848. In 1845-49 the German musical magazine Libussa published his autobiography.
      As a composer, we was famous especially by his smaller piano compositions and vocal works. He came from the works of Haydn and Mozart; he admired Beethoven and Gluck; however, his works reveal their Czech origin and especially the later compositions bear the signs of romantic style.

  • poetical compositions for piano (7 books of Eclogues, 3 books of Rhapsodies, 3 Dithyrambs)
  • songs on lyrics by Goethe, Schiller, Puskin as well as Czech Revival poets
  • 2 piano concerts
  • 6 piano sonatas
  • 2 operas
  • church compositions (2 masses, 2 requiems, Te Deum)

Sources: (Czech only)
Mala encyklopedie hudby (book by dr. Jar. Smolka; &kolektiv, Supraphon 1983)


Pilgrim's Night Song (MP3) (Vera Krilova vocal, Alfred Holecek piano, LP Songs of National Revival, Supraphon 1954)
Tre ditirambi per il pianoforte, op.65 (MP3) (I. Allegro con fuoco, Dagmar Simonkova piano, CD set Antology of Czech music, Theatre Institute Prague 2004)

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Last update 2012-07-04