Anton Zimmermann’s instrumental works include his symphonies, concertos, sonatas and chamber pieces with duets, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, and various other forms.
- String Quartet # 1 in E flat major Op 3
- String Quartet # 2 in B flat major Op 3
- String Quartet # 3 in F major Op 3
- Sonata # 1 in A mjor
- Sonata # 2 in B flat major
- Sonata # 3 in C major
- Sonata # 4 in D major
- Sonata # 5 in E flat major
- Sonata # 6 in F major
- Concerto for Double bass and Orchestra in D major
- Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra in D major
- Cassation in G major
- Cassation in D major
- Cassation in D major
Anton Zimmermann (1741-1781) was born in December at Siroka Niva (Brietenau) in Silesia during the Christmas season. An acclaimed contemporary of Haydn and Mozart, Anton Zimmermann spent a considerable span of his short productive life in Bratislava. Bratislava (Posonium, Pressburg, Pozsony) was an important center of European music in the age of Classicism. Not only did he fit in perfectly with the prevailing cultural environment, but very soon after settling there, at the beginning of the 1770’s, he found himself in a leading position in the musical life of the city. As the capital of the then Hungary it was the seat of the Hungarian governor, the provencial parliament, the primate of Hungary and other high church dignitaries as well as the site of various religious orders. The city was able to provide a good living and ample creative space for many prominent composers. The cultural standards of the day also attracted a great many skilled musicians, and even such important figures as Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven contributed to the city’s rich heritage.
Probably acquiring his musical education in Silesia, he served as organist at the cathedral in Hradec Kralove (Koniggratz). In Bratislava, the Bishop and some time later the Cardinal and Hungarian Primate Count Joazef Batthyanyi employed Zimmermann. Until his premature death in October, 1781 Zimmermann served as an artistic manager, a conductor, a violinist and a princely court composer.
The first evidence of his activities in Bratislava dates from the early 1770’s. In 1775 he married Elisabeth Liechtenegger from the city and without adequate financial security he tried to obtain work as organist at Brno and Olomouc. Then, in 1776 Cardinal Graf Josef Batthyanyi hired Zimmermann to form an orchestra and entrusted him with the task of principal artistic director, conductor and primary violinist.
Under his direction the twenty-four member court orchestra became one of the outstanding groups in its time. He left an extensive body of compositions in almost every musical genre. Anton Zimmermann’s instrumental works include his symphonies, concertos, sonatas and chamber pieces with duets, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, and various other forms.
A major part of Zimmermann’s music which he managed to publish himself is in the field of chamber music. To this belong six sonatas Op 2 and six quartets Op 3. These were published by Quera in Lyons. While the Journal de Paris informed the public of the existence of the six sonatas Op 2, it makes no mention of the six quartets Op 3. In the list of works published by the Breitfkopf thematic catalogue for the years 1776-1777, it records the six quartets Op 3. Printed versions of Zimmermann’s quartets are preserved in the Prague National Museum, Vienna National Austrian Library and at the Benedictine monatery of Kremmuster.
Anton Zimmermann drew heavily upon Joseph Haydn’s compositional style. Haydn’s influence is clearly identifiable not only in the symphonies, but also in the chamber music. There was early confusion of attribution to Haydn from the start. Apart from comparable melodic writing, the compositional techniques employed by Zimmermann show a similar approach to the cycles of works constructed. However, Zimmermann broke from earlier restrictions of phrasal forms and began to produce more flexible structures capable of accommodating and combining a variety of formal elements which set him apart from Joseph Haydn.
The principal feature of Zimmermann’s chamber music for strings is its tendency towards orchestral expressions in structure and style when compared with the work of contemporaries. His orchestral style brought remarkable results leading to an enhanced expressive capacity and an economy of compositional devices. Zimmermann’s chamber music produced fresh, innovative effects which set it apart from the mainstream of the day. His compositions, which became widely known both through being copied and also in printed form, found great favor not only among Central European artists but also elsewhere. Their popularity was due not only to their high artistic merit, their rich and varied expressiveness, their mastery of structure and instrumentation, but also to their feeling for melody. Zimmermann derived inspiration for most of his music from folk melodies favored at the time.
One result of Anton Zimmermann’s association with the church was the production of sacred music. At one point he was elevated to principal organist at St. Martin’s cathedral in Bratislava in 1780. He not only took an interest in playing sacred music but actively promoted it. Unfortunately, the classical music world suffered a loss with the premature death of the composer when he fell ill in October, 1781 when he was not quite 40. He died that year and was buried in Bratislava.