P. Griffiths: ‘A Grand Clarity of Manner’, The Times (25 May 1984)
See Polonus, Johannes.
(b Wildenschwert [now Ústí nad Orlicí], 23 March 1795; d Vienna, 25 Jan 1875). Bohemian violinist and composer. His first music teachers in his home town were the schoolmaster Jan Jahoda and the organist Jan Zizius; he became known for his violin playing while still at school in Brno. In 1817 he left to study law in Vienna, where his meeting with the composer Voříšek, who introduced him to the city’s musical circles and artistic society, had a decisive influence on his life. He abandoned his university studies, took composition lessons from Emanuel Alois Förster and in his violin playing soon attained the standard of the renowned Viennese violinists Mayseder and Böhm. In 1823 he entered the Count of Brunswick’s service as a chamber musician and a year later returned to Vienna and became a violinist in the court chapel. He gave concerts in Prague and Pest in 1832, and in 1834 was appointed musical director and professor of violin at the University of Vienna. After Ignaz Schuppanzigh’s death Jansa became first violinist of his quartet, which renewed its activity (1845) and earned the praise of Hanslick. In 1851 Jansa was a member of a jury of string instrument specialists at the International Industrial Exhibition in London. While in London he performed at a benefit concert for Hungarian emigrants (12 July 1851), which caused him to lose favour with the Austrian imperial court, and he was deprived of his rank and banished from Austria. He remained in London, taught music and occasionally gave solo and quartet concerts. By imperial decree in September 1868 he was pardoned and granted a small pension in Austria. In 1870 he returned to Vienna and appeared for the last time at a chamber concert; from 1871 he lived in retirement.
In addition to giving concert performances, for which contemporary critics praised his display of technical skill, his natural musicality and exceptional gift for chamber playing, Jansa was renowned as an excellent teacher; the most famous of his pupils were the violinists Wilma Neruda and Eduard Rappoldi and the composer Goldmark. His chamber and violin works, including concert variations, fantasies, sonatas, trios, quartets and church music (published in Paris, Vienna and Leipzig) display a certain musicality and compositional facility, but they lack clearcut originality; his duets for two violins and for violin and viola still have instructional value.
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