On hearing Joseph Anton Steffan’s (1726–1797) numerous songs or piano works, he can immediately be identified as an original precursor of Romanticism. His harmonically refined “Capricci” – whose tempi and metre often change – are particularly attractive, although to date they have lain around in archives in manuscript form. We have dug up these treasures and are offering a first edition of the five Capricci with excellent Henle engraving and with a short introductory preface.
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About the composer
Joseph Anton Steffan
A Bohemian composer and harpsichordist of the Classical period. Among his works, compositions for harpsichord or piano particularly stand out, including sonatas, capriccios, and concerti. In addition he composed songs, harp concerti, and chamber music, among other things. Blindness forced him to withdraw from public life, and he thus had to end his musical activities prematurely, something that led to his output initially being forgotten.
|1726||Born in Kopidlno on March 13, the son of a church organist.|
|around 1743||He flees from the Prussian troops to Vienna. Through the efforts of his patron, Count Schlick, he becomes a pupil of court composer Georg Christoph Wagenseil, who gives him instruction in harpsichord and in composition. He rises to become a popular soloist.|
|1766–1775||He is employed as keyboard instructor to the Archduchesses Maria Carolina and Maria Antonia (later Marie Antoinette of France).|
|from 1775||Due to the eye condition that leads to his blindness, he must cease his work at court. Henceforth he dictates his compositions.|
|1797||Dies in Vienna on April 12.|