The Viennese clarinettist Anton Paul Stadler (1753–1812) is known to most music-lovers only in the context of Mozart’s unique clarinet works. Who was this once famous virtuoso and Freemason who inspired composers and became Mozart’s friend?
Born as the son of a shoemaker in Bruck an der Leitha, Stadlers life in Vienna measured an epoch that was fascinating in terms of cultural history but also marked by the chaos of Napoleonic wars. Anton and his no less talented brother, the clarinettist Johann Nepomuk (1755–1804), can claim to have been the first to play many works by Mozart and by other composers. The gallery of their names is impressive: Anfossi, Beethoven, Cartellieri, Cherubini, Cimarosa, Dittersdorf [...].
That as court and theater musicians the Stadler brothers would have known all these composers personally is fascinating, given that today’s music reviewers bear only indirect witness to a more or less “true” image of their contemporaries.
As a basis for his many years of research the author, himself a clarinettist, illuminates with remarkable knowledge and critical insight the musical and personal surroundings of Anton Stadler: a life marked with musical high points and bitter economic miseries. A wealth of previously ignored or newly discovered source materials makes possible countless new recognitions and corrections, among others concerning the important Viennese woodwind instrument makers, the Viennese concert and theater practices of the time, and the musical colleagues of the Stadler brothers.
Harald Strebel, born 1942, is a clarinettist, historian of music, and docent for clarinet and wind chamber music as well as editor and author of countless musicological publications. In 2000 he was awarded the “Golden Mozart Needle” for merit in Mozart scholarship by the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg.