Simon Brixi


Born: October 28, 1693; Vlkava, Bohemia   Died: February 22, 1735; Prague, Czech Republic  
Simon Brixi is among the most outstanding representatives of Czech Baroque musical style in the early eighteenth century (alongside Jan Dismas Zelenka and Cernohorsky); he successfully combined local language and character with high-Italian styles and forms. He was born on October 28, 1693, in Vlkava (near Nymburk) in Bohemia. Brixi was educated by the Jesuits in Jicinn between 1711-1717. After completing his basic education he left the provinces Read more and went to Prague to study law. Following the pattern of many great composers, he abandoned law in preference for music and was soon appointed organist at the famous Tyn church on Prague's Old Town square.

Brixi was already making a name for himself as a composer before he left for Prague and his name appears on compositions in inventory lists from the year 1715. It was probably around this time that he composed one of his earliest surviving works, the Latin comedy Cancet Preambulans.

He seems to have received the first commission to compose music for the musica navalis festivities on the river Vltava in 1720 (commemorating the martyrdom of Jan of Nepomuk), an occasion for which he made further musical contributions between the years 1722-1729. In 1725 he accepted another post in Prague, this time at the church St. Martin, also in the Old Town. In 1732 his prodigious son Frantisek was born; he later became one of the most influential Czech composers of the mid eighteenth century. St. Martins was to be Simon Brixi's last official post; the cause of his early death is unknown, but must rank as one of the greatest losses to Czech music in the early eighteenth century.

Stylistically, Brixi's output is somewhere between the strident and athletic melodic lines of Viennese composers (Caldara, in particular) and the elaborate and eccentric contrapuntal style of his compatriot Zelenka. To compound the tragedy of his early death, only about 34 verifiable compositions by Brixi survive; they are, however, of high quality and considerable musical value. Among his surviving compositions are several pieces for Advent and Christmas, several of which are based on popular Czech Christmas songs (such as "Narodil se Kristus pan") and sung in the vernacular. Astonishingly, Simon Brixi's music and life still await a comprehensive study. Read less

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