Jan Antonín Losy


Born: 1650; Strakonice, Bohemia   Died: 1721; Prague, Czech Republic  
Losy was borne in Bohemia into a family of Swiss origins and lived during a time of relative peace and stability just following the Thirty Years War. As a result, he had a privileged and cultured upbringing. He was born and raised a Roman Catholic and was elevated by the nobility for his bravery in facing the Swedes during their occupation of Prague during the Thirty Years War. He remained active in Prague and earned a degree in philosophy at the Read more university there in 1661. He became best known as a lutenist (and was possibly a guitarist as well), though he was also a formidable keyboard virtuoso.

During his life he traveled widely, including visits to the Low Countries, France, and throughout Germany. It was probably his travels in Germany that helped him secure an international reputation. In Leipzig, he took part in a friendly keyboard competition with Johann Kuhnau (a popular pastime with many German organists), whom the Czech impressed so much that Kuhnau dedicated to him his popular Frische Clavier Früchte (1696).

As a lutenist Losy was regarded as one of the finest of his time. In 1638 none other than Silvius Leoplod Weiss composed a deeply felt tombeau upon hearing of Losy's death in 1721. His popularity with the instrument is demonstrated in a large number of manuscript copies of his compositions scattered throughout Europe. Losy was particularly taken by French music and played an important role in fostering its popularity in Bohemia. While Losy integrated the French style brisé (broken style) into his lute music, he also reveals the Bohemian penchant for attractive melodic ideas and a strong bass line. Perhaps it is this combination of colorful styles that led great German lutenist Ernst Baron to declare of Losy that "in the most diverse of effects in his composition he surpassed all the French." Read less

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