František Tůma, an excellent player of the viola da gamba and theorbo, belongs with his work to the music of the Late Baroque. The polyphony of his composition predominates, but there are also homophonic movements with simpler harmonies foreshadowing the Classical music that was to come. Among instrumental works are his trio and quartet sonatas, symphonies, and partitas, mostly for string instruments and continuo, some of which, however, were also played by orchestras.
ANTIQUARIUS CONSORT PRAGA
Goodbye to the Millennium. It feels like the end. The old technological world is slowly departing for the Absurd. There are thoughts of technological miracles, but the enthusiasm for change as been exhausted and things are now going back, back to the stagnant waters of the rule of nature, from whence the mountain-making processes of spiritual activity will again release them, like a fine foam of a new fabric of relations, like the fresh fragrance of concentration on the beauty of the world.
Frantisek Ignac Antonin Tuma was born on 2 October 1704 in Kostelec nad Orlici. It was from his father, the organist in Kostelec, that he received his first training in music. Later, in Prague, he attended a Jesuit seminary, and sang in the choir of the Church of St James. It was under the choirmaster there, Bohuslav Matej Cernohorsky, that he received further musical training. At the premiere of the opera Costanza e Fortezza, by Johann Joseph Fux, performed for the coronation of Emperor Charles VI as King of Bohemia, Tuma played the theorbo with Silvius Leopold Weiss. In 1722 he moved to Vienna allegedly to become Kapellmeister in a church. Tuma's name, however, first appears in the local records only in April 1729, when his son was born. In 1731 he became Court Composer and Kapellmeister to Prince Ferdinand Kinsky, who enabled him to study counterpoint under Fux. The relations between Tuma and Kinsky were excellent; for instance, the Prince was the godfather to three of Tuma's children, and in 1734 he recommended Tuma to the position of Kapellmeister in the Cathedral of St Vitus, Prague. Unfortunately the recommendation was made too late, and Tuma remained in his service till Kinsky died in 1741. Later he became head of the orchestra of Emperor Charles VI's widow. After her death, in 1750, Tuma remained on a decent pension (which she had ensured for him), and was for the next eighteen years active as a composer and accomplished player of the viola da gamba and theorbo. The Imperial Court greatly appreciated his skills as an instrumentalist. The Empress Maria Theresa commissioned him to compose on the psalm Miserere mei, and as a token of her gratitude presented him with a hundred ducats. In 1768 Tuma divorced his wife Alzbeta (Elisabeth) in order to enter the Premonstratensian monastery in Geras, Lower Austria. Five years later he came down with a chronic lung ailment, and returned to Vienna, where he died in hospital on 30 April 1774.
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