Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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Ordonez [Ordenitz, Ordoneez, Ordonetz, Ordonitz], (Johann) Karl (Rochus) von [Carlo d’]

(b Vienna, bap. 16 Aug 1734; d Vienna, 6 Sept 1786). Austrian composer and violinist. Although an entry in Count Karl von Zinzendorf’s diary (23 April 1775) describes him as the ‘fils naturel de M. de Buquoy’, the baptismal and other archival records describe him as the son of Johann Baptist Christoph von Ordonez – an infantry lieutenant and former owner of property in Neuschloss (now Nové Zámky), Moravia – and his wife Anna Maria Theresa. Ordonez spent the whole of his life in Vienna and, like his contemporary Karl Kohaut, served a dual career as civil servant and musician. His career with the Lower Austrian administration began in 1758 with appointment as an unpaid assistant in the regional court and culminated in 1780 with appointment as Registrant with a salary of 1000 gulden. As a violinist Ordonez took part in chamber music performances in the salons of the aristocracy (see Burney and Zinzendorf), and he was also connected with the court chamber music (described by Hiller), although salaried appointment to that body, at 250 gulden per year, did not come until 1779 when he succeeded Karl Huber. In 1784 he led the second violins in a revival of Haydn’s Il ritorno di Tobia by the Tonkünstler-Societät, which he had joined in 1771. Ordonez’s last three years were spent in sickness and poverty: illness forced his retirement on half salary from both his administrative and performing positions in 1783, at which time he had sole responsibility for his two children as his wife had died three years earlier from the disease which was to claim his own life, tuberculosis.

With composers such as F.L. Gassmann, Leopold Hofmann and G.C. Wagenseil, Ordonez helped to define the Viennese Classical style during the period from the 1750s to the 70s. His largest group of compositions consists of over 70 symphonies, most of which are in three movements (fast, slow, fast or minuet-style); less than a dozen are in the more ‘modern’ four-movement scheme with minuet and trio, and only three have slow introductions. A few may have been designed for liturgical use, including the seven-movement Sinfonia solenna (Brown D5) and an antiphonal work with two pairs of trumpets and drums (Brown C10). The most impressive features of the symphonies are their sonorities, textures and rhythms. The composer’s lifelong interest in concertante writing and energetic rhythms which propel the music forward recalls Haydn; imaginative thematic links between movements are also a feature; and several symphonies (notably Brown D5 and G7) end with contrapuntal movements which form climaxes to the works as a whole. Less impressive are the modulatory procedures, which are rarely imaginative and occasionally deficient. Of Ordonez’s 27 string quartets, the six published as op.1 by Guera of Lyons in 1777 were the most widely distributed. All begin with a slow movement, in the sonata da chiesa manner, and contain fugal procedures in either the second or the fourth and final movement, thereby linking them with works by Gassmann and Wagenseil which were designed to appeal to the conservative taste of Joseph II. Ordonez’s interest in thematic unity between movements is nowhere more apparent than here. The marionette opera Alceste, which was modelled on Gluck, was performed, and probably conducted by Ordonez, at Eszterháza in 1775, and achieved great popularity, as evidenced by the repeat performances at Eszterháza and Vienna (the last as late as 1795); Haydn thought sufficiently highly of it to borrow a minuet for the revised version (?1776) of his marionette opera Philemon und Baucis. Ordonez’s only other opera, the Singspiel Diesmal hat der Mann der Willen! (1778), was composed for Joseph II’s newly formed Nationaltheater but achieved a run of only seven performances.


Thematic catalogue: A.P. Brown: Carlo d’Ordoñez, 1734–1786: a Thematic Catalog (Detroit, 1978)


Musica della parodie d’Alceste (marionette op, J.K. von Pauersbach), Eszterháza, 30 Aug 1775, H-Bn

Diesmal hat der Mann den Willen! (Original Singspiel, 1, J.F. Schmidt), Vienna, Burg, 22 April 1778; A-Wn (abbreviated version)


Der alte wienerische Tandelmarkt, 1779, pubd lib, Wst


74 syms. (2 doubtful), incl.: Sinfonie périodique no.26 (Paris, 1764); some in 3 symphonies del Signor Dune & Ordonne (Paris, 1769); Symphonia, C (Lyons, 1777), also in 3 Symphonies … par Mes.rs. Haydn & Ordoniz (Lyons, 1780s); 4 others, spurious; principal sources A-GÖ, LA, Wgm, Wn; B-Bc; CZ-Bm, BRnm, K, KRa, Pnm; D-Rtt, RUl; I-Fc, Gl, MOe; 7 ed. in The Symphony 1720–1840, ser. B, iv (New York, 1979)

Other: Pantomima, 1758, A-GÖ; Vn Conc., Wn; 12 menuetti, Wgm; Serenade, 31 wind insts, mentioned in Wienerisches Diarium, xliv (1779); Partita per la caccia, listed in Traeg catalogue (1799)


28 qts, 2 vn, va, b (1 doubtful), incl.: 6 quartetti, op.1 (Lyons, 1777), ed. A.P. Brown (Madison, WI, 1980); 2 in 6 Quat. no.1 a 6, listed in Westphal catalogue (1782); 10 others, spurious; principal sources A-GÖ, LA, M, Wgm, Wn, CZ-Bm, K, Pnm; D-Bsb; GB-Lbl, Lcm; H-Bn, KE; I-Gl

21 trios, 2 vn, b (1 other, spurious, also attrib. J. Haydn, hV:G4), A-M, B-Bc, CZ-Pnm, D-Bsb, I-Gl

Other: Octet, 2 ob, 2 eng hn, 2 hn, 2 bn, CS-K; Sextet, 2 vn, va, b, 2 hn, D-HR; Qnt, 2 vn, 2 va, b, A-Wn; [3] Gassatione, vn, va, b, 2 hn (Paris, 1768); 2 trios, vn, va, b (doubtful, 1 other, spurious), Wgm; 3 vn duos, listed in Traeg catalogue (1799); 2 sonatas, vn, b, Wgm






GroveO (A.P. Brown)

MGG1 (H.C.R. Landon)


C. von Zinzendorf: Diaries (MS, 1761–1813, A-Whh)

J.A. Hiller, ed.: Wöchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen die Musik betreffend, i (Leipzig, 1766/R), 99 only

Musikalischer Almanach auf das Jahr 1782 (Alethinopel [?Berlin], 1781)

J.N. Forkel: Musikalischer Almanach auf das Jahr 1783 (Leipzig, 1782), 54; 1784 (Leipzig, 1783/R), 108; 1789 (Leipzig, 1788/R), 86

H.C.R. Landon: ‘Haydn’s Marionette Operas and the Repertoire of the Marionette Theatre at Esterháza Castle’, Haydn Yearbook 1962, 111–99

W. Kirkendale: Fuge und Fugato in der Kammermusik des Rokoko und der Klassik (Tutzing, 1966; Eng. trans., enlarged, 1979)

A.P. Brown: ‘The Chamber Music with Strings of Carlos d’Ordoñez: a Bibliographic and Stylistic Study’, AcM, xlvi (1974), 222–72

D. Young: The Symphonies of Karl von Ordonez (1734–1786) (diss., U. of Liverpool, 1980)

A.P. Brown: ‘The Symphonies of Carlo d’Ordonez’, Haydn Yearbook 1981, 5–121

D. Young: ‘Karl von Ordonez (1734–1786): A Biographical Study’, RMARC, no.19 (1983–5), 31–56

D. Heartz: Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School 1740–1780 (New York, London, 1995)

DAVID YOUNG (text, bibliography), A. PETER BROWN (work-list, bibliography)

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