Critical Notes Series: Mysliveček's Cello Concerto

Mysliveček - Cello Concerto in C major (Urtext, Orchestra Score)
Mysliveček - Cello Concerto in C major (Urtext, Orchestra Parts)
Mysliveček - Cello Concerto in C major (Urtext, Solo Part and Piano Score)

During his relatively short life, Josef Mysliveček (1737–1781) produced a large volume of compositions, including over 50 symphonies, 26 operas, concertos, and chamber music for strings and winds.​ Born in Prague, he moved to Italy, where he became known as "Il Boemo" (the Bohemian), in 1763. While much of Mysliveček's output is in the style of the day, some of his chamber works still employ a basso continuo and figured bass, such as in the sonatas for two cellos and the six Orchestra trios for two violins and cello.

Mysliveček composed ten violin concertos, a couple of keyboard concertos, and a flute concerto. He transcribed one of the violin concertos (EvaM 9b:C1) for cello. The version of this concerto for violin had already existed in 1770 as it appears in The Breitkopf Thematic Catalogue from that year. A manuscript set of parts of the violin version dated 1775 is housed at the Hauptstaatsarchiv Weimar. The concerto was originally orchestrated for solo violin, two oboes, two horns, and strings. Interestingly, the Weimar set contains extra parts for two trumpets and timpani written out by another hand and not considered original. Another copy of the violin version is housed at Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt.

In his biography Josef Mysliveček: Život a dílo, the American musicologist Daniel Freeman postulates that the cello version of this concerto was made for Antonio Vandini (1691–1778) during his stay in Padua between 1768 and 1774. Besides the change in register, the violin and cello parts are virtually the same.

The cello concerto exists in three different copies: Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Vienna), Národní Muzeum (Prague), and Národní knihovna České republiky (Prague). The Národní Muzeum set is of particular interest. This set contains an orchestral score dated 8 December 1909, a piano reduction dated 5 January 1910, a set of parts with a solo viola part (no solo cello) dated 4 July 1910, and a "violin in F!" part (viola solo part transposed up a fifth) dated 5 July 1910. Since this set is far removed, we did not consider it for our edition. However, we can see that 140​ years after the concerto composition, the piece continued to be copied and transcribed. The set housed in the Národní knihovna České republiky is also from 1910.

Our edition is based, with kind permission, on the set housed at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. While undated, it is safe to place the copy before 1820. The solo cello part is notated in four clefs: bass, tenor, alto, and soprano. This is congruent with the practice of the time, as we also see these clefs in Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major, Boccherini's works, some of Bréval's works, and others. The use of clefs has been updated for current practice in our edition. Our edition also includes a newly composed piano reduction. All deviations from the source are marked in the footnotes of the orchestra score.

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