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Franz Pokorny and his Flute Concerto in D


František (Franz) Xaver Thomas Pokorný (December 20, 1729–July 2, 1794) was a Czech Classical era composer and violinist.  He was born at Městec Králové, Bohemia, on December 20, 1729.  Pokorny may have been related to some other Bohemian musicians of the same surname. However, it is a very common name (literally meaning “humble”).  Therefore, it is difficult to prove any such connections. In particular, there seems to be no connection between him and Frantisek Xaver Jan Pokorny (1797-1850).

While young, this Franz Xaver left his hometown for Regensburg where he studied violin playing with Joseph Riepel. In 1750 he went to Wallerstein where he played violin in the Oettingen-Wallerstein court orchestra. In 1753 Count Philipp Karl of Oettingen-Wallerstein sent him to study further with Johann Stamitz, Franz Xaver Richter, and Ignaz Holzbauer, among others, in the major musical center of Mannheim. The Count ordered him back in 1754 because he was short of musicians. The Count evidently promised Pokorny the position of choral director.

The Count did not keep this promise, even when Pokorny petitioned him for it in 1766. Pokorny might have been fed up by now, for he sent what we would call a job application that year to the court of Thurn and Taxis at Regensburg.  After the death of Philip Charles Domenic Oettingen-Wallerstein in 1766 he asked for permission to leave the court for three to four years. He spent the last part of his life in the orchestra of Karl Anselm, 4th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, again in Regensburg. He was admitted as a member of the royal Kapelle that year, and evidently stayed there; his tombstone records that he was a musician of the royal chamber.

There are difficulties in the attribution of music to Pokorny. Nearly 150 symphonies are credited to him, but his authorship is the subject of dispute for more than fifty of them, as many as 57, since after his death his surname was erased from his works and replaced by names of other authors by intendant of the Regensburg orchestra, Theodor von Schacht. The symphonies attributed to him are usually four-movement works for strings, two flutes, and two horns, with occasional use of clarinets, oboes, timpani, and trumpets. The melodies are in a popular style, and he tends to use sequential repetition in place of real symphonic development.  Furthermore, many works for wind instruments, tens of solo concertos including 45 for harpsichord and three for two horns are attributed to him.

Pokorny died at Regensburg on July 2, 1794.  His son Bonifaz, or Franz Xaver Karl (1757-1789) was an organist and priest. He also composed, but none of his music survives. Another son, Joseph Franz, was evidently a minor musician. Beate Pokorny, a horn virtuosa who was very popular in Paris’ Concerts Spirituels in the 1780s, was not Pokorny’s daughter, but may have been his sister.

The following work by Franz Pokorny is contained in my collection:

Flute Concerto in D, op. 27 (formerly attributed to Luigi Boccherini).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources


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