Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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Otava, Zdeněk

(b Vítějeves, nr Polička, Bohemia, 11 March 1902; d Prague, 4 Dec 1980). Czech baritone. As a choirboy he impressed Janáček; subsequently he studied the piano and violin with Martinů. After singing lessons in Prague, he studied in Rome (with Riccardo Stracciari), Milan and Vienna. He made his début in Bratislava as Iago (1925), and a year later was engaged by the Brno Opera with which he sang Baron Prus in the première of Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair and the title role in Krenek’s Jonny spielt auf. From 1929 to 1972 he worked at the National Theatre in Prague, singing more than 160 roles; he also toured widely abroad. Otava’s voice had a very wide range and a marked intensity, and while light, was extremely varied in colour, with an even tone, free of vibrato; his diction was absolutely clear. With his striking stage presence, he gave characteristic portrayals of Figaro, Germont, Yevgeny Onegin and Telramund, and masterly projections of such villains and conspirators as Pizarro, Scarpia and Iago. He was no less versatile and successful in the Czech repertory, and learnt a large number of contemporary roles. He was also a successful recitalist, favouring the contemporary Czech repertory. He taught at the Prague Conservatory (1941–2, 1953) and at the Academy of Musical Arts (1952–73), and published an autobiography, Jen ve zpěvu [Only in song] (Prague, 1947).


GroveO (A. Němcová) [incl. further bibliography]

E. Dufková and B. Srba, eds.: Postavy brněnského jeviště [Personalities of the Brno stage], iii (Brno, 1994), 28–31


Otescu, Ion Nonna

(b Bucharest, 3/15 Dec 1888; d Bucharest, 25 March 1940). Romanian composer and conductor. He studied at the Bucharest Conservatory (1903–7) with Kiriac-Georgescu (theory) and Alfonso Castaldi (composition), then in Paris at the Schola Cantorum (1908–11) with d’Indy and at the Conservatoire with Widor. Returning to Romania, he taught harmony and composition at the Bucharest Conservatory from 1913 until 1940, and was director of the conservatory from 1918. He modernized the curriculum there, introducing new courses and assembling an outstanding staff. Otescu was also among the founders of the Muzica review (1916), the Romanian Opera and the Society of Romanian Composers, of which he was vice-chairman from 1920 to 1940; in addition to these activities, he was permanent conductor of the Bucharest PO. His work in these various fields left him little time for composition, but his small oeuvre is of high quality. He adapted the harmony and orchestration of French Impressionism in picturesque and programmatic pieces on Romanian subjects, using indigenous folk elements, at first decoratively; in later works, such as the opera De la Matei citire (‘From the Writings of St Matthew’), folk music is bound into the structure and the style is more individual. Otescu’s mature style is distinguished by broad melody, subtlety of form and a virtuoso, diaphanous orchestration.


(selective list)

Stage: Ileana Cosînzeana (ballet), 1918; Rubinul miraculos [The Miraculous Ruby] (ballet), 1919; De la Matei citire [From the Writings of St Matthew] (ob, 3, Otescu), 1938, rev. and completed A. Stroe, perf. 1966

Orch: Le temple du gnide, 1908; La légende de la rose rouge, 1910; Narcis, 1911; Din bătrîni [Since Times of Old], 1912; Peisaj de iarnă [Winter Landscape], 1913; Les enchantements d’Armide, vn, orch, 1915

Lieduri, 1v, pf (1969)

Principal publisher: Editura muzicală (Bucharest)


A. Alessandrescu: ‘Ion Nonna Otescu: cinsprezece ani de la moartea compozitorului’ [Otescu: 15 years after the composer’s death], Muzica, v/4 (1955), 26–8

O.L. Cosma: Opera românească, ii (Bucharest, 1962)

Z. Vancea: Creaţia muzicală românească, sec. XIX–XX (Bucharest, 1968), 306–10

V. Cosma: Muzicieni români: lexicon (Bucharest, 1970) 340–41

O.L. Cosma: Hronicul muzicii româneşti, viii (Bucharest, 1988)



See Hoger de Laon.

