Wranitzky was born in Neureisch (Nová Říše) in Habsburg Moravia on December 30, 1756. He studied at the Faculty of Theology of University of Olomouc and later a theological seminary in Vienna. At age 20, like so many other Czech composers of that period, he moved to Vienna to seek out opportunities within the Austrian imperial capital.
From 1790, he conducted both royal theater orchestras. He was highly respected by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven; the latter two preferred him as conductor of their new works (e.g., Beethoven's First Symphony, in 1800). Wranitzky was a prolific composer. His output comprises ten operas, 44 symphonies, at least 56 string quartets (some sources give a number as high as 73) and a large amount of other orchestral and chamber music. His opera, Oberon – The Fairy King from 1789 was a favorite in this genre and inspired Emanuel Schikaneder to write the libretto of The Magic Flute for Mozart in 1791; in the mid-1790s, Goethe sought to collaborate with Wranitzky on a sequel to the Mozart opera.
Wranitzky died in Vienna on September 29, 1808. Beethoven wrote a minor but nonetheless charming work, Variations on a Russian Dance (WoO 71), based on a theme in Wranitzky's opera Das Waldmädchen (The Forest Maiden).
Although some scholars believe that he studied with Haydn, there is no proof of this. But there can be no question that he studied and was influenced by Haydn's quartets. Like Haydn, Wranitzky's quartet writing went through many stages of development beginning with the pre-classical and evolving to the finished sonata form of late Viennese classicism. The majority of his quartets are in three movements; many share the qualities of the Parisian quatuor concertant, with virtuoso writing in all four parts. In these works, he explored the emerging Romantic style with (for the time) daring harmonic progressions, theatrical gestures and virtuoso display. Based on the ten Wranitzky quartets he has studied, music historian and Reicha scholar Ron Drummond writes, "I can safely and with absolute confidence say that Wranitzky's achievement as a composer of string quartets is a greater achievement, overall, than Mozart's. Lest that statement be misunderstood, let me clarify: it's simply that Wranitzky's output dwarfs Mozart's, and the quality of each man's (mature) productions is so superb that Wranitzky wins by sheer numbers."
Writing about Wranitzky's music in the last part of the 19th century, the famous French critic and musicologist François-Joseph Fétis recalled, "The music of Wranitzky was in fashion when it was new because of his natural melodies and brilliant style. He treats the orchestra well, especially in symphonies. I recall that, in my youth, his works held up very well in comparison with those of Haydn. Their premature abandonment of today has been for me a source of astonishment."
First part of the introduction.
2nd part of movement no. 2, known also as "The Funeral March for the Death of the King Louis XVI" as is in the original score.
Movement no. 4; first 57 seconds (All three performances: Porticodoro / SmartCGArt Media Productions – Classical Orchestra)
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- Die gute Mutter (J.B. von Alxinger, Vienna, 1795)
- Das Maroccanische Reich oder Die unterirdischen Schätze (1795)
- Die Dienstpflicht (s.a.)
- Das Fest der Lazaronen (J. Perinet, Vienna, 1794)
- Oberon, König der Elfen (libretto by F.S. Seyler, extensively revised by Karl Ludwig Giesecke. Vienna, 1789)
- Der dreifache Liebhaber (Vienna, 1791)
- Rudolph von Felseck (J. Korompay, Vienna, 1792)
- Merkur, der Heiratstifter, oder Der Geiz im Geldkasten (Vienna, 1793)
- Die Post-Station oder Die unerwartete Zusammenkunft (S.F. Künster, 1793)
- Der Schreiner (A. von Kotzebue, Vienna, 1799)
- Die drei Buckligen (Warsaw, 1808)
- Other types of opera works
- 1 quadro musicale romantico:
- Johanna von Montfaucon (A. von Kotzebue, Vienna, 1799)
- 1 Liedspiel:
- Das Mitgefühl (F. Treitschke, Vienna, 1804)
- 2 divertissement:
- Das Picknick der Götter (Schönbrunn, 1804)
- Die Erkenntlichkeit (Vienna, 1804)
- 2 travestimenti-melologhi:
- Die Weinlese (Vienna, 1794)
- Zephir und Flora (Vienna, 1795)
- Das Waldmädchen (Vienna, 1796)
- Die Luftfahrer (Vienna, 1797)
- Cyrus and Tomyris (1797)
- Die Waise der Berghöhle (Vienna, 1810)
- Walmir und Gertraud (ca. 1800)
- Das Urteil des Paris (Vienna, 1801)
- Der Raub der Sabinerinnen (Vienna, 1804)
- Zufriedenheit mehr als Reichtum (Vienna, 1805)
- Zelina und Gorano (Vienna, 1806)
- Theatre music
- Rollas Tod (A. von Kotzebue, Vienna, 1795)
- Achmet und Zenide (A.W. Iffland)
- Die Rache
- 1 Cantata
- 56 symphonies: 29 published symphonies, 27 symphonies in manuscripts.
- 3 piano sonatas
- 1 Missa
- For Piano,
- Violin Concerto in C
- Violin Concerto in D
- Violin Concerto in F
- Violin Concerto in G
- Cello Concerto in C, op 27
- Flute Concerto in D, op 24/op 1
- Oboe Concerto in G
- Concertante for Flute and Oboe in C, op 39
- Concertino for Oboe and Cello in D (lost)
- Concerto for two Flutes in G (lost)
- Other orchestra works
- Overture, Divertimenti, Tafelmusik, Dances
- Quartets, Quintets, etc.
- Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Wranitzky, Paul". Baker's Biographical dictionary of musicians (6th ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. p. 1918. ISBN 0028702409.
- "Czech Classicism – The Sweat of the Brow", Appendic C in The String Quartets of Anton Reicha by Ron Drummond
- Opera at Stanford University
- The Wranitzky Project – The best source for information about the life and works of Wranitzky. Includes a biography, catalogue of works and sheet music for download.
- Free scores by Paul Wranitzky at the International Music Score Library Project
- Paul Wranitzky String Quartet Op.23 No.5 "King of Prussia" Soundbites & Information.