Musical sources for ballets by Noverre in the Schwarzenberg family archive at Český Krumlov

While the music (by Deller and Rodolphe) for a certain number of Noverre’s Stuttgart ballets has been available in print for nearly a century, the music by Franz Aspelmayr and Joseph Starzer for the ballets that the choreographer created during his engagement with the Viennese court (1767-74) has remained unpublished, and relatively little studied since a 1923 dissertation on Starzer’s ballets (described as ‘sehr schwach’ by the eminent Viennese librarian and musicologist Robert Haas). The mansucript sources for these ballets are scattered among numerous European libraries and archives, and what is arguably the most important group of them – namely the collection of orchestral partbooks in the former Schwarzenberg family archive at Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic – has not even been catalogued by RISM, though materials from it have been used in significant individual studies by Gerhard Croll and Sibylle Dahms, among others. In the present paper I will provide an overview of these manuscripts, describing their place among the larger repertoire of Viennese ballets in this archive (comprising some 180 works dating from ca. 1750 to 1820), and indicating some of the avenues of research they suggest. In particular, I will present evidence on the partbooks’ acquisition from the Viennese court copy workshops of Theresia Ziß (or ‘Zißin’) and Carl Bonifacius Champée, on their chronology, on their possible uses (whether in Viennaor at the Schwarzenbergs’ Bohemian family seat) and on problems of attribution of both choreography and music. (An intriguing problem in this latter regard is the reuse of two movements from Angiolini and Gluck’s 1761 ballet Don Juan within Noverre and Starzer’s Adèle of Ponthieu of 1773.) Additionally I will offer some comparisons (at least preliminary) of these materials – which deserve to be better known among musicologists and dance historians – to musical sources elsewhere for Noverre’s Viennese ballets, in terms of provenance, versions, format, and function.

Bruce Alan Brown
Symposium Title: 
Celebrating Jean-Georges Noverre 1727-1810: his world, and beyond – 2010
Author affiliation: 
University of Southern California