Othmayr, Caspar [Othmarus, Gasparus]

(b Amberg, 12 March 1515; d Nuremberg, 4 Feb 1553). German composer. His parents, Niclas and Margarethe Othmayr, were both from Amberg. Since the church registers concerned have been lost, we have no further information about his father’s profession or social status, and can only assume that Caspar attended the Amberg Lateinschule. He then sang as a choirboy in the Kapelle of the later Elector Friedrich II. Amberg was the second princely seat in the Palatinate, along with Heidelberg, so it was natural for Othmayr to study at Heidelberg University. He matriculated there on 19 May 1533 and took the degree of Bachelor of Arts on 9 June 1534. In 1536 he gained his Licentiate, and he became Master of Arts on 16 August of that year. While he was studying he continued to serve in the electoral Kapelle, directed at the time by Lorenz Lemlin. We have no information about the next ten years of the composer’s life; the presumption that he was living in Regensburg cannot be verified. In 1543 he became headmaster of the Lateinschule of Heilsbronn monastery, and there, in 1547, married Anna, daughter of the monastery administrator Johannes [Hans] Hartung, who during the years 1538–48 copied the so-called Heilsbronner Chorbücher (D-Eru 473, 1–4). Hoping to improve his financial situation, Othmayr applied for a canonry at St Gumbertus in Ansbach in the summer of 1545, and for that reason Amberg city council issued him a birth certificate on 7 July. The dean and chapter of St Gumbertus appointed him to the canonry, but he did not come into the living immediately. Margrave Georg Friedrich of Branderburg-Ansbach was still under-age at this time, and Othmayr’s rivals made use of this fact to place obstacles in the way of the princely dispensation. Othmayr did not receive this, and with it the living, until 15 July 1547. The provost of St Gumbertus, Leonhard Keller, died in 1548, and Othmayr applied to succeed him in the post. Following his friends’ advice, he travelled to a princely wedding in Torgau on 8 October 1548, in the retinue of Margrave Albrecht Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. Here Othmayr petitioned the Electors Joachim II Hector of Brandenburg and Moritz of Saxony, the guardians of Georg Friedrich of Ansbach. He also met Johann Walter (i) in Torgau. His nomination to the post was made out on 26 October, but meanwhile on 19 October a rival applicant had appeared in the shape of the student Wilhelm Bürkle, who had the support of Ansbach city council and Governor Friedrich van Knoblochsdorf. A long legal dispute ensued, and went before the imperial Supreme Court. However, Othmayr fell ill, and when his condition did not improve he was taken to the Heilsbronn hospital in Nuremberg, where he died. Othmayr was buried on 6 February 1553 in the Church of the Holy Cross in Ansbach.

Othmayr has been seen as the most important and versatile German composer of the generation between Senfl, Stoltzer and Johann Walter (i) on the one hand, and Leonhard Schroeter, Gallus Dressler and Joachim a Burck on the other. His output covers the most important contemporary genres of ecclesiastical and secular vocal music with the exception of the mass, and amounts to about 230 compositions. Instrumental music is represented only by two four-part dances.

Othmayr published most of his works in his own collections. However, there are also numerous manuscript concordances to the printed works, especially the German songs. These are found in all parts of the German-speaking area, and as far afield as Copenhagen and Lille. The Heidelberg chapel register of 1544 (D-HEu Pal.Ger.318) mentions 14 compositions, 13 of which seem to be lost.

