Monday 15 December 2014

The Death of the "Swedish Mozart"

Joseph Martin Kraus (Miltenberg am Main, Germany, 20th June 1756 – Stockholm, Sweden, 15th December 1792)

Joseph Martin Kraus, 1775

On more than one occasion, we have crossed to the beautiful land of Sweden to spend time in the company of Gustav III, who died at the hands of assassins. Today, however, marks the anniversary of the death of Joseph Martin Kraus, the composer responsible for Gustav's monumental Funeral Cantata, which can be heard by clicking on the video below.

Kraus was a favourite of King Gustav III and under his patronage, the young composer flourished. He undertook a tour of Europe, assumed high academic office and composed stirring music to accompany state occasions for the king and court, earning himself a daunting reputation in his adopted land.

By the time Gustav breathed his last, his composer of choice was already beginning to suffer from the symptoms of tuberculosis and, as the year wore on, those symptoms become ever more debilitating until the composer was forced to take to his bed.

Kraus did not leave his bed as the winter set in and, on 15th December 1792. he died. As family and friends gathered to mourn, the composer's body was placed in a casket and carried by torchlight across the frozen expanse of the Brunnsviken  lake and then on to Tivoli. Here he was laid to rest, yet the Swedish Mozart's music lives on.

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