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Jan Stefani

Jan Stefani


Stefani, Steffan, Steffani, Jan, Johann, Jean, *circa 1746 Prague, †23 (not 24) II 1829 Warsaw, Polish composer, conductor, violinist of Czech origin. His name was recorded in the acts of the court of King Stanisław August Poniatowski as Steffan, Steffani, Steffani de Prague, in the other (later) sources as Stefani or Stephani, less frequently as Steffani. His general and initial musical education took in Prague with the Benedictines; he probably continued his musical studies in Italy. Circa 1765 he was a musician and Kapellmeister for Count Kinsky’s regiment in Vienna, and then a violinist in the orchestra of the court of Emperor Joseph II. In February 1779, along with other Czech musicians, he came to Warsaw, where he was employed as Kapellmeister and concertmaster of the 9-person "Viennese Band" at the court of King Stanisław August Poniatowski. In 1781 the whole orchestra joined the newly formed orchestra of the Royal Theatre, in which Jan Stefani, played in the first violin group for sure until 1787, and probably until the dissolution of the orchestra in 1795. He then was still supported with royal finance (he was discharged in October 1797). He was also, with breaks, Kapellmeister at the Cathedral of St. John, until the end of his life, occasionally leading choirs of other churches in Warsaw. From the mid-‘90s he occasionally conducted at the National Theatre in Warsaw, and 1799-1818 was the first violinist in the theatre orchestra. Jan Stefani married Fryderyka de Monter before 1791. At least six of their children lived to adulthood, among them those connected to music were: Kazimierz (1791–1811) and Jan Franciszek (1797–1826), violinists in the same opera orchestra, Eleonora (1802–1831), opera singer and Józef Andrzej (1800–1876). Despite information given in many sources, Karolina Stefani (Stephani), who lived from 1784–1803 and was a singer in the National Theatre, was not a daughter of Jan Stefani. Her father — Johann Steffani (Stefani, Steffan, Steffani de Prague, Stephani), a bassoonist working in the Viennese Band led by Jan Stefani, died 31 V 1794 in Warsaw (the eventual degree of relationship with Jan Stefani is not known), and her mother, Barbara, in the year of Karolina’s death, was already remarried. Jan Stefani was buried in the Powązkowski Cemetary in Warsaw (the location of the grave is not known). Jan Stefani became famous for writing the best known Polish opera of the eighteenth century Cud czyli Krakowiacy i Górale to text by W. Bogusławski. Jan Stefani gave the music its "rural" character by using rhythmical features of Polish dances (especially the Krakowiak, a polonaise and mazurka) and simple melody.