The earliest of Othmayr’s works to have been preserved, the five-part Symbolum of Duke Heinrich of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, dates from 1542 (Dk-Kk Gl. K. 1872). The Te Deum mentioned in the catalogue of the Heidelberg Kapelle, which may have been composed for the wedding of Elector Friedrich II in 1535, has been lost. The Erlangen University library contains an autograph fragment of a setting of Luther’s hymn Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich, dated 1545. Othmayr’s first printed works, the Epitaphium D. Martini Lutheri and the Cantilenae aliquot elegantes ac piae, appeared in 1546. In these works there is a clear distinction between the musical settings of German and Latin texts. While the German settings are for four parts and follow the Protestant Tenorlied model, in the Latin motets Othmayr adopted the post-Josquin style, with contrapuntal compression of small motifs and a clear balance between melismatic and syllabic text-setting. The Bicinia sacra undoubtedly derive from his work as a teacher; the educational aspect even appears in the title of the Tricinia of 1549: ‘composed for the utility of Christian youth’. Othmayr’s most distinctive publication is the Symbola illustrissimorum … virorum, musical settings of the emblems or mottos of important and influential men. They combine various different features: on the one hand, a tendency towards subjectivity and its expression typical of the Renaissance; on the other, the political purpose of aesthetically confirming the self-esteem of the characters concerned and the commercial intention of earning money from one or other of the compositions. Nor should we forget the religious aspect – in Othmayr’s words, ‘the true religion and honesty are spread by divine influence among men’ – which validates all the others. A private counterpart to the Symbols is provided by the motets In epitaphiis Gasparis Othmari (155430), in which Johannes Bucher, Georg Forster, Conrad Praetorius, Nicolaus Piltz and Othmayr himself feature as the authors. The songs of the 1549 collection Reutterische und jegerische Liedlein, and Othmayr’s songs in Forster’s Frische teutsche Liedlein (154936-7), met with some success. In these songs the villanelle and chanson styles make as important a contribution as the last vestiges of the Netherlandish cantus firmus technique.


Edition:C. Othmayr: Ausgewählte Werke, ed. H. Albrecht, EDM, 1st ser., xvi (1941/R); xxvi (1956) [A i–ii]

[10] Cantilenae aliquot elegantes ac piae, 4, 5vv (Nuremberg, 154610), A ii

[2] Epitaphium D. Martini Lutheri, 5vv (Nuremberg, 1546), A ii

[34] Symbola illustrissimorum principum, nobilium, aliorumque … virorum, 5vv (Nuremberg, 1547), A i

[41] Bicinia sacra (Nuremberg, 154718), A ii (see Krautwurst)

[30] Tricinia (Nuremberg, 1549), A ii

[50] Reutterische und jegerische Liedlein, 4, 5vv (Nuremberg, 1549); ed. F. Piersig (Wolfenbüttel, 1928–33)

30 other songs and motets in 15468, 154936, 154937, 155628, 155629, 155820, 156811; D-LEu,Mbs, Rp, Z; DK-Kk; 11 ed. in A ii, 22 ed. in EDM, 1st ser., lx–lxii (1969–87); 2 ed. in Cw, lxiii (1957)

Symbolum of Duke Heinrich of Brunswick, 5vv, DK-Kk, A i, 1542

Symbolum of Walrand Hangonart, 5vv, F-Lad, A i

Der Tag der ist so freudenreich, D-ERu*, frag., 1545; facs. and ed. in Owens

2 instrumental dances, Rp, 1 ed. in A ii

13 other compositions, lost, mentioned in HEu Pal.Ger.318


MGG1(H. Haase)

H. Albrecht: Caspar Othmayr: Leben und Werk (Kassel, 1950) [incl. nearly complete list of works]

G. Pietzsch: Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte der Musik am kurpfälzischen Hof zu Heidelberg bis 1622 (Mainz and Wiesbaden, 1963), Abhandlungen … Klasse, Akademie … Literatur, Mainz, no.6 (1963)

F. Krautwurst: ‘Joachim Heller als Musiker’, Convivium musicorum: Festschrift Wolfgang Boetticher (Berlin, 1974), 151–62

G. Zeh-Leidel: ‘Ein Komponistenleben im 16. Jahrhundert (Othmayr)’, Altbayerische Heimatpost, xxv/5 (1983), 4–5, 15

K. Gudewill: ‘ Drei lateinisch-deutsche Liedbearbeitunger von Caspar Othmayr’, Festschrift Martin Ruhnke (Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1986), 126–43

J. Lambrecht: Das Heidelberger Kapellinventar von 1544 (Codex Pal.Germ.318) (Heidelberg, 1987)

J.A. Owens: Composers at Work: the Craft of Musical Composition, 1450–1600 (New York, 1997), 179–88


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