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Franz Xaver Brixi


Born: January 2, 1732; Prague, Czech Republic   Died: October 14, 1771; Prague, Czech Republic  
As a virtuoso organist and one of the best-known and most prolific composers in Prague in the eighteenth century, the success of Franz Brixi even eclipsed that of his famous father, Simon (1699-1735). Like so many of Prague's successful composers, Franz Brixi learned his trade in Bohemia's provincial towns and churches. He was born in Prague in 1732 just a few years before his father's untimely death. Despite this, Franz left Prague to receive Read more his early education. In 1744 he started his musical education at the Gymnasium run by the Piarists at Kosmonosy under the instruction of the hugely influential Czech composer and teacher Vaclav Kalous (1715-1786). After completing his studies in 1749 Brixi returned to Prague, where he quickly became one of the city's most famous organists and composers. He rose quickly through Prague's competitive ranks of organists: first at the church of St. Havel, then St. Nicholas, and then St. Mary na louzi. In 1757 he was chosen to compose the musica navalis for the annual festival of St. John's where music was performed on the river Vltava from barges; the first contributions to this festival had been composed by his father. Franz retained the honor of composing the musica navalis almost every year until his death. On New's Years Day 1759 he was appointed to the highest musical position in the Czech lands as kapellmeister of the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague's magnificent castle. During this time he was also the choirmaster at St. George's attached to the Benedictine monastery in the castle district. Brixi eventually succumbed to tuberculosis and died in the hospital of the Brothers of Charity at the age of 39.

Despite his seemingly short life, Brixi was one of Prague's most prolific composers of the period and contributed to almost every popular genre of the time. As an organist, it is unsurprising that it is his set of six organ concertos that have remained among his most durable instrumental compositions. Like much of his output, his style is an attractive combination of Czech folk styles and the latest Italian models emanating from Vienna. Several of his Mass settings have remained staples of the Czech cathedral repertoire. His tremendous output of sacred music, especially some of his oratorios and motets, is still awaiting further exploration. Read less

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