Personalities | Johann Joseph Fux | Late Baroque | Opera
Fux studied music at Graz, and became a talented organist and church musician. He probably travelled to Italy during the 1680s, and his a capella Masses influenced by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525–94) attracted the admiring attention of Emperor Leopold I in 1698. Based in Vienna for the remainder of his life, Fux was a respected composer of church music, but his visit to Rome in 1700 attracted him to composing operas and oratorios. Most of Fux’s 18 operas are settings of libretti by Pietro Pariati (1665–1733), although he also set some texts by Stampiglia, Zeno and Metastasio. His greatest triumph was Costanza e Fortezza (1723), performed in Prague to celebrate his patron Charles VI’s coronation as King of Bohemia, although, owing to ill health, Fux’s able assistant Caldara conducted the performances. However, Fux is most remembered for his scholarly book Gradus ad Parnassum (1725), which was a treatise on counterpoint that influenced the greatest Viennese choral composers of the late eighteenth century, including Mozart and Joseph Haydn (1732–1809). Fux was a respected teacher who trained Gottlieb Muffat and Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745), and in his frail later years was assisted by Caldara.